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NYCSWCD 7th Annual Green Infrastructure Bus Tour - In Philadelphia!


On Thursday October 19th, NYC Soil & Water Conservation District is having its 7th Annual Green Infrastructure Bus Tour, this year in Philadelphia! Like New York City, Philadelphia is on a combined sewer system. In 2011, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) released Green City, Clean Waters, establishing a goal to “green” 10,000 acres with green infrastructure. Paired with incentives for private property owners and a new stormwater billing system, green infrastructure installations are now abundant in Philadelphia, on both public and private properties.

This year’s tour will have five stops including a pump house with a green roof, a community environmental center, an industrial site turned park on a college campus, a stormwater capture and reuse system at a Quaker House, and a rain garden managing stormwater from a highway. Get your tickets for the tour here!

​Venice Island Performing Arts And Recreation Center

In 2014, the Philadelphia Water Department and Department of Parks and Recreation opened the Venice Island Performing Arts & Recreation Center. The performing arts center is a significant improvement from the aging playground and rec center once there, and features stormwater management practices on and under the site. Underneath Venice Island is a four million gallon stormwater retention basin, with a green roof on its only above-ground feature, the pumphouse. The parking lot is bounded by stormwater tree trenches, and the lot surfaces itself are permeable. Also on the site are basketball courts, an outdoor amphitheater, and a spray park. Venice Island is a great showcase for a comprehensive stormwater management project that meets the needs of the community. ​

For more information, visit:

Urban walkway with benches, planters, and a grated path; cars parked beside.

Overbrook Environmental Education Center

Storefront with intricate mosaic designs, under a blue sky with a tree on the left and a brick sidewalk.

Overbrook Arts and Environmental Education Center was founded in 2006 by former PWD employee, Jerome Shabazz. The Center itself was built on a brownfield site and serves and strengthens the environmental justice communities of Overbrook and Wynnefield. Jerome’s vision with the Overbrook Arts Center is to provide opportunity for young people in the community to get hands-on experience with stormwater and other environmental projects. The Center has a greenhouse, a warehouse for a future farmers market, and manages 100 percent of stormwater that falls on all three lots. The 45,000 square foot site manages 30,000 gallons of stormwater in a one inch storm through bioswales, a green roof, stormwater planters, and pervious pavement, all designed and installed by Jerome, his students and some technical assistance.
For more information, visit:

Penn Park

Penn Park is a public park on University of Pennsylvania’s (Penn) campus in West Philadelphia, designed by Van Valkenburg. Penn worked with Amtrak and SETPA, whose tracks surround the site, PWD and the Streets Department to design and construct new athletic fields on an old USPS vehicle maintenance facility and parking lot. The park opened in 2011 and align with Penn’s broader master plan, which goes above and beyond Green City, Clean Waters. The park manages about an inch and a half of rain through bioswales, over 500 newly planted trees, and meadow plantings. These landscape features complement the 300,000-gallon cistern underground that captures stormwater from the turf fields to reuse for irrigation. The meadow and bioswale landscape were chosen (in lieu of only underground cisterns) to showcase landscape typologies. There is also a food orchard in collaboration with the Philly Orchard Project and student-run apiary for on-site research and education.

For more information, see this case study from ULI.
Aerial view of an urban construction area with tracks, buildings, and marked future park space.
The site in 2006
Aerial view of a park with sports fields, tennis courts, a running track, train tracks, a river, and roads.
Penn Park in 2017

Friends Center; The Quaker Hub For Peace & Justice In Philadelphia

The Friends Center is a green building that features geothermal heating and cooling, solar panels, stormwater capture and reuse, a green roof and more. Rainwater from the meetinghouse rooftop is captured in cisterns, and used for flushing the toilets in the office building. The office building itself is covered with a green roof, cooling the building in the summer and extending the lifetime of the roof.

Find out more about the Friends Center here:

Illustrated eco-friendly building with sustainable features like geothermal heating, solar panels, green roof, and water recycling systems.

I-95 Green Infrastructure

Three rain gardens line Richmond Street in Fishtown, underneath the highway I-95. Developed by PennDOT, Villanova University and Temple University, these gardens are a pilot to see how rain garden plantings survive with road salt, oil, and other highway stormwater contaminants.
The gardens are designed to manage 1.5 inches of rainfall over a 45,000 square foot drainage area, but have proven to manage more than that. Collectively, the gardens can manage over 32,000 gallons of stormwater from entering the combined sewer system. A larger phase is in the works, with the designed capacity to manage 1.2 million gallons of stormwater per storm. This site does not have a tour guide scheduled, and we will only stop here if time allows.

Check out this recent article in

Urban garden with flowers and shrubs by a concrete wall and building under a clear sky.
Photo credit: