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Sustainability and Greening

Green Space and Stormwater Management

Drexel faculty and students in Engineering and Architecture have worked with community partners on a variety of projects, including the redesign of the Morton McMichael School playground, local City-owned playgrounds, and outdoor space at Presbyterian Apartments, with the goal of improving green space and stormwater management infrastructure in Mantua.

In 2011, Drexel and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation embarked on a multifaceted partnership to green the West Philadelphia community. The collaboration supports Mayor Nutter’s Greenworks Philadelphia plan, which includes planting 300,000 new trees by 2015, and capitalizes on the University’s resources and academic expertise to significantly impact neighborhoods in West Philadelphia and beyond. The program aims to “green” several playgrounds in Mantua and to create new stormwater treatment systems for local parks and playgrounds, which will be designed and implemented by the Drexel’s environmental engineering students. The students’ designs will also serve as templates for the City to implement stormwater treatment systems in other green spaces across Philadelphia. As part of the plan, Drexel donated 200 trees along with a “planting and caring” training session to faculty and staff living in Philadelphia.

Dornsife Center Garden

The Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships is home to a shared garden program featuring 14 raised vegetable beds. The garden is managed by Drexel Urban Growers, a student-run urban agriculture organization, and it supports a range of health- and wellness-related activities. Members of the Drexel community and neighborhood families are welcome to help plant, care for and harvest seasonal crops. The gardens also support culinary arts community-based learning courses as well as cooking demonstrations and after-school programming like 4H and Green Pathways for Youth workshops. The Dornsife Center Garden speaks directly to the goal of a clean, safe and sustainable community, as well as optimal health and wellness for residents.

spring planting day at the Dornsife Center garden

Mantua Urban Peace Garden

Drexel is proud to be among the partners that brought life to the Mantua Urban Peace Garden, a formerly vacant 2 1/2-acre site in West Philadelphia. It is now a thriving community garden where faculty, staff and students have worked alongside neighbors and collaborators like the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society to plant vegetables and herbs, plan a butterfly garden and develop educational programming for residents.

The Mantua Urban Peace Garden is an ongoing project to create safe, green space, and all partners and residents have a role in its future. Drexel continues to cultivate the garden, its programming and opportunities for all members of the community to contribute and learn.

bed build day at the Mantua Urban Peace Garden

Energy Efficiency

Drexel works with regional nonprofits to provide energy audits, weatherization, and healthy home renovations for local homeowners. In recent years, Drexel has participated in Green Block Builds in Mantua, in partnerships with Rebuilding Together Philadelphia (RTP). RTP works to preserve affordable homeownership and revitalize neighborhoods. Green Block Builds bring over 300 volunteers to work with up to 20 existing homeowners on a selected block. Volunteers perform major systems repairs; install stormwater management plantings and build downspout planters; clean up vacant lots; paint rooms; help with documentation issues; provide coaching to homeowners on healthy homes, energy efficiency and home maintenance; and assist with budget counseling and education. Participating homeowners also receive eco-friendly “cool” roof treatments installed on top of RTP’s new roofs, and membership in the West Philly Tool Library for a year. Partners for the Green Block Build included RTP, People’s Emergency Center CDC, SCI-West (a LISC collaboration in West Philadelphia), LISC Philadelphia, Partnerships CDC, West/Southwest Neighborhood Advisory Council, and the Energy Coordinating Agency.