A few years ago, the folks at University City District (UCD) decided that sustainability deserved explicit recognition as a theme in their group’s work. This happened around the same time Mayor Nutter announced his Greenworks initiative that set fifteen sustainability targets for the City of Philadelphia.

“So we looked at that document,” said Seth Budick, manager of policy and research at UCD, “and looked at the targets where we felt that UCD could have the most effective role at helping the city to reach its goals.”

Those goals revolved around reducing energy use and encouraging the use of energy from renewable sources, managing stormwater, increasing tree cover, reducing vehicle miles traveled, increasing the number of green jobs, and bringing local food to the neighborhood.

Clark Park helps with stormwater management

“Sustainability is in the DNA of the neighborhood,” said Budick. “Both in the institutions here, that are legitimate national leaders on sustainability, and in the residents of the neighborhood, who have been making part of their lives since long before it was cool.  We look for opportunities to engage that energy and expertise and catalyze further improvements.”

Improving food access

In addition to the numerous UCD projects we’ve shared with you, last year they launched Sustainable Saturdays. It grew out of sporadic workshops that manifested throughout the year into a weekly series last summer.

“The neighborhood response has been fantastic with great audiences at our sustainability events,” said Budick, “and high participation in programs like Power Down (our challenge, in partnership with Penn, to reduce electricity use), our recent partnership with EnergyWorks to offer discounted energy audits, and our current partnership with PWD to offer subsidized stormwater mitigation improvements to homeowners through the Rain Check program.”

Dirt factory, a couple of months ago

This summer they’re at it again, and just announced the 2012 Sustainable Saturdays schedule. Workshops include compost and vegetable gardening, urban soil and tools and more all at the Dirt Factory, the first Saturday of each month through October, beginning July 7th.

–Lou Mancinelli