Greening Our Communities

Senator Casey, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, and Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz at the Philadelphia International Flower Show

Yesterday, I toured the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Philadelphia International Flower Show.  At the event, joined by United States Representative Allyson Schwartz (PA-13) and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, I held a press conference on the importance of green infrastructure in urban areas and announced my plan to introduce the Green Communities Act in the Senate.   

In Pennsylvania and around the country, improving the environment can lead to economic growth.  For instance, a recent study from the University of Pennsylvania found that the value of homes located next to a newly planted tree in Philadelphia increased by 9 percent.  The value of homes located next to a cleared and greened lot increased by a whopping 30 percent.  What this means is that if a home located next to an empty lot would sell for $160,000 right now, it could sell for $208,000 if the neighboring lot was turned into a park. 

Research like this should not be ignored and demonstrates that economic growth and environmental restoration can be pursued simultaneously.  For this reason, I introduced S. 3055, the Green Communities Act, a companion bill to Representative Allyson Schwartz’s H.R. 2222.  The Green Communities Act assists cities in planning, designing and implementing green infrastructure strategies, such as turning vacant industrial buildings into parks.  Research shows that urban greening not only improves the quality of life for residents but also attracts new business and generates economic growth. 

Founded over 175 years ago, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS), in cooperation with the City of Philadelphia, has improved the quality of life in Philadelphia’s neighborhoods and public spaces through its Philadelphia Green program.  PHS’s urban greening initiatives have made an important and noticeable impact.  I enjoyed meeting with PHS members and staff working to stimulate green economic growth in Philadelphia.  I was lucky enough to tour the show with Jane Pepper, President of PHS, Sam Lemheney, the show designer and Blaine Bonham, Vice President of PHS and the founder of Philadelphia Green.  It was great to see such a world-class exhibit right in downtown Philadelphia.  I look forward to seeing the Green Community Act enacted into law to increase urban greening in Philadelphia and other cities across the Commonwealth and the Nation.