EPA Awards PennDesign Grant to Conduct Green Infrastructure Research

Tue. 21 January

University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design among five universities to explore green infrastructure investments to help reduce the impacts of climate change, work to protect the nation’s urban waterways, create jobs, and protect public health. 

Dr. David Hsu, Principal Investigator

WASHINGTON, DC- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that the University of Pennsylvania School of Design is among five research teams to be awarded funds to study green infrastructure practices in urban areas, using Philadelphia as a pilot project. 

PennDesign will lead a multi-disciplinary research collaboration with Wharton and Environmental Studies, receiving an award of $1 million dollars over two years to help the City of Philadelphia promote urban Green Infrastructure.

Marilyn Jordan Taylor, Dean of Penn's School of Design, said the grant underscores Design's leadership role in leveraging research to respond to human needs.

"This project, led by Assistant Professor Dr. David Hsu, will provide new information on both social and economic factors that affect green infrastructure decisions at the local planning level," she said.

The research team will collaborate with the Philadelphia Water Department, with whom we've had a longstanding relationship, to examine local policies and identify the real barriers to stormwater use in Philadelphia--all so homeowners, businesses, local institutions and governments have new tools to understand how green infrastructure can benefit them."

Joining Dr. Hsu is Co-Principal Investigator Dr. John Landis, Professor & Chair, City and Regional Planning; Dr. Tom Daniels, Professor, City and Regional Planning; Dr. Susan Wachter, Professor, Wharton Real Estate; and Dr. Mark Alan Hughes, Professor, City and Regional Planning, with others serving in advisory capacity.

"Green infrastructure investments are vital to creating healthy, livable communities," said Bob Perciasepe, EPA deputy administrator.  "This pilot project with Philadelphia's Green City, Clean Waters program will help us yield results and gain knowledge to help apply these practices in cities from coast to coast.  And, these results can be increasing green spaces, creating jobs, saving energy and reducing urban heat island effects that contribute to climate change." 

Philadelphia is one of about 800 cities across the country using a combined sewer overflow system (CSO). These systems that combine sewage and stormwater pipes, typically feed into water treatment facilities where polluted wastewater is treated. During heavy rainstorms, the large amount of water running off pavement and roofs in cities can cause these systems to overflow. When a system overflows, the untreated wastewater flows directly into waterways.

"EPA's support has been key as we implement Philadelphia's Green City, Clean Waters plan," noted Mayor Michael A. Nutter.  "This forward thinking plan will not only result in better water quality for the City, but it will also provide a multitude of benefits for Philadelphians like cleaner air, revitalized green spaces, and even new economic opportunity.  EPA's commitment to making Green City, Clean Waters a model for the nation is confirmed by the creation of this grant program."

Green infrastructure is a cost-effective way to reduce runoff from overflowing combined sewer systems in urban areas. The goal of green infrastructure is to retain or redirect water into the ground where plants and soil will naturally filter the water. By reducing the volume of rain entering sewers, these green infrastructure practices lessen the frequency and volume of sewer overflows.

In addition to the University of Pennsylvania, the EPA is awarding grants to the following universities:

  • -Villanova University, Villanova, Pa.
  • -Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pa.
  • -Temple University, Ambler, Pa.
  • -University of New Hampshire, Durham, N.H.

These grants are part of EPA's safe and sustainable water resources research program that supports efforts to protect the quantity and quality of our water.

More information on these grants: www.epa.gov/ncer/phillygi

More information on green infrastructure: http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/greeninfrastructure/index.cfm

Information on EPA's CSO program: http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/home.cfm?program_id=5




Megan Schmidgal