Today We Conserve PA held their annual conference for members of environmental advisory commissions. A couple of us from Nether Providence Township planned to attend.
The first presentation concerned combining hazard preparedness with environmental benefits – mostly regarding clean water and flooding hazards. Second, we heard from someone regarding Ready for 100 planning – preparing for 100% renewable energy, something Nether Providence has already committed to. Some of the actions listed as the most immediately applicable were:
- Replacing vehicles with hybrid/electrics. One person involved cited their police just purchased their first hybrid vehicle.
- Adding EV chargers. Nether Providence has struggled to find an ideal location – funding is available for charging stations if we can find a good place for one. Near public transport and parks were listed as good locations.
- An energy audit and auditing the energy bills.
- Converting streetlights, which Nether Providence has already done.
- Benchmarking energy use.
- Joining Solsmart – which optimizes ordinances for solar installations.
Another program mentioned was becoming a certified sustainable community.
The next talk was about warehouse sprawl. Its safe to say noone with any business sense would put a warehouse in Nether Providence right now, but its a growing issue in eastern PA. The final talk was about vehicle electrification and the many resources available to support the inevitable conversion of vehicles from gas to electric. DVRPC has resources for municipalities in our area. One of the points from the conference that was interesting is that builders are often willing to make new properties electric-vehicle charger ready because the cost of installing the conduit during construction is very low.
The next session was on sustainable development. One idea there is that many communities are now listing climate-change related hazards in their hazard planning documents, which can help them receive funding for hazard mitigation.
The final session was on healthy communities. They talked a lot about the idea of active transportation – biking and walking primarily. It seems like this is something Nether Providence’s sidewalk commission could investigate, but last I heard they were mostly inactive. There is a fair amount of funding available for active transportation and Nether Providence is mediocre for walking and abysmal to bike in right now. There are community recognitions for biking and walking, but I think its likely Nether Providence is far away from there.
The other half of the healthy communities session was about trees, which provide a vast array of health and climate benefits. Nether Providence already participates in PHS’s tree program, but we are an area without an active tree-tender group, so our continued participation is contingent on the Shade Tree Commission getting another trained and certified PHS tree tender. The next tree planting is scheduled for April 24th at Hepford Park.