Sustainable University City

"University City Off the Grid" aims to catalyze a model sustainable community in University City by helping residents, businesses, and institutions reduce their use of limited resources. Our goal is to partner with others to foster a community where today's actions do not negatively affect the next generation's ability to meet its needs.

Our Strategy

To bring this mission to fruition, University City District regularly convenes stakeholders and partners through a Sustainability Steering Committee to coordinate, call attention to, and strategize around our collective efforts. Those efforts are guided by the framework established by Mayor Nutter's Greenworks Agenda to develop and meet community-wide goals and aspirations in making Philadelphia the greenest city in America. To accomplish this, we are building on the incredible sustainability work that has been underway for years by community residents, businesses, and institutions.

Our Actions

UCD is also taking an active role ourselves in promoting sustainability through a number of new and ongoing projects.

  • The 40th Street Sustainability Smackdown. UCD will be working with the University of Pennsylvania to assist businesses with energy efficiency improvements that reduce consumption and save money. These efforts will be replicated on our commercial corridors.
  • Sustainability workshops focused on measures that residents and businesses can take to reduce their environmental footprint. These include topics like energy efficiency for homes and businesses, installing green roofs, and composting.
  • A new website,, that focuses on exciting new sustainability developments in University City, and will become a one stop shop for information about new programs and resources that can help University City residents make smart environmental decisions.
  • Promoting transit use. Through a partnership with SEPTA, UCD provides easily accessible ground transportation for major employment destinations in University City on the LUCY bus.
  • Increasing recycling. UCD distributes recycling bins and will soon be giving out the stickers that allow residents to participate in the city’s new Recycling Rewards program, incentivizing residents to divert their waste from landfills.
  • Provide parking for bicycles and scooters. UCD has installed over 100 bike racks throughout University City and we continually look for additional opportunities for installation.
  • Creating green streets by constructing rain gardens, greening traffic islands, planting trees, and installing sidewalk planters.
  • Composting the leaves that are collected each fall by residents and UCD. We are working with Fairmount Park and The Streets Department to make sure that our neighborhood’s leaves are recycled into valuable compost, instead of filling our landfills.
  • Making compost and mulch available to community gardens in University City. UCD is promoting access to local healthy food by helping community gardens get easy access to these key ingredients of a successful garden.
  • Sponsoring a new Farmers Market at 40th & Walnut St. UCD will be partnering with The Food Trust to bring a new weekly farmers market to this busy corner along with the popular farmers market at Clark Park.
  • Cultivating the potential for training local youth and adults in the skills required to foster a sustainable community. UCD endeavors to do this by building on our fledgling West Philadelphia Skills Initiative – a broad effort to connect neighborhood residents to jobs at University City’s academic and medical institutions.
  • Making University City more walkable by installing new pedestrian lights and bumpouts along the Market Street corridor
  • Improving usage of area parks by providing ongoing park maintenance.