Study says West Oak Lane and Mt. Airy could save millions going “green”

A study by a sustainability consulting firm found that West Oak Lane and East Mt. Airy could save $116.2 million each year by implementing simple “green” practices.

The Ogontz Avenue Revitalization Corporation and Ecolibrium Group presented the study results Wednesday in a talk called, “Sustainable Living in Northwest Philadelphia: An Action Plan to Save Millions” at the Philadelphia Center for Arts and Technology.

The study examined storm water, waste management, energy consumption, water consumption and transportation in the West Oak Lane and East Mt. Airy neighborhoods.  A total of 138 local residents and two focus groups participated in the study.  According to the study, households could save as much as $1,818 a year by following OARC’s sustainability tips.

“We want people to realize their actions can make a big difference,” John Ungar, senior director of sustainability and education for OARC said.

Simple things like using thermostat setbacks can save you $180 per year, a total of up to $5 million per year if everyone in your neighborhood did it.  If you use a water conserving shower fixture (like WaterSense Shower-heads, the report recommended) your household could save $57.  Community-wide that would be $116 million.

Ungar hopes people are “empowered to take action.”  He said following the report’s suggestions, “is a smart and efficient way to save money and help the environment.”

City Councilman-at-large Bill Greene stopped by the presentation to endorse the ideas. The money saved from energy conservation, recycling and waste management could go to support jobs, schools and the environment said Greene.

“As a city, we have to find a way to provide people with the means to live more sustainable lives,” he said. “It is good policy.”

President of Ecolibrium Group, Natalia Olson-Urtecho, said it was possible for Northwest Philadelphia to become a sustainable community with a little coordination and attention to detail.  “We need to create a green economy that benefits the environment and its citizens,” she said.

OARC plans to host a variety of workshops throughout the year to promote green practices. One example is an upcoming seed starting workshop on February 25.

Stacey Wright, a legislative assistant for State Representative John Myers (D., Phila.) thought local residents would do well to follow the recommendations resulting from the survey.

“This is a way to have a positive effect on the environment and save money,” he said.

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