Philadelphia's City Election: Shaping the Conversation Around our Built Environment
By Daniel Marzec
Posted March 10, 2023
It is election season in Philadelphia and there is no shortage of pressing issues facing candidates and the voters whose attention they are vying for.
With roughly a dozen candidates for mayor and double that for City Council, the heavily contested May 16th primary may be one of the tightest races in recent memory. Whoever wins, our next slate of elected leaders will shape our city’s future and that’s where Green Building United is stepping up. The green building movement is in a unique position of transition brought on by a change in political winds, the increasingly visible impacts from climate change, and the passage of billions of dollars through legislation that has transformed, nearly overnight, the economic viability of energy efficient green building practices. The challenges before us are greater than ever, but so are the opportunities to take hold of.
Over the past few months, GBU’s Policy and Advocacy Committee has been hard at work pulling together their collective expertise, backgrounds, and ideas to come up with an updated policy platform for Philadelphia’s built environment. That platform includes three primary focus area as a call to action for the prospective new administration, including:
Taking climate action to achieve aggressive greenhouse gas emission reductions
Creating solutions to achieve economic justice for every Philadelphian regardless of their gender, race, age, or background
Investing in climate safety and resiliency for our built environment, prioritizing our most vulnerable communities.
Why are we doing this? To ensure that the next Mayor and City Council take advantage of this current moment and adapt to the changing climate reality, candidates need a thorough education on the subject, and there is no better time than now to provide one. That’s why we’ve been reaching out and sitting down with candidates and their staff to explain what’s at stake, and the opportunities presented to the city as a whole if we view our built environment through a sustainable lens.
We have the opportunity to elect leaders who will shape our climate change policies in the City for potentially the next eight years. This engagement is aimed at understanding the candidates’ priorities for the green building industry, while proposing meaningful actions and asks to achieve our goal for a more sustainable built environment. Through these early partnerships with the candidates, GBU can continue to be an available resource to the new administration on green building topics beyond the election cycle.
Green Building United has also been involved in shaping some of the conversations happening on the campaign trail. This year there are a number of opportunities for the public to participate in the many forums taking place around the city where candidates get to share their plans and differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack. In concert with partner organizations, we’ve been able to participate in the creation of both the BUILDPhilly and Green Philly Mayoral forums taking place March 14th and April 4th, respectively. In both forums, GBU staff have helped craft questions to the candidates that center the topic of a sustainable built environment, so voters get to hear their plans to bring it into reality. All GBU members are strongly encouraged to attend both forums.
None of this work would have been possible if it were not for the commitment of our Policy and Advocacy Committee members who dedicate so much of their time and expertise to shaping GBU’s policy platform. It is critical work that can always use an influx of new ideas. So if you’re interested in being a part of these conversations, consider joining our committee which meets virtually on the first Thursday of every month at 8:30 am. There are no requirements for members to join, just contact Lindsey Walaski at email@example.com or Daniel Marzec at firstname.lastname@example.org, for a meeting invite and we’ll see you there!
The green building movement is at a critical juncture in its evolution, both locally and more broadly speaking. Now is a great time to get involved in the conversation and help drive our city’s next leaders into taking action toward a sustainable future for all.