40th Street Sustainability "Smackdown" pits local businesses in an "Energy Efficiency Race"

UC Review: 40th Street Sustainability "Smackdown" seeks to pit local businesses against each other in an "Energy Efficiency Race"

Local businesses struggling to survive in this somewhat less than stimulated market will be happy to know that the University City District (UCD) has recently been awarded a Green Fund grant from the University of Pennsylvania.  

Yes, the UCD will receive $50,000 to develop and implement what it calls the 40th Street Sustainability Smackdown, a Penn student-led design competition in which student teams will develop plans to improve energy efficiency for retail merchants in commercial properties along the 40th Street corridor from Market to Locust streets.

The UCD reports that, although the specific designs will be developed by the student teams, it is anticipated that they could include solar arrays, green roofs, and energy-efficient lighting and other strategies to improve energy efficiency.  The most effective plans developed will be implemented with funds from this grant with the hope of two additional projects if funding allows.

 The Green Fund, designed to seed environmental project ideas from Penn faculty, students and staff with one-time grants was established this year as part of Penn’s pledge to create a more sustainable campus.  The Plan is a long-range strategy to reduce the University’s carbon footprint and enhance its overall sustainability.

"The winning entries represent an interesting range of perspectives and audiences within the Penn community, showcasing the growing spirit of innovation and collaboration surrounding sustainability on campus" Anne Papageorge, Facilities and Real Estate Services vice president, said.  

 The UCD reports that its 40th Street Sustainability Smackdown is only one aspect of a larger sustainability initiative it is developing. It is seeking to capitalize on University City’s position as what the UCD terms a pioneering green community.  

The results of this 40th Street Sustainability Smackdown the UCD maintains will serve as pilot project for business-driven energy efficiency efforts throughout the District and will help to inform work elsewhere in University City, specifically on the commercial corridors UCD manages.

UCD’s executive director Matthew Bergheiser added that, "UCD is grateful for this support which will continue the district’s momentum, especially along our commercial corridors.  Increasingly, sustainability will be a critical factor in creating neighborhoods of choice and driving the economic competitiveness of businesses of all sizes.  We’re thrilled to take on this exciting endeavor which capitalizes on Penn’s leadership on environmental issues, while adding to the considerable momentum around sustainability that has taken hold in the University City community."

The recipients of the Green Fund Grants were selected by a committee of faculty, students and staff, and a key criterion was demonstrable return on investment.  Another round of grant applications will be accepted in the spring.  A total of ten Green Fund Grants were made in the first round. For more information about The Green Fund visit

About the author

Andrew Goodman, Community Engagement Director, New Kensington Community Development Corporation

Goodman is currently the Community Engagement Director at the New Kensington Community Development Corporation.

Previously, Goodman worked as a city planner and project manager for PennPraxis. His focus was on projects that combined community engagement and public space design, including the Central Delaware Waterfront Planning Process, the Green2015 initiative for Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, and the Bartram’s Mile project in Southwest Philadelphia.  Goodman was an early contributor to PlanPhilly and helped shape the site in its first iteration.  As PlanPhilly grew, Goodman represented the publisher and provided professional planning input and project management support as the site expanded its beat coverage, went through multiple redesigns, conducted an internal strategic plan, and researched revenue generation opportunities.

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