For the past decade, we’ve incentivized Philly-based businesses, schools, and other organizations to help restore local waterways by making green improvements right on their properties.

Through our keystone Stormwater Grants Program, we’ve helped bring green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) projects to existing properties around the city, greening sites, decreasing monthly water bills, and reducing combined sewer overflow pollution in our creeks and rivers.

Nestled into a corner where two sections of the brick building meet, a newly planted rain garden and young tree bask in rays of sunshine.

One of four rain gardens Bethesda Presbyterian Church installed with the help of a Stormwater Grant.

Over the past 10 years, more than $158 million in grants have been given to non-residential properties across the city to install green stormwater infrastructure. To date, about 30 percent of the Greened Acres implemented through Green City, Clean Waters were made possible by non-residential properties taking advantage of our Stormwater Incentives, including the Grants Program.

In order to meet Philadelphia’s 25-year goal of reducing at least 85 percent of combined sewer overflow pollution by 2036, an innovative community of organizations with diverse stormwater solutions will have to step up—and this year’s awardees represent that vision.

We’re proud of the variety of organizations and property owners who successfully applied for grants in 2021. Whether a Mt. Airy church or a Hunting Park community center, a broad spectrum of applicants took advantage of what we had to offer this round.

In total, 11 recipients collectively received $17 million in grants to support properties that will manage more than 70 Greened Acres (GA)!

Raising the (Green) Roof

looking down on part of a building with multipe sections of roof at different levels, most of which are covered with plants

The University of Pennsylvania's Law School building, Golkin Hall, has seven green roofs all working together to regulate stormwater in Philadelphia.

This year, two of the properties will receive support to create ‘green’ roofs — a vegetated roof designed to reduce the volume and velocity of stormwater runoff by temporarily storing stormwater, slowing excess stormwater release, and promoting evaporation.

Tioga Business Center in the Fairhill neighborhood is one of the awardees using grant funds to help in installing a green roof. In fact, the new installation may be the largest green roof in the tri-state area, based on the project team’s research.

The property was originally built in the early 1950s to serve as the headquarters of Philco Electronics, a trailblazing company in battery, radio, and television production.

Today, the building is home to a couple of businesses, including Case Paper. The new green roof will encompass more than 11 Greened Acres—with each Greened Acre managing nearly 30,000 gallons of runoff during a one-inch rainstorm!

“We are excited to award green roof grants this year,” says Beth Anne Lutes, PWD’s Stormwater Billing and Incentives Manager. “Green Roofs are a great stormwater tool for properties that don’t have a lot of space to manage stormwater beyond the building footprint.”

Going SEP-TAINABLE!

Our sustainability efforts this year spill past waterway restoration and into public transportation. One of this year’s awardees is the large SEPTA bus maintenance facility at 3rd and Wyoming in North Philadelphia.

The 25-year Green City, Clean Waters plan aligns with SEPTA’s own environmental missions.

In 2011, the public transit organization launched SEP-TAINABLE: The Route to Regional Sustainability, a comprehensive multi-year plan aiming towards “building a more sustainable SEPTA and a more sustainable region.”

One of the goals includes incorporating stormwater management features into capital projects to reduce runoff and decrease annual stormwater fees.

“Effective stormwater management has been a cornerstone of SEPTA’s sustainability planning for more than a decade, including 17 new Greened Acres at stations and facilities since 2015,” SEPTA said in a statement highlighting the grant. “The Wyoming Stormwater Retrofits Project will create an additional 20 Greened Acres, reinforcing SEPTA’s triple bottom line, and improving local water quality. SEPTA is proud to partner with the Philadelphia Water Department on this effort and others that are delivering real benefits to the communities we serve.”

The new surface basin at the Wyoming Avenue site will create 20 Greened Acres—— the largest in this year’s list of recipients, allowing SEPTA to soak up over half a million gallons during a one-inch storm.

Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education

Serving as one of the first environmental centers in the United States, the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, established in 1965, works to inspire “meaningful connections” between nature and people of all ages—from preschool students to adults.

Encompassing forests, fields, and waterways, the Roxborough-based facility will be adding a rain garden to its 340-acre ecosystem in Northwest Philadelphia.

“This project will be a true cross-sector collaboration between private companies, nonprofits, governmental agencies, and community volunteers that will provide both practical benefits and a real-world model for handling urban stormwater in a natural setting,” says Casey Darnley, Director of Development at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education. “We hope this project can serve as an educational site for the community and peer organizations. We greatly appreciate PWD's support to make this long-awaited project a reality!”

a grassy courtyard surrounded by 18th century buildings

Historic Germantown used their Stormwater Grant to depave and transform their asphalt-covered courtyard and parking lot into a welcoming community green space - and receive the 2018 Stormwater Pioneers Award.

Greening Neighborhoods

Stormwater Grants can also be an opportunity to bring green to unexpected places: Several applications were awarded because the proposals prioritized planting vegetation on properties in communities lacking green spaces.

A parking lot of a shopping center in the Whitman section of South Philadelphia will plant trees, along with a subsurface basin and depaving, which will collectively manage more than six Greened Acres. These trees will also help address the urban heat island effect, which is a prevalent concern in communities across the city.

“Trees are a vital part of city infrastructure, and provide many environmental benefits including stormwater management as well as reducing the urban heat island effect,” Lutes says. “Our grant selection criteria prioritizes tree planting and aligns with the vision and goals of the Philly Tree Plan.”

an illustration of the planned improvments to the Bregy Elementary schoolyard shows the building in the background nearly obscured by trees, a rain garden filled with native flowers in the foreground, and space between filled with children enjoying permeable basketball courts, playgrounds, and pathways, and a large grassy area.

A glimpse of how one of this year’s Stormwater Grant Awardees – Bregy Elementary – might look with their planned GSI upgrades, including a rain garden, porous paving, de-paved areas, and more. Render by NV5, courtesy of Trust for Public Land

Congratulations to all of our 2021 Stormwater Grant Awardees!

  • 2743 S 3rd St.
  • 3515 Amber St.
  • Bregy Elementary
  • Concilio
  • Friends Rehabilitation Program
  • Holy Cross Catholic Church
  • Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education
  • SEPTA Wyoming Complex
  • St Luke's’ Episcopal Church
  • Tacony Realty LLC
  • Tioga Business Center
Learn more about the recipients →

Looking Ahead

Our next grant deadline is October 15, 2022. Pre-applications meetings will open in summer 2022, so stay tuned for an opening date! Be sure to check our website for the most up-to-date resources and sign up for the Stormwater Grants email newsletter.

In addition to our fall deadline, we are also currently accepting grant applications on a rolling basis from April 15 through June 10, 2022. We will consider grant applications from property owners for phased design and construction projects.

There are various ways to utilize the Stormwater Grants Rubric outlined in our Stormwater Grants Application Guide. The rubric tackles criteria such as:

  • Community Impact
  • Greening
  • Cost Effectiveness
  • Project Funding
  • Right-of-Way (ROW) Impervious Area Capture
  • Strong Property Owner Involvement

“We look forward to continuing to work with communities across the city as we implement green stormwater infrastructure through the grants program,” Lutes says. “We encourage property owners and stormwater vendors to reach out to PWD at PWD.StormwaterCredits@phila.gov, elizabeth.lutes@phila.gov, or james.pollum@phila.gov with any questions about the application process.”

Learn more about Stormwater Grants