Green Streets Program
A green street uses a combination of vegetated and engineered strategies to manage rain or melting snow (runoff), allowing it to soak into soil, filtering it, reducing the amount of stormwater making its way into Philadelphia’s combined sewer pipes and reducing CSOs.
Streets and sidewalks are by far the largest single category of public impervious cover, accounting for roughly 38% of the impervious cover within the combined sewer service area of Philadelphia. (Note: impervious cover associated with streets in front of parks was not included in this percentage; these streets are included in the “Green Public Open Space” program). To mitigate the impact of this impervious area, the Philadelphia Water Department has developed green street designs to provide stormwater management, while maintaining the primary function of the street for vehicles and pedestrians. PWD will implement green streets where appropriate throughout the City’s right-of-ways, public streets and sidewalks to maximize stormwater management opportunities.
A green street uses a combination of vegetated and engineered strategies to manage rain or melting snow, (stormwater runoff), at its source. Green street designs incorporate various green stormwater infrastructure tools, including stormwater tree trenches, stormwater planters, stormwater bumpouts, and pervious pavement. Using these tools, a green street captures stormwater runoff from streets and sidewalks, infiltrates it into the soil to recharge groundwater and surface water, reduces the amount of polluted stormwater runoff going into Philadelphia’s combined sewer system, and reduces combined sewer overflow events (CSOs). In addition, green streets can be designed to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety, improve air quality and help alleviate the Urban Heat Island effect by reducing air temperatures, and enhance the aesthetics of the right-of-way.
PWD’s Green Streets program is currently focused on planning, design, and implementation of projects within the combined sewer service area of Philadelphia. PWD also provides technical assistance is to other City agencies undertaking renewal projects within the right-of-way in order to encourage the collaboration for project planning and design to include green stormwater infrastructure elements. The Green Streets Design Manual provides design standards and procedural guidance for developing green streets that manage stormwater runoff. A comprehensive planning approach and coordination of PWD’s program with other City programs will yield maximum effectiveness in transforming Philadelphia’s streets into green streets. Ultimately, the Green Streets program should result in setting a “green standard” for streets within the City.