OARC implements projects that form a comprehensive strategy to transform Northwest Philadelphia into a sustainable community, and position OARC as a leader in the local green economy. By advancing sustainability in our community, we seek to balance the social, economic, and environmental impacts of our revitalization efforts. This triple bottom line approach helps preserve resources and alleviates the burden on our region’s aging infrastructure.

We advocate sustainable practices through education as well as through our development projects. Our ongoing initiatives include the following:

"Clean Kitchen, Green Community" Pilot Program for InSinkErator Food Waste Disposer

In the Spring of 2012, the City of Philadelphia selected West Oak Lane and Point Breeze as the two neighborhoods to launch its "Clean Kitchen/Green Community" program. Mayor Nutter kicked off the campaign with a launch event on Ogontz Avenue. This program provided 100 homeowners in each community with free Insinkerator food waste disposers as part of the city's efforts to reduce the amount of food waste going into landfills. Over the summer, OARC conducted outreach and educational efforts in the targeted area which consisted of approximately 400 homes. By the early fall, all 100 food waste disposers had been installed at no cost to the homeowners. The City will then track the impact the program had on reducing the amount of trash being picked up in the target neighborhoods.

Urban Energy Conservation Block Initiative

OARC works with organized blocks to retrofit homes with energy- and water-saving devices such as CFL bulbs, low flow shower heads, faucet aerators, programmable thermostats, window and outlet insulation. These devices are installed during a full day of energy events, including vendors that set up educational tables and displays. Rain barrels are also installed to reduce storm water runoff, and vacant lots are cleaned to prepare for community gardens. OARC then monitors the residents’ utility bills to help homeowners achieve best practices in energy efficiency.

Over the past few years, OARC worked with six organized blocks throughout Northwest Philadelphia to provide homes with energy and water saving devices such as CFL bulbs, low flow shower heads, faucet aerators, programmable thermostats, window and outlet insulation. Devices were insta;;ed during a full day of energy events, including vendors that set up educational tables and displays. Rain barrels were also installed to reduce stormwater runoff, and vacant lots were cleaned to prepare for community gardens. In total, OARC helped over 200 homeowners save energy and distributed over 800 energy saving devices.

Our past achievements include:

Car Sharing

OARC recently brought Zipcar car sharing service to the Ogontz Plaza Shopping Center. This is Zipcar’s second location in Northwest Philadelphia, and there has already been great demand for the service. This provides a convenient service for residents and shoppers, and positively impacts the environment. Car sharing services such as Zipcar reduce the number of cars on the road, which means less congestion, less pollution, and less dependence on foreign oil. On average, each Zipcar takes 15-20 personally owned vehicles off of the road.

OARC will be bringing another Zipcar location to our new headquarters at the Gateway.

Installation of a Rain Garden

The John F. McCloskey Elementary School and Dorothy Emanuel Recreation Center share a large asphalt courtyard. During any rain event, this area became flooded. OARC partnered with the school, the recreation center and Awbury Arboretum to install a rain garden on the site in the summer of 2010. The new rain garden is a beautiful and functional green space that provides green infrastructure for stormwater management, wildlife habitat, and educational opportunities. The garden’s design allows water to be slowly absorbed by the soil and plants, thereby reducing pollution and the amount of water entering the storm drains.

Learn More About Stormwater Management:

EPA – Stormwater Management

PWD green stormwater management for homeowners

Homeowner stormwater management guide (PDF)

Learn More About Rain Gardens:

EPA – Glossary

SOCWA – Rain Gardens for the Rouge River

URI Healthy Landscapes – Rain Gardens

EPA – Bioretention Rain Gardens

Homeowner rain garden guide (PDF)

Research and Reports

OARC conducts research in our quest to become leaders in sustainability. We have prepared the following reports, all available in Adobe PDF format.

Community Outreach Assessment

Neighborhood Savings

Urban Infrastructure Report


We encourage you to visit the following websites for more information about sustainable living.

Planet Green


Our Partners

Carson Valley Children’s Aid -

Primex Garden Center –

Weaver’s Way Co-op –

Zipcar –

Overview of Sustainability-Related Issues

EPA – Sustainability Basic Information

EPA – Learn the Issues

EPA – Energy Portal

Greenable – What is Green?

Sustainable Measures - Introduction to Sustainable Development

TED – Environmental Justice Activist Majora Carter

EPA – Greening Glossary

Mayor’s office of sustainability – greenworks

University of Delaware - human benefits of green space

USDA vegetable garden guide (PDF)

Renewable energy and efficiency rebates and incentives

Carbon Footprint Calculator

Water footprint calculator

Conserving Energy and Water in the Home

Department of Energy – Energy Savers Info

Rutgers rain barrel guide (PDF)

Rain barrel guide (PDF)

Water conservation tips

Department of Energy Home Energy Use Info

Homeowner energy savings guide (PDF)

Homeowners insulation guide (PDF)

Energy Savers fact sheet (PDF)

Online home energy audit

Planning Commission – Guide for Philadelphia Row Houses

ECA – Home Product Fact Sheets and PECO Rebates

ECA – Heating Ventilation and Cooling Fact Sheet

ENERGY STAR – Common Home Problems and Solutions

ENERGY STAR – Heat & Cool Efficiently (Basic Steps)

ENERGY STAR – Guide to Energy-Efficient Heating and Cooling (In-Depth Guide)

ENERGY STAR – Air Seal and Insulate

ENERGY STAR – Roof Products

Retrofit Philly – Cool Roof Energy Efficiency Fact Sheet

PDF Available Here

EPA – WaterSense

Alternative Transportation Modes

SEPTA – Sustainability



Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia

Carpooling rides - erideshares

Carpooling rides – carpool connect

PA Commutes – alternative transportation in PA


Philly Recycling Rewards

RecycleNOW Philadelphia

Streets Dept – Recycling Benefits


Streets Dept – Info on recycling


PADEP – Waste reduction

EPA – Waste

Waste reduction checklist (PDF)


PHS – Benefits of Trees

PHS – Mini-Guide to Tree Planting

PHS – Caring for Your Tree

PHS – Tree Tender Training

Residential Composting

Philly Compost – Why Compost?

Philly Compost – Do it Yourself

Philly Compost – Backyard & Neighborhood Answers

Philly Compost – Neighborhood Compost Map

Local Economy

Care2 – “Buy Local” is an Economic Stimulus, by Safa S.

New Rules Project – Stacy Mitchell on Big-Box Stores and the Local Business Movement

SBN –Local Living Economies, by Judy Wicks

SBN – Regional Economic Development, Competitiveness and Prosperity through Local Business Ownership


Grid Philly