Delaware County Commits to a Greener Future with Release of its 5-Year Sustainability Plan

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Released: August 25, 2023

Over two years in the making, the Office of Sustainability’s ambitious plan provides a workable blueprint for the County and the region to address climate change

Delaware County’s first-ever sustainability plan was presented and accepted by County Council during the August 16 public meeting. The Plan lays the framework for a sustainable and resilient Delaware County that serves to protect residents and future generations from the impacts of climate change.

Sustain Delco: A Sustainability Plan for Delaware County comes following an extensive two-year planning process. “This is a plan created by the community for the community, said Delaware County’s Sustainability and Resilience Manager Rebecca Yurkovich. “The County utilized a data-driven and community-informed approach laying the foundation for a more sustainable future in Delaware County.”

Under the guiding principles of economic sustainability, education, governance, and equity, inclusion, and justice, the Plan establishes goals and targets across six focus areas: Climate Resiliency, Natural Resources, Transportation, Energy and Efficiencies, Zero Waste, and Health and Wellness. The Plan identifies over 293 actions to achieve those goals.


CLIMATE RESILIENCY - Climate projections currently show that Delaware County is expected to face harsher storms, additional flooding, and more extreme temperatures, with average daily temperatures expected to increase between 3-8 degrees above current temperatures in the next few decades. The Climate Resiliency section of the Plan seeks to prepare Delaware County to adapt, withstand, and recover quickly from these changes by improving emergency response, creating a robust green economy, and building more resilient infrastructure.

NATURAL RESOURCES - As an additional response to more extreme weather, Delaware County established the goal to protect, conserve, and restore natural resources. Delaware County Council has shown its commitment to open space over the past several years with the acquisition of the former Don Guanella site, the conservation of site of the previous Broomall’s Lake Dam, and the creation of the highly successful Green Ways Grant Program. The Plan seeks to continue these initiatives and set ambitious goals to preserve additional open space, improve watershed quality, increase native plantings and tree canopy, and promote brownfield remediation.

TRANSPORTATION - The Plan also identifies ambitious transportation goals in an effort to increase accessibility to safe, active, and multimodal transportation as alternatives to single-occupant motor vehicles. The August 16 presentation to Council noted that over 70% of Delaware County residents are currently driving alone to work each day, adding vehicles to the road, and increasing greenhouse gas emissions. The Plan seeks to address these trends by increasing alternatives such as walking, biking, and public transportation, as well as the deployment of additional electric vehicles.

ENERGY AND EFFICIENCIES - In addition to cutting greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector, Delaware County has set ambitious goals to reduce water and energy consumption in buildings and properties in Delaware County and transition to combustion-free renewable energy. According to the Plan, Delaware County buildings and properties contribute more than 3 million metric tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere each year. By reducing consumption and making renewables more easily accessible, the County hopes to mitigate these impacts.

ZERO WASTE - Waste has been a hot topic in Delaware County following decades of environmental justice concerns, but goals to achieve Zero Waste put Delaware County on a new path. The Plan identifies targets of increasing waste diversion to 50% in the next five years both within County operations and the community. By adopting the Zero Waste approach, the Plan seeks to move away from incineration and other harmful practices that threaten the environment or public health.

HEALTH AND WELLNESS - The Plan includes health and wellness goals to create a safe and healthy environment to live, work, play and thrive in Delaware County. The Philadelphia Region, including Delaware County, is currently in non-attainment status, meaning they are not meeting federal and state air quality standards. The Plan identifies actions to improve air quality, promote safe drinking water, increase locally grown food, and support the newly established Delaware County Health Department to improve overall wellbeing.


The Sustain Delco Plan not only identifies actions guiding the County’s sustainability work over the next five years, but it also provides ongoing real-world examples of sustainability efforts and successes to inform and inspire the community. Each chapter of the Plan provides necessary background information explaining existing conditions and the importance of each topic mentioned.

Sustainability Spotlights throughout the Plan serve to inspire by sharing examples of sustainability success stories completed both by the County and within local communities. Local examples include Media Borough’s composting program and Haverford Township’s use of native plants to improve water quality; while County spotlights highlight the County’s commitment to renewable energy and provision of community gardens, among other projects.


Recognizing that community input was integral to the creation of a successful and well-received plan, the Delaware County Office of Sustainability led a sweeping effort to engage residents, utilizing surveys, stakeholder meetings, and open houses to gain community feedback.

Six subcommittees, one for each of the Plan’s focus areas, met over the course of eight months to identify the main goals, targets, and actions of the Plan. Participants in these groups represented a variety of backgrounds and organizations including PECO, SEPTA, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the Clean Air Council, and the Pennsylvania Resources Council, among many others.

Delaware County Council members commended the efforts of the County’s Office of Sustainability, under the direction of Francine Locke and the Sustainability Commission, noting it was collaborative effort with a shared goal and passion of a healthier and more sustainable county.

To implement this plan, Delaware County will continue to leverage community partnerships and expertise. Lead and partner organizations have been identified for each action, as well as a rough timeline for completion. Additional grants, fundraising, and County funds will also be utilized for implementation. Community organizations, businesses, educational institutions and more can find actions to take within their own organizations by looking at the “applicability” column of the implementation matrix.

“This is a momentous day for Delaware County to have this extremely valuable document finally finished and a way to formalize our commitment to sustainability” said Delaware County Council Vice Chair Elaine Paul Schaefer. “This is a commitment we are all making, in our government and with our residents, toward making our community more sustainable. This is a change in course for this County that will be positive for generations to come. I am very, very proud today.”

To see the completed plan and learn more about Sustainability efforts in Delaware County, visit

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Delaware County, presently consisting of over 184 square miles divided into forty-nine municipalities is the oldest settled section of Pennsylvania.

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