Released: April 29, 2022
This week, Delaware County’s Office of Sustainability received the 2022 Pennsylvania Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence for its Sustain Delco initiative, one of just fifteen programs led by businesses, schools, and community organizations from across the state to receive such distinction.
The prestigious award, recognizing innovative efforts to address issues of climate change, sustainability, and environmental justice, was presented on behalf of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell by the Pennsylvania Environmental Council and the Governor’s Office. Accepting the award for Delaware County was Francine Locke, the County’s Chief Sustainability Officer, and Sue DePompeo, Assistant Director of Sustainability Finance.
The award was in recognition of the significant accomplishments of Delaware County’s new Office of Sustainability. Led by Ms. Locke, who in January of 2021 became the County’s first Chief Sustainability Officer, the Office of Sustainability has spearheaded its ambitious “Sustain Delco” initiative with a goal of making Delaware County sustainable and more resilient to the effects of climate change through the examination of government operations, effective engagement with the community, and (in partnership with the new Sustainability Commission) the development and implementation of a long-term Sustainability and Climate Action Plan.
“With the support of the community, County Council, the Executive Director, and the Sustainability Commission, we have helped the County accomplish a great deal in a very short period,” said Francine Locke. “This award serves as an amazing validation and booster for our County and for our hard-working Sustainability team.”
The accomplishments attributed to the Sustain Delco initiative are numerous, including: the launching of a vehicle electrification plan with the purchase of vehicles and charging stations (funded by a PA DEP AFIG grant); the enactment of a Delco C-PACE commercial building energy conservation program; successful and ongoing collaboration with surrounding counties the replacement of outdated street lights with low-power LEDs through a Regional Street Light Procurement Program; the hiring a Zero Waste Consultant to develop 10-year municipal waste plan for the County; and the completion of a baseline greenhouse gas emission inventory for the County’s operations.
“County Council is honored to receive this important recognition from the Governor, the DEP, and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council,” said Delaware County Council Vice Chair Elaine Schaefer. “The future of Delaware County is a sustainable one, and we’re proud of Francine Locke and the Office of Sustainability. We are also so grateful for the critical support of our residents who appreciate the proactive steps we are undertaking.”
In addition to these accomplishments that led to recognition by the Governor’s office, the Office of Sustainability has been involved in the preservation of the Marple Green Space—the largest County-owned park and open space (200+ acres) acquisition in Delaware County’s history; awarded over $7 million to more than 40 municipalities through its Greenways Grant program to fund open spaces and trails, and recently hosted the sold-out “1st Annual Delaware County Sustainability Conference” that provided a forum for innovation and collaboration among Delaware County residents and individuals working together towards a more sustainable future.