BLUER and WEST CHESTER, PA: Creating a more sustainable economic and environmental future

By Scott Tornek (C ’87 and WG ’95), Chief Strategy Officer at the Penn Center for Community Health Workers, and David Mazzocco, Associate Director of Sustainability and Projects at Wharton

BLUER logoThe work of minimizing Penn’s carbon footprint often extends beyond the campus, through efforts of Penn community members in other volunteer organizations.  Scott Tornek (C ’87 and WG ’95), Chief Strategy Officer at the Penn Center for Community Health Workers, and David Mazzocco, Associate Director of Sustainability and Projects at Wharton, served on BLUER in West Chester, PA, as the business outreach director and chair/green building advisor respectively.

BLUER, or Borough Leaders United for Emissions Reduction, is a Borough Council appointed ad-hoc, all volunteer committee whose mission is to help the Borough of West Chester and its community reduce greenhouse gas pollution 10% below 2005 levels by 2015 and beyond. In 2006, West Chester Borough Council committed to participate in the Cities for Climate Protection Campaign, sponsored by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), and signaled that West Chester Borough would take a leadership role in promoting public awareness about the causes and impacts of climate change. Establishing BLUER put West Chester Borough’s resolution into action. The committee’s work in preparing and implementing a Climate Action Plan helped break the trend toward rising greenhouse emissions and put West Chester on a track toward a more sustainable economic and environmental future.

To help volunteer efforts with goal implementation, BLUER increased partnerships with other organizations and entities, including West Chester University, the West Chester Business Improvement District, Chester County Hospital (now affiliated with Penn Medicine), the Sierra Club and the Chester County Cycling Coalition, to work together on similarly aimed programs and combine resources, efforts and effects. BLUER’s list of accomplishments with the help of these other organizations is impressive. As a result, West Chester’s emissions are down 11% over 2005 levels, exceeding their initial goal and continuing a downward trend.  This is very encouraging and shows new building codes are working and community members are taking positive steps to reduce their energy consumption.

By the Ordinance that created it, BLUER as a formal committee expired on 31 December 2015. But the work of this committee is by no means complete, and the successful efforts and legacy will continue beyond its charter. BLUER worked with the West Chester Borough government to institutionalize their efforts by creating an interdepartmental “Sustainability Champion” within the Borough’s administrative staff as well as naming an Ecosystem Resource Management Committee as an advisory group. Their job is to coordinate the efforts of various Borough departments and community outreach to achieve the goals of greenhouse gas reduction and other environmental initiatives. BLUER created a Climate Action Plan, but implementation will continue as part of the Borough’s annual goals via its operations, monitoring and accountability of staff. You may find additional information on West Chester Borough’s website.

Today at Penn, Wharton is taking a leadership role in advocating for CAP 2.0, Penn’s Climate Action Plan, by identifying and implementing substantive reductions in the environmental impact of the Wharton community that demonstrate leadership on behalf of our students, faculty and staff.  As Associate Director of Sustainability and Projects at Wharton, David’s role is to manage Wharton Operation’s Sustainability Program to identify and implement actions that reduce Wharton’s environmental footprint and promote sustainable behavior among our stakeholders.

Penn also is making great strides with its sustainable work in the health system. The Penn Center for Community Health Workers is a community-academic-health system partnership at Penn Medicine. The center has developed an innovative, research-based program called IMPaCT that has been scientifically proven to improve the health outcomes of high-risk, low income populations. As Chief Strategy Officer, Scott’s role is to provide vision and leadership for the rollout of IMPaCT to other health systems, government entities and community organizations nationwide. In conjunction with a team of over 40 talented people, he is developing a business strategy and services platform.

Coincidentally, David and Scott both joined Penn October 26th of 2015!

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