Melissa Lee I

Melissa Lee and her organization The GREEN Program have been instrumental in making eco-friendly waves in the academic sphere. | Photo courtesy: The GREEN Program

Green Philly recently held its second annual SustainPHL awards, honoring those working behind the scenes and under the spotlight in a quest to make Philadelphia a more sustainable metropolis. The awards recognized scores of people and programs across nine categories.

In partnership with Green Philly and SustainPHL, PW took a deeper dive into some of the nominees and winners of the event. The pairing of the Sustainable Business Network and The GREEN Program were on the list of instrumental outlets in Philly making a difference in their own right.

We recently caught up with Anna Shipp, who spearheads the efforts of SBN and Melissa Lee, founder of The GREEN Program. 

Even with President Trump pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement back in June, here at home Philadelphians are championing for a green, eco-friendly city.

Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia (SBN) and The GREEN Program (TGP) are two such companies paving the way for a more sustainable urban future.

“Philly is currently showing leadership in sustainable stormwater management solutions, waste reduction, energy efficiency, and restoration of parks and public spaces among other things,” said Anna Shipp, executive director of SBN. “SBN is committed to supporting the city to achieve and surpass these goals, as well as set

its sights on becoming a leading city in the local sustainable economy movement.”

SBN’s mission is to integrate environmental policy into the economy by fostering and advancing progressive businesses in what is referred to as the triple bottom line. “Having a strong economy, environmental health, and social justice are not mutually exclusive; instead they are strongly complementary and interdependent,” said Shipp. “Our work is to prove that by elevating local businesses who demonstrate business is a force for good, and advocating for policies that support responsible local businesses to start, grow, and thrive.”

SBN embodies the think globally act locally mentality.

The organization’s initiatives are centralized within Greater Philadelphia and deal with a range of issues, including: promoting small business, making procurement of local goods more accessible, improving waterways, standardizing solar homes, and supporting relationships between the City and Certified B-Corps, corporations with public policies for using profits to help the world. “An impact economy is one that benefits people, our planet and profits,” Shipp affirmed.

Shipp was a nominee for “Activist of the Year” at the recent SustainPHL Awards. This is not the first time Shipp, who has a Master’s of Environmental Studies degree from the University of Pennsylvania, has been recognized for her environmental works. Among her accolades, Shipp received in 2013 the Dr. Frederick Scatena Award for Outstanding Research in Urban Forestry. She was also a 2012 U.S. Forest Service Sustainability Science Fellow and 2015 Fellow of the Environmental Leadership Program

While SBN reshapes the market, The GREEN Program has been making eco-friendly waves in the academic sphere. TGP was also recently nominated for SustainPHL’s “Impact Business Leader” award. Its mission is to expose students to environmental realities and initiatives through an accredited short-term abroad program. To date, the organization has had more than 1,800 participants from more than 300 universities around the world.  

“[Fighting] for a sustainable future is fighting for our current and future generations ahead, for our environment, and for the well-being of our planet. Our progressive educational model is The GREEN Program's contribution to sustainable development,” explained Melissa Lee, founder and CEO of TGP. “Having the privilege to bring some of the brightest minds to the top destinations that are thriving toward sustainable development gives our future generations hope and real, practical, shared sustainability solutions that can be implemented globally.”

Melissa Lee II

Lee's The GREEN Program has worked more than 1,800 participants from more than 300 universities around the world. | Photo courtesy: The GREEN Program

In addition to its mission, TGP has supported other initiatives, including Philadelphia's Office of Sustainability's Greenworks initiative.

“A recent Greenworks initiative that stands out to me is Vision No. 8 which is focused on engaged students, stewards and workers. This goal focuses on sustainability education, employment and business opportunities for all Philadelphians,” Lee said.

According to Lee, Greenworks’ sustainability job training “is aligned with [TGP’s] efforts now more than ever.” For Lee and the TGP team, working with the city and its needs is a top priority.

“TGP is highly focused on the individual, grassroots impact that an individual can create and we are now branching out to develop a workforce development platform to engage corporations and organizations while serving disadvantaged students through our newest GREEN Advantage scholarship fund,” Lee said.

Both SBN and TGP are just getting their low carbon emission motors running as they plan new initiatives to make a more sustainable future for generations to come.

“The beauty of sustainability is that it is bigger than any individual,” said Lee.



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