2011 Awards of Excellence: Howard Neukrug
Civic Award: Howard Neukrug
Howard Neukrug, winner of the 2011 Civic Award of Excellence, brings leadership, passion, and legitimacy to the green infrastructure movement. Howard has been a steadfast champion of green infrastructure and stormwater management principles for decades. His hard work and dedication has led to the creation of institutions and policies that have thrived and will continue to affect change for years to come.
He founded the “Office of Watersheds” within the Philadelphia Water Department in 1999, an unusual and unprecedented approach for a major city utility. This Office runs a series of programs that touch on everything from flood control to drinking water protection and ecosystem monitoring. Perhaps the biggest program is the Green City, Clean Waters initiative, a 25-year plan that includes 2.4 billion dollars in future expenditures. It has been approved by the EPA and Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection and is expected to revolutionize urban stormwater management policy and programming across North America. Included in this plan is the large-scale implementation of green infrastructure, requirements and incentives for his infrastructure, a street tree program, the conversion of abandoned space, restored streams with physical habitat improvements, and more.
Howard also serves as the Chairman of the Clean Water America Alliance's Urban Water Sustainability Council. The Alliance is poised to draft a national water policy blueprint. Part of the Alliance’s plan is expected to advance ideas for eliminating roadblocks to green infrastructure and to offer suggestions for creating incentives for green infrastructure including green roofs.
Howard has also recognized the importance of community engagement, working with partners such as the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society to engage, educate, and to listen to communities’ needs. A broad range of pilot projects and community outreach efforts were undertaken to further strengthen the Green City, Clean Water approach. Efforts were made to engage input from environmental advocacy groups to confirm that the green approach was technically robust and could achieve water quality goals.
Finally, Howard made certain that both the technical components and the financial benefits of the Green City, Clean Water approach were evaluated and addressed in a rigorous and academically sound manner. This involved engaging technical experts in many areas ranging from water quality computer modeling to detailed economic evaluations. It is Howard’s attention to detail which gives us hope that Philadelphia can achieve the lofty goals it is striving for.