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Delaware County, Pennsylvania, Releases First-Ever Sustainability Plan
Publication Date
September 20th 2023

Delaware County, Pennsylvania, released its first-ever sustainability plan. The plan identifies initiatives for the county and its 49 municipalities to address climate change.


Delaware County’s Office of Sustainability, led by Francine Locke, Chief Sustainability Officer, and Rebecca Yurkovich, Sustainability and Resiliency Manager, worked closely with Carol Martsolf, Chair of the Delaware County Sustainability Commission, and Vice President and Chief Learning Officer at Urban Engineers, and a team of stakeholders from a variety of backgrounds to help to shape the plan.


Extreme flooding, increasing temperatures, and more extreme storms inspired the plan's creation. Future predictions indicate significant climate challenges for the county due to its border with the Delaware River. The five-year sustainability plan addresses these challenges, outlining over 200 actions to create a more sustainable and resilient county.


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


Sustain Delco identifies several goals: climate resiliency, natural resources, transportation, energy and efficiency, zero waste, and health and wellness.

The climate resiliency section seeks to prepare Delaware County to adapt, withstand, and recover quickly from climate change by improving emergency response, creating a robust green economy, and building more resilient infrastructure.


The transportation section recognizes that transportation is the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. In Delaware County, over 70% of residents drive alone to work daily, adding vehicles to the road and increasing greenhouse gas emissions. The plan will reduce transportation emissions by increasing accessibility to safe, active, and multimodal transportation alternatives such as walking, biking, and public transportation. These alternatives decrease emissions by reducing the number of single-occupancy vehicles on roadways.


In addition, the plan looks to reduce water and energy consumption in buildings and properties, transition to combustion-free renewable energy, and improve resident health and wellness by creating a safe and healthy environment to live, work, play, and thrive in Delaware County. Other goals seek to address preserving the natural environment, reducing waste, and improving the health and well-being of Delaware County’s nearly 576,000 residents.


“Equity and inclusion guide our sustainability initiatives, ensuring that every individual, regardless of their background or circumstance, has equitable access to safe, affordable, and environmentally responsible options, empowering them to reach their full potential while preserving the planet for future generations,” said Carol Martsolf.


As chair of the Sustainability Commission, Carol leads the team, comprised of both County staff and Delaware County residents, to provide meaningful recommendations to the County Council and relevant county departments regarding preserving and protecting the natural and cultural environment of Delaware County.


“We want to move the county closer to a greener, more sustainable future — a more resilient future,” said Carol Martsolf.


In addition to the innovative work of the Sustainability Commission, Delaware County’s unique and progressive organizational structure helped spearhead the plan. In 2021, the Delaware County Office of Sustainability was created to incorporate sustainability within all operations. Six departments with missions closely aligned with sustainability now report to the Chief Sustainability Officer.


The Office of Sustainability, Facilities Management, Public Works, Planning, Fleet Management, Parks and Recreation, and the Conservation District form the Sustainability Functional Group, working to make Delaware County’s operations more sustainable and resilient.


You can find the Sustain Delco: A Sustainability Plan here.