Sustainable Communities

Pennsylvania was called “Penn’s Woods” for good reason, and we still have the wild resources, beautiful vistas and authentic communities with which people connect.  But the livability and sustainability of our communities and landscapes are at risk every day.  We are one of the slowest growing states, but we consume our cherished farms and natural places faster than any state except Wyoming.  Our communities and landscapes are threatened by the loss of thriving downtowns, open space, wildlife habitat and connectivity between the places we live, work and play.  PEC has focused its expertise and experience into the Center of Excellence for Sustainable Communities, which addresses sustainable development, smart growth, land stewardship and access to our resources.

Click here for a brochure highlighting our statewide trails and greenways work, or click on any of the individual projects listed below for more details.

Sustainable Communities Programs

  • The southern Yough races through Pennsylvania's deepest river gorge before plummeting over Ohiopyle Falls and on through a whitewater area know nation-wide. The northern Yough offers scenic flatwater through an area incredibly rich in history.
  • The Pennsylvania Environment Council has launched an asset-based community development initiative, the River Town Program, to assist distressed communities bordering a navigable river to develop an alternative economic engine—outdoor recreation-- to help revitalize these small communities.
  • For the past several years, PEC has hosted a gala dinner in celebration of the recipients of the Governor's Environmental Excellence Awards.
  • This is one of two CLIs that PEC coordinates with DCNR to connect natural resource conservation with sustainable community development.
  • Water trails are recreational corridors between specific locations that can be used for both single day and multiple day trips. They provide safe access to and information about Pennsylvania's waterways while also providing connections to our history, ecology, geology, heritage and wildlife. Most importantly, water trails are open to anyone who is interested in getting out on the water!
  • People are all about trails these days, but if the thought of ticks and poison ivy makes you want to stay inside, then hiking the deep woods might not be the best path for you. Urban adventurers are creating The East Coast Greenway trail for walking, biking and other non-motorized uses. The Greenway will connect major cities, including Philadelphia, along 3,000 miles of waterfront esplanades, park paths, and highway corridors from Maine to Florida.
  • The Marcellus Shale natural gas reserve arguably represents the largest environmental and economic opportunity - and challenge - for Pennsylvania.
  • Presented by PEC and Dominion, the awards highlight the environmental innovators of western Pennsylvania.
  • PEC implements the Community Illegal Dumpsite Cleanup Program, which is a program to address illegal dumpsites and create economic development opportunities across the Commonwealth. PEC is currently conducting the Program in the rural municipalities of Bradford, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Suquehanna and Wyoming Counties through partnerships with business, industry, county & local government and nonprofit organizations. Since the inception of the Program, over 726 tons of trash, 75 tons of scrap metal and over 200 tons of tires were removed from the environment.