Montgomery County Community College hosted a virtual Earth Day celebration Thursday, April 22, which highlighted the green initiatives area organizations and the College are doing to protect and beautify the planet.
During "Mobility Planning During COVID-19 and Beyond" Stacey Weiss, GVF Transportation Demand Management Association – TDM Manager, focused on how the early days of the pandemic had a positive impact on the region’s air quality.
As more community members were forced to stay home, initiatives like pop up bike lanes emerged and biking trails became more heavily used by those looking to get some fresh air.
“The stay at home mandate reduced traffic congestion and improved air quality. We saw drastic improvement,” she said. “Our region has poor air quality, which makes the public more susceptible to respiratory diseases like COVID-19.”
The Transportation Demand Management Association is working with municipalities to continue these initiatives and prevent a return of the heavy traffic congestion that led to poor air quality in the first place.
It will also promote how alternatives to single driver cars on the road, like using public transit, riding sharing apps and carpooling, can be low-risk options for those concerned about contracting COVID-19.
“Studies show there’s a minimum risk with proper precautions like mask wearing and social distancing,” she said.
The College is also doing its part to incorporate green initiatives into the designs of Pottstown and Blue Bell campus renovations.
At the Pottstown Campus, Heather Schmidt, of Spillman Farmer Architects, focused on the incoming renovations to North Hall as an example of green, sustainable initiatives that will beautify the campus and the Borough. The North Hall parking lot will be converted to green space, with a natural drainage system installed.
“It’s about how the community can be more engaged and involved,” she said.
At Blue Bell campus, Phil Capinski, Supervisor of Grounds, described ongoing projects including the installation of a rain garden, increasing the number of trees planted and a renovation of the Health Science Center retention basin.
There were other ways MCCC promoted Earth Day. Community member were encouraged to engage in an Earth Day activity, snap a photo and post it to Instagram with the hashtag #montcogreen to win a prize. Students and employees of the College could also engage in an Earth Day scavenger hunt through Montco Connect.