As a part of PECO’s Environmental Initiative and LEED certification process, existing turfgrass areas at the company’s Berwyn Complex in Tredyffrin Township, Chester County, and its Warminster Service Building in Bucks County are being converted to native warm season grasses. Beginning in the fourth quarter of 2008, targeted herbicide treatments were applied to approximately 20 acres of land at the two properties to remove the existing turfgrass. These areas were then drill-seeded with a native meadow grass seed mix consisting of four (4) different types of grasses: Little Blue Stem (PA Ecotype), Purple Top, Broomsedge, and Indian Grass (PA Ecotype). The grasses will mature in about three years and will range from 3 to 5 feet in height.
PECO initiated this conversion because native grass landscapes provide numerous and substantial environmental, economic, and community benefits. Well-adapted to local soils, climate, and hydrology, native grasses are much easier and less costly to maintain than turfgrass. Their deep roots and dense growth stabilize the soil, reducing the risk of erosion, and help slow stormwater runoff, allowing it to infiltrate into the soil right where it falls, and purifying it along the way. Native grasses do not require regular applications of pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers – chemicals which severely undermine the health of aquatic ecosystems in our region including, most notably, the Chesapeake Bay estuary. Addition, regular mowing will no longer be performed, substantially reducing fossil-fuel use, carbon emissions, and noise pollution.
Recognizing that such native grass landscapes retain more stormwater on-site, reducing seasonal flooding and burdens on municipal infrastructure, officials from both townships have asked that these conversions serve as pilot projects, and further, they have asked PECO and it’s consultant team for assistance in amending current ordinances to promote similar projects elsewhere in the future.
PECO is excited about this progressive initiative and the significant benefits that it could bring to communities and neighborhoods everywhere. As the energy transmission and distribution company serving the entire southeastern Pennsylvania region, PECO is directly responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of thousands of acres of land. If successful, this initiative could open the door to similar projects at PECO sites and right-of-ways across the entire region, resulting in substantial positive environmental impact.
Watershed: Pennypack Creek
Estimated cost is $2,000 per acre
PECO Energy Company
2301 Market Street, S7-2
Philadelphia, PA 19103