From 2014-2019, over 330 Philadelphians participated in our 15 workshops, which were held in nine of the city’s Planning Districts. We collected data at every workshop and also through follow-up interviews. We asked what Philadelphians know about climate change and how they experience the local environment. We also asked them about their neighborhoods and communities, and how they have changed over time. We asked people how they maintain their homes, and if they feel supported to address climate change.

We have collected this data using surveys at our workshops, as well as participant observation conducted by Drexel students. We are in the process of creating data visualizations to communicate our findings. To request findings or if you have suggestions for how we might publish our work, please email us at 

Who participated in our workshops?

From 2014-2019, over 330 Philadelphians participated in our 15 workshops which were held in nine of the city’s Planning Districts. In 2019, we hosted workshops in East Parkside (West Philadelphia), Hunting Park (North Philadelphia), and Mayfair (Northeast Philadelphia) which attracted 89 participants. Over 60% of the workshop participants live in a house that they own.

What do people know about climate change?

In 2019, 49% of workshop participants reported they were able to explain climate change prior to participating in our workshop. Participants frequently conceive of climate change as the neighborhood-level changes that they have noticed in their communities, such as changes in wildlife, gardens, and pollen-levels.

How many people have experienced flooding?

In 2019, 41% of workshop participants reported having experienced flooding in their homes. In 2018, 44% of workshop participants had experienced home flooding.

What is a cooling center?

A cooling center is an air-conditioned public space where community members can seek shelter during a heat wave. Cooling centers provide shade, water, and restrooms and are often hosted at public libraries, community centers, or senior centers. Although the city operates cooling centers in most of the city’s neighborhoods, we found that most of our workshop participants were not aware of this resource.

How has Philadelphia changed over time?

Many of our workshop participants indicate that they have noticed changes in Philadelphia’s ecosystem. Participants reported noticing an increase in certain bugs and pests and a decrease of fireflies, worms, and grasshoppers. Participants also reported noticing changes with their gardens, with many reporting that it is more difficult to plant gardens in Philadelphia now due to uncertainties surrounding the weather.

What are the largest problems facing Philadelphia?

While our surveys and interviews showed that Philadelphians are concerned about climate change, it was common for participants to identify issues such as potholes, drug addiction, and a lack of affordable housing as the most pressing problems facing the city.

What topics have workshops covered?

Our 2019 workshops focused on climate change, home weatherization, and methods to control home mold growth. Workshop topics from previous years include emergency preparedness and planning, green infrastructure, stormwater management, energy conservation in the home, cooling centers, health impacts of climate change, asthma triggers, indoor air quality, and heat exhaustion.

What can the city do to prepare for climate change?

Participants most often cited better information networks, increased educational programs, emergency preparedness kits, public service announcements, and greater enforcement of environmental regulations as the best ways the city can prepare for climate change.