Philadelphia green company Shift_Design (or Shift Space Design) is changing the Philly landscape, one green roof at a time. It combines sustainability, architectural design and product design to create products that focus on green roofs, living walls and rainwater capture. There are other products and services as well, but the “big three” remain at the core of the company’s mission. Its goal is to communicate, inspire and educate people about the need for clean technologies while offering business and homeowners products that are conducive to a sustainable lifestyle.

Environmentally Friendly Products

Shift Space Design founder and CEO Mario Gentile is an architect and product designer. He teaches an architecture studio on biomimicry at the University of Pennsylvania. The rest of the team brings to the table degrees in environmental planning and design, architecture and product design, development and packaging. It is this unique combination of expertise, coupled with a passion for green living and offering environmentally attuned products that makes Shift_Design a stand-out green start up.

Several companies in the Philly area are getting on the Shift_Design bandwagon. Restaurants and other businesses have opted for its custom green roof designs. The Shake Shack sports one as does the Urban Outfitters corporate headquarters located in the Navy Yard. When the University City District did construction at the 30th Street Station in Philly, it looked to Shift_Design to help shield commuters from the noisy eyesore. What resulted was a beautiful modular green wall complete with planters.

Emphasis on Environmental Strategy

Their products are designed with a strong emphasis on environmental strategy which includes the waste reducing approach of using materials that are made from content that is not only recycled but also 100% recyclable after a lengthy life cycle. Their business model reinforces the concept of keeping manufacturing local and “do-it-yourself project” friendly.

A recent project that has garnered some attention is a movement to build modular structures, or mini buildings, which can be placed throughout the city on vacant lots. There are an estimated 10,000 vacant lots in Philadelphia.

In-the-box Thinking

Philadelphia Generocity explains programs would be built around these “boxes,” such as health care, tech start-ups, retail for fresh food, and art. They are planning farm boxes for urban farmers, tech boxes for software companies and others.

It is the firm’s intent to bring life to these vacant lots and reinvigorate the city. It is working with the business accelerator, FastFWD, to put plans into action. FastFWD is the result of a partnership between Wharton Social Impact Initiative, the City of Philadelphia and GoodCompany. Through the program, the team at Shift_Design has met with various agencies and government officials to discuss the idea and work out the details. The project is still in its infancy but the response has so far been positive.

That is the beauty of these green start-ups, they seek to bring people together, revitalize neighborhoods, unite communities and create a more sustainable environment for us all. As Shift_Design gains momentum you will certainly see their influence spread as other areas follow their lead.


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