Environmental sustainability is a defining issue of the 21st century, and higher education can play a leadership role in addressing global climate change. Through the research, teaching, and operational practices articulated in its Climate Action Plan, Penn is dedicated to promoting a sustainable culture and implementing environmentally conscious policies.

Learning Sustainability

Penn seeks to incorporate issues relating to climate change and sustainability as part of the curriculum and educational experience available to all students. Green Campus Partnership, the umbrella organization formed in 2007 to address environmental sustainability planning and policy development at Penn and coordinate programs and initiatives for a more sustainable campus, continues to introduce new programs, collaborate with the Office of the Provost, and expand opportunities for relevant research and internships all with a primary focus on students.

Raising Awareness

Reducing Emissions

Penn is dedicated to building a culture of sustainability that informs all constituents of University life. Through Penn's Eco-Reps program, select students, faculty and staff build campus-wide awareness of Penn's commitment to sustainability. Eco-Reps work within their College Houses, Greek chapters, departments and offices to develop educational events, activities and campaigns aimed at supporting the University's environmental goals and Climate Action Plan. Together with several outreach campaigns throughout the year, Eco-Reps champion environmental efforts, continuously challenging their peers to adopt a culture of sustainability.

Conserving Energy

An effective energy management and conservation strategy remains an integral component of Penn's Climate Action Plan 2.0, as decreasing energy consumption is the most significant method of reducing the University’s carbon footprint.

Reducing Emissions

Reducing Emissions

As the largest private employer in greater Philadelphia and a destination for thousands of daily commuters, Penn recognizes the significant impact of auto travel on the environment. Penn's Sustainable Transportation Initiative was launched in 2010 in support of the Climate Action Plan goal of lowering the University's carbon footprint. Climate Action Plan 2.0 continues these efforts by emphasizing new programs or service enhancements designed to provide faculty, staff and students with more choice and greater flexibility in their commuting options.

Minimizing Waste

While waste may not be the largest contributor to Penn's carbon footprint, it is certainly the most visible. Penn’s outreach campaigns like ReThink Your Footprint inspire individuals to adopt the mantra of "reduce, reuse, recycle" across campus. Climate Action Plan 2.0 and Penn’s Solid Waste Management Plan call on the University to continue to reduce overall Municipal Solid Waste and increase its recycling rate by addressing management of the five common waste streams on campus, including landfill trash, single-stream recycling, compost, universal waste, and miscellaneous waste.

Designing Green

One of the world's most attractive urban campuses, Penn is home to significant achievements in planning, landscape design, and architecture. The award-winning Penn Connects campus development plan is steering Penn's commitment to a healthy built environment. Following the recommendations of the Climate Action Plan 2.0, Penn will increase ecologically managed green space, decrease building energy consumption, and increase education and awareness of sustainable design.

Local Foods

Local Foods

The University affirmed its commitment to sustainable and local food by partnering with Bon Appétit Management Company to deliver Penn's Dining program. Bon Appétit and Penn Dining are committed a sustainable future for food service by providing flavorful food that is healthy and economically viable for all, produced through practices that respect farmers, workers, and animals; nourish the community; and replenish our shared natural resources for future generations. Through this commitment, students, staff, and faculty engage in educational opportunities about healthy lifestyle choices, sustainable agriculture and a low-carbon diet.

Purchasing Practices

Penn's Sustainable Purchasing Initiative seeks to improve purchasing practices to products with minimal environmental impact as compared to other similar commodities or services that serve the same purpose. The University's preferred suppliers, in particular Penn Marketplace participating suppliers, are encouraged to include products that promote environmental stewardship in their online product catalog and Penn faculty and staff members are empowered to select environmentally friendly products for their purchase requirements.