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

Learning Sustainability

Penn's Climate Action Plan provides opportunities for everyone in the University community to educate themselves on critical issues that affect climate change. Sustainability education, training and discussion will extend beyond classroom walls, engaging Penn faculty, students and staff in courses, lectures and continuous learning initiatives.

Conserving Energy

An effective energy management and conservation strategy is an integral component of the Climate Action Plan, as decreasing or eliminating energy consumption is the most direct method of reducing the University's carbon footprint. More than 86 percent of carbon produced by Penn is from building energy usage. To prevent an increase in Penn's energy use on both institutional and individual levels, the University is dedicated to cutting campus energy use by 17 percent by 2014.

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 atmosphere. The University's compact urban campus is well served by a variety of alternative transportation modes suitable for reducing the amount of single automobile commutes. The strategies of the Climate Action Plan will leverage this extensive network of subway, bus, regional rail, national rail, car-sharing and trolley lines that are around the campus.

Minimizing Waste

Minimizing Waste

While waste may not be the largest contributor to Penn's carbon footprint, it is certainly the most visible. A 2008 waste audit revealed the potential to double the University's diversion rate of traditional recyclables by adopting campus standards for signage, receptacle design and collection protocols. Promotional campaigns will inspire individuals to adopt the mantra of "reduce, re-use, recycle" across campus. The Climate Action Plan calls on the University to reduce its overall waste stream and increase its diversion rate of paper, cardboard and commingled recyclables to 40 percent by 2014.

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 will continue to build upon the University's tradition of excellence with the implementation of the Climate Action Plan. At the center of the Penn Connects plan is Penn Park, a 24-acre recreational facility that has transformed impervious asphalt into green open space. Penn will also continue to invest in sustainable city planning polices in the surrounding West Philadelphia neighborhood. The Making History Campaign brought about a transformation on campus with green spaces that embody Penn's commitment to sustainability.

Local Foods

Local Foods

The University augmented its commitment to sustainable and local food by partnering with Bon Appétit Management Company for the Penn Dining program. A program called "Farm to Fork" will provide the Penn community with food from nearby farmers, while students, faculty and staff can take part in educational opportunities about healthy lifestyle choices, sustainable agriculture and a low-carbon diet. Providing organic and local food options is yet another way Penn continues to show its commitment to sustainability.

Purchasing Practices

Penn's Sustainable Purchasing Initiative seeks to increase the purchase of products with a reduced or minimal ideally zero environmental impact as compared to other similar products and services that serve the same purpose.

Raising Awareness

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.