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Joe’s Café: Penn’s Environmental Sustainability Showcase

January 11, 2011, Volume 57, No. 17

Joe’s Café, a new eatery located on the ground floor of the Wharton School’s Steinberg-Dietrich Hall is the quintessential example of the University’s green efforts: a campus venue built to achieve a LEED gold designation for its commercial interior renovation, food-service practices, recycling, composting and chemical-free cleaning methods.

The Café—Penn’s first sustainable “commerical interior”—replaces a smaller café that closed in 2009.

Joe’s, named for Joseph Wharton, founder of the the Wharton School opened last month, but it was conceived when Penn launched its Climate Action Plan in 2009, outlining strategies to reduce the University’s carbon footprint, including incorporating green building methods, increasing recycling and decreasing waste output and energy use.

Joe’s does all that and more. The Café will:

• Recycle or compost 50 percent by volume of its waste, including but not limited to food scraps, utensils, takeout containers and fryer oil. It is an amount that is twice the current total campus baseline of 24 percent.

• Purchase food and drink that is produced seasonally and within 150 miles of the site, as well as hormone—and antibiotic—free meat and dairy, vegetarian-fed beef, Certified Humane eggs, fish sourced using the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch guidelines, dolphin-safe tuna and Fair Trade and Certified Organic coffee. 

• Prepare entrees, sauces, salads, roasted meats, stocks, baked goods and vegetables daily from scratch.

• Serve entrees with portion control in mind and have vegetarian options available.

• Not use trans fats, peanut oil or MSG.

According to Laurie Cousart, the sustainability coordinator for Business Services, there will be an educational program on sustainable food and Café operations that will enlist school staff and students to engage and teach Café visitors. This program will also work to ensure correct composting and recycling procedures. The school also plans to hold events in the Café that promote sustainable food production and consumption. Joe’s Café is open Mondays through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.


Almanac - January 11, 2011, Volume 57, No. 17