Twenty-seven Penn students who live in three residence halls and one fraternity house have volunteered to become Eco-Reps, peer-to-peer educators who will heighten awareness among students about sustainability and the University's Climate Action Plan.
This year, 10 students in Hill College House, 10 in Kings Court English College House, six in Rodin College House and one in Tau Epsilon Phi are being trained to be sustainability ambassadors to their fellow residents. They hail from the schools of Arts and Sciences, Nursing, Engineering and Applied Science and Wharton.
“We believe motivated students who are interested in environmental issues can help their peers make better choices and decisions in their behavior as it relates to the environment,” Dan Garofalo, the University’s sustainability coordinator, says.
The group is focusing on the University’s environmental commitments, including reduced energy consumption and carbon production, and improved waste reduction, recycling habits, water conservation practices, green transportation alternatives and consumer choices. Overall, the goal is to create a more sustainable campus environment.
The Eco-Reps meet weekly with a program coordinator to discuss strategies and goals and exchange ideas for implementation.
“Penn’s program,” Garofalo says, “is unique in basing participation in the students’ residences, creating monthly themes to focus activities and supporting the effort with a detailed technical manual and dedicated staff management.”
Penn’s Eco-Reps are building up to their first event: an energy-conservation challenge whereby the residents of each building will pledge to “unplug, turn down or turn off” their electronics and thermostats while they’re away during Winter Break.
A parallel program for staff Eco-Reps is under development.
Additional information about the Eco-Reps program is available at www.upenn.edu/sustainability/eco-reps.html.
Originally published on December 8, 2009