Penn President Endorses Environmental Sustainability Strategy, Reduction of Greenhouse Gases

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Media Contact: | | February 6, 2007

PHILADELPHIA -- Pledging to significantly reduce emissions that contribute to global warming, Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania, announced today her signing of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment.

Penn will develop a comprehensive plan to achieve climate neutrality by reducing campus greenhouse gas emissions and offsetting unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions elsewhere.

"This is a defining issue of the 21st century, and I am proud to sign on and promote higher education as a leader in addressing global climate change through research, education and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions," Gutmann said.  "At Penn, we must recognize the impact of a research institution of our size and acknowledge that our management of utilities, our construction, transit services and our recycling extends beyond our campus and has global consequences."

With Gutmann's signature, Penn is committing to development of a comprehensive sustainability plan by 2009.  This includes completing a comprehensive inventory of all its greenhouse gas emissions; purchasing at least 15 percent of its electricity from renewable sources; adopting an energy efficient appliance purchasing program; committing to a policy that new construction be built to the U.S. Green Building Council LEED Silver standards, or equivalent; and providing access to public transit for faculty, students and staff.  Also, Penn will link climate neutrality and sustainability as part of its curriculum and student life activities, while also reporting on progress being made.

In 2003, Penn became the largest nongovernmental purchaser of wind power in the nation and today purchases 30 percent of its energy from wind energy.  The University funded its historic wind power purchases through aggressive energy conservation, reducing peak electric demand by 18 percent. Penn's commitment to purchasing wind energy made possible the construction of a new 12-turbine, 20-MW Pennsylvania wind farm.

"Penn has always been a leader in its commitment to applying academic and administrative resources to meet challenges in environmental sustainability," said Anthony Cortese, president of Second Nature, a research institute dedicated to education and environmental sustainability and co-creator of the Presidents Climate Commitment.  "We are thrilled to welcome President Gutmann as the first of her Ivy League peers to join this effort."

The Presidents Climate Commitment is being coordinated and supported by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, Second Nature and ecoAmerica, working closely with the Leadership Circle of presidents and chancellors.

Additional information about the Presidents Climate Commitment is available at  www.presidentsclimatecommitment.org.