Penn’s Building Development Projects Go Full ‘Green’ Ahead

March 17, 2014

Recognized as one of the world’s most attractive urban campuses, Penn is home to significant achievements in planning, landscape design, and architecture. The University’s commitment to its Climate Action Plan ensures that capital projects are constructed with consideration of environmental sustainability. Every new building currently under design is registered with the U.S. Green Building Council, and is targeting LEED Silver rating or higher.

A number of sustainability features are readily included in all projects: the selection of building materials, finishes, and adhesives with low VOC content, the installation of appropriate low-flow and low consumption plumbing fixtures, a plan for diverting construction/demolition waste from landfills, and the inclusion of occupancy sensors to switch off lights in unused rooms.

Creativity and innovation have a place in each capital project as well, depending on the type and intended use of the new or restored building. Two of Penn’s current construction projects (the New College House and the Neural-Behavioral Sciences Building), and one recently completed building restoration (the ARCH), target a number of specific opportunities on the relevant LEED checklist. Examples in the ARCH (The Arts, Research and Culture House – 3601 Locust Walk) include:

  • In excess of 40% of the original building was reused, including walls, roof and superstructure.
  • At least 5% of the materials taken from this building are being held for re-use in other different projects.
  • All new woods used in the building are part of the Forest Stewardship Council program that ensures best forestry standards.
  • Optimized HVAC systems have been added to the building for the first time.
  • Building occupants have enhanced control of the lighting and thermal systems.

Sustainable elements are also in the design plans for the New College House on Chestnut Street between 33rd and 34th Streets (an open landscaped lawn area, plus a series of green roofs are planned), and the Neural and Behavioral Sciences Building on University Avenue at 38th Street (an exterior decorative sunscreen will reduce solar heat gain).


As of November 2014, 80 offices on Penn’s campus have completed the Green Office Certification program.

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