School of Social Policy and Practice ReThinks its Green Space

November 25, 2013

Thanks to the generous gift from the Class of 1977 with cooperation from the School of Social Policy and Practice and Facilities and Real Estate Services, 3815 Walnut Street now has a lush green backyard that offers occupants an attractive shared outdoor space and increases the location’s environmental sustainability. Their backyard had become a paved slab over the years; an 86% impervious surface that let all of the stormwater runoff into the storm sewer inlets. When considering how to improve the space, SP2 and the University’s Landscape Architect’s office came up with a plan that handled the waste water and made use of recycled or reclaimed materials. The project team acted purposefully in line with the University’s Climate Action Plan goal to create and maintain a sustainable campus by increasing green space.

The 3815 Walnut improvement project removed 2,920 square feet of pavement and planted 2,160 square feet with low maintenance shrubs, perennials, and groundcover-- reducing the site’s impervious coverage to 35%.

Before and After







Additionally, the site had a relatively steep grade, which further intensified pressure on the sewer system during rain events. The project designers regraded the entire site in order to create a gentler slope and help facilitate water flow to multiple plant beds, instead of directly to the sewer inlet.

In creating the new backyard, SP2 considered the source of building materials, and was able to source leftover and/or unused materials from previous projects. The 3815 Walnut Street project used recycled blue stone slab and curbing from Penn’s salvage yard, and repurposed discarded wood benches.


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

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