Partner Profiles

Dan Sanchez EAS '10 Undergraduate Assembly

Dan Sanchez EAS '10 Undergraduate Assembly
December 7, 2009

A senior Chemical Engineering major in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Dan is the acting Director of Housing, Sustainability and Facilities for Penn's Undergraduate Assembly.

Last year he lobbied administrators on projects related to bike safety and bike sharing, as well as 898-RIDE, 898-WALK, and Harnwell’s Energy Monitoring program.

Dan is currently a member of the Penn Green Fund Review Board and is supporting an urban garden project for Penn's campus.

On College Green: What city/town are you from? How does it compare to (or differ from) Penn's urban campus?

Dan Sanchez: I'm from a suburb of Philadelphia, a town called Yardley. It's a small, historic town. It's a lot calmer and more insular. Unlike Yardley, I feel that Penn's urban setting forces and encourages you to confront pertinent issues: sustainability, limited resources and space, adequate transportation, and poverty. When everyone is closer together, these issues become far more tangible.

OCG: What made you want to become the UA's representative for Sustainability?

DS: I'm a chemical engineer, but I've always been interested in renewable energy and the intersection of human action and the environment. I joined the UA in my junior year to pursue bike safety and bike sharing projects, as part of Alec Webley's sustainability committee (He's now the UA chair.). This year, I wanted to continue the great work Alec had done and push the Penn community to get involved in sustainability issues.

OCG: Do you think Sustainability fits in well with Housing and Facilities?

DS: Absolutely. Facilities controls nearly all of the natural resources on campus, from land, energy, and water use. Housing is also a great partner because the communal nature of the college house system can encourage students to get involved in issues with sustainability.

OCG: Is there a particular aspect of sustainability you're interested in?

DS: I'm interested in energy and climate change. I think the transition towards energy efficiency, conservation, and renewable energy will be one of the defining issues of our time. I'm also quite concerned about the impact of energy usage on our climate.

OCG: What kind of sustainability projects have you worked on through the UA?

DS: I've done quite a few. Last year, I worked on bike safety and towards a bike sharing system in Philadelphia. So far this year, I worked on the UA response to the Climate Action Plan.  Currently, I'm working on changing Penn's purchasing policies to encourage the purchase of recyclable plastics, and working on a "green events" checklist and guidelines for student groups. Finally, I'm a member of a University Council subcommittee on Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety, chaired by Dr. Bernard Shapiro.

OCG: Are you a member of any other clubs or organizations aside from the UA?

DS: I play saxophone in the University Jazz Combos, and am the Vice President of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. Finally, I'm a member of Cipactli Latino Honors Society.

OCG: Have you taken any sustainability courses at Penn?

DS: I've taken two, and plan to take one more. My sophomore year, I took EAS401, Energy and Its Impacts, taught by Noam Lior. It was a great survey of energy usage. My junior year, I took ENVS630, Energy Systems and Policy, taught by Roger Raufer. I really enjoyed that course, as it was a great survey of international climate negotiations, combustion technology, and emissions trading. Dr. Raufer has become a bit of an inspiration, since he understands both the technical and policy aspects of energy use so well. Finally, I'm planning on taking the MES (Masters of Environmental Studies) course "Closing the Loop on Climate Change" with Dr. Edward Chu next semester.

OCG: Do you have a meal plan? If not, what’s your favorite place to eat off campus?

DS: I don't have a meal plan, but have certainly heard good things about Bon Appetit-- their commitment to local food is encouraging. As for a local restaurant, I prefer Radicchio Cafe in Old City. It's a small Italian place.

OCG: What are a few changes you've made to your lifestyle to reduce your environmental impact? Judging by your work with the UA, I’m guessing you bike?

DS: I'm quite an avid biker, which is one of the reasons I became involved in the UA in the first place. As for other changes I've made to my lifestyle, I've become more aware of my energy usage, and worked to make little changes to conserve: washing my clothes with cold water, using CFL lightbulbs, unplugging chargers, etc.

Last year, I was also an RA in Riepe College House. There, I made a bulletin board on my hall about energy usage, and encouraged the freshmen on my hall to think about the impact of their energy use.

OCG: What are your plans for after graduation?

DS: Right now, I'm applying for graduate school in energy policy. I'm also looking at policy jobs in Washington, D.C.. I hope to study and influence energy policy and usage in the world.

Each issue, we recognize a member of the Penn community for his or her environmental sustainability efforts on campus. If you know someone at Penn who is "leading the green," let us know at


There are approximately 7,000 trees on Penn’s campus—568 of which are in Penn Park.