This section contains some of the most frequently asked questions about sustainability at Penn.
Do you have a question that's not included in the list below? Email the Green Campus Partnership at firstname.lastname@example.org  and we'll get back to you with an answer as soon as possible.
When it comes to environmental responsibility, Penn has been leading the way for decades – long before “sustainability” became the watchword for those interested in conservation and protection of the environment. Penn’s dense, compact campus is a model for efficient use of land, and our landscape is a great example of a sustainable city park – native trees and plantings support a rich urban ecology and provide a variety of spaces for faculty, staff, and student use. New, highly efficient buildings, state-of-the-art energy infrastructure, as well as our continued investment in our historic buildings are all hallmarks of a sustainable campus. Academically, Penn’s Environmental Science program is one of the country’s oldest, and every school at Penn has classes and top professors engaged in environmental research.
Eco-Reps is an environmental leadership program that focuses on raising awareness of environmental issues and impacting the behavior of individuals across the Penn campus. Select students, faculty, staff work within their respective College Houses, Greek chapters, departments, and offices to develop educational events, activities, and campaigns aimed at supporting the University’s environmental goals and Climate Action Plan.
Initiatives include energy conservation, waste and recycling practices, water conservation strategies, alternative transportation, consumer choices, and more. Eco-Reps interact with other environmental leaders on campus, and work to develop programs and events that challenge their peers to adopt more sustainable behaviors.
To learn more or apply to the program, visit the Penn Eco-Reps webpage .
All schools at Penn have programs that focus strongly on sustainability. Contact any dean’s office  to learn more.
The following schools have specific websites set up describing their sustainability initiatives:
New buildings on Penn’s campus target Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification or higher. For more information, visit the Designing Green  page.
Several academic programs and courses are listed on our Learning Sustainability  page, but for a complete listing of environmental sustainability courses for the upcoming semester, use the keyword 'sustainability' in the Penn InTouch Course Search .
Undergraduate and graduate programs are also available through the Department of Earth and Environmental Science .
Penn is dedicated to reducing consumption through a host of efforts. For more details, visit the Minimizing Waste  page.
It’s important to remember: “Penn” doesn’t recycle – you do. To properly separate your trash, learn what is recyclable on campus . All buildings at Penn have recycling bins – College Houses, classrooms, labs, gyms, dining halls, and offices – as do our outdoor campus areas and sidewalks.
Here’s how it works:
Since September 2010, Penn has used a single-stream recycling system. This means that all recyclable items (mixed paper, cardboard, glass, metals, and numbered plastics) can be placed together in the same container. Some areas on campus still have separate bins for "Mixed Paper" and "Plastic/Glass/Aluminum", but all recyclables go to the same place.
Yes, all campus dining halls collect kitchen waste for composting. Hill College House, King's Court College House, and the Class of 1920 dining halls provide compost bins for diners to dispose of food waste. Joe’s Café in Steinberg-Dietrich Hall and the Hillel dining hall also compost food waste. In addition, several schools and College Houses are testing local composting strategies. The Law School composts leftover food from events and receptions through a private company. The Annenberg Public Policy Center building has a worm bin for waste and leftovers from staff meals. Mayer Hall has a composting bin for residents' food waste.
Visit the Posters  page to download PDFs of recycling signs and awareness posters.
Students: Keep an eye out for recycling bin giveaways sponsored by the Penn Green Campus Partnership and Eco-Reps throughout the school year. Like the Green Campus Partnership on Facebook  for updates on events.
Faculty/Staff: Each building purchases its own recycling bins. Contact your Building Manager  or your local faculty/staff Eco-Rep for information.
Plastic bags, even if they are marked with a #1-7, need to be taken elsewhere to be recycled, as the sorting machines at our recycling hauler are unable to capture them. So for now, Penn doesn’t support recycling shopping bags. Grocery stores (such as the Fresh Grocer) and convenience stores (most Wawa Food Markets) recycle plastic bags. Ask the sales clerk at the store if they have a public bin for plastic bags.
Students: Ask your Residential Advisor (RA) or Graduate Associate (GA); most College Houses have lightbulb recycling bins in the lobby at the information desk.
Staff: Contact Environmental Health and Radiation Safety (EHRS)  about recycling fluorescents and other types of light bulbs.
Yes— if the pipette tip boxes have a recycling mark with number 1 through 7, they can go into any regular recycling bin.
Students: Most College Houses have a battery recycling bin in their lobbies. Ask your RA/GA where to find this bin in your building, or ask at the lobby information desk. You can also recycle batteries in one of the Big Green Boxes at John M. Huntsman Hall and several School of Arts & Sciences buildings .
Staff: Environmental Health and Radiation Safety (EHRS) is in charge of picking up rechargable batteries for recycling. Click here  to request a pick up. EHRS does not collect alkaline batteries because they are not a regulated waste. Many offices around campus have been using the Big Green Box program  to recycle alkaline batteries. Big Green Boxes can be found at John M. Huntsman Hall and several School of Arts & Sciences buildings .
Penn recycles everything from old computers, electronics, and appliances, to compact fluorescent light bulbs and batteries. Elemental , Penn’s e-waste recycler, will pick up electronics directly from your office. If you have unwanted electronics to recycle, simply call them at 215-289-1475 to arrange a pickup. There is a small fee for monitors, printers, and hard drives, but many items are recycled for free.
Office furniture can be recycled through BEN’s Attic , a website developed by Purchasing Services that allows Penn faculty and staff to exchange and purchase surplus University-owned property. All faculty and staff are able to browse the site to see if there are any items they may need, and purchases can be make through your department’s purchasing manager. BEN's Attic is for departmental use only. No personal purchases are allowed.
Penn Computing's Green I.T. website  highlights best practices to make computing at your office more sustainable.
Penn’s compact urban campus is well served by a variety of alternative transportation modes suitable for reducing the amount of single automobile commutes to and from the University. Learn more about Penn Rides, 898-WALK, LUCY, SEPTA, New Jersey Transit, regional rail and bicycling programs on our Reducing Emissions page  and the Penn Transit website .
Penn prides itself on purchasing the greenest products possible. Many of the electronics in offices around campus are ENERGY STAR Certified and all offices are stocked with 30% post-consumer paper. For more information, visit the Green Purchasing website .
With 200,000 kWh of annual green power usage, Penn is the number one green power purchaser of all American colleges and universities. In the EPA’s Top 50 list of Green Power Purchasers, Penn was ranked 20th among Fortune 500 companies, local and state governments, and institutions of higher education. Learn more about Penn's wind power purchase here .
Various farmers’ markets throughout the city provide fresh, local produce and baked goods, including the University Square Farmers’ Market  in front of the Penn Bookstore at 36th & Walnut Streets on Wednesdays and the Clark Park Farmers’ Market  at 43rd & Spruce Streets on Saturday mornings and Thursday afternoons.
Enjoy local produce and meals at all Penn dining halls and cafés  managed by Bon Appétit. Also be sure to check out Philadelphia’s historic Reading Terminal Market  at 12th & Arch Streets for a vast selection of baked goods, meats, poultry, seafood, produce, and more from local farmers.
Furthurmore, several restaurants on campus have received Green Acorn Certification , a student-led Penn Green Fund project that has encouraged campus businesses to improve their sustainability practices.
In Fall 2008, the Wharton School launched a green chemical cleaning program for the entire Wharton complex, including the first green carpet care guidelines for the University. Wharton's carpet care policy is now being used across campus, and both increases the life of the carpet and significantly reduces the use of harsh chemicals used for cleaning.
As part of the LEED Gold standards implemented at Joe's Café, Wharton received an innovation credit from the US Green Building Council for Green Cleaning. The Café team created an extensive Green Cleaning Manual and High Performance Green Cleaning Policy that is now used by Bon Appétit Management Company (the café operator) and Wharton Housekeeping.
Green cleaning commitments include: