Frequently Asked Questions
Answers to these most frequently asked questions should help guide your search for more information on Penn’s environmental sustainability efforts.
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Penn is dedicated to improving our waste stream through a host of efforts. Visit the Minimizing Waste page on the Facilities & Real Estate Services website.
Since September 2010, Penn has used a single-stream recycling system. This means that all recyclable materials (mixed paper, cardboard, glass, metals, and all plastics) can be placed together in the same container.
Some areas on campus may still have separate bins for “mixed paper” and “plastic/glass/aluminum” but all recyclables can go in those bins.
Note: Styrofoam cannot be recycled, and should be placed in trash bins.
Download colorful signage for recycling, compost, and landfill (in PDF format) from the Waste Management page on the Facilities & Real Estate Services website.
Students — Connect with your group’s Eco-Reps to find out about any bin giveaways. Bins may also be purchased through Penn Student Agencies.
Staff/Faculty — Contact your Building Administrator or your Sustainability Coordinator to request recycling bins.
This off-campus recycling guide, created by the Undergraduate Assembly, explains what can be recycled, how to obtain a bin, and what day recycling is picked up.
The Philadelphia Streets recycling page has more information about the city’s recycling system.
Penn recycles plastic containers (numbered or unnumbered), and utensils. Penn does not recycle Polystyrene (Styrofoam), packing materials such as bubble wrap and packing peanuts, plastic wrap and bags.
Penn also recycles aluminum foil in the recycle bins.
Students — Ask your Residential Advisor (RA) or Graduate Associate (GA); most College Houses have light bulb recycling bins in the lobby at the information desk.
If the pipette tip boxes have a recycling mark with number 1 through 7, they can go into the regular recycling bin. Learn more about Lab Glassware Disposal.
Students — Most College Houses have a battery recycling bin in the lobby near the information desk. You may also contact your College House Eco-Rep.
Lab Staff — EHRS will collect used batteries for recycling only from University research laboratories. To request a pickup, fill out an online request.
A special vendor must be used to dispose of unwanted computers (incl monitors, printers, and hard drives), electronics, and appliances. Many offices and departments use Elemental or E-Force to collect and dispose of these items.
Ben’s Attic is a website developed by Purchasing Services that allows Penn staff and faculty to exchange and purchase surplus University-owned property. Purchases may be made through your department’s purchasing manager. Ben’s Attic is for departmental use only; no personal purchases are allowed.
Contact your Building Administrator or Area Manager for additional guidance.
Two Goodwill donation boxes are located on campus: one near Sansom Place West and one at Rodin College House. Each May during PennMOVES, an organized collection takes place under the direction of Business Services.
Clothing and accessories that are in excellent condition and are in style can be taken to a consignment shop on Penn’s campus, Greene Street.
All campus dining halls collect kitchen waste for composting. Hill College House, King’s Court College House, Class of 1920, and Houston Hall provide compost bins for diners to dispose of food waste. Joe’s Café in Steinberg Hall-Dietrich Hall and the Hillel dining hall also compost food waste.
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. The Law School composts leftover food from events and receptions.
An increasing number of schools and centers are holding zero-waste events that include a compost option.
With 200,000 kWh of annual green power usage, Penn is the number one green power purchaser of all colleges and universities in the U.S. In the EPA’s Top 100 list of Green Power users within the Green Power Partnership, Penn ranked No. 28, among Fortune 500 companies, local and state governments, and retailers. Learn more about Penn’s wind power purchase.
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, the Walking Escort Service, LUCY, SEPTA, New Jersey Transit, regional rail, and bicycling programs on our Reducing Emissions webpage and the Penn Transit website.
Penn has recently updated its Bike Policy. View this article for more information.
View a map of bike lanes and more on the Facilities & Real Estate Services website.
The campus map on the Facilities & Real Estate Services website shows bike racks and more!
Penn is pleased to purchase the greenest products available. Many of the electronics in offices around campus are ENERGY STAR certified and all offices are stocked with 30% post-consumer content paper. Visit the Green Purchasing website.
Several academic programs and courses are listed on our Learning Sustainability page, including a link to the Sustainability Course Inventory. The Green Campus Partnership hopes this document will help students to identify sustainability-focused classes that fit into their particular curriculum or in order to increase their overall sustainability knowledge and literacy.
Undergraduate and graduate programs are also available through the Department of Earth and Environmental Science.
The following schools have websites describing their own “green” initiatives:
The School of Engineering & Applied Science Coming Soon!
New buildings on Penn’s campus target LEED Silver Certification. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program is administered by the U.S. Green Building Council. Visit our Designing Green webpage, or the Built Environment page on the Facilities & Real Estate Services website.
On your own, visit a number of green spaces across Penn’s campus.
Enjoy local produce and meals in Penn dining halls and cafes managed by Bon Appétit.
Various farmers’ markets throughout the city provide fresh, local produce and baked goods. View a listing of markets. On campus, the University Square Farmers’ Market is held on Wednesdays in front of the Penn Bookstore at 36th and Market Streets.
Penn’s Green Acorn certifies businesses that are committed to reducing their carbon footprint. Find out here (http://www.penngreenacorn.com/#) which businesses around campus have become certified.
Penn students, faculty, and staff interested in implementing sustainability projects on campus can apply to the Eco-Reps program.
A complete list of student sustainability groups can be found on our Student Groups page.
Incoming freshman can register for the PennGreen pre-orientation program to learn more about campus and city sustainability efforts.
Students living in the College Houses may apply for Green Living Certification.
Campus offices and departments may apply for Green Office Certification.
Students, faculty or staff can apply for funding for environmentally sustainable projects through the Green Fund program.
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. Following an application process, Student or Staff/Faculty Eco-Reps work within their respective College Houses, Greek Chapters, Athletics, departments, and offices to develop educational events, activities, and campaigns aimed at supporting the University’s environmental goals and Climate Action Plan.
To apply to the program, visit the Penn Eco-Reps webpage.
Those living in Penn’s College Houses are invited to apply for Green Living Certification. Earn points by minimizing waste, using less energy and water, and having other environmentally friendly habits. Get enough points and you will become Bronze, Silver, or Gold Certified and win prizes!
The Green Campus Partnership recognizes the efforts of staff and faculty to green their daily activities by offering four levels of Green Office Certification.
The Green Campus Partnership created the Green Labs @ Penn Guide to provide overall guidelines for lab greening and recognizes that some labs will be able to complete more actions than others.
Penn Computing’s Green I.T. website highlights best practices to make computing at your office more sustainable.
Visit the Welcome New Students page to find out everything you need to know before coming to Penn. Coming Soon!
Penn’s Green Fund is designed to seed sustainability projects created by students, faculty and staff. Visit the Green Fund page to learn more.
Those involved in academia are encouraged to apply for a Ben Franklin Scholars Course Design Grant. Thses are awarded to faculty for exceptional proposals for the development of new BFS seminars, including those that develop innovative approaches to sustainability. Contact BFS Associate Director Linda Wiedmann, email@example.com
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