Reducing Emissions

Emphasize and plan a quality pedestrian campus environment; encourage use of bicycling and public transportation for commuting, and provide safe, efficient local transportation services


Use these resources to help you find "green" locations on Penn's campus.

Penn Sustainability Walking Tour

The University of Pennsylvania is dedicated to promoting a sustainable culture and implementing environmentally conscious policies through its research, teaching, and operational practices. Penn’s Climate Action Plan, created in 2009 and updated in 2014, serves as a road map for reducing the University’s carbon footprint and enhancing its overall sustainability. Penn’s approach to sustainability continues to be holistic, incorporating initiatives in energy conservation, green building design, waste reduction, sustainable campus operations, and academics. This self-guided tour highlights some of the noteworthy green features across campus.

Download map (PDF).



Sustainable details of projects numbered on Walking Tour:

1 Singh Center for Nanotechnology

The Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology features high-efficiency mechanical and electrical systems that operate at 14% above industry standard and plumbing fixtures that reduce water use by 30%. Natural daylight floods the building, reducing the need for artificial fixtures in many of the study and work spaces. Two green roofs and energy efficient labs and equipment contributed to this building’s LEED Gold Certification.

2 Penn Park

The creation of Penn Park added 20% more open space to campus when the 24-acre park opened in 2011. What was a former industrial site is now home to two synthetic-turf athletic fields, a softball stadium, and a 12-court outdoor tennis center. Woven among these facilities are a variety of passive recreation space, walkways, elevated bridge connections, meadows planted with native species and over 600 newly-planted trees. A two million gallon cistern is located at the heart of the site to capture and reuse stormwater. No synthetic chemicals or fertilizers are used, nor is salt used on the landscape so to not affect the pH of water in the cistern.

3 Weiss Pavilion

Weiss Pavilion, which opened in 2010, is demonstrative of one of the University’s oldest architectural traditions – preservation through adaptive reuse. The pavilion inhabits the space underneath the double-height arches that support the stadium seating, and connects the interior concourse with the new outdoor east-west exterior pedestrian promenade. The project’s innovative combination of excavation and infill has redefined Penn’s hundred-year-old football stadium by adding usable space without increasing the building’s footprint. Weiss Pavilion was awarded LEED Gold Certification in 2011. Ninety-five percent of demolition and construction waste was diverted through salvage, reuse and recycling of materials. Including, for example, the excavated soil from the site was used in the construction of the adjacent Penn Park. 

4 Hutchinson Gymnasium

Built in 1928, the Hutchinson Gymnasium was reopened in 2013 with substantial upgrades and modernized as the Tse Ping - Cheng Cheung Ling Sports Center. As a project in adaptive reuse, the decommissioned natatorium has been turned into a multi-purpose gymnasium. All new mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems were installed for the entire 51,000 sq ft facility and have produced a documented 29.48% energy savings. Recycled waste water from the Sports Center is captured, treated, and used for irrigation on adjacent Shoemaker Green. This project is targeting LEED Gold Certification.

5 Shoemaker Green

Shoemaker Green has received a Two Star rating from the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES), the first rating system for green landscape design, construction, and maintenance in the U.S. The design of this open space utilizes native plants and best practices in stormwater management, including a rain garden and underground cistern, making it a hallmark for environmental design on campus.

6 Music Building - The Lerner Center

The Lerner Center, home to the School of Arts & Sciences’ Music Department, received LEED Gold Certification in 2011. The existing historic structure was restored while a new addition doubled the size of the building to house faculty offices, classrooms, and practice rooms. The building boasts energy-efficient building systems, recycled and salvaged building materials, quality indoor environments, and a new green cleaning program to ensure that the use and maintenance of the building will meet sustainability goals in the future. Ninety-five percent of non-hazardous construction debris was recycled or salvaged, including materials from the demolition of the building’s 1911 rear wing.

7 New College House

Currently under construction at the corner of 34th and Chestnut Streets, the New College House is the first signature residential building on Penn's campus specifically designed and built to maximize the College House experience. Sustainable design details include a large open landscaped lawn area, a series of green roofs and a below-grade cistern to manage the stormwater. Low-flow and low consumption plumbing fixtures are anticipated to achieve a reduction in water usage of 30-40% over the baseline. Residents will be able to move in for the Fall of 2016.

8 Golkin Hall

Golkin Hall, which achieved LEED Gold status, opened in 2012 and provides increased space in the Penn Law complex for faculty offices, research centers, administrative offices, student organizations, and classrooms. The building was designed to promote interactions among faculty, staff, and students to foster the cross-disciplinary thinking that is a hallmark of the School. Golkin Hall’s two green roofs provide both outdoor areas for students, staff, and faculty but also reduce the urban heat island effect and stormwater runoff. The building earned 11 of 15 possible points for indoor environmental quality because of the building’s focus on low-emitting materials, daylighting, and thermal comfort for occupants.

9 Van Pelt Library - Green Roof

A 2013 transformation of the Library’s Special Collections Center consisted of the renovation of approximately 11,260 gsf of public reading space, conference rooms, gallery space, curatorial offices, restrooms and support spaces.  The project addressed mechanical upgrades to the public rooms and support spaces as well as protection of the Library’s collection, all while meeting the environmental sustainability guidelines mandated by the Penn Connects 2.0 campus development plan. A green roof on the north terrace of the 6th floor of the library contributes to the campus’ stormwater management initiatives.

10 The ARCH

The restoration of an existing building is ultimate example of sustainable campus development. More than 40% of the original building, including walls, roof and superstructure, was reused in the restoration of Penn’s Arts, Research and Cultural House (ARCH), completed in 2014. A comprehensive update of the 1928 building was conducted, including the installation of air-conditioning and an elevator. Exterior renovations included slate roof replacement, window restoration, restoration of brick façade and two chimneys, and an egress stair tower. The ARCH is targeting LEED Silver Certification.

11 Steinberg Hall-Dietrich Hall 

A 2013 addition to Steinberg Hall-Dietrich Hall resulted in a new entry, 29 offices, 3 conference rooms, 2 classrooms with 150-person seating, 4 group study rooms, and lounge areas. An underused outdoor courtyard was transformed into a landscaped seating area with planters and a feature fountain. A set of trellises on the Locust Walk side of the building were rebuilt entirely from reclaimed Ipe timbers from the historical Coney Island Boardwalk. This addition received LEED Gold certification in 2014.

12 Joe’s Café

LEED Gold Certified Joe’s Café (in Steinberg Hall-Dietrich Hall) was designed to recycle or compost 50 percent by volume of its waste. They purchase food and drink produced seasonally and within 150 miles of campus, as well as hormone and antibiotic-free meat and dairy, vegetarian-fed beef, humane eggs, ecologically sourced fish, dolphin-safe tuna, and Fair Trade and Certified Organic coffee. Joe’s Café offers an educational program on sustainable food.

13 Huntsman Hall - Green Roof

The 324,000 square-foot Jon M. Huntsman Hall opened in August 2002. Huntsman’s green roof, the Koo Family Plaza, is a grassy square adjoining the MBA café patio. The dramatic glass pyramids that punctuate the perimeter serve as skylights, filling the Forum below with natural light.

14 Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine

The Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine, completed in 2008, houses the University of Pennsylvania Health System’s Abramson Cancer Center, radiation oncology, cardiovascular medicine and an outpatient surgical pavilion. The state-of-the art center received LEED Silver Certification in 2011 and remains Penn’s largest LEED project to date. More than 90 percent of construction and demolition debris—over 20,000 tons—was recycled. Other important features include the use of recycled materials and locally manufactured materials to support the local economy and reduce fuel use and pollution from transportation.

15 Smilow Center for Translational Research

The 531,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art Smilow Center for Translational Research brings Penn basic scientists and physicians together to deliver discoveries quickly and effectively to patients. This School of Medicine building is targeting LEED Silver Certification.


The Green Campus Partnership was created by environmentally conscious students in 2007.