Our Committment

Penn President Amy Gutmann introduces Climate Action Plan 2.0, which serves as Penn’s blueprint for environmental excellence.

Designing Green

The Physical Environment at Penn

One of the world’s most attractive urban campuses, Penn is home to significant achievements in planning, landscape design, and architecture. The award-winning Penn Connects campus development plan is steering Penn’s commitment to a healthy built environment.

Following the recommendations of the Climate Action Plan 2.0, Penn will increase ecologically managed green space, decrease building energy consumption, and increase education and awareness of sustainable design.

Campus Development

Penn Connects

PENN CONNECTS: A VISION FOR THE FUTURE

The Penn Connects plan, launched in 2006, was a blueprint for Penn’s land use, urban design, and campus development through 2011. The updated plan, Penn Connects 2.0, released in 2011, encompasses Penn’s short and long term planning initiatives through 2030, and builds upon the accomplishments of Phase I. This renewed vision explicitly references Penn’s sustainability agenda, and integrates environmental stewardship goals into Penn’s overall planning initiatives:  “To employ University sustainability goals and objectives to inform future development. In particular, balance new construction with adaptive reuse opportunity.”

Fagin Hall Green Roof

 

GREEN ROOFS ON CAMPUS

Penn is exhibiting best practices in sustainability by installing green roofs on a number of buildings.  By capturing rainwater and reducing it slowly over time, Penn's green roofs lessen the burden on the West Philadelphia sewer system, while providing several additional environmental benefits.

Living landscapes above Penn building spaces are located at the Hill Pavilion of the Vet School, Koo Plaza at Huntsman Hall, Nursing’s Claire Fagin Hall courtyard, Kings Court English College House, the Radian apartment complex, the Singh Center for Nanotechnology, and Golkin Hall.

Morris Arboretum Horticultural Center

leed buildings

The campus development plan, Penn Connects, recommends sustainable development for all new projects. Every new building and major renovation project currently under design is registered with the US Green Building Council, and is targeting LEED Silver rating or higher. As of FY14, Penn has six LEED Gold buildings: the Lerner Center, Steinberg Hall-Dietrich Hall West Entrance, Golkin Hall, Singh Center for Nanotechnology, Weiss Pavilion, and Joe’s Café, with several additional LEED-registered projects in construction and/or planning.

Irvine Hall

SUSTAINABLE BUILDINGS

Well built, durable lasting buildings are our most sustainable tradition:
 
College Hall (1873)
Logan/Cohen Hall (1874)
Fisher Fine Arts Library (1891)
Houston Hall (1896)
University Museum (1895-99)
Law School, Silverman Hall (1900)
Towne Building (1906)
Franklin Field (1922-25)
The Palestra and Hutchinson Gym (1928)
The Quadrangle (1894-1959)

*Data is from Building America's First University: An Historical and Architectural Guide to the University of Pennsylvania 2000 by Penn's George E. Thomas, Lecturer of Historical Preservation and Urban Studies and David B. Brownlee, Professor and Chair, History of Art.

Irvine Auditorium (pictured left) was dedicated with the Curtis Sesquicentennial Exposition Organ on May 9, 1929. The building's design was directed by the Horace Trumbauer firm, led by chief designer Julian Abele, the first African-American graduate of Penn's School of Architecture (1902).

Hayden Hall

ADAPTIVE RE-USE AND REINVESTMENT

Sustainability requires not only looking at present and future needs, but also drawing upon the lessons and resources from the past. Adaptive Reuse of buildings is now an important part of the sustainability movement. Examples of adaptive reuse on Penn’s Campus include:

  • Claudia Cohen Hall (1874) is the second-oldest building on campus
  • The Moore School, where the world's first computer (ENIAC) was created, was originally the Pepper Musical Instrument Factory (1909)
  • Hayden Hall (1896) was built as Dental Hall, and later used for the School of Architecture, Geology and now for Bioengineering.

STORMWATER MASTER PLAN

In 2013, Penn completed a comprehensive Stormwater Management Master Plan for the campus. The Plan included an assessment of all pervious, impervious, and landscaped surfaces on campus and provided an estimate of total stormwater generated within Penn’s 280-acre landscape.  The plan provided site-specific examples of best practices for stormwater management, including cisterns, bioswales, rain gardens, green roofs, and permeable paving. The Master Plan also includes an Operations and Maintenance Manual for existing stormwater management systems on campus.

 

Locust Walk

 

 

SUSTAINABLE LANDSCAPING

Building on the experience of the Sustainable SITES Initiative at Shoemaker Green, sustainable landscape practices have been adopted for implementation across campus. These practices have had a number of significant impacts:  reducing the amount of chemical fertilizers used on campus; eliminating the use of herbicides and pesticides except to treat spot outbreaks; adoption of new native species planting standards; and the reduced use of grass as a groundcover. Penn’s Urban Parks maintenance teams now treat campus meadows, grass, turf, and plants with “compost tea,” an all-natural amendment that improves soil and vegetation health and discourages weed growth and pest infestation. The compost tea is brewed on campus from compost and leaves and lawn clippings from campus. Surplus leaves and landscape waste are also mulched on campus, providing a landscape material used throughout Penn’s 280-acre landscape. 

Biological integrated pest control practices are also used in Penn Park and Shoemaker Green. In September 2013, staff, faculty and students joined the Penn Park maintenance team to release 30,000 ladybugs to control an aphid infestation on catalpa trees. Praying mantises have also been released on campus to help control damaging insects, further reducing the need for systemic pesticide application.