Sustainability Initiatives

Penn addresses environmental challenges through inclusive climate change scholarship, innovative policy formation, and the adoption of best practices to dramatically impact campus efficiency and reduce emissions.

The collegiate gothic exterior of Penn's historic College Hall framed by mature trees

Operational Initiatives

Utilities & Operations

Through energy efficiency, recommissioning, carbon offsets, and a cleaner electricity grid, Penn has made immense progress towards achieving the 100 x 42 goal of carbon neutrality by 2042.

As of the close of FY22, overall emissions have been reduced by 45% and building-related emissions have been reduced by 45% compared to the FY09 baseline.

As part of Penn’s Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), two large solar facilities in Central Pennsylvania are under construction. These solar facilities will account for an estimated 70% of electricity for Penn’s main campus and the University’s Health System (UPHS) when they come online in early 2024. These actions combined with continuous recommissioning, operational changes, and renovation of the top 30 energy-consuming buildings are important steps on our trajectory to neutrality by 2042.

Physical Environment

One of the world’s most attractive urban campuses, Penn is home to significant achievements in planning, landscape design, and architecture. The Climate and Sustainability Action Plan 3.0 advances Penn’s holistic approach to a sustainable campus by addressing design, construction, and maintenance of our built environment. As a level 2 certified arboretum with a third of campus designated as green space, Penn’s campus encourages a strong connection to nature in an urban environment. Penn has 43 Leadership in Energy Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings and 34 green roofs that work to reduce urban heat island impacts, minimize stormwater runoff, and support biodiversity on Penn’s campus.

Waste Minimization

Since Penn's 2009 Climate Action Plan, waste reduction, reuse, and recycling practices have expanded dramatically. Single stream recycling is standard across the University, with many Schools and Centers offering specialty recycling and composting. Penn Dining also offers reusable green to go containers at no cost to students across Penn’s dining facilities to minimize waste.


Penn Procurement Services consistently works to increase sustainability by incorporating sustainability and equity in Penn’s purchasing practices and policies.  A first in the Ivy League, Penn launched the Travel Sustainability Policy and the Climate Impact Offset Charge (CLIO)  to offset air travel emissions for all staff, faculty, and students traveling on behalf of Penn.


Penn Transit’s rich portfolio of programs and initiatives have helped the University increase the number of staff and faculty choosing sustainable commuting options while continuing to maintain a safe and accessible campus. Penn offers commuter benefits to encourage sustainable transit, while also working to minimize carbon emissions from vehicles. Penn transit and recently purchased four electric Ford transit vans that are now in service through Penn Rides on Request.

Caring for the campus landscape with an ecological mindset

The Ecological Landscape Stewardship Plan, developed in 2018, offers a framework for the Division of Facilities and Real Estate Services to design, maintain, and celebrate the beauty of the campus landscape with an emphasis on its role as a balanced ecological system.

full story via Penn today
garden out side of penn library

Empowering Action


The CSAP 3.0 brings focus to the intersection of the topics of wellness and sustainability among the campus community. The leap from environmental sustainability to personal wellness is not far if we raise our awareness of our surroundings and practice habits that promote a healthy environment.

The Penn Park Farm is a unique, multidisciplinary initiative that engages stakeholders from across the Penn community around four central pillars of wellness, food access, sustainability, and education. Located in Penn Park, the farm connects students to the wider community through urban agriculture.

The NatureRx program supports the writing of “prescriptions” to be out in nature, since research has shown that time spent in nature can have a positive impact on our health and well-being. NatureRx encourage the Penn community to go out in nature to reduce stress and anxiety, increase energy, and have protective, restorative time. Find nature now by visiting our map.


President's Sustainability Prize

The University expanded during the 2021-2022 academic year the current President’s Engagement and Innovation Prizes for graduating seniors to include a new prize category designated specifically as a President’s Sustainability Prize. The prize awards up to $100,000 for project implementation expenses to the student or team with a winning sustainability project, as well as $50,000 for living expenses for each student prize recipient.