Red & Blue On College Green
MARCH 2014
Ken Ogawa

Moving the Needle on Environmental Sustainability


In a living and learning environment like Penn, how can we move the needle into the "green"? What can one person's actions amount to in Penn's drive towards the goals in our Climate Action Plan?

  • Getting entire Penn community to contribute to the goal of energy conservation
  • Investing in high-performance building renovations and new construction that is environmentally sustainable
  • Minimizing unnecessary consumption and recycling waste

My answer? One person on campus can actually do quite a bit when everyone joins in - 790 residents in Rodin College House, 7,000 people daily in Huntsman Hall, 17 men on the basketball team. Together, everyone's many small actions towards environmental sustainability will put us in reach of our goals.



Power Down Challenge

Penn recently wrapped up the Power Down Challenge, a 4-week competition to reduce energy usage. From my perspective in Facilities, I appreciate the "going green" reasons for Power Down, but also care about energy consumption for economic reasons. January and February's low temperatures have brought us high energy usage and even higher prices in our efforts to keep warm and dry. Our seasonal energy usage has a dramatic impact on the cost to the University, and it's something on which most of us can have an impact. By continuing to practice the energy-smart actions that we learned during the Power Down Challenge, we can be green and fiscally responsible year-round.


Get Green Certified

If you are involved with any of the programs of the Green Campus Partnership, you're helping to move sustainability efforts forward. The Green Office and Green Living Certifications recognize people for putting personal effort into environmental sustainability. A list of actions that cover everything from energy to food, travel to trash, can help Penn offices, departments and residents of our College Houses to reduce their environmental footprint.


The Fate of Your Waste

Across campus, we've been working on what happens to solid waste once the people in offices and residences sort and recycle and dispose of their trash.  A study completed in the past year offers us a number of recommendations for a University-wide Solid Waste Management Plan.  A Solid Waste Management working group has been busy reviewing those findings and has begun implementing initiatives that will soon standardize waste bins and signage on campus, and put some guidance around the waste removal practices of our vendors and food trucks by the start of the summer term. This is only just the beginning of a broad look at this part of our environmental sustainability efforts. (See the article in this newsletter, Working Group Takes on Penn's Trash.)


Smart Renovations

The work being done with the Century Bond funding - evaluating HVAC and lighting upgrades in 62 buildings across campus - will significantly reduce energy use.  The recently completed lighting upgrade at the Stellar Chance Laboratories is one example of what is possible, an 80% reduction in lighting use. This is an outstanding result that we hope can be replicated in other buildings flagged for similar renovation.


Through its research, teaching, and operational practices, Penn is dedicated to promoting a sustainable culture and implementing environmentally-conscious policies. But getting to green can't be the sole responsibility of leadership - the Student and Staff Eco-Reps, School and Center Sustainability Coordinators, and our Facilities teams. Let's all keep working on these programs and others towards continuous improvement. If all of us power down, layer up, reduce, reuse, and recycle, we'll move the needle further into the green.



Ken Ogawa

Executive Director, Operations & Maintenance

Facilities & Real Estate Services

Are You Ready for Green Office 2.0?
Penn Contributes to Global Campus Sustainability Report
Bringing Gamification to Penn's Recycling
Teaching Through the Lens of Sustainability
Winning by Saving: 2014 Power Down Challenge
Power Down, Creativity Up
Athletics Eco-Reps Score with Zero-Waste Basketball Game
Working Group Takes on Penn's Trash
Penn's Building Projects Go Full 'Green' Ahead
University Gears Up for Bike Plan
Leading the Green: Student Interns Energize Power Down Challenge
 Penn Green Campus Partnership Website
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Red & Blue On College Green Archives

Are You Ready for Green Office 2.0?

In the two years since the introduction of Penn's Green Office Certification program, 71 offices have been certified, covering more than 1,400 employees. Of these, four offices have achieved Level 4 Green Office - the highest level - meaning they have invested a substantial amount of time, effort, and, often, budget, in bringing environmentally sustainable practices into their day-to-day operations.


"Actions initially listed as innovations in our first checklist have become more commonplace, and tools once rarely used are now readily available," says Andrea Kreiner, sustainability consultant to the Green Campus Partnership. She points out how Penn's Managed Print program had not existed in 2011 when Green Office was launched, but now it gives offices a way to control paper and printer usage, saving money for every office signed up. "Zero-waste events were unheard of," she adds, but says that large programs in Alumni Relations and the Wharton School are now regularly planned to skip the landfill.  READ MORE...


ISCN logo Penn Contributes to Global Campus Sustainability Report

The Green Campus Partnership faculty grant program, Integrating Sustainability Across the Curriculum, is part of a global report on best practice case studies from 23 of the world's leading universities. The report, Best Practice in Campus Sustainability, enhances the global dialogue on sustainability in higher education.


Integrating Sustainability Across the Curriculum (ISAC) is an 8-week summer program teaming undergraduates with faculty to refine an existing course or develop a new course that incorporates sustainability as an academic theme. Over the past two summers, courses have included: Andrew Huemmler's Climate Policy & Technology, Marsha Lester's Environmental Chemistry, and Rebecca Stein's Introduction to Economics.  READ MORE...


green fund project Bringing Gamification to Penn's Recycling

The Green Campus Partnership awarded one Fall 2013 Green Fund Grant to a group of students in Penn School of Engineering and Applied Science for their idea of bringing gamification to campus recycling. Project leaders SEAS undergraduates Allison Youngdahl, Amber Rashid, Ahmet Arican, and Kimberly Gordon, describe their project in this way:


In order to contribute to Penn's recycling rate goals in the Climate Action Plan and make our campus more sustainable, we have designed a Recychology Bin that uses Gamification, applying game-thinking to non-game contexts to solve problems and engage users. It is a technology trend that many of us have experienced, especially through loyalty or rewards programs. Using this concept, our Recychology Bin will involve users in the recycling process and help make them aware of the impact of their recycling habits.  READ MORE...


proseminar Teaching Through the Lens of Environmental Sustainability

The Green Campus Partnership is improving its outreach to Penn faculty. An activity that began last year with conversations with individual faculty around the University has grown into group discussions about what it means to use a "sustainability lens" in teaching.


Led by Penn's Sustainability Consultant Andrea Kreiner and staff from the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), discussions on February 28 and March 5 considered what ideas and/or questions are central to teaching sustainability. "The outcomes from these discussion groups," says Ms. Kreiner, "will help enhance the ability of faculty to teach sustainability and teach students how to examine diverse topics through a sustainability lens." Updates on this program will be posted on the Green Campus Partnership website.


jasmine smoots Day to Day Green: Student Spotlight

Demonstrating their commitment to environmental sustainability, nearly 160 Penn students have earned Green Living Certifications. Sophomore Jasmine Smoots was recently profiled in the Penn Current. Read the article





Winning by Saving: 2014 Power Down Challenge

After four weeks of turning off unneeded lights, unplugging unused devices, layering up to warm up, and other creative means to conserve electricity, the champions have been named in Penn's 2014 Power Down Challenge.


This friendly competition, which ran from February 3 through March 2, motivated all of Penn's College Houses and seven of its Non-residential Campus Buildings to find effective and creative ways to save electricity. In addition to raising awareness among students, staff and faculty, the Power Down Challenge aims to get participants to adopt energy-conserving practices that will last year round.


The College House Competition is based on two different measurements:  (1) percent reduction in average daily kWh use and (2) gross electricity reduction (most kWh).  


Among College Houses, DuBois ran strong for the entire competition and came out the winner with a total percent reduction of 4.5%. The College House with the largest gross electricity reduction was Sansom Place, with a reduction of 10,446 kWh.  READ MORE...


power down challenge 2014 Power Down, Creativity Up

How do you get people in our 24-7 connected society to decrease their electricity use? Acting as cheerleaders for their buildings in this year's Power Down Challenge, Penn's Staff & Faculty and Student Eco-Reps motivated their roommates, coworkers, neighbors, and staff members to work together to reduce energy use over the course of the four-week competition.


A kick-off party in Houston Hall got students geared up for the College House Competition. This February 3 event shared information about powering down and the raffle prizes available to winners. In addition to promoting the Green Living Certification and offering snacks from HipCityVeg, student organizers set up a photo booth. Saving energy got a little fun as people picked out some props and hats, and were photographed holding a whiteboard, where they wrote about how they planned to "power down."


In the Non-residential Campus Building Competition, Williams Hall held a kick-off event and giveaway of power strips and CFL bulbs to get people started. This event gave Williams occupants the chance to understand the importance of saving electricity and what the Challenge was all about.  READ MORE...


athletics eco reps Athletics Eco-Reps Score with Zero-Waste Basketball Game

On Friday, February 21, the Athletics Eco-Reps had a great win for sustainability with a Zero-waste Basketball Game. Nearly 20 volunteers spent the evening helping Quaker fans to sort all waste items between compost and recycling bins as Penn's men's basketball team battled Harvard in the Palestra. The Penn Rewards program partnered with the event to give double points to anyone who checked in at the Eco-Reps table to fill out a Waste Awareness Survey, and the first 50 fans also received free reusable water bottles. During halftime, a video Public Service Announcement featuring basketball team members and created with the help of Penn Sports Network encouraged fans to do their part. The cheerleaders even closed out the second half with a "Let's Go Green!" cheer, sparking the enthusiastic crowd in the student section.  READ MORE...

wastearticle Working Group Takes on Penn's Trash

As a small city of more than 30,000 people, Penn daily produces a large amount of waste - some of it headed for recycling, some of it for compost, and, yes, some of it for the landfill. Always a part of the University's Climate Action Plan, solid waste management received intense focus starting in the summer of 2012 with the creation of a Solid Waste Management Working Group and regular meetings between Facilities & Real Estate Services senior leadership and representatives from School and Centers across campus.  The goals of the Group included:

*          Increasing the waste diversion rate to 40% by 2014

*          Piloting new practices, such as composting in classroom and office buildings

*          Increasing the efficiency and ease of Penn's waste management systems


The Working Group started by documenting Penn's existing conditions and practices, discovering, for example, over 100 different types of waste receptacles in use on campus and over 30 different types of signage.  Ongoing work included stakeholder interviews and workshops, culminating in a Solid Waste Management Plan completed in June 2013. The plan offers 30 recommendations for University-wide implementation.  READ MORE...

Be Green While You Get Clean

Penn Purchasing Services announced in February the availability of a new discount pricing agreement with Wash Cycle Laundry, Inc., a University-preferred supplier of sustainable laundry services.


Wash Cycle Laundry uses locally-produced, all-natural sun and earth brand detergents, high-extract/high efficiency machines, a self-designed automated washing system and other eco-friendly options in its cleaning processes. And the company makes all its pickups and deliveries via bicycle trailers.


Barbara Lea-Kruger, Director of Communications and External Relations for the Division of Business Services, says the new Wash Cycle Laundry discount pricing agreement "is the result of the University's green initiative that is intended to increase awareness and enable the purchase of products with a reduced or minimal environmental impact as compared to other similar products/services that serve the same purpose" in support of Penn's Green Campus Partnership. Read more on the Penn Purchasing website.


Penn's Building Development Projects Go Full "Green" Ahead

Recognized as one of the world's most attractive urban campuses, Penn is home to significant achievements in planning, landscape design, and architecture. The University's commitment to its Climate Action Plan ensures that capital projects are constructed with consideration of environmental sustainability. Every new building currently under design is registered with the U.S. Green Building Council, and is targeting LEED Silver rating or higher.


A number of sustainability features are readily included in all projects: the selection of building materials, finishes, and adhesives with low VOC content, the installation of appropriate low-flow and low consumption plumbing fixtures, a plan for diverting construction/demolition waste from landfills, and the inclusion of occupancy sensors to switch off lights in unused rooms.  READ MORE...


shoemaker green Shoemaker Green Featured in Penn Sustainability Review
In an article on the Philadelphia Water Department program, Green City, Clean Waters, Shoemaker Green was profiled as a green infrastructure system designed to both reduce runoff and store rainwater. Penn Sustainability Review is Penn's only undergraduate student environmental publication. PSR was launched in Fall 2011 with a Green Fund Grant. Read the article in PSR  



University Gears Up for Bike Plan

As part of its FY14 Work Plan, the University Council's Facilities Committee has a goal of working with Penn's Parking and Transportation Services to recommend a comprehensive bicycle communication plan for the campus, with a focus on safety, routes, construction detours, and parking for bikes on campus.


In response to this directive, the Bike Planning Committee, chaired by Brian Shaw, Director of Business Services which oversees Transportation, has been meeting monthly since last summer. This cross-division committee with representatives from the Divisions of Business Services (BSD), Facilities and Real Estate (FRES), Student Health Services (SHS), and Public Safety (DPS) has welcomed participation from students, bicycling enthusiasts, representatives from PennCycles and the University City District.  READ MORE...


Penn Again Named Among 'Best Workplaces for Commuters'

Best Workplaces for CommutersSM, a program designed to encourage sustainable transportation innovation, has named Penn one of the most commuter-friendly universities in the nation. Organized by the National Center for Transit Research (NCTR), these awards recognize institutions that have taken exemplary steps to offer transportation options such as vanpools, transit benefits, telework, or a compressed workweek for their employees.  Penn, as a Best Workplace for Commuters, has met a "Standard of Excellence" initially set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).



Penn Students and Alumni Craft Sustainable Foods

Much of the food sold at campus cafes is locally produced, including some items created by Penn students and recent alumni. Cookie company White & Wong, and beef jerky creator Righteous Felon Jerky Cartel are profiled in a recent Penn Current. Read the article.


2014 power down interns Student Interns Energize Power Down Challenge

Part competition, part awareness campaign, Penn's annual Power Down Challenge needs a high level of communications to reach all corners of campus. The most "serious" competitive spirit comes from Penn's College Houses, where sustainability-aware students make sure their neighbors know to turn lights off, shut electronics down, and conserve energy wherever possible. Much of the messaging, artwork and outreach for Power Down Challenge is created by a small team of student interns working with the sustainability team in Facilities & Real Estate Services.


The 2014 Power Down Challenge team of Danielle Gambogi MES '14, Berenice Leung C '17, Emily Wei W'16, created graphics, designed posters, hung up signs and banners, visited College Houses, tweeted and posted to Facebook to raise the visibility of the campaign. In this interview, this exceptional trio of students was asked for their thoughts about working on a campus-wide awareness campaign, and their own contributions to the practice of environmental sustainability.