Red & Blue On College Green
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Collaborative Effort Completes STARS  

Penn will soon reach the five-year mark of our Climate Action Plan - a university-wide commitment to promote a sustainable culture and implement environmentally conscious policies. Since 2009, teams of students, staff, and faculty have studied, planned, performed and measured our efforts in conserving energy, minimizing waste, and reducing emissions, among others.

After this period of implementation, we take a look back. The questions arise: How far have we come? What differences have we made? Where yet to do we need to go?

A number of rating systems formally benchmark environmental sustainability.  Penn's Sustainability team has worked with participants across the University to complete STARS  - the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Ratings System -- a self-reporting framework of sustainability metrics specifically developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) for college and university campuses.  STARS will provide the University a widely-recognized tool for benchmarking and measuring the progress of our environmental practices and policies.

STARS includes standard categories and a transparent scoring metric to allow us to see exactly where we are performing well and where we have room to improve. Completing STARS has provided us with invaluable information as we draft the next version of our Climate Action Plan, looking to the next five, and ten years, and beyond.

STARS makes administrative sense, too. The number of requests for sustainability information from students, faculty, and outside organizations continues to rise. The ability to point such inquiries to a single, comprehensive institutional record of Penn's sustainability initiatives on the AASHE website saves time and promises accuracy.

Completing our STARS submission was an extensive undertaking by stakeholders across the University in collaboration with FRES, including the Office of the Provost, the Executive Vice President, Business Services, Human Resources, and the Office of Investments.

Penn's submission is based on data available from FY2013 (July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013). While STARS ratings last for three years, Penn will likely update its submission every two years so that content remains relevant and we are able to measure our progress against the defined standards more frequently.

While no rating system is perfect, STARS is a good tool for Penn because it is holistic: It allows us to aggregate our performance from academics to institutional investment; from purchasing to facilities planning. Penn's submission reflects our commitment, internal cooperation, transparency, and dedication to environmental sustainability around our campus and community.


Anne Papageorge  

Anne Papageorge

Vice President

Facilities & Real Estate Services

Leading the Way to Green: ISC Computer Operations
2014 Staff & Faculty Eco-Reps
Penn Green Fund
Walking Tour of Campus Landscapes
Move In Green Fall 2014
LEED Gold fo Penn, Times Two
Philly Orchard Project Picks Penn's Juneberries
 Penn Green Campus Partnership Website
Subscribe to Red & Blue On College Green
Download the Penn Climate Action Plan
Red & Blue On College Green Archives

Farm Fresh and Local at 36th & Market

Farm-fresh fruit and vegetables, breads and baked goods, and gourmet chocolates are just a sampling of the tasty offerings available at the farmers market located centrally on campus near the Penn Bookstore at 36th and Walnut Streets. The market is open Wednesdays, 10AM - 3PM, into the fall.


Leading the Way to Green: ISC Computer Operations

Congratulations to ISC Computer Operations for being the first Level 4 Green Office certified under the new Green Office 2.0 guidelines. "Reaching Level 4 certification is a great achievement in itself, and doing it under the refreshed guidelines deserves extra recognition because it shows that the office has embraced continual improvement," says Penn's Sustainability Director Dan Garofalo. "This office initially achieved Level 2 in its first submission, and later upgraded to Level 3 after an internal review of their environmental practices and processes.  Under the new guidelines, ISC engaged in a third review of practices, and inaugurated a number of new policies to rise to Level 4."

The Green Office program was refreshed in April 2014 to include sustainability practices that may not have been options in 2012 when the program was launched. READ MORE...


composting lesson
What's Ahead for 2014 Staff & Faculty Eco-Reps

Learning and leading - both of these terms describe what it is to be an Eco-Rep at Penn. Eco-Reps are volunteers who educate, engage, and empower others in sustainability in their own offices or departments. "It's important that these green champions can be articulate about the programs designed to meet the goals outlined in the Penn Climate Action Plan," says Andrea Kreiner, sustainability consultant to Penn's Green Campus Partnership. To facilitate this learning, she organizes training sessions for Staff & Faculty Eco-Reps throughout the year, in addition to the regular monthly lunch meetings.

The trainings are sometimes events, like the walking tour of Penn's landscapes that took place in June, or presentations on University-wide programs such as the Managed Print Initiative or the Power Down Challenge. The Eco-Reps also spearhead Green Office Certification in their offices. Ms. Kreiner envisions an interesting year ahead for Staff & Faculty Eco-Reps. Upcoming programming is scheduled to include:

  • A prep meeting for this fall's ReThink Your Footprint waste minimization campaign
  • An in-depth presentation on Penn's five years of progress on its Climate Action Plan and the goals of Climate Action Plan 2.0
  • A tour of the Waste Management recycling facility in northeast Philadelphia
  • A training session on how to conduct a waste reduction assessment in your office or department.

In addition, all Eco-Reps receive peer support and idea exchange, and a monthly newsletter with helpful tips for being green at home and at work. This year, the Eco-Reps also began an optional reading group.  The current selection is The Ominivore's Dilemma, a former Penn Reading Project selection, which they discussed at their monthly Eco-Rep meeting.

Does your office have an Eco-Rep? Check out the list on our website. Are you interested in raising your own office's level of environmental sustainability? Apply to be an Eco-Rep - download the application or email


Penn Green Fund
Great Ideas Grow into Green Projects: The Penn Green Fund

The Penn Green Fund is designed to seed innovative ideas in environmental sustainability from Penn students, faculty, and staff. Since 2009, this initiative of Penn's Green Campus Partnership, funded by the Division of Facilities and Real Estate Services, has supported 49 projects aimed to improve Penn's environmental performance and reduce campus emissions.

The variety and creativity brought to these projects has been impressive. Now, as Penn reviews five years of progress on its Climate Action Plan, the Green Fund Program has been updated. The refreshed program offers a quicker turn-around on most submissions, and is designed to make the grant-making process more responsive to those who submit ideas. The Green Fund Review Board has announced the following program updates, effective for the Fall 2014 semester:

  • Grant applications under $7,500 will be accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year, with decisions on applications usually provided within one month.  This will allow for applying groups get a quick response on timely proposals, and to refine unsuccessful applications and apply again sooner instead of having to wait until the following semester. Grant applications under $7,500 will be reviewed by the School and Center Sustainability Coordinators at their monthly meetings.
  • Grant applications for over $7,500 up to the maximum grant amount is $30,000 will be reviewed twice a year - once in the fall and once in the spring - by the full Review Board of faculty, staff, and students. New this year, a student representative from the Student Sustainability Association at Penn (SSAP) will sit on the Review Board.
  • When there are applications to the Green Fund are submitted by faculty or otherwise related to academics, the ESAC Academics Subcommittee Co-Chairs will be asked to review the application and provide input.

Learn more about the Green Fund and download an application.


walkingtour Out & About: A Walking Tour of Campus Landscapes

Penn's Landscape Architect, Bob Lundgren, led a walking tour of Penn Park and Shoemaker Green for Staff & Faculty Eco-Reps in June, highlighting how environmental sustainability is practiced on the campus and where some new landscape technologies are being used at Penn. 

Eco-Rep Jessie Burns, Associate Director, Special Projects in the Office of the Provost, thought the tour helped her appreciate how much Penn is doing with its landscape to foster sustainability.  "Overall, I was aware that Penn is committed to sustainability; however I didn't realize the specific things that are going on around campus that Bob explained so well," says Ms. Burns.


These are just a few of the sustainable facts that Mr. Lundgren shared with the Eco-Reps:

  • Both Penn Park and Shoemaker Green are managed ecologically, using no conventional salts for ice or snow, and no synthetic chemicals for either pest control or fertilizers.
  • Penn is now actively engaged in composting and the use of compost "tea" - a solution applied to the landscape throughout the growing season to build soil nutrients that is an alternative to synthetic fertilizers.  (The creation of synthetic fertilizers is a major source of global carbon emissions.)
  • Both Shoemaker Green and Penn Park harvest and store hundreds of thousands of gallons of rainwater and surface runoff underground for reuse as surface irrigation. Much of this water is collected in "rain gardens" and other bio-swales.
  • Penn Park includes almost five acres of tallgrass meadows, creating a natural environment and habitat for native birds and insects and reducing the need for mowing.
  • As part of Penn's biological pest control program, beneficial insects such as ladybugs, lacewings, and praying mantis are released each spring, aimed to control damaging insects in lieu of pesticides.



Thinking Green from Day One

Think about 5,000+ students moving in to campus within one week, and how much waste that generates. Cardboard boxes and wrapping, computer cases, and plastic bags - once cleared of their contents, are all headed to Penn's trash stream. 

A group of student volunteers is ready to assist staff to make sure that everything is disposed of in its proper place during Move-In, and others are poised to continue the educational process around sustainability at Penn.

  • Move-In Green- More than 20 student volunteers will participate in this year's Move-In Green program and help incoming students and parents sort and dispose of trash and recycling in all eleven College Houses.  Volunteers will be staffing outreach tables at Hill, Hamilton Village, and the Quad where they'll be promoting green living to the incoming student class by handing out energy-efficient light bulbs, reusable cups, and sunglasses made of recycled-content plastic, and answering any and all questions about campus sustainability.
  • Instagram Contest- Posting photos of themselves "being green" while moving onto campus will net some lucky winners a membership to Zipcar, a three-month free subscription to PennCycle, and an IKEA gift card. Visit the Green Campus Partnership Facebook page to learn more about the contest.
  • Pennfest, the traditional late-night orientation celebration with food, games and events, is going zero-waste this year! The goal is to compost or recycle all waste, sending next-to-zero trash to the landfill.
  • On August 24, the annual GCP Penn Sustainability Preceptorial invites new students to "Come learn about Penn's Climate Action Plan and environmental initiatives on campus!" This small group discussion with Penn's Environmental Sustainability Director Dan Garofalo will review what the university is doing to benefit the environment, and will be followed by a walking tour of sites around campus, including the Penn Women's Center green kitchen, Penn Law's LEED-certified Golkin Hall, and Shoemaker Green.  Students will have a chance to meet others interested in environmental issues and plan to get involved in Penn's sustainability initiatives and organizations.
  • Student Eco-Reps' activities expand this year with an enhanced training program and a bi-weekly lunchtime speaker series.  Penn Eco-Reps hone their leadership skills by working on various environmental projects throughout the year and organizing Green Teams within their College Houses, Green Chapters, or varsity athletics teams.  Students can apply to join Penn's 2014-15 Eco-Reps program by submitting an application , which will be accepted for the College House program until August 31 and the Athletics and Greek programs until September 7.
  • The Green Living Certification for College House residents moves into its second year of recognizing students' personal lifestyle choices. Rewards include coupons to University City restaurants Shake Shack and Picnic.

 "We are very proud of all the students who play a role in helping to promote a culture of sustainability around the University," says Julian Goresko, Sustainability Associate for the Green Campus Partnership. "The year ahead promises to be our best yet in terms of student initiatives and activities to lead the University towards its Climate Action Plan goals."



control center Power Down on a "Red Day" this Summer

The University issues "Red Day" notifications when hot summer days are predicted to spike regional electricity demand. During these times, usually between 2 and 6 PM, everyone on campus is requested to do what we can to reduce demand and the resulting stress on the power grid. Red Day conservation measures are important at Penn in two ways:  (1) They support our mission of overall energy conservation and awareness. (2) Penn receives a rebate from our electricity provider if we keep below our target maximum use. Red Day energy reductions can provide cost savings to the University of up to several hundred thousands of dollars per year.

The Green Campus Partnership has put together an Action Plan form that can help building occupants plan ahead for powering down when a Red Day is called. Here are just a few examples:

  • Dim or turn off lighting when/where safe
  • Run your laptop computer off the batteries instead of a wall plug
  • Charge equipment (like laptops or phones) during off-peak hours; before 2 PM and after 6 PM
  • Operate printers during off-peak hours
  • Turn off background music, TVs, and marketing displays
  • Reduce use of elevators and escalators
  • Reduce air-conditioning
  • Reduce use of energy-intensive laboratories

Download the Action Plan form for more ideas!


Goodwill, Not Landfill: PennMOVES Collects Record Totals

Each spring, PennMOVES encourages students leaving campus to donate items they no longer want rather than toss them in the trash. This year's program sent clothes, furniture, and kitchen supplies to Goodwill, and - new this year - non-perishable food items to Philabundance, a local food bank in Philadelphia. According to Joel Mintzer, Building Administrator in Penn's Residential Services, Penn collected 52,386 pounds of donations for Goodwill - nearly double the previous high total - and 3,551 pounds of food for Philabundance. He calls PennMOVES "truly a collective effort," adding that "everyone involved deserves to be proud of the good that was accomplished."

Julian Goresko, Sustainability Associate with the Green Campus Partnership, credits this year's high totals in large part to a broader collaboration between Facilities & Real Estate Services and Residential Services, along with significant contributions from Eco-Reps and paid student interns with Residential Services workers: "This year the students played a much bigger role in helping to lead the PennMOVES program. They did a fantastic job bringing high visibility to the program and were hands-on helping out with the sorting process and promoting the program among their peers."

Green on Graduation Day

Graduation got even "greener" this year as Penn expanded its collaboration with Oak Hill Cap & Gown, which provides regalia for the University, to include its Greenweaver gowns for Master's candidates. Undergraduates have worn the gowns, which are made from the 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic bottles, since 2010 when Penn became the first Ivy League institution to feature the Greenweaver line. With some 60 million plastic bottles going into U.S. landfills alone every day, regalia made of recycled materials offers a chance to turn trash into keepsakes.  Traditionally, Penn baccalaureate degree recipients purchase their caps and gowns and keep them as mementos. That opportunity was extended to Master's Degree candidates this May.


Reusable Sharps Now Campus-Wide

Purchasing Services in collaboration with the Office of Environmental Health & Radiation Safety (EHRS) has now expanded its pilot program to recycle reusable sharps (needles, blades and similar materials) containers campus-wide. Previously, during EHRS audits of labs, one of the most common problems noted was the improper disposal of infectious sharps. Establishing a reusable container program helps to improve safety by reducing exposure risks and eliminating inventory problems and multiple handling of containers.

In addition, the program has:

  • Saved lab space and research dollars as principal investigators do not have to purchase and store the large disposable sharps containers. The containers are provided by Curtis Bay, the vendor selected to administer the program.    
  • Offered an environmentally sustainable disposal method, as Curtis Bay will only dispose of the container's contents (the sharps). The container itself is cleaned and sterilized prior to being returned to our labs. According to Curtis Bay Energy's data, one reusable container can replace up to 150 disposable containers each year. 

If you should have any questions or would like to participate in this program, please contact Dr. Andrew B. Maksymowych, Institutional Biosafety Officer at 215-898-6236, or Dave Staskin, Purchasing Services Strategic Sourcing Manager at 215-898-2482.


LEED Gold for Penn, Times Two

Penn's 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 U.S. Green Building Council, and is targeting LEED Silver rating or higher. Thanks to exceptional teamwork, two recent projects, one a new building (Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology), and one an addition (Steinberg Hall-Dietrich Hall, pictured at left) have achieved the LEED Gold rating.

Sustainable elements in construction of the Singh Center were featured in the Fall 2013 issue of this newsletter. Among these are two green roofs, a water-capturing cistern below the wide front lawn, and a glass fašade that allows natural daylight to flood the building, making artificial lighting unnecessary for much of the day.

The West Tower Entrance addition to Steinberg Hall-Dietrich Hall, opened in the first half of 2013 with a number of green features:

  • Green roofs to manage storm water runoff and reduce cooling loads
  • White roof and light colored pavers to reduce the heat island effect
  • High performance building envelope
  • Chilled Beams cooling technology and demand-controlled ventilation systems, to reduce building  mechanical system energy use
  • High efficiency lighting and control systems
  • Water efficient fixtures
  • Finishes made from recycled materials installed with low emitting or no VOC adhesives and sealants
  • Certified Wood and Regional Materials
According to Rafael de Luna, Associate Director of Sustainability in Wharton Operations, "Facilities improvements are just one of the ways that Wharton demonstrates its commitment to reducing its environmental footprint." 

Green Spaces 'By the Numbers'
The June issue of the Penn Current, "By the Numbers" took a closer look at the grassy areas and towering trees that create Penn's signature green spaces. 



Cycling at Penn: What You Need to Know

In order to ensure that all members of the Penn Community understand both the resources and the regulations associated with biking on campus, the University created a Bike Planning Committee. Recently, the Committee updated the University Bike Policy [PDF]. The policy governs the use of bikes at Penn - where bikes are and are not allowed to be ridden, parked, stored and used while at Penn. 

New also is a map for bicyclists available on Penn's Facilities & Real Estate website. This interactive map shows bike lanes on the city streets and campus paths, areas where bikes are not allowed, locations of trolley tracks, and other details useful to riders. 


Ask Benny - About Sustainable Transportation

A regular column in the Penn Current, "Ask Benny" clarifies Penn policies or practices for the community. This Spring, Benny helped Current readers understand more about vehicles at Penn. 





Philly Orchard Project Picks Penn's Juneberries

A recent harvest of juneberries couldn't get more local - volunteers from the Philadelphia Orchard Project (POP) visited campus and gleaned the ripe red berries from a handful of locations at Penn, including outside of the McNeil Building. 

Over two days, they picked approximately six gallons of the native North American berry, says Robyn Mello, the Philly Orchard Project's outreach and education director. "We received a map of the juneberry trees on campus and I put out a call for volunteers to come and help pick the fruit. We'd like for no fruit to ever go to waste," she explains. Usually the fruits of the volunteers' labor go to local commercial kitchens or to city youth programs involved with nutrition. But in this case, Ms. Mello says, the fruit was purchased at market value by Lil' Pop Shop, a new partner of POP in West Philadelphia. One of the flavors they created, according to Ms. Mello was Juneberry-Goat Cheese, with the cheese locally sourced from Common Market. The partnership with Lil' Pop Shop is a source of fundraising for POP, with the non-profit receiving a percentage of the revenue from the sales of the popsicles.

The Philadelphia Orchard Project is looking to increase the ranks of its volunteers. Robyn Mello invites those interested to visit POP's website or email her directly at


David Hsu, PhD -- 

Assistant Professor, Department of City and Regional Planning, PennDesign


There are no easy answers to the challenges of environmental sustainability, David Hsu cautions his city planning students. But he encourages each of them to direct his or her particular skills into collaborative teamwork needed to solve problems in this interdisciplinary field. In this interview, Professor Hsu shares his thoughts on the rhetoric around sustainability and his ideas on how Penn students and the University can contribute to the ongoing discourse.