Red & Blue On College Green
trees bloom at college hall

Self-starters Get Green Ideas Flowing  


Penn's commitment to greening our campus operations and academics was renewed by President Amy Gutmann last October with the launch of the Climate Action Plan 2.0, our roadmap for a lower-carbon and more sustainable campus. Implementation is racing ahead on many fronts - from individual students who participate in the Green Living certification program to entire building populations working together to save energy during the Power Down Challenge. While many programs are initiated here in Penn's Sustainability Office, the creativity of our entire community of students, staff, and faculty is essential to moving Penn forward.


A prime example is the Penn Green Fund, which welcomes ideas from the Penn community to improve Penn's environmental performance and reduce campus emissions.  Since the launch of the Green Fund in 2009, awards have been made to 48 projects that address every aspect of campus performance, including building infrastructure, student education, landscape maintenance, sustainable transportation, and energy conservation, to name a few. With the introduction of Climate Action Plan 2.0, the Green Fund has been updated with new grant award amounts and deadlines, all designed to make the grantmaking process more nimble and responsive to our community. The program updates include:

  • The maximum grant amount is now $30,000.
  • Grant applications under $7,500 will be accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year, to allow for quick response to timely initiatives. These grant applications will be reviewed by the School and Center Sustainability Coordinators at their monthly meetings. Rolling applications allow groups to refine unsuccessful applications and apply again sooner, instead of having to wait until the following semester.
  • Grant applications over $7,500 will be reviewed twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring.
  • 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 which are related to academics, the ESAC Academics Subcommittee Co-Chairs will be asked to review the application and provide input.

Although we're only part-way through the spring semester, we've already seen a number of creative ideas come through the Green Fund application process. Awards have been made to:

  • Staff in the School of Medicine who will pilot the use of reusable glass petri dishes instead of disposable plastic ones.
  • Students in the Equal Justice Foundation (EJF) at the Law School who are establishing permanent collection locations for law textbooks so they can be reused.
  • A student working with staff in Penn Dining as part of her independent study project to analyze food waste in the campus dining halls, with the aim of reducing waste and increasing efficiency.

Summaries of past and ongoing Green Fund projects are available on the Green Campus Partnership website. Any students, staff, or faculty members are encouraged to apply.


Dan Garofalo

Sustainability Director

Facilities & Real Estate Services

 Penn Green Campus Partnership Website
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Green Campus Partnership Team Earns 2015 Models of Excellence

Penn's Division of Human Resources has announced the 2015 Models of Excellence Program Award winners, an initiative introduced in 1999 to recognize notable staff member accomplishments at Penn that reflect initiative, leadership, increased efficiency, and a deep commitment to service.

One of this year's Models of Excellence winners is the Penn Green Campus Partnership Team, selected for the above-and-beyond contributions of each group member in the achievement of integrating sustainability into coursework, community, and campus planning, design, and operations. At this year's March 24 ceremony, President Amy Gutmann officially recognized all of the Models of Excellence winners. Read more in the Penn Current.


Philadelphia Radio 900AM WURD Spends a Green Hour with Penn

The airwaves in Philadelphia buzzed on Sunday, February 8 with the voices of Penn's sustainability leadership.  University Architect David Hollenberg and Dan Garofalo, Penn's Sustainability Director, were guests on The Green Hour, a weekly radio program on 900AM WURD. The program's mission is to raise the awareness among their listening audience about health and environment. In addition to questions about Penn programs in sustainability, host Laura Gaines asked questions such as, "What would the earth say if it could speak to us?" To hear this answer, and more, listen to the podcast at  You can also access the podcast by searching from their home page


The Green Hour is broadcast on 900AM WURD in Philadelphia every Sunday from 11am-12 noon.  


staff eco reps

New Leadership for Staff/Faculty Eco-Reps

The Faculty & Staff Eco-Rep Program is taking on a new management structure. The group has grown since its creation in 2010, both in size and capabilities. To better meet the needs of this evolving organization, three Co-Chair positions have been created. The Co-Chairs will work with Penn's Office of Sustainability to steer the group's meeting content, training needs, and discussions. The Office of Sustainability will continue to serve in an advisory role and provide administrative and logistical support.

 The new structure provides for three Co-Chairs, representing administrative, facilities, and academic offices across campus.  When possible, the Co-Chairs will come from different schools or divisions. The term of office will be September to August, with the first Co-Chairs serving through August 2016.

The first Co-Chairs of the Staff/ Faculty Eco-Reps are:

  • Marie-Louise Faber, Environmental Health and Radiation Safety
  • Jennifer Mishkin, Perelman School of Medicine Space Planning & Operations
  • Judy Tjattis, Grad Division, School of Arts & Sciences
A Guide for Teaching Green

As part of its goals under Climate Action Plan 2.0, the Office of Sustainability has been meeting with faculty members to expand the opportunities for teaching, learning, and researching sustainability.  This has included one-on-one meetings, partnering with Penn's Center for Teaching & Learning (CTL) on sustainability discussion sessions, and providing participating faculty with summer research assistants  through the Integrating Sustainability Across the Curriculum (ISAC) program.


This spring, the Office of Sustainability released a Green Teaching Guide for Faculty, Lecturers, and Teaching Assistants. The Guide provides a collection of best practices, lessons learned, and recommendations for reducing the environmental impact of classroom and other course-related activities. While it may seem that the environmental impact of each class would be relatively small, collectively, teaching practices contribute significantly to Penn's efforts to become a more sustainable university. The Guide can be found on the Green Campus Partnership website.


Student Fellows Shape Penn Program in Environmental Humanities

At the close of Dr. Bethany Wiggin's spring 2013 course, Utopian Visions, students wanted to know what she was going to do for an encore.  Dr. Wiggin, Associate Professor of German in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, had used the study of German and American utopian communities to touch on wide-ranging environmental topics such as land use, resource management, public education, and political and legal enfranchisement. The course left students enthusiastic for more opportunities to develop connections between environmentalism and the humanities, but with few courses to choose from.


Enter the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities.  This new co-curricular academic fellowship engaged seven inaugural fellows in the mission "to generate local and global awareness and engagement in the emergent area of the environmental humanities." 


For the past six months, the seven 2014-2015 Fellows, Aaron Guo ('17), Allison Bart ('15), Austin Bream ('17), Jose Romero ('15), Leah Davidson ('16), Stephanie Busnelli ('16), and Tan Chan ('15), have created a blog and developed academic content around for their individual projects in Environmental Humanities.  Read their blog entries and learn more about the program at


Green Living Program Gets Boost from Wharton Management 100 

Penn's Green Living certification program recognizes students for their individual efforts to live a sustainable lifestyle, awarding Gold, Silver, and Bronze level certifications and rewards from neighborhood restaurants such as Picnic and Shake Shack. Since introduced in all College Houses and Sansom Place in the fall of 2013, Green Living certifications have grown from 150 to nearly 260 certified students and staff living in College Residences.


"This growth is largely due to the program's partnership with a team of Management 100 students during fall 2014," says Emily Wei, an intern in the Penn Sustainability Office . The Wharton freshman team, also known as the "Green Team," supported the Green Living program through the development of marketing materials and strategies to expand integration into the Penn residential community.

The Green Team successfully created and implemented various marketing campaigns, relying heavily on a sophisticated use of social media. Over the span of five weeks, the Green Team's "Tip Tuesdays" and "Photo Fridays" posts on the Green Campus Partnership Facebook page reached over 22,000 people, received over 1,000 "likes" and shares, and garnered 101 new subscribers to the Green Campus Partnership page. Another marketing tool the Green Team developed is the promotional video (, which creatively presents tips on how to "live green."

The Green Team created an outdoor living display at GreenFest to promote the program and educate visitors about sustainable living.

The Green Team concluded its partnership with Green Living by providing a final report and presentation that highlighted their efforts and offered recommendations for improvement. Their marketing strategy suggestions and recommendations will be utilized in the future to further improve and expand the program.

Special thanks to Green Team members Carl Palmquist, Nicholas Marine, Carl-Oscar Gustafson, Jose Gedeon, Ivan Sanchez, Laura Gao, Suriya Sharma, and Hin Polcharoen for their hard work.



College Houses and Campus Buildings Power Down in February

The 2015 Power Down Challenge competition energized Eco-Reps and building leaders to conserve energy in their respective buildings by sharing tips with residents and staff and providing educational outreach.


The winning results for residential and campus buildings are posted below.  Each competition measured percent reduction from baseline.  The residential buildings also measured total kilowatt hours reduced over the course of the entire four-week period, and the campus building competition also tracked the reduction of kilowatt hours per 1000 square feet.


Residential Buildings

Percent Change

Total kWh Change







* = winning percent reduction

^ = winning total kWh reduction


Campus Building

Percent Change

Change kWh/sq.ft.

Total kWh Change

Law School*








* = winning percent reduction

^ = winning kWh/sqft reduction

New this year, Power Down organizers held a detailed information session for those leading the competition in the College Houses to encourage their creativity and resourcefulness in providing outreach. Read more about Power Down on the Green Campus Partnership website.



40th Street Restaurants Begin Composting Pilot

The practice of composting is growing on Penn's campus. Post-consumer food waste is collected in Houston Hall, for example, and this type of composting is also part of some offices' qualifications for the Green Office program. This spring, the collection of pre-consumer food waste will be piloted in the retail restaurants along 40th Street. Education on composting for those who do food prep at Harvest, Smokey Joe's, Greek Lady, and Hip City Veg has already begun, with plans for collection of this type of waste to begin near the end of April.


This composting program is designed to collect kitchen scraps used in food preparation and keep it out of the waste going to landfills. Penn's Facilities & Real Estate team and the Solid Waste Management Working Group estimate that this new system could reduce by 50% the number of pick-ups by solid waste haulers from the restaurants on this block, cutting costs for waste collection services and the amount of fuel used by landfill-bound trucks. Collecting food scraps in specially designed compost bins - similar to those now used in Moravian Court - puts less organic waste into the regular dumpsters, greatly reducing the opportunity for pests. 


The expansion of composting to these dining establishments fulfills part of the Climate Action Plan 2.0 commitment to extend the University's sustainability efforts to our on-campus retailers.


SEAS Book Swap Encourages Re-use

The SEAS Green Team hosted a Book Swap in January where faculty, staff and engineering students were encouraged to clear out and trade up on the contents of their bookshelves. Karema Seliem, Building Interiors Coordinator at SEAS, called the Book Swap a low cost, fun, and zero waste event that encouraged re-use of recreational and educational books.


The Book Swap took place in the Levine Hall Lobby and was open to everyone. Participators were able to bring their used recreational books or textbooks to our tables starting at 11:00 am. Each table was labeled by book type and Green Team volunteers were present to aid in answering questions and guiding participants. The books were free to swap until 5:00 pm. In total, an estimated 200 books were donated and about 500 books were brought to the event and swapped. According to Karima, the Green Team received very positive feedback. "In fact," she said, "People are already asking when the next Book Swap will be."


All books left after the swap were donated. Textbooks were donated to Better World Books and The Vietnam Book Drive Project. Recreational books were donated to Books Through Bars. By diverting books from landfill, our donation alone to Better World Books saved 107 gallons of water, 23 pounds of greenhouse gases, and 36 kWh of electricity. 



Sustainable Parking Lot Renewed - A Model after 25 Years of Service

The Morris Arboretum's permeable parking lot is being renewed and rededicated after 25 years of service.  The original parking lot used innovative and, for its time, unique construction techniques to create an asphalt surface that permitted water to sink right through the pavement and filter into the groundwater below.  The first of its kind, this innovative parking lot has won awards for engineering and design, been featured in national publications and regional educational videos, and is frequently visited by school students, university classes, engineers, architects and landscape architects from around the world.   Visitors are interested in its ability to absorb stormwater without creating runoff, and its longevity - its permeability meant that water did not pool in cracks and crevices to create potholes during periods of freezing weather.


Over the last 25 years, the Arboretum estimates that the parking lot has eliminated troublesome runoff of about 31,863,304 gallons of rain and snow - equivalent to a lifetime supply of drinking water for more than 1,000 of the Arboretum's neighbors downstream.


The parking lot, installed in 1989, was Morris Arboretum's first public parking lot, and was designed with neighborhood input to accommodate the growing number of visitors to the Arboretum.  Key to the planning was the desire to respect the historic 19th century landscape of the nearby Gates House, and to provide a permanent exhibit of exceptional ecological urban planting.  The groundbreaking engineering enables storm water to filter down through the parking lot and recharge the water table below, while providing a high-quality visitor experience.


In December, Morris Arboretum peeled up portions of the porous pavement which had eroded over time to investigate the performance of the stone recharge bed and filter fabric. The examination of sediment accumulation and materials durability determined that the subsurface is still functional. Since this lot is the earliest and longest-operating permeable pavement parking lot, it offers a unique advantage to add to our knowledge of best design and management practices.

When work begins this spring, the permeable parking bays will be cut and peeled back to mitigate contamination by the weathered asphalt, the cobble edgings will be reset, and a new permeable surface will be installed.  "It is exciting to think that a demonstration parking lot installed 25 years ago still serves as a model for best practices," says Bob Gutowski, Director of Public Programs at Morris Arboretum.


The garden will remain open during the parking lot renewal.  Alternative parking will be available at a remote location, with free shuttle service maintaining easy access to the exhibit landscape. Visit the Morris Arboretum website for more information.


Vance Hall Renovation Receives LEED Silver Certification

A renovation of the first and second floors of Vance Hall has received LEED for Commercial Interiors Silver Certification. This building, located at 3733 Spruce Street, was constructed in 1972 and houses the Wharton School's graduate education program.


Design and program elements of Vance Hall that gained LEED points towards the Silver level designation include:

  • Green Power.  Through the purchase of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), we ensured that the amount of energy this building consumes over the next two years is replaced on the electric grid by renewable sources, resulting in a cleaner and more sustainable environment.
  • Daylight and Views.  Vance Hall provides building occupants with a connection between indoor spaces and the outdoors through the introduction of daylight and views.  The design of the spaces allowed for 90% of the 21,000 sf project area to have access to natural daylight.
  • SMaRT Certified products.  SMaRT Certification is a rating system which evaluates a product's full life cycle and effects on the global environment and economy.  By specifying products which have SMaRT Certification, we are supporting the use of sustainable products and stimulating the development of certified sustainable products.
Read more about Vance Hall.


Philly Bike Share Open for Business at Penn

On April 23 the City of Philadelphia will officially launch the Indego Bike Share program, an integrated system featuring over 600 self-service bicycles and 70 bike-share stations in neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia.  Three stations are strategically located on campus: at 40th and Spruce, near the University City Regional Rail station, and 36th and Sansom.   


Member plans are now available at and riders are encouraged to sign up before launch.   For more information, please visit


Guidance for Green Travel

Business Services has launched a Green Travel page as part of the Penn Travel and Expense Management website.  Find helpful hints for things like booking ground transportation and being a greener hotel guest.




feeding america logo

Penn Dining and Bon Appetit join the nationwide Food Recovery Network

Last spring Penn students from Professor Mary Summers' Politics of Food class approached Penn Dining and its food service provider Bon Appetit about working with Feeding America, a national organization that works with local food banks to address hunger in this country. Feeding America put Bon Appetit in touch with its regional partner Philabundance which in turn identified a local agency, Salvation Army Pioneers to begin receiving food donations from Penn. At the start of the 2014 fall semester, a pilot was launched at 1920 Commons.  Food prepared in 1920 Commons but not served in a given week is frozen, and donated to the Salvation Army. This semester, the program expanded to Hill's dining facility.


Consider Joining a CSA This Spring

"Spring finally may be here! For a while, it was hard to imagine sunny warm days and fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables, but it seems we've made it through winter," said Kristy Crocetto, Administrative Assistant to Penn Alumni Regional Clubs in Penn Alumni Relations. Kristy is located in the Sweeten Alumni House and coordinates her office's sign up for a Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) subscription program through Red Earth Farms.


CSAs have been gaining popularity over the past few years, as they are a fun and easy way to obtain fresh locally grown produce in urban and suburban areas. Red Earth Farms offers a "Choice CSA", which allows members the opportunity to choose weekly from a list of seasonal fresh produce. The produce is then delivered to a drop-off point in your neighborhood. "Here at Sweeten," says Kristy, "Enough people joined that we were able to make our building a drop-off point."


CSAs have a "share fee" in which you pay an amount up front for a "share" in the crops that the farm produces. CSA subscriptions typically last from late Spring until early Fall, with most farms offering seasonal treats to go along with their produce.


Charis Lindrooth (C'87) runs Red Earth Farms with her husband Michael Alhert. When asked about the benefits of joining a CSA, Charis replied: "The member receives produce that has been harvested often within 24 hours of receiving their box. They enjoy the benefits of super fresh produce, they get connected with the source of their food by visiting the farm, through newsletters and through Facebook and other social media. They also know that they are supporting a local, family-owned Pennsylvania farm."


For more information about joining a CSA, check out this website:


The registration for CSA's through Red Earth Farms are now open and if you would like to sign-up with Sweeten Alumni House as your weekly pickup- you can reach out to Kristy Crocetto by the May 1st deadline:


To know more about Red Earth Farms, check them out here:


Penn Green Student Directors -- Sandra Loza-Avalos (C '17) and Ian Stark Grohsgal (C '16)

PennGreen is an environmentally focused Pre-Orientation program offered to 40 incoming freshmen, sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the Undergraduate Assembly, the Green Campus Partnership, and the Trustees' Council of Penn Women.


PennGreen offers students an introduction to environmentalism at Penn and in Philadelphia, giving them a chance to form personal relationships with peers interested in environmental issues, outdoor trips, and community. Students get to know Penn, the City of Philadelphia, and other excited and engaged students before New Student Orientation (NSO) begins, and will have a community of close-knit friends with whom they will begin their Penn journey.


PennGreen is led by upper-class students who have returned to share and build upon their PennGreen experiences; many are members of various environmental groups on campus or have contributed in some way to the green movement at Penn. The Fall 2015 Student Directors are Sandra Loza-Avalos (C '17) and Ian Stark Grohsgal (C '16), interviewed here about the interest in sustainability and their plans for this year's program.