University of Pennsylvania Recognized for Climate Leadership

The University of Pennsylvania receives Second Nature’s 1st Annual Climate Leadership Award for Institutional Excellence in Climate Leadership. Award recipients were recognized at the 4th Annual American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment(ACUPCC) Summit in Denver, CO on October 12th.

University of Pennsylvania (Penn), President Amy Gutmann champions the environmental efforts and provides senior leadership that complements the grassroots efforts of an engaged campus community. An extensive network of students, faculty, and staff known as the Penn Green Campus Partnership is an umbrella group created to foster a culture of sustainability. For two years, an advisory committee of over 40 campus constituents, led by the Vice President of Facilities, collaborated to produce the Climate Action Plan, an ambitious outline of strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition to the strategies outlined in Penn’s CAP, the university has long emphasized sustainability in its academic mission including but not limited to:

  • The T.C. Chan Center, a partnership with Tsinghua University, brings together students and international experts to research and develop strategies for sustainable environments and high-performance, energy-efficient buildings.
  • ‘Ideas in Action’ courses allow for students to propose projects to senior administrators on the best methods for advancing the University’s sustainability goals.
  • The Office of the Provost created a new sustainability minor and specialized sustainability tracks within several schools, in addition to a series of workshops for faculty.
  • PennGreen, a pre-orientation program offered to incoming freshmen, and provides students with an environmental introduction to Penn and Philadelphia.
  • The Penn Eco-Reps program includes all student college houses and over 100 faculty and staff volunteers who participate in monthly workshops to improve the sustainability of their workplaces and dorms.
  • The Penn Connects campus development plan will increase the amount of green space by over 20%, convert parking lots to parkland, mitigate stormwater runoff, and reduce urban heat island effect.
  • An Energy Reduction Fund has been established to provide schools and centers with incentives to pursue conservation projects.
  • Penn is the largest purchaser of green power among American universities, with over 192,000 megawatts (46 percent of total power used) of wind energy purchased annually.
  • Penn formed the largest university car-sharing program in the country with PhillyCarShare, a 50,000-member nonprofit organization.
  • The Penn Green Fund seeds innovative ideas in sustainability with one-time grants of as much as $50,000.

To learn more about the University’s environmental sustainability initiatives, visit the Penn Green Campus Partnership website.