Penn Introduces Green Living Certification Program

With 6,700 University of Pennsylvania students residing on campus, reaching them with the message to live a more sustainable lifestyle has great potential for ecological impact. To engage this population, Penn’s Green Campus Partnership has launched the Green Living Certification program as part of its continued commitment to build a culture of sustainability throughout all parts of University life. 

“We think that introducing elements of gamification to the certification process will result in some fun competition among roommates and suitemates in the College Houses,” said Julian Goresko, sustainability student outreach associate for the Green Campus Partnership. 

“We are looking to engage those who aren’t already champions,” Goresko said. “We hope participating in Green Living will catch on and students will start to take a look at their personal lifestyle choices as they see their peers being recognized.” 

The program incentivizes students to adopt greener lifestyles. Students must adopt 5 Required Actions to be considered. By adopting or following various other sustainable behaviors they accrue points. Twenty, 35 and 50 points earn participants bronze-, silver- and gold-level certification respectively. The rewards-based program is organized around activities in:

  • Waste Minimization & Recycling
  • Energy & Water
  • Transportation
  • Purchasing
  • Involvement at Penn

The College House Eco-Reps are administering the program, and Green Campus Partnership volunteers began to roll out the program this fall during the New Student Orientation and during move-in. 

A certification manual lays out the details and required actions for earning points. These actions range from using CFLs, compact fluorescent lamps, instead of incandescent light bulbs in College Houses, or using a reusable mug or thermos for to-go beverages, to volunteering for an environmental activity. Those achieving gold, silver or bronze certification receive a decal as proof of their accomplishment.

Green Acorn, a student organization encouraging local businesses and vendors to adopt sustainable practices, is also working with business partners to offer additional incentives as part of the Green Living Certification program. Local eateries SweetGreen and Picnic are providing gifts and coupons for those students who achieve silver or gold certification. 

“Much of what we are doing here is trying to establish a pattern for living,” said Dan Garofalo, Penn’s environmental sustainability director. “We are guiding and informing environmentally sustainable choices that Penn students will take with them long after they graduate.”

The Green Living Certification program highlights the role that an individual’s daily decisions play in reaching the goals laid out in the University’s Climate Action Plan. 

Additional information on the Green Living Certification program is available here. 

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