Penn Launches Climate Action Plan 2.0

Five years after releasing its original Climate Action Plan, the University of Pennsylvania today announced the launch of Climate Action Plan 2.0, a roadmap for environmental improvement and sustainability on campus to 2019 and beyond.

Building on the successes of the last five years, Climate Action Plan 2.0 sets forth challenging new goals for campus building performance, expanded educational opportunities for students, and enriched support for faculty research.

“Penn is proud to be at the forefront of sustainable practices and conservation,” President Amy Gutmann said. “As an environmental leader among American colleges and universities, we are putting our knowledge to work in comprehensive ways to improve our community and preserve the planet for generations to come.”

Penn launched the Climate Action Plan — the University’s collective commitment to reduce carbon emissions, engage the community, and expand sustainability-related teaching and research — in 2009, two years after Gutmann became the first Ivy League president to sign the Presidents’ Climate Commitment.

The goals and recommendations included in Climate Action Plan 2.0 build upon those outlined in the original Climate Action Plan. Described in full in the Climate Action Plan 2.0 report, they include:

  • An overall carbon reduction of 7 percent and a building energy reduction of 10 percent by 2019 (using FY 2014 as a baseline), in line with Penn’s long-term goal of carbon neutrality by 2042.
  • The creation of a Faculty Working Group on Sustainability to provide outreach and support to faculty interested in researching and teaching sustainability.
  • An increase in Penn’s campus-wide recycling rate, which is currently approximately 24 percent, to 30 percent by 2019.

To date, the Climate Action Plan has produced wide-ranging success, as highlighted in the report. Penn’s carbon emissions have decreased 18 percent since 2007, and normalized energy consumption has dropped 6.6 percent during that time. Campus waste-minimization programs, including recycling and composting, have resulted in a nearly 10-percent reduction in the amount of waste transported to landfills.

Under the Action Plan, Penn has achieved LEED Gold Certification in six campus buildings and has added more than 27 acres of green space. From College Houses to Greek chapters to Athletics, programs like Student Eco-Reps have fostered a culture of sustainability among students across campus.

Some of the most significant achievements of the Climate Action Plan have come inside the classroom. Penn now offers more than 170 courses related to sustainability, and the Integrating Sustainability Across the Curriculum program has added 22 faculty members and 12 students, who have collaborated to infuse principles of sustainability into 21 courses. Other programs and degree offerings, including a Sustainability & Environmental Management minor, a Master in Environmental Building Design, and the Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research, have furthered Penn’s goal of integrating sustainability into coursework.

“Combining theory and practice is critical in enabling us to produce the next generation of environmental leaders,” Gutmann said. “Under the Climate Action Plan, Penn has been, and will continue to be, a model of environmental academics and stewardship.” 

To view the full Climate Action Plan 2.0 report, click here.

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