University of Pennsylvania Releases Climate Action Plan

PHILADELPHIA –- The University of Pennsylvania today released its Climate Action Plan, a comprehensive approach to reducing the University’s carbon footprint and enhancing its overall sustainability. An announcement by President Amy Gutmann marked the occasion.

The development of Penn’s Climate Action Plan was spurred by President Gutmann’s 2007 signing of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment pledge, which bound the University to assess its carbon emissions from greenhouse gases and submit a long-range plan reducing its carbon footprint by Sept. 15, 2009. Penn was among the first of the now 600+ colleges and universities to sign this pledge, and the first among the Ivy League institutions.

“Penn is proud to be an environmental leader among American colleges and universities,” Gutmann said. “Our new Climate Action Plan outlines the next bold steps we will take to further reduce our carbon footprint, including strategies to promote recycling, increase energy efficiency and apply innovative design and construction methods. The health of our planet depends on our actions and Penn is committed to leading higher education’s green revolution into the future.”

Upon signing the pledge, Penn created a sustainability coordinator position, conducted a comprehensive inventory of its greenhouse gases by the Penn School of Design’s TC Chan Center for Energy Simulation (for the years 2008, 2008 and 2009) and convened a multi-faced committee of faculty, students and staff to research and develops the goals of the plan, which are:

Conserve Energy: Achieve a 5 percent reduction of energy across campus by 2010 and a 17 percent reduction by 2014.
Minimize Waste: Achieve a 100 percent increase in recycling across campus by 2014 -- from the current 20 percent diversion rate to 40 percent.
Reduce Auto Emissions: Motivate more than half of the University population to walk, bike, and carpool or use public transit for their commute.
Design Green: Build new LEED-certified buildings and landscapes as part of the 30-year Penn Connects campus master plan, and retrofit and re-commission existing buildings in a more sustainable way.
Learn Sustainability: Ensure that the whole Penn community has the opportunity to learn about the issues of sustainability as an integral part of the curriculum and as part of the Penn experience.

As the new academic year begins Penn is already implementing the goals of the Climate Action Plan through recent actions such as:

• PennGreen, the University’s four-day pre-orientation program introduced 40 selected new students to Philadelphia's leading environmental initiatives.
• Hiring new dining services vendor Bon Appetit, known nationally for its sustainable food sourcing
• Eco-Reps - a pilot program for 2009 in which each floor in designated resident halls will have student volunteers providing information on energy use, recycling and other environmental concerns.
• Purchasing services directs buyers to sustainable choices.
• The Green Fund for sustainability projects will make available up to $50,000 to any group in the Penn community to change behavior, educate, or implement technical solutions that reduce campus emissions and improve sustainability.
• Penn was the first major university in the nation to purchase sustainable commencement caps and gowns, made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic bottles.

The full Climate Action Plan is available at

A video of Dr. Gutmann's speech at the kick-off event is available at and images from the event are available at