Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 66.40
Liaison Madeline Schuh
Submission Date Feb. 21, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Pennsylvania
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Madeline Schuh
Sustainability Analyst
Facilities and Real Estate Services
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Air & Climate?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Air & Climate:

A number of students in the Masters of Environmental Building Design participate in consulting projects in which they review the environmental performance of the campus, including its carbon inventory and emissions. Internships and independent study projects are managed through the Center for Environmental Building + Design within the School of Design, in collaboration with the Division of Facilities and Real Estate Services. https://www.design.upenn.edu/cebd/projects


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Buildings?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Buildings:

A number of students in the Masters of Environmental Building Design participate in consulting projects in which they review the environmental performance of buildings. One recent report focused on developing BIM Protocols for the management of University buildings. Internships and independent study projects are managed through the Center for Environmental Building + Design within the School of Design, in collaboration with the Division of Facilities and Real Estate Services. https://www.design.upenn.edu/cebd/projects


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Energy?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Energy:

A number of students in the Masters of Environmental Building Design participate in consulting projects in which they review the environmental performance of buildings. One recent report focused on developing Deploying Integrated Design Roadmaps for Advanced Energy Retrofits. Internships and independent study projects are managed through the Center for Environmental Building + Design within the School of Design, in collaboration with the Division of Facilities and Real Estate Services. https://www.design.upenn.edu/cebd/projects


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Food & Dining?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Food & Dining:

The "Addressing Food Waste Service-Research Project" was a service-research project built on work carried out by teams of undergraduate students previously enrolled in the Politics of Food course in the School of Arts and Sciences. The project was conducted in collaboration with Penn Dining and Bon Appetit (Penn's dining vendor), and researched ways to reduce food waste in Penn's dining system. The research site was a dining facility on Penn’s campus, where students conducted qualitative and quantitative research. Student researchers reviewed published research and interviewed various stakeholders, observed dining behavior by students over the course of several weeks, identified ways to intervene to reduce plate waste, and piloted a small set of changes to determine most effective strategies for Penn's dining halls.

The existing community garden on campus expanded in 2017 to a one-acre garden, behind Harrison College House, and consists of plant beds with vegetables and herbs as well as landscaped with fruit trees and edible plantings. In addition, the vegetable and herbs are used for the Italian in Residence class. All interested students will be welcome to use and work in the garden.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Grounds?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Grounds:

The University of Pennsylvania is situated on a growing and highly urban campus that has over 6,500 trees on 299-acres. Trees play an important ecological role in the urban environment, by improving public health and providing aesthetic benefits to cities. A Penn Masters of Environmental Studies capstone project used the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service’s software, i-Tree Eco, to quantify the ecosystem benefits Penn's urban forest conveys. Field research teams collected data on location and tree canopy size for 4,086 trees on 160 acres of Penn's core campus during the summer of 2015. The trees within the study area were estimated to store over 1,500,000 lbs. of carbon and their shading reduced campus building annual HVAC costs by over $50,000. This project gave Penn Facilities and Real Estate Services decision makers a more complete assessment of the value of their urban trees. This work informs future tree management practices and creates a platform for ongoing urban forestry research at Penn. http://repository.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1065&context=mes_capstones


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Purchasing?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Purchasing:

Over the course of the 2016/17 academic year the Penn Director of Purchasing Services advised/mentored a senior undergraduate (Environmental Studies, SAS ‘17) on her senior thesis. The thesis was titled: "Integrating Sustainability into Supply Chain Decisions at Higher Education Institutions: Lessons from the University of Pennsylvania". As part of her extensive research, the student interviewed a number of Penn staff and suppliers regarding purchasing decisions.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Transportation?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Transportation:

Penn, in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), is participating in a $14 million, five-year transportation research grant to establish Mobility21, a new national University Transportation Center (UTC). The grant comes from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT) and is intended to support improved mobility and traffic/road safety. It is the third DoT national UTC that award Penn and CMU have won together since 2013.
The team is a partnership between the School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Design, Law, and Wharton schools, as well as the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).
See https://penncurrent.upenn.edu/news/a-14-million-grant-to-improve-mobility-and-safety-in-transportation?utm_source=Primary&utm_campaign=6e17fc1fa6-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_01_20&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_3777f2ca8f-6e17fc1fa6-43376929


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Waste?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Waste:

The student Eco-Reps conducted an Outdoor Recycling & Waste Signage program. The students selected outdoor waste and recycling bins to study over the course of a semester. Students performed waste audits on the bins to evaluate how campus users respond to signage and color in their disposal habits. Students found that users were more likely to place waste and recycling in the appropriate bin when receptacles were differentiated by color and with signage. The results of their study resulted in the University beginning to color coordinate bins across campus with recycling tops painted blue and trash, dark green.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Water?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Water:

In 2017, Penn established the Penn Water Research Center in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science in the School of Arts and Sciences. The aim of the Research Center is to investigate and explore public/private partnerships and best practices in water resource policy and utility management. The Center is headed by Howard Neukrug, the former Commissioner and CEO of Philadelphia Water, where he was responsible for all aspects of utility operations, environmental compliance, engineering, financing, and planning for the water utility serving 2.3 million people. See https://www.sas.upenn.edu/earth/people/howard-neukrug


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Coordination & Planning?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Coordination & Planning:

Since 2007, the Penn Masters of Environmental Studies has offered ENVS 494, Toward Sustainability at Penn. The course, now taught by the Penn Environmental Sustainability Director, gives students and opportunity to research campus operations, policy, academics, and planning with the intent to improve sustainability. In previous years, an end-of-semester presentation has been made to the Penn Executive Vice President and VP for Facilities and Real Estate Services to review student recommendations.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Diversity & Affordability?:
No

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Diversity & Affordability:
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Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Investment & Finance?:
No

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Investment & Finance:
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Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Public Engagement?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Public Engagement:

Students and faculty frequently collaborate to investigate opportunities for public engagement on Penn's campus around sustainability issues. A senior thesis In 2015, for example, focused on engaging student behavior and sustainability in their homes. The project involved surveys, focus groups, and feedback on the Green Living at Penn program, which was developed by of the Penn Sustainability Office in 2014. The outcomes of the work were presented at the 2015 AASHE Conference in Minneapolis.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to Wellbeing & Work?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to Wellbeing & Work:

An ongoing research topic in the Penn School of Medicine's Department of Public Health is looking at the environmental determinants of tobacco use on campus. Several campus sites have been selected as test sites to examine the impact of environmental clues (signage, the presence of smoking urns, etc). A three-month project carried out during the spring of 2017 by faculty and staff in the Public Health program showed significant impact of modification of environmental clues.


Is the institution utilizing its campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in relation to other areas (e.g. arts & culture or technology)?:
Yes

A brief description of the student/faculty projects and how they contribute to understanding campus sustainability challenges or advancing sustainability on campus in relation to other areas:

Penn's Integrated Product Design Master's programs merge the disciplines of design, engineering, and business for the purpose of creating compelling new products and experiences. The program is designed to train students in technology, business, manufacturing, aesthetics, and human-product interaction and provide them with a framework for bringing these disciplines together to create something new.
Students in the program designed and fabricated an interactive sculpture/social impact project for an on-campus installation designed to raise awareness of food waste and food security. The installation responds to messages sent via social media to provide real-time physical feedback to support community engagement. The students engaged with the Penn facilities department to select an on-campus location to display the installation for several weeks in 2016, after which it was moved to a location in Center City Philadelphia. See https://www.design.upenn.edu/pennpraxis/post/blossom-interactive-and-running


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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The University of Pennsylvania is a major research institution, with over 3,000 degrees granted annually from twelve professional and academic schools at the Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctorate levels. Penn is committed to teaching environmental sustainability, with a goal to make climate change and sustainability part of the curriculum and educational experience available to all Penn students. (Penn's 2009 "Climate Action Plan".). This submission documents Penn's efforts during the FY17 year and compares them to the FY14 baseline year which corresponds with the University's "Climate Action Plan. 2.0". The submission relies on information related to the main, academic, West Philadelphia campus, but to more fully document efforts across the Penn system, information related to the Morris Arboretum and New Bolton has also been referenced and noted as outside the boundary in descriptions. The information is used to enrich examples of University efforts and is not intended to be the primary justification for credits. The responses for each of the questions and sub-questions are drawn from University materials, both internal and public documents. Each section notes the website where the information can be found.

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.