Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 66.31
Liaison Natalie Walker
Submission Date Aug. 9, 2021

STARS v2.2

University of Pennsylvania
OP-17: Support for Sustainable Transportation

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Natalie Walker
Sustainability Manager
Penn Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have a bicycle-sharing program or participate in a local bicycle-sharing program?:

A brief description of the bicycle sharing program:

Penn participates in the Philadelphia bike share program, "Indego." Six stations are located on campus. In addition, there are many other stations surrounding campus and in the nearby West Philadelphia neighborhood.

Does the institution participate in a car sharing program?:

A brief description of the car sharing program:

Penn works with two car-sharing companies; Enterprise CarShare and ZipCar. Both companies offer the option of opening departmental or personal account.


Does the institution offer preferential parking or other incentives for fuel efficient vehicles?:

A brief description of the incentives for fuel efficient vehicles:

Penn Parking Services has designated a portion of its garage parking spaces for "Low Emission" and "Fuel-Efficient" vehicles. This effort, which is part of Penn’s Sustainable Transportation Initiative, supports members of the Penn Community who choose to drive low emission vehicles. The spaces are located near the entrance, exit, or elevators and are clearly delineated by signage. They are available to low emission and/or fuel-efficient vehicles until 10 AM each day. After 10 AM, other permit holders or paying visitors can use these spaces. For more information, see https://cms.business-services.upenn.edu/transportation/about/parking-services-overview/low-emission-vehicles.html

As a benefit to bike commuters who bike to work more than 50% of the time in a given month, Penn has established a Bike Commuter Reimbursement Program (BCRP) to cyclists who bike to work more than 50% of the time. The BCRP offers bicycle commuting expenses to faculty and staff for any out of pocket eligible expenses, up to $240 annually. Unlike a flexible spending account, reimbursement comes directly from the University and is not set aside from pre-tax pay by the individual program participant.

Pedestrians can request a walking escort 24-hours a day, 365 days a year from the Division of Public Safety. Walking escorts provide services on the West Philadelphia campus and will accompany Penn staff, faculty, or students from one campus location to another, to a parked car, or to a mass transit stop.

Penn has extensive bus, shuttle and van service for faculty, staff, and students who live in downtown Philadelphia and has a comprehensive resource sharing agreement with several large adjacent institutions, including the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, University City District, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Presbyterian Hospital, Drexel University and the FMC Tower. These organizations have reciprocal agreements so all staff from these institutions can use each other's bus and shuttle services (which include fixed route buses that run from 5 pm to midnight into Philadelphia's Center City West neighborhood to the east and to West Philadelphia neighborhoods to the west; door-to-door shuttle services that operate from 5pm to 3 am in the same service area, handi-vans that run on an as-needed basis any time of day, and free shuttles that run between the main campus, the partner hospitals, and Penn's Innovation Center about a mile away all day long. Any member of the Penn community may also use the free Drexel University shuttle and bus service, which has a different and slightly more expansive service area to Center City Philadelphia.

All of these transportation services are available at no cost to Penn students, faculty, or staff. For more information, see https://cms.business-services.upenn.edu/transportation/about/our-network.html

Does the institution have one or more Level 2 or Level 3 electric vehicle recharging stations that are accessible to student and employee commuters?:

A brief description of the electric vehicle recharging stations:

Penn Parking has twelve fully operational, on-campus electric vehicle charging stations supported by the Blink Network located in 3 different locations supporting both permit and commuter parking. An additional 4 charging stations are planned for installation in FY23 at another permit and commuter garage.

Does the institution have incentives or programs to encourage employees to live close to campus?:

A brief description of the incentives or programs to encourage employees to live close to campus:

The University’s commitment to urban revitalization and supporting the adjacent West Philly neighborhood is deeply rooted in an understanding that the health and vitality of the University is inextricably linked to maintaining a diverse, safe, and thriving urban community. For a complete summary of Penn's impact on the local community and economy, see: http://www.evp.upenn.edu/strategic-initiatives/community-and-economic-development/economic-impact-on-pennsylvania-and-philadelphia.html The following examples demonstrate mechanisms and policies created by Penn to help stabilize and enhance its neighboring West Philadelphia Community, indicating the breadth of support for the community.

The Office of Penn Home Ownership Services (PHOS) offers eligible employees the opportunity to apply for financing for home purchases as well as for funds for home rehabilitation in the West Philadelphia area. The department also offers refinancing options with lending partners, home improvement grants, loans, educational workshops, and a variety of other resources. Penn Home Ownership Services ensures that the University community receives quality services that will assist prospective buyers and current home owners in making informed decisions. Penn "Home Ownership Services" currently offers two programs - the "Enhanced Forgivable Loan Program" and the "Closing Cost Reduction Program". Since the University's commitment to local home ownership began in 1995, over 1400 individuals and families have participated in these programs.

Penn promotes its "Enhanced Forgivable Loan" (EFL), a $7,500 forgivable loan, as an incentive for faculty and staff interested in living and/or currently residing in the West Philadelphia community. These loans can be used for closing costs, down payment, to buy down points, and/or for interior or exterior home improvements. In addition, the loan can be used to convert a property from a multi-family to a single-family residence.

The "Closing Cost Reduction Program" (CCRP) offers mortgage financing options with discounted closing costs (.25% of mortgaged amount) to the University community for the purchase and refinancing of homes. In partnership with its current mortgage partners, PHOS can help eligible University and Health System employees save on closing costs when purchasing a home in West Philadelphia within Penn’s boundary area. For more information, see https://cms.business-services.upenn.edu/homeownership/phos-programs.html

In addition to directly assisting Penn employees who live in the neighborhood, Penn supports the entire community in a variety of ways. Penn's Community Involvement efforts spend a variety of types of initiatives, including:

In November of 2020, Penn pledged $10 million annually over 10 years to the School District of Philadelphia (a total of $100 million) to remediate environmental hazards, including asbestos and lead, in public school buildings.

The Penn Graduate School of Education has extensive partnerships with local public schools managed and run by the Philadelphia School District. The Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander School, named for the first African American woman graduate of Penn's School of Law, a $20M+, award winning K-8 public school open to all neighborhood residents, was built by Penn and turned over to the School District of Philadelphia upon completion. Penn continues to support the school by subsidizing 17 students per year. Penn also supports the Henry C. Lea School, a nearby public elementary school, through pedagogy and teacher assistantships. For more information, see http://www.gse.upenn.edu/in-philly/affiliated-schools

First Thursdays, hosted by the Office of Government and Community Affairs meets on the first Thursday of the month to disseminate information to the Community about current Penn programs and also provide feedback from the Community to Penn.

The Netter Center for Community Partnerships, which manages community service learning projects, partners with local Philadelphia public schools, and supports community development https://www.nettercenter.upenn.edu/

The Office of Government and Community Affairs, which provides liaison services to community leaders, local elected representatives, and helps shape local engagement initiatives http://www.upenn.edu/ogca/

The Civic House, Penn's student community service hub for outreach and citizenship https://www.vpul.upenn.edu/civichouse/

Penn Volunteers in Public Service, which provides opportunity for staff https://www.nettercenter.upenn.edu/penn-vips

Upward Bound and Veterans Upward Bound, to provide pre-college students a head start on higher education https://www.vpul.upenn.edu/eap/vub/

For more information, see: http://www.upenn.edu/life-at-penn/community

Penn's Division of Public Safety and Penn Police have an extensive patrol zone for bicycle and patrol cars in the West Philly neighborhood adjacent to Penn, providing police services in collaboration with the Philadelphia Police Department to provide enhanced safety for the residents of the neighborhood. For more information, see https://www.publicsafety.upenn.edu/

In addition, the University has also helped support and create a number of other programs, including: the University City District, tree plantings in the neighborhood, installing street lighting, and many more.

Does the institution have other programs or initiatives to encourage more sustainable modes of transportation and/or reduce the impact of student and employee commuting?:

A brief description of other programs or initiatives to encourage more sustainable modes of transportation and/or reduce the impact of student and employee commuting:

Facilities and Real Estate Services provides comprehensive list of bike racks and bike lanes on and near campus, available on an interactive Bicycle Resources map - https://www.facilities.upenn.edu/maps?location_type=All&search=bicycle&glid=&=Apply.

All of Penn's 62 bike corrals which provide parking for over 6,200 bikes are stationed around campus are equipped with video surveillance for security. Sheltered bike corrals are available at several locations on campus, and parking is also available in two parking garages on campus. Penn also provides four bike repair stations across campus. The University has been working with the City of Philadelphia and local organizations to encourage the expansion of bike lanes and protected bike lanes around campus. Penn also offers free shower/changing facilities for bike commuters.

Penn encourages the use of public transportation. To assist commuters who choose to use public transportation, Penn offers discounted options and/or pretax benefits through these programs: the "Commuter Pass Program" (COMPASS), "TransitChek®", "PATCO" "Freedom Pass" and "N.J. Transit". All programs are available to full-time University faculty and staff who are not participating in the parking permit program.

In addition, Penn has extensive free shuttle bus and on demand shuttle service in the evening hours, which transport students, staff, and faculty throughout the nearby adjacent neighborhoods. A partnership between Penn and Drexel allows students, staff, and faculty to use both campus's services. Penn Transit offers a full service maintenance facility and recycles 100% of all vehicle fluids.

Penn participates in the "Emergency Ride Home", administered by the "Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission". The "Emergency Ride Home" service is a safety net for commuters who use public transit, carpool, or vanpool to work on a regular basis. In the event of an unexpected personal or family emergency or illness, unscheduled overtime, or if the regular ride home is not available for certain reasons, registered commuters are provided with a free ride to home, their car or to the place of the emergency.
For more information, see: http://www.upenn.edu/almanac/volumes/v60/n31/revisedbicyclepolicy.html

The Penn Transit website provides information about carpool commuting to campus, and provides significant discounts on parking to carpool program participants. Penn provides access to a free computerized service that enables commuters with convenient transit services, car pools and vanpool groups for residents of the 5-county Southeastern Pennsylvania region. For more information, see https://cms.business-services.upenn.edu/transportation/car-pooling/enterprise-carshare.html

"Flexible Work Options" are a valued tool for supporting employee efforts to balance the demands of work and personal life. They can promote productivity and balance by using non-traditional work hours, locations, and/or job structures. Because the University is a decentralized organization with diverse work environments, no one flexible work arrangement has been applied because no practice can be appropriate for all situations. Therefore, information is offered in the form of guidelines rather than policy. However, many Penn environments can utilize at least one flexible work arrangement if the job, person, environment, and work situation are appropriate for the arrangement and recommended protocols are followed. Typical flexible work options are flextime (flexible start, stop and lunch times), flexplace (work away from the office, typically at home), compressed work schedules (compressing standard work week hours into fewer days), and part-time and job sharing assignments (less than full-time work, either for a reduced assignment, or a shared one).

Website URL where information about the institution’s support for sustainable transportation is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

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 reducing emissions and energy use, as stated in the 2019 "Climate and Sustainability Action Plan 3.0". This submission documents Penn's efforts during the FY20 year and compares them to the FY09 baseline year which corresponds with the University's "Climate and Sustainability Action Plan 3.0". 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 or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.