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

STARS v2.2

University of Pennsylvania
OP-22: Rainwater Management

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 2.00 Natalie Walker
Sustainability Manager
Penn Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Which of the following best describes the institution’s approach to rainwater management?:
Less comprehensive policies, plans or guidelines that incorporate green infrastructure

A brief description of the institution’s green infrastructure and LID practices:

The Penn "Stormwater Management Plan" describes guidelines for managing existing infrastructure along with a catalog of potential new projects and revised details for best management practices in stormwater management. Penn has implemented many elements of green infrastructure, including over 20 green roofs, bioswales, meadow grass lawns, gardens and lawns where rainwater is allowed to infiltrate into the soil, detention basins, underground cisterns, and permeable paving. The landscape standard for sidewalks adjacent to Penn properties, for example, includes a linear tree pit set with loose-laid cobbles in a sand bed.

Shoemaker Green, a public commons, combines welcoming open spaces of lawns, tree-lined walkways, and sitting areas with robust stormwater management techniques. This green space is both a destination and a heavily-trafficked pedestrian route in the athletics precinct of campus, two blocks from College Green. Shoemaker Green's sustainable site management improves water quality and minimize runoff, reduces the effect of the urban heat island by greening large paved areas, restores biomass on site, increases local biodiversity, and improves the overall environment for the community. This site includes pervious walkways, a network of trench drains that convey stormwater to a 20,000 gallon cistern, and a rain garden. Rainwater that is not absorbed by plants is collected in the cistern and can be used for site irrigation.

The 24-acre Penn Park, completed in 2011 and built on the site of a former brownfield, increased the green/open space on campus by 20 percent. One of the appealing features of Penn Park is the return of vegetation and plant life to an area that was paved in asphalt and an industrial site for decades. Specific native and adaptive plants are used throughout the site to reduce irrigation requirements. Of the 548 trees planted in Penn Park at its completion, species included: catalpa, hackberry, swamp white oak, white pine, metasequoia, larch and balsam pine. These species were selected with specific attention to where they appear relative to their position on the land, with trees that prefer wet soil conditions planted in the lower levels, and hedgerow trees, which are more drought resistant, planted along the top of the landforms. A cistern was installed as part of Penn Park that can hold up to 300,000 gallons of rainwater that is used for irrigation. In 2015, an orchard was planted at the south end of Penn Park, as well as a strawberry patch. Each year, new species are added in the orchard, which now includes apples, pears, pawpaws, peaches, almond, and other fruit bearing trees. In 2020, a farm was planted near the orchard, which contains 10 in-ground growing beds and a hoop house to extend the growing season. The crop list for the farm includes kale, collard greens, radishes, arugula, broccoli, carrots, beets, bok choy, scallions, snap peas, and more. All produce is grown using organic and regenerative agricultural practices. Since August of 2019, the farm has produced over 600 pounds of fresh produce, which has been distributed through several community partners, including the West Philly Bunny hop, Food Not Bombs, and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) Food Pantry.

In addition to Shoemaker Green and Penn Park, many new construction buildings on campus feature green roofs and cisterns for stormwater management. Of note is Lauder College House which was completed in 2016 and features nine green roofs with 95 percent water retention abilities. The large sloping lawn of the dormitory features a below grade cistern for stormwater management and irrigation and also provides a tenth green roof and open lawn for the campus.


A copy of the institution’s rainwater management policy, plan, and/or guidelines:
A brief description of the institution’s rainwater management policy, plan, and/or guidelines that supports the responses above:

See description of LID practices above.


Website URL where information about the institution’s green infrastructure and LID practices 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 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 and complete the Data Inquiry Form.