Category Archives: Sustainability at Penn

Go Green at QuakerFest

 Author: Kelly O’Connor

Homecoming Weekend

Thanks to Penn’s Green Campus Partnership, QuakerFest is becoming more environmentally sustainable. This year, QuakerFest, the alumni tailgate held before the Homecoming football game, will be a zero-waste event, in line with the University’s ReThink Your Footprint waste minimization awareness campaign. A zero-waste event is an event where at least 90% of event waste is diverted from landfills. All waste that is produced at the event will be recyclable, compostable, or reusable.

Penn-Alumni-Zero-Waste-graphic1-copyThe goal of the ReThink Your Footprint campaign is to raise the level of conversation about waste management beyond solely recycling and into a broader discussion of source reduction and reuse – resulting in greater diversion of campus waste from the landfill. ReThink Your Footprint culminates during three weeks, November 4 – 22, with an awareness campaign designed to engage the entire Penn Community. In support of our Climate Action Plan’s goals in the area of waste minimization, an assortment of initiatives, events, presentations, and other forms of outreach will take place during this period to share information about environmentally sustainable practices in source reduction, reuse, and recycling.

With up to 1,000 people attending QuakerFest, this event is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate ReThink Your Footprint in action. At QuakerFest, all plates and utensils will be compostable. Student volunteers will help attendees with zero-waste decision-making when they finish eating at the QuakerFest picnic. Other volunteers will help explain what zero-waste events are and how this event ties in to Penn’s Climate Action Plan goals to attendees.

Click here to view all Homecoming Weekend events.

Register Today!




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Filed under Alumni Programming, Campus Life, Homecoming Weekend featuring arts and culture, Kelly P., Sustainability at Penn

Where is it?

By Jason S.


Can you identify this new oasis of greenery on Penn’s campus? Hint: Once home to parked cars and food trucks, this  parklet now provides a welcome rest space for weary travelers walking from campus across the South Street Bridge.

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For the “Red” in the Red and the Blue

Author: Marvin Rocha, C’06

Today is a “Red Day” on Penn’s campus. During the hot summer days, the amount of energy that Penn uses peaks. Employees, faculty, and staff across the University receive an email that asks them to reduce the demand they are putting on the grid during “Red Days.”

Through a coordinated effort, all 216 _ buildings on Penn’s 302 acre campus dim: window blinds are shut, lights in offices and hallways are turned off all together, computer screen brightness is lessened, unused appliances are unplugged, and most importantly, air conditioning units are strategically cycled-off.

The savings from one person’s working space are multiplied many times over and allows Penn to use resources in better ways—which is awesome when you consider what other things (like Financial Aid) are funded by the simple act of thousands of people at Penn turning off a light switch. Considering this, I don’t mind sending emails (or writing a blog post for Frankly Penn) in the dark.

Our hallway in the Franklin Building...Even the elevators seem more subdued somehow.

Our hallway in the Franklin Building…Even the elevators seem more subdued somehow.

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Campus Life, Marvin R., Sustainability at Penn, yPenn

Creating Canopy

Author: Kelly P. O’Connor

If you didn’t get a chance register for a tree this spring, make sure you do next year!

Penn’s Green Campus Partnership program is in its second year of a Creating Canopy, a tree giveaway for Penn faculty and staff.

The University partnered with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation on the free tree giveaway. They provide you with everything you need to know to plant and take care of your tree.

I chose an Eastern Redbud which can grow up to 30 feet high. I loaded the tree in my car and brought it to its new home in Delco.

And here it is, all safely planted in my yard and growing taller every day.

To learn more, visit the Green Campus Partnership website or go directly to the tree giveaway.


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Filed under Kelly P., Sustainability at Penn

Favorite Farmers’ Markets

by Lisa Marie Patzer

It is springtime and the local Farmers’ Markets in West Philadelphia are ready for business.  On Wednesdays, the Farmers’ Market at University Square is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  This market is conveniently located at 36th and Walnut streets outside of the Penn Bookstore.

Farmers’ Market at University Square

Farmers’ Market at University Square

The Agatston Urban Nutrition Initiative, a program of University of Pennsylvania’s Netter Center for Community Partnerships participates in the Clark Park Farmer’s Market, located at 43rd St. & Baltimore Ave.

Clark Park Farmers' Market

Clark Park Farmers’ Market

The Clark Park Farmers’ Market is open on Thursdays, from 3pm-7pm and Saturdays from 10am-2pm.

I am also a big fan of Mill Creek Farm located at 49th and Brown Streets in West Philadelphia, between Haverford and Lancaster Avenues.

Mill Creek Farm

Mill Creek Farm

Most of their produce is sold directly to residents of the neighborhood at the farm-stand they operate on the farm, or at the farmers’ market two blocks away. They also harvest their own honey bees.

Mill Creek Farm Bees

Mill Creek Farm Bees

If you find yourself at Penn on a Wednesday afternoon, be sure to stop by the Farmers’ Market at University Square.  The Honey Crisp apples are by far my all time favorite!

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Filed under Lisa Marie Patzer, Penn in the Summer, Photos, Sustainability at Penn, Uncategorized

Sweeten Green Team

Author: Aimee LaBrie

As part of Penn’s initiative to create a more sustainable community at the grass-roots level (i.e. on campus, among students, faculty, and staff), the members of Sweeten Alumni House have entered into a little friendly competition to see which team can be the greenest.

To that end, our Green Team leader, Liz Pinnie, created the Gold Star Challenge. This challenge requires staff to make small changes in their day-to-day life that can lead to longer term commitment and have a real impact on the environment.

We even now have our own bulletin board to track how everyone is doing.There will be gold stars, which excites many of us here (we are largely a Type-A group).


From May 29 to June 28, we’ll be competing in the three following categories:

1. Transportation: Getting to Work.  Staff are encouraged to start car pooling with friends, take public transportation to work instead of driving, or to either ride a bike or walk to work instead of consuming fuel.  On Friday, I used this particular challenge as an excuse to buy a new pair of walking shoes.

2. Waste: Re-usable Mugs. This challenge definitely applies to me. Every morning, I buy coffee at the Penn bookstore, meaning that I go through about 5 paper cups a week. If only I could do multiplication, I could give you exact figures on usage, but it’s a lot. This weekend, I bought a handy travel mug, only $4.99 from Acme.  I used it for the first time today. Please also note in this photo that I am recycling my pennies in the piggy bank.

3. Energy: Powering Down. Some of us in Sweeten (though I won’t name names, LW) almost never turn off our computers. I have been diligent about doing this for the most part, but learned recently that if you really want to power off, you should shut down the power strip connected to your computer and printer. I did consider putting in a photo of the power strip under my desk, but decided that a cat would be cuter and for some, more interesting. His name is Ernesto, and he’s big on recycling his fur into artistically rendered hairballs.

Faculty and staff can learn more from the Penn Eco-Rep’s Green Partnership Campus website, but you don’t have to be an employee to take part in the University’s efforts to create a greener world. Go here for more information about how you can start making changes both great and small today for a greener tomorrow.


Filed under Aimee L., Sustainability at Penn

Food Justice

Author: Lisa Marie Patzer

For Thanksgiving, I made my annual trek back to Colorado to visit family and friends.  This is one of my favorite holidays because my brother-in-law, a bona fide “foodie,” makes the Thanksgiving meal a true event.  This year, he made hand braised bananas, mushroom stuffed onions, organic turkey, two different kinds of homemade cranberries, pecan, walnut and apple pie; the list of food goes on and on.

Braised Bananas

And he is very particular about the ingredients, making sure everything is fresh, locally grown and when possible, organic.  My two nieces and nephew are developing not only a refined palette for well-prepared food; they are learning the importance of food selection and preparation.  Maggie, my 13-year-old niece, illustrated her awareness of food politics when she labeled the recent legislation passed by congress making pizza a vegetable “doublespeak.”

This family education about food is somewhat atypical, especially in neighborhoods where access to affordable, locally grown, organic food is limited.  Three representatives from the Agatston Urban Nutrition Initiative (UNI), a program of University of Pennsylvania’s Netter Center for Community Partnerships, recently spoke about the issue of Food Justice on The Green Hour, a radio program about health and environment.

Kristin Schwab, Youth Development Director, Matthew Johnson (19), Youth leader and alumnus, and Tiara Parker (16), Nutrition Educator, spoke about the Youth Development Program at UNI.  Matthew, now an alumnus of the Youth Development Program, first joined UNI as part of a gardening crew.  The gardening crew learns how to grow fruits and vegetables, harvest what they grow and teach others about urban gardening.  Tiara, currently a member of the cooking crew at University High School, interns as a nutrition educator, teaching healthy habits and inspiring people to get excited about cooking.  Tiara explained the Think AHEAD model. The acronym reminds people to choose foods which are affordable, healthy, easy, accessible, and delicious.

Based in West Philadelphia at W.L. Sayre and University City High Schools, the UNI Youth Development program provides paid internships to approximately 60 high school students during the school year and 100 students during the summer. UNI empowers teen interns to explore and identify solutions to the problem of urban American health disparities via their placement in either peer nutrition education or urban agriculture work sites.

By teaching healthy cooking classes, tending school gardens, and operating local farmer’s markets, UNI interns enrich their local neighborhoods, increase access to healthy food, and improve community and school health while building their leadership capacity and developing academic and job-related skills.

Additionally, interns involved in UNI’s Youth Development program play a lead role in advancing youth-led solutions to improving community food systems through participation in multiple regional and national networks and conferences.

In July of 2011, Matthew attended “Rooted in Community,” a 4 day conference of young people from various organizations.  Ty Holmberg, Bartram’s community Farm and Food Resource Center Director for UNI, helped organize the event.  He was quoted as describing the event as, “it’s a summit of youth from around the nation that have come to fight for food justice and have come as a network of young people to really change their food systems.  Not just in their community but nationally.”  One of the outcomes of the conference was the Youth Food Bill of Rights.

Youth Food Bill of Rights

As I prepare for my next holiday meal, I am going to use the UNI Think AHEAD Model to inspire my food choices.

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Filed under Food Fiends, Lisa Marie Patzer, Philadelphia, Sustainability at Penn, Uncategorized, Volunteering

Thankful for…Campus Mysteries

Author: Raymond Rorke

Is this Penn’s new extreme sport?  A couple of castoffs from the Seventh Seal? Or is this how the bubble gets cleaned?

A couple of castoffs from the Seventh Seal?

Actually, I do have an idea what’s going on, and if you do too, send an email to The first person to answer correctly will get a cool Penn Park memento courtesy of the Penn Alumni blog.

In the meantime, have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

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Filed under Campus Life, Penn Park, Raymond R., Sustainability at Penn

Beware of Vampires

Author:  Colin Hennessy

October is here, and the season for tricks and treats and ghouls and ghosts is upon us. Halloween is an enjoyable time on any college campus, and while Twilight, True Blood and The Vampire Diaries have put the thirsty undead firmly in popular culture, there is another vampire that is perhaps even more dangerous. I am talking about vampire power [flash of lightening, crash of thunder!]

Vampire power is a serious threat for any larger organization including Penn. It may not seem like a big deal to leave your printer on at the end of the day, or even leave your cell phone plugged in for the afternoon, and in truth, the amount of power your equipment is drawing is minimal.

HOWEVER – When you consider the thousands of others on campus doing the same thing, the power draw can be significant. Vampire power or standby power is very common. More and more devices are able to reduce their power consumption when not in use; however, they are still drawing power – leaking power, consuming power.

Consider your office or dorm room. What is plugged in that doesn’t need to be? Each one of those devices is drawing power. Power that contributes to Penn’s overall footprint.

Penn has ambitious sustainability goals, and each of us play a role in helping Penn to achieve those goals. In the coming months join with your colleagues and fellow students in finding ways to reduce Penn’s energy consumption and start with vampire power.

Here are just a few simple things you can do to reduce your energy use:

  1. Unplug  your equipment when possible
  2. Dress for the weather vs. adjusting the thermostat
  3. Use daylight not lamplight
  4. Recycle
  5. Print less
  6. Use public transportation or walk
  7. Report problems
  8. Learn more – visit Penn’s Sustainability Website to get more information
  9. Encourage your friends to join you!

Let us all do our part to make Penn a greener place and keep the vampires out.

Happy Halloween.

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Filed under Campus Life, Colin H., Sustainability at Penn, The Penn Fund

The Urban Nutrition Initiative

Author: Lisa Marie Patzer

As a new employee at the University, it is a daily experience for me to discover something new on campus.  Last week was no different.  While walking through the Franklin Building Annex where I was attending new employee training, I smelled the most wonderful scent of fresh apples.  The aroma was coming from the other side of a door.  I poked my head in and met Brian Cassidy, a Nutrition Education Coordinator for the Urban Nutrition Initiative (UNI).  He was busy sorting apples into large grocery bags for a school program.  I asked him if I could come back for an interview to find out more about the organization.  He agreed and on October 7th I met with Brian and Neena Pathak, also a Nutrition Education Coordinator for the UNI.

UNI is part of the  University of Pennsylvania’s Netter Center for Community Partnerships and The School District of Philadelphia’s EAT.RIGHT.NOW. Nutrition Education Program. Their primary mission is to facilitate nutrition education programs in public schools to address issues of poor nutrition and physical fitness in West Philadelphia.  UNI organizes school day, after school and summer learning opportunities for more than 10,000 students and their families at 20 public schools in Philadelphia. Their programs include after school cooking clubs, community gardens and giving students the opportunity to share the food they grow at farmers market in the local neighborhood.

I asked Neena and Brian how they became involved with UNI.  Turns out, they are both proud Penn alumni.  Neena (GED’10) taught English in the public school system while working on her Master’s degree in education at Penn.  She is passionate about urban education and food justice.  Working for UNI provided an outlet to pursue these interests.

Brian (GED’10) taught high school in Camden NJ for two years while he attended the Graduate School of Education at Penn.  His first introduction to UNI was through the University City High School garden located at 36thand Filbert. Brian wanted to find a way to engage with youth about nutrition and food justice.  He soon found himself working full time for the organization.

In addition to their standard school programs, Brian and Neena are actively developing new ways of engaging youth.  One of the programs Brian is managing partners University of Pennsylvania student volunteers with students from Parkway West High School.  Using nutrition curriculum developed by Drexel University, the high school students are creating music videos about comfort foods and developing a healthy emotional relationship to food.

Neena is working with the University City High School on a cooking enrichment class that teaches students the basics of nutrition and healthy cooking.  At the end of the class, they will have a Top Chef style competition that will emphasize the importance of their Think A.H.E.A.D. strategy. This involves preparing food that is Accessible, Healthy, Easy, Affordable, and Delicious.

Are you interested in nutrition, food justice, community gardening and empowering youth? Find out how you can volunteer for UNI by contacting Jarrett Stein, volunteer coordinator, at

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Filed under Lisa Marie Patzer, Philadelphia, Sustainability at Penn, Uncategorized, Volunteering