PennConnects 2.0

Penn Connects 2.0 reinforces the University's sustainability objectives as outlined in the 2009 Climate Action Plan and aligns with the City of Philadelphia's Greenworks broader goals for the region. It acknowledges several initiatives underway at the University, including annual reinvestment in existing buildings and infrastructure via the Facility Renewal Fund, a new campus-wide Stormwater Management Master Plan and the recently completed transportation plan, Campus Circulation: A Study of Multi-Modal Access. The Penn campus focus is merged with a broader range of sustainability objectives as outlined in the Philadelphia 2035 Plan, the first comprehensive plan for the city in over 50 years, and the Philadelphia Water Department's Green City, Clean Water Report.

Penn's commitment to sustainability has steadily increased since the completion of the 2006 Penn Connects plan. During the intervening years, Penn formed the Green Campus Partnership, the Environmental Sustainability Advisory Committee and became a signatory to the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). By signing the ACUPCC, Penn has pledged to reduce greenhouse emissions associated with its facilities and operations.


PennConnects 2.0 Sustainability Map


Penn's Climate Action Plan

Penn's Climate Action Plan (CAP) responds to the requirements of the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment. Completed in 2009, the CAP is guided by the following goals: 1) Make climate change and sustainability part of the curriculum and educational experience for all students and the Penn community; 2) Reduce operating energy over the 2007 baseline by 17% by 2014; 3) Create and maintain a sustainable campus by: increasing green space, decreasing building energy consumption through design and renovations, improving the environmental quality of interior and exterior spaces, increasing education and awareness of sustainable design; 4) Leverage the extensive network of subway, bus, trolley, regional rail, car-sharing, and bike systems to reduce single-occupant auto use to less than 50% of commuters, while investing in a quality pedestrian campus environment; 5) Increase Penn's diversion rate of traditional recyclables from 20% to 40%; 6) Create a campaign which communicates clear, concise, and accurate information to inform and educate the Penn community and key stakeholders about the Climate Action Plan; and 7) Build a culture of sustainability at Penn by engaging students, faculty, staff and their respective Schools and Centers.


A 2011 Progress Report was submitted to ACUPCC, highlighting the University's progress toward meeting its sustainability goals. Penn has identified the year 2042 as an aspirational goal for achieving climate neutrality. The link to this report can be found at:


Facility Investment and Renewal

Facility renewal and reinvestment is a major focus of Penn's sustainability initiatives. Campus buildings represent a considerable capital, operational and deferred maintenance concern for the University. They also represent significant concentrations of embodied energy, that is, the energy associated with extracting, processing, delivering and assembling the materials that make up the buildings. Furthermore, many represent cultural resources that are important to the history, traditions and culture of Penn. For these reasons and others, the major renovation and deferred maintenance projects planned over the coming decade are designed to contribute toward the broader sustainability goals of the University. The recently announced $300M Century Bond program will commit a significant source of revenue to accomplish priority facility renewal projects with noteworthy energy payback. By focusing on building upgrades, several goals can be achieved: energy consumption and emissions can be reduced; the cultural significance of campus buildings can be acknowledged; and the embodied energy of existing buildings can be put to continued use, while balancing demolition and new construction projects. This focus enables the University to improve the overall performance of the buildings while updating the facilities to better support its academic and research mission.


Campus Circulation: A Study of Multi-Modal Access

Penn Connects 2.0 supports an integrated approach to transportation, coordinating improvements to the pedestrian, bicycle, transit and vehicular circulation routes within the campus and in the surrounding context. More broadly, it defines these improvements as mobility, accurately expressing a comprehensive and integrated strategy for movement and personal transportation choices. The overall goal is to provide a balanced range of mobility options, with a goal of lessening auto-oriented dependence, thereby promoting a reduction in transportation related emissions.


Stormwater Management Planning

The Philadelphia Water Department's 2009 Plan, Green City, Clean Water, outlines an innovative $1.6 billion, 20 year investment in green infrastructure to alleviate combined sewer overflow pollution across the City. In accordance with this plan, Penn is cooperating with the City to reduce the rate of discharge from the campus during major storm events. To that end, Penn is developing a comprehensive Stormwater Management Master Plan for the entire campus, which will include an accounting of impermeable space as well as the open space and landscape structure of the campus. Specific best practices will be identified, including detention cisterns, bioswales, recycled rainwater for irrigation, rain gardens and green roofs across campus.


City Wide Initiatives

The City of Philadelphia's comprehensive plan establishes a proactive community context for sustainability with its Greenworks plan. The Philadelphia 2035 plan provides an ambitious vision for how the city will strengthen three themes—thrive, connect, and renew—to make the city and the region strong and sustainable. Philadelphia's innovative thinking has built momentum and enthusiasm for remaking Philadelphia as a green, sustainable city. Overall, Penn's increasingly outward focus, connecting with University City and the Center City, are aligned with those of Philadelphia's planning leadership.