Center for Environmental Building & Design

  • University of Pennsylvania Sustainability Plan

University of Pennsylvania Sustainability Plan

Phase I Report: Environmental Performance Indicators and Development of Campus Building Energy Management Decision Making tool

I Introduction

The University of Pennsylvania has worked hard in recent years to improve its physical, social, and economic environment, as well as it environmental performance. This has involved a highly visible initiative to purchase 30% of campus electricity from a wind generation facility as well as many less visible operational initiatives, from the new centralized chiller and ice plants to its recycling programs and relamping campaigns. Through careful implementation of conservation programs in FY2000, the university reported that it reduced its energy usage by an impressive 13.1%, resulting in a decline of electricity use of 3% or 12.2 million kWh.1 Most of that improvement was achieved through the careful management and operation of centralized energy supply systems, but much less is known about the demand-side of the university’s complex resource consumption. Without more specific performance and usage information about its buildings and grounds, it will be difficult to achieve further improvements in environmental performance.

The University of Pennsylvania’s large urban campus produces environmental impacts in many different ways. It consumes energy in the form of electricity and steam to heat, cool, and illuminate its buildings and run its equipment; it draws water from municipal supplies; it discharges sewage and storm water into public infrastructure, sends solid waste to trash disposal facilities, and releases emissions of various kinds into the air. It is also the largest private employer in the city of Philadelphia, and so serves as both an economic and transportation hub, producing many additional kinds of environmental effects.
It is often said that universities “produce knowledge,” but it might be more accurate to say that they attract and provide for the people that produce new knowledge. The institution spends most of its resources on salaries and on the environments in which faculty, staff, and students work and live. For a premier university, the quality of the campus and its buildings is an important attractor, and the safety, beauty, comfort, and health of that environment directly and indirectly support the productivity of its members.

1.1 A Plan for Environmental Sustainability

The first phase of this study was commissioned by the Division of Facilities and Real Estate Services (FRES) in June of 2005 to develop more precise and operationally useful information about the University’s environmental performance. A PennPraxis team, comprised of faculty and graduate students from the Department of Architecture, was asked to prepare a sustainability plan for the main campus of the University of Pennsylvania, focusing primarily on the energy and environmental performance of its buildings, but also identifying overall campus sustainability goals.
Sustainability has become the most widely recognized criteria of environmental performance for a variety of historical and political reasons.2 It has been used to describe this study due to its wide recognition and because it includes both the narrow measurement of efficient performance and the broadest assessment of environmental quality, of long-term health and well-being. It is especially important to consider both aspects simultaneously, because neither is sustainable if optimized by itself. There are many examples of energy efficiencies achieved at the expense of comfort or environmental quality, and there are certainly environmental techniques and comforts that are too costly to maintain. The general goal, then, is to optimize health, well-being, and environmental quality with the efficient expenditure of resources that can be sustained over the long term.

There are four components to this sustainability plan:

1. Develop overall campus sustainability goals
2. Develop environmental audit strategies for campus buildings and procedures
3. Conduct a comprehensive energy audit for selected buildings and produce calibrated performance simulation models for these buildings
4. Identify strategies for achieving campus sustainability goals

The document provides a report of the first phase of the sustainability plan. It provides a preliminary analysis of the University’s environmental performance, identifies its principle performance indicators, and describes the audit procedures that will be applied to the campus and its buildings over the next two years of the project.

Team Members

University of Pennsylvania, School of Design Faculty

William Braham, Ph.D, FAIA, Associate Professor of Architecture
Ali Malkawi, Ph.D, Associate Professor of Architecture
Muscoe Martin, AIA, Adjunct Professor of Architecture


Ravi Srinivasan, Ph.D Student, Project Coordinator
Ah Young Lee, Ph.D, Post-doctoral researcher
Yun Kyu Yi, Ph.D Student
John Stanislav Sadar, Ph.D Candidate
Jaime Lee, MS ‘07
Jackie Wong, M.Arch ‘07
Julia Taylor, MCP '06
Loren Appin, BS ’07

Facilities and Real Estate Services Administration

Tom Stump, Interim Vice President
Omar Blaik, Ex-Senior Vice President
Charles Newman, AIA, Ex-University Architect
Bill Anderko, PE, University Engineer
Mark Kocent, AIA, Principal Planner
Dan Garofalo, Senior Facilities Planner
Tony Sorrentino, Director of External Relations
Khaled Tarabieh, Project Manager