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Students and administrators look through displays by environmental groups both from campus and the surrounding area. President Amy Gutmann poses with students after announcing that Penn will attempt to reduce its carbon footprint by 5 percent in the coming year. Credit: Shrestha Singh

On Tuesday, the University fulfilled its pledge to the environment - as the Climate Action Plan was unveiled.

Celebrated at a kick-off event yesterday, the plan fulfills the promise Penn President Amy Gutmann made in 2007 when she signed the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment, a pledge to create a plan to enhance the University's sustainability practices.

The event featured exhibits offering information on waste minimization, recycling, transportation, energy and utility use and academics. The Penn Environmental Group and FarmEcology, a student group devoted to promoting local food, were also present.

To create the plan, the School of Design's TC Chan Center for Energy Simulation conducted a comprehensive inventory of Penn's greenhouse gas emissions. A committee was then created with faculty, students and staff to set the goals of the Climate Action Plan.

"Every group was represented, and every group could be a part of the process," said Facilities and Real Estate Services Vice President Anne Papageorge. "We feel the plan is going to resonate with the broader community."

During the rally, Gutmann introduced the Climate Action Plan to spectators, focusing on the plan's promise to deliver on five platforms: minimizing waste, learning to live sustainably, conserving energy, designing a more environmentally friendly campus and reducing carbon emissions.

As part of the plan, the University intends to make buildings more energy efficient and continue utilizing renewable energy. In addition, 20-percent more green space will be added to campus.

The plan will also increase the fuel efficiency of Penn Transit vehicles, make campus more bike-friendly and implement a comprehensive waste reduction and recycling policy.

Penn also plans to support more environmentally friendly purchases, local food investments, composting efforts and groups such as FarmEcology.

"FarmEcology is excited to be a part of making Penn's campus greener and keeping students informed on how they can get in on the effort," said group member and College junior Maura Goldstein.

A new interdisciplinary minor in Sustainability and Environmental Management will also be introduced. Staff and students are being encouraged to serve as "environmental stewards" in their college houses.

"This is the largest, most comprehensive effort the University has put together and that's commendable," said Undergraduate Assembly Chairman and College junior Alec Webley. He explained that the University's plan will be presented at this week's UA meeting, and the group will be issuing a statement in response.

"Everyone has been really enthusiastic," said Penn's Environmental Sustainability Coordinator Dan Garofalo. "But it's important to remember that the success of this plan depends on everyone's involvement and full participation."

Gutmann also said she was pleased with the turnout at yesterday's event.

"Everybody is in the spirit of what can we do for Penn to be a leader in environmental sustainability," she said. "Everybody is all for the red and blue, and now for the green."

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