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With construction on the new music building near completion, students can expect an opening soon Credit: Pete Lodato

Joe’s Cafe in Steinberg-Deitrich Hall and the Music Building surpassed Penn’s goals by earning gold level Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certificates in the last two weeks.

The award from the U.S. Green Building Council certifies that the buildings are environmentally friendly. It is an external measure for how sustainable Penn is, Wharton School Sustainability director Emily Schiller said.

Penn’s Climate Action Plan, which began in 2009, requires that all new buildings meet the silver-level LEED certification requirements.

Two other buildings — the Morris Arboretum’s Horticultural Center and the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine — have earned the platinum and silver LEED certification respectively.

These green buildings “on average save 20-30 percent of energy used” and create a “healthier environment,” Environmental Sustainability Coordinator Dan Garofalo said.

Joe’s Cafe is Wharton’s first LEED-certified building, and Penn’s first building to earn the certification for commercial interiors.

The Cafe, which was designed by Voith & Mactavish Architects, replaces a smaller cafe in Steinberg-Dietrich Hall that closed in 2009. It earned the certification because of its food-service practices, recycling, composting and chemical-free cleaning methods.

All of the food at the cafe is “locally sourced, organic, and healthy” director of Business Services Laurie Cousart said, adding that this is in line with Penn’s catering company Bon Appetit Managing Company’s mission to pilot a “sustainable approach to food.”

Yet, Schiller said many customers at Joe’s Cafe misuse the composting system, which has led to “a high rate of contamination”.

Second-year Master of Business Administration candidate Sigal Saar, however, insists that the composting system at the cafe is “easy to figure out.” She enjoys going to Joe’s Cafe because of the sunlit atmosphere, the healthy food and the modern architecture.

“Other cafeterias should be modeled after Joe’s Cafe,” Saar added.

The newly-renovated Music Building, designed by Ann Beha Architects, received the Gold certification for its efficient lighting, mechanical and plumbing systems, as well as water management control systems that adjust irrigation based on rainfall levels.

The Music Building is a model for buildings of its kind, Garofalo said, referring to its “acoustically superior practice rooms.”

Both of these Gold LEED certifications demonstrate that Penn has made a “commitment to green operations,” Schiller said. It “certifies by a third party that we are walking the walk” of promoting sustainability.

Garofalo added that green buildings are just one example of sustainable practices at Penn since “environmental sustainability affects everything we do.”

“We said what we were going to do with the Climate Action Plan,” Garofalo said. “Now it’s important that we do it.”

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