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An interview with Penn's Sustainability Coordinator, Dan Garafolo. Credit: Andrew Dierkes , Andrew Dierkes

Dan Garofalo, Penn’s lead environmental sustainability coordinator, has been working over the past few years to bring the University’s Climate Action Plan to fruition.
The Daily Pennsylvanian recently sat down with Garofalo to take a closer look at his role in implementing Penn’s sustainability initiatives.

Daily Pennsylvanian: How did you become an environmental sustainability coordinator?
Dan Garofalo: So starting in 2005, I began spending more time on environmental sustainability issues. It was in a more informal way, but it was written in my job description.
Four and five things [also] fell in place at the same time. In the mix of all this, President Gutmann got the opportunity to sign the President’s Climate Commitment, and when she signed that, it committed the University to taking environmental sustainability really seriously and to developing a leadership cohort.
That’s when we realized we needed someone to direct the efforts of the committee that was put together.

DP: What does your job entail?
DG: The role of sustainability coordinators is outreach. We deal with knowledge workers. We manage facilities. We manage buildings. We manage grounds.
The biggest thing we do is try and improve the sustainability performance of the 40,000 people that work at Penn. We communicate the need for environmental sustainability. We let people know how they can participate in our Climate Action Plan and why it’s important they participate.

DP: What was your role in the early development stages of Penn’s Climate Action Plan?
DG: Before the Climate Action Plan was created, we commissioned what was called an environmental audit by the T.C. Chan Center in the School of Design. For the first time, we could identify the amount of energy we were using per square foot, the amount of water we were using per student. That gave us a benchmark.
Then I worked with [Vice President for Facilities and Real Estate Services] Anne Papageorge to recruit members of a sustainability committee and we settled on the name of the Environmental Sustainability Advisory Committee. It was made up of one quarter faculty, one quarter students and one half staff.

DP: And how have you since worked with the University to implement the goals of the plan?
DG: There’s not one person implementing the plan. The president is behind it, the provost is behind it and the executive vice president is behind it. Working on the implementation formally is both people within FRES, as well as distributed individuals working full time as a job. We call this whole group, including student leaders, the Green Campus Partnership.

DP: Looking ahead, how do you feel about Penn’s sustainability initiatives in the future?
DG: I’m very optimistic about where we’re going. And I have a lot of a confidence because of the leadership at the University. It’s a collaborative and collective goal for Penn. That’s probably the strongest reason to be optimistic about where we are going. The thing about this is we’ll never be done. You just keep on setting the bar higher as we go.


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