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01142013_LotteryBoxandWhartonFountain Credit: Mike Wisniewski , Maegan Cadet

Penn students concerned about sustainability can now fill up their water bottles at the new bottle filling station in Huntsman Hall.

The station, the first one at the Wharton School, provides students with filtered drinking water. It is located on the ground floor of Huntsman and has been open to students since the start of the semester.

Associate Director of Sustainability in Wharton Operations Rafael de Luna headed the launch of this green initiative.

“I think it will raise awareness regarding the number of plastic bottles we waste,” de Luna said in an email. “This initiative is about doing the right thing for the environment.”

According to de Luna, this station is one of the only ones located on Penn’s campus.

The station is equipped with a counter that tracks its usage. In less than two weeks, the bottle filler has already been used over 1,000 times.

Wharton’s Student Sustainability Advisory Board is tracking the filter’s usage throughout the semester.

Though both Penn and Wharton often publicize their efforts to increase environmental sustainability, they may be behind in implementing these bottle filling stations. Schools such as Temple and Princeton University already have more than 100 water bottle filling stations each.

According to USA Today, the College of St. Benedict in Minnesota has gone so far as to ban the sale of bottled water on campus.

Professor of City and Regional Planning John Keene, who is a lecturer for the Master of Environmental Studies Program, describes it as a step in the right direction.

“The idea is another small step in the overall idea to make the campus more sustainable,” Keene said. “It’s part of a broader strategy.”

Keene referred to the University’s Climate Action Plan, which aims to make the campus more energy-efficient, among other things. The bottle filling station will, as Keene said, help further the goals of the program and reduce Penn’s carbon footprint.

Students seem to be excited about the filling station.

“It will definitely make it more difficult for me to justify bringing plastic water bottles to class,” Wharton freshman Natalie Sica said.

The initiative is still in its early stages, and the program coordinators are still waiting to see how successful the addition of one bottle filling station will be before expanding to the rest of Huntsman.

“There’s only one bottle filling station at the moment because I wanted to test its performance in a busy environment such as in Huntsman,” de Luna said.

For some though, the station does not change much. College and Wharton sophomore Xin Wan already uses his own bottle.

“It doesn’t make very much of a difference for me,” Wan said about the station.

However, he added, “I think it’s a good program because it’s convenient. I think something is better than nothing. It’s progress.”

Staff writer Jeremy Jick also contributed reporting to the story.

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