Penn State Celebrates Earth Day by Pushing Its Green Commitment Higher

04/23/2009 |

Penn State University is already no stranger to green initiatives: They recycle at a rate of 53 percent, buy 20 percent of their electricity from green energy programs, and compost food waste, and they are home to more than five different student environmental organizations. But during Earth Day celebrations on April 22, they took their eco-friendly ventures one step further by becoming the first university to sign up for the U.S. EPA’s Sustainability Partnership Program (SPP), a voluntary partnership program that helps organizations reach their environmental goals.

Already recognized by the EPA’s Green Power Partnership as the largest purchaser of green power in the Big Ten Conference with 83 million kilowatt-hours of green power in the 2008-09 academic year (approximately 20 percent of all electricity purchased by the university), Penn State officials believe there is still more to be done. With an overall goal to minimize energy and resource use and reduce waste generation in the mid-Atlantic states, the SPP provides one-stop shopping approach to deal with the EPA’s voluntary programs, including ENERGY STAR, waste minimization, e-cycling, Resource Conservation Challenge, and WaterSense. It is a way to make it easier for organizations to “go green” in a cost-effective manner.

“At Penn State, we are committed to improving our overall environmental footprint and being a leader in the area of sustainability,” said Al Horvath, vice president for finance and business at Penn State, who signed the agreement on behalf of the university. “This partnership gives Penn State the opportunity to broaden its impact well beyond the walls of our institution,” 

As part of the SPP, Penn State has committed to further reduction in energy use, with initial focus on energy usage at stadium and athletic events, and in the campus residence halls, which house more than 14,000 students. The university has also committed to increasing its recycling efforts.

“We are pleased that Penn State is joining with EPA because the university is not only working to reduce its own carbon footprint,” said Wayne Naylor, deputy director of the Land and Chemicals Division at EPA. “The university is also educating the next generation of environmentally-aware citizens. Penn State is setting the tone and leading by example.”

As an SPP partner, Penn State will receive technical support from EPA to accomplish their desired environmental goals. They will also receive support, direction, and assistance from an assigned sustainability account manager, who will serve as their single point-of-contact with EPA. 

The SPP is designed to produce significant environmental benefits in the areas of energy savings, prevented or diverted waste disposal, reduced water usage, and impact on the climate.

For more information on the Sustainability Partnership Program, visit

Related Coverage