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Living Sustainably

Residential Services is fully engaged in supporting Penn’s mission to increase awareness of waste reduction, energy conservation, and best practices for living a sustainable lifestyle at Penn. Here are some ways that residents can lighten their environmental impact:

Reduce and Recycle

  • Know and use house recycling options and Recycling Locations.
  • Establish a waste reduction ethic — minimize unnecessary copying, reuse scrap paper and envelopes, print double-sided, etc.
  • Avoid purchasing products that are heavily packaged, and recycle what packaging you can
  • Support the PennMOVES charity drive instead of trashing unwanted items when you move out
  • Purchase Green Products when possible

Save Energy

In your Room or Apartment:

  • Use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) -- they use up to 70% less energy than a traditional incandescent bulb.
  • During the daytime, use natural lighting when possible - open your blinds to brighten up the room. During the night, close your blinds or curtains to keep heat in your room.
  • TURN OFF THE LIGHTS when you're not using them - especially in places like closets and hallways where you only need the light momentarily.
  • Turn off your computer, lights, stereo, TV and other appliances when not in use.
  • Unplug adapters (like your cell phone charger and MP3 player) when not in use, as the charger will use energy 24/7 even when your item is not charging.
  • Use a power strip for items (like an entertainment system) and turn the power strip off when it is not in use.
  • Save energy by enabling your computer's energy-saving features. Always turn your computer off if you will not be using it within the next hour.
  • Consider energy-efficient computer systems and monitors when you replace a system. Flat-screen monitors use 50-70% less energy.
  • Buy ENERGY STAR®-qualified products.

Heating and Air Conditioning:

  • Set the AC and heat to reasonable temperatures. Better yet, turn them off!

In the Kitchen:

  • Refill personal water bottles with tap water.
  • Match the size of the pan to the heating element. Using a 6 inch pan on an 8 inch burner wastes more than 40% of the burner's heat. (Source: Dominion)
  • Use a slightly curved cooking pan, which distributes heat more evenly than a flat bottomed pan. Copper bottomed pans heat faster than conventional cookware. (Source: Dominion)
  • Turn your refrigerator temperature down (while retaining a healthy level). Most refrigerators are set at a temperature that is unnecessarily cold, resulting in accidentally almost-frozen food.
  • Keep the cooling coil on the back of your refrigerator free of dust to allow it to operate more efficiently.

In the Bathroom:

  • Turn off the faucet while you are brushing your teeth. Water that runs straight to the drain is 100% waste.
  • Take shorter showers and don't leave the water running when you're not using it. Residence Hall bathrooms have been equipped with water-saving showerheads. The overall impact for Penn is a significant conservation in water.
  • To get the best performance, the showerhead should be positioned to point in a straight line from the stem. Don’t angle the showerhead or try to direct it otherwise because it will lessen the volume and force of the shower.
  • To get the best performance from the new toilets, use the softer style bathroom tissue or use single ply tissue. Both dissolve in water more readily. Don’t flush anything down the toilet besides human waste.
  • Toilets which have been replaced through renovations are also water saving. If necessary, flush twice!
  • Report leaks or faucets that won’t turn off to Facilities by entering an AiM maintenance request through the Penn Portal, or call Facilities Work Control at 215-898-7208 to report a maintenance problem.

In the Laundry Room:

  • Use cold water for the wash cycle (instead of hot) when you do your laundry, and always rinse in cold water. Colder water also ensures your fabric colors will not run!
  • Fill the washing machine before running it. Running machines half full uses as much water as a full load.
  • Consider using a clothing rack or hangers to air-dry your laundry inside your residence hall instead of using the dryer. This will help your clothing last longer and the extra humidity from the drying clothes can also make your room feel warmer!

Hazardous Materials

  • Recycle hazardous waste-containing products such as batteries, computer monitors and televisions, etc.
  • Let Penn’s Pest Control program of Pest Control techniques work to minimize or eliminate use of poisons. Don’t introduce your own sprays or chemicals, as they can counteract the effectiveness of the IPM program and also add additional toxicity to the environment.


Food and Food Service

  • Support local organic farms including the Farmers Market that visits campus (
  • Minimize the use of disposable dinnerware
  • Utilize a reusable mug and/or drinking bottle
  • Avoid wasting food; take home leftovers from restaurants whenever possible
  • Take reusable shopping bags along when you go to the market
  • Refuse bags for small purchases if they are easily carried