Sustainability Information

American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment

In 2011, after a thorough analysis of the required University resources to meet our intended commitments, Dr. Spinelli pledged Philadelphia University’s participation in this program, that was first established in 2007.


This program recognizes the effect of global warming and pledges that its members will set examples of best management practices that will lead to global warming  reduction. More details can be obtained from the program’s main web-page:

President's Climate Commitment 


For Philadelphia University’s specific profile and our pledged commitments, please utilize this link:

Implementation Profile for PhilaU 


We have selected four of the seven prescribed tangible actions, twice the minimum requirement.


We utilized our partnership with Honeywell’s Act!Earth program and related graduate intern to complete our Campus Greenhouse Gas Inventory in 2012 and our Climate Action Plan1/15/2013.

Climate Action Plan for PhilaU 



After a decade long business relationship with many energy related successes, Honeywell invited Philadelphia University to be its beta site for the development of its new interactive Sustainable Education  Awareness Program for Higher Education trademarked Act!Earth.  For the 2011-2012 academic year, Honeywell has sponsored a Philadelphia University graduate student as a paid intern to facilitate this program.

Here is a link to a recent press release: Act!EarthPhilaU


To see the Act!Earth WOW website:





Earth Day/Arbor Day Plantings

To celebrate and commemorate Earth Day and Arbor Day as well as our ability to positively affect the environment, the Physical Plant has worked with faculty and students to provide plantings on campus over the years.


In 2007, the effort involved the planting of trees and shrubs on the upper edge of the storm water management area alongside the Kanbar Campus Center. The plantings were native species selected to tolerate exposure to salt from the runoff in the area. Environmental Issues and Biodiversity students helped with the planting.


In 2008, the Physical Plant once again teamed up with the faculty and students to install a rain garden at the end of the Independence Plaza parking area. The garden was designed by Landscape Architecture students and Environmental Issues and Biodiversity students helped with the planting. The rain garden is designed to capture storm water runoff from the parking area and enhance infiltration of the rain water back into the ground.

In 2010, new trees were planted in the Scholler hillside area.


In 2011, permeable pavers and plantings were installed along School House Lane near Vaux Street in a collaborative project with faculty and students.


Energy Conservation

The Physical Plant continues to identify and implement energy conservation practices which prove to be financially beneficial and environmentally sound. Some of the efforts include:

  • - A public relations effort during the cooling season to set back thermostats in air conditioned spaces when the buildings or spaces are not occupied. This request was made to all University personnel asking them to take responsibility for their areas and help to reduce electric use by turning air conditioning down or off when leaving.
  • - Coupled with the effort to encourage staff and faculty to reduce air conditioning, the physical plant reset the computer controlled thermostats on campus to match the occupancies of the buildings. Air conditioning was reduced during periods of low building use (nights and weekends) through the use of computer controls.
  • - The installation of energy efficient fluorescent lighting. This effort included the replacement of older less efficient fluorescent tubes in classrooms and other public spaces with higher efficiency type and the replacement of incandescent bulbs in residence halls and offices with compact fluorescents. This effort will continue until all incandescent bulbs and lower efficiency fluorescent tubes are replaced.

The Physical Plant is encouraging the use of bicycles on campus through the recent installation of additional bike racks at Independence Plaza and the parking garage.


 Lights Out Cleaning Program

In an effort to reduce energy consumption, the housekeeping staff begins cleaning office buildings at 5:00 PM and academic buildings at 10:00 PM.  The buildings are team-cleaned, meaning 2 or more staff members work together to get a building cleaned or a floor completed in the academic buildings, thus reducing the need for unnecessary lighting, air conditioning or heat throughout the night.

PJM Electrical Grid Programs and Electrical Peak Management

The nation’s major electrical grids are becoming more reliant on their make-up of micro-grids within their portfolio of customers. For a number of years Philadelphia University has participated in volunteer programs of reducing its power consumption on a volunteer basis during critical times to avoid brown-outs etc.

More recently PJM through aggregators such as Energy Connect have become more proactive in leveraging those capabilities.  Philadelphia University now participates in several programs that keep our energy usage either level or reduced during these times.  This now  has a double benefit though financial payback to the University, as well as a reducing the emissions that come about when utility companies put their least efficient resources on-line to keep the grid functional. Naturally these programs also give the grid and Philadelphia University enhanced reliability.

Through investment in controls and generation which have pay-back, the University can now reduce its electrical usage by approximately 1 megawatt of power, or approximately 50%, within minutes of notification. This was demonstrated by the graph in the attached link when we were notified that a Limerick reactor was unexpectedly being taken off-line 5/31/2011: PhilaU power reduction


Sustainable Energy

PECO’s final stage of electrical energy de-regulation went into effect on January 1, 2011. During the summer of 2010, in preparation for that transition, Plant Operations with the assistance of Summit Energy conducted an extensive multi-year RFP for generated electricity.

This process has enabled the University to commit to the initial purchase of over 4.2 Million Kilowatt hours from renewable wind sources each year for 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.  This commitment of purchasing 10% of our total electrical energy from renewable sources in the form of wind, has further enabled the University to be eligible to become an “EPA Green Power Partner”, along with preventing over 3,000 pounds of annual carbon dioxide emissions as explained in our certificate awarded for environmental stewardship.

In January of 2012 the University increased its commitment to sustainable electrical energy by another 50% for the remaining years of the contract. Currently 15% of the University’s electrical power comes from wind.

Effective 7/1/2014 Philadelphia University will go to 100% green contractual energy contracts lasting through 6/2018.


The Dell

With the construction of the new Kanbar Campus Center, expanded Recreation Facility and Parking Garage, the University had a unique opportunity to address this connection to the Park and Wissahickon Watershed.  As part of the Master Plan and campus construction, the University implemented the Dell Stormwater Management Project, an effective and innovative multi-phase stormwater management system that:

  • meets all regulatory requirements

  • provides an environmentally sound solution that improves water quality and controls runoff flowing into the Wissahickon

  • creates a learning laboratory for university and high school students

  • incorporates an aesthetic amenity for the campus and neighboring community including greater plant and wildlife diversity.

Philadelphia University’s master plan emphasizes the direct relationship between land use and water quality by protecting and restoring campus property that drains into Wissahickon Creek.  Philadelphia University’s Dell Stormwater Management Project addresses conditions that lead to periodic flooding of Lincoln Drive along the Wissahickon Creek due to stormwater runoff, improves water quality on site, addresses aesthetic aspects of project implementation, and involves students and the community in active learning about watersheds, stormwater management and pro-active maintenance. The Dell Stormwater Management Project demonstrates model practices and policies for an integrated approach to watershed management.


The Philadelphia University Dell Stormwater Management System, designed by Carol R. Johnson Associates, Inc., and Boles Smyth Associates, Inc., consists of a series of check dams, step pools  and wetlands for holding and treating the first flush of a rain event and also serves as a large detention/retention basin with monitoring and control devices for larger storm events.  This type of stormwater system infiltrates  water on the site, removes pollutants from the water, prevents flooding downstream, provides wildlife habitat, and serves as an aesthetic amenity for the campus.  This project fits within the larger Philadelphia Water Department’s master plan for long-term ecological restoration of the Schuylkill River watershed.

Per agreement with the City of Philadelphia and Fairmont Park Commission, Philadelphia University also completed park restoration work within Fairmont Park.  This work included repair of a damaged section of the Orange Trail, construction of four step pools, re-grading a portion of the Orange Trail leading to the pipe arch, and at the top of the ravine, construction of two more step pools.

The University has also committed to an ongoing operation and maintenance program in perpetuity for this runoff area. The Dell is now in the final phase of construction.



Environmental Stewardship

Philadelphia University participated in a program sponsored by the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania (AICUP) to ensure the campus is in compliance with state and federal environmental regulations. The program is the result of agreements between the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA-DEP), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and AICUP and required peer environmental audits of each institution. In April 2006, the University hosted a team of auditors made up of peers from other schools in the program to identify any areas of environmental concern on our campus. As a result of the audit, the University worked to ensure all of its operations are in compliance with environmental regulations, both now and into the future. The director of the Physical Plant and the director of Safety and Security have been personally involved in this program and are providing leadership in its successful implementation at Philadelphia University.


Spring-boarding on the success of the environmental audit process described above, Philadelphia University participated in an energy conservation program sponsored by the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania (AICUP) to do peer audits and produce investment grade energy saving models for select buildings on our campus. Our audit was completed in 2013.




As one of our tangible actions for the ACUPCC program the university has pledged that new construction going forward will meet LEED silver criteria or above.

In that regard:

The SEED building has been submitted for certification with Silver as its intention

DEC is under construction with Gold as its intended goal.



Campus Landscape Master Plan

The University is a consolidation of lands that were at one time estates to some of Philadelphia’s wealthiest families. This is has enabled the University to inherit a gorgeous canopy of large specimen trees, as well as a vast variety of plants and shrubs

The University moved to this site from downtown in 1949.  At that time we were a campus of 12 acres of land with one new building (Hayward), an existing mansion ( Reichlin) and a few out buildings- only one of which remains today (Gate1). 

Today our East Falls campus consists of over 100 acres along with dozens of buildings that range in age from the 18th century to the 21st. Many buildings were built by the University, but in some cases the land and buildings have been re-purposed a number of times over the years prior to the University’s ultimate acquisition. 

The 2012 Landscape master plan documents an understanding of our campus landscape as it exists today, and then establishes criteria going forward that will allow for standards and practices that coincidentally make our campus more cohesive in nature, while demonstrating best management practices related to the maintenance and performance of the various campus landscape areas.

Derck Edson, a nationally renowned planning and landscape firm from Lancaster PA was been contracted to help administer the process. APPA’s Operational Guidelines for Educational Facilities –Grounds, which used the National Recreation and Park Associations Park Maintenance standards for maintenance standards were used as a basis.  A steering committee was established along with several sub-groups including administrators, faculty and students for informational gathering. The completed Landscape Master Plan with campus zones and future planning applications was completed in 2012

Campus Landscape Zones

Campus Landscape Maintenance Standards (in progress)