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Penn State Celebrates Earth Day by Pushing its Green Commitment Higher

Release Date: 04/22/2009
Contact Information: Donna Heron, heron.donna@epa.gov, 215-814-5113; Paul Ruskin, pdr2@psu.edu, 814-206-6921 or Lydia Vandenbergh, lbv10@psu.edu, 814-863-4893

STATE COLLEGE (April 22, 2009) – At today’s signing ceremony Penn State University became the first university to sign up for EPA’s Sustainability Partnership Program, a voluntary partnership program that helps organizations reach their environmental goals.

For Penn State University, joining the program made sense because it is no stranger to environmental activities that protect the planet and reduce energy use. PSU currently recycles at a rate of 53 percent, buys 20 percent of the university’s electricity through green energy programs, composts food waste and is home to more than five student environmental organizations.

Earlier this week PSU was recognized by another EPA program. Throughout the 2008-09 academic year, EPA’s Green Power Partnership tracked green power purchasing by colleges and universities by Collegiate Athletic Conference. As part of the Big Ten Conference, PSU took first place by purchasing more than 83 million kilowatt-hours of green power, representing 20 percent of all of the electricity purchased by PSU.

University officials believe there is more to be done. And they have decided to join EPA’s Sustainability Partnerships Program (SPP) to further their efforts.

The EPA offers a variety of voluntary partnership programs, such as Energy Star, waste minimization, e-cycling, Resource Conservation Challenge and WaterSense. Instead of dealing with each of EPA’s voluntary programs individually, the Sustainability Partnerships Program creates a one-stop shopping approach to make it easy for organizations to “go green” in a way that often saves money and makes good business sense. The overall goal of the SPP is to minimize the use of energy, resources and waste generation in the mid-Atlantic states.

Today, Penn State University formally signed the SPP agreement with the EPA. The event, which took place at the HUB-Robeson Center, was hosted by Steve Maruszewski, the leader of Penn State’s Environmental Stewardship Strategy, along with PSU’s Vice-President for Finance and Business, Al Horvath, who signed the agreement on behalf of the institution. EPA’s Wayne Naylor, deputy director of the Land and Chemicals Division, and a Penn State alum, and
Ryan Fitzgerald, head of PSU’s student Sustainability Coalition were also on hand for the signing.

What differentiates the SPP from other programs, and what attracted PSU to the program, is that EPA’s Sustainability Partnerships Program focuses on large organizations like Penn State. By reducing its environmental footprint, Penn State can have a demonstrable effect on the quality of the environment in the mid-Atlantic region. “At Penn State we are committed to improving our overall environmental footprint and being a leader in the area of sustainability and this partnership gives Penn State the opportunity to broaden its impact well beyond the walls of our institution” according to Horvath.

EPA’s Wayne Naylor noted that the signing ceremony signifies the university’s commitment to an increased reduction in energy use, with an initial focus on usage at stadium and athletic events, and in campus residence halls housing more than 14,000 students. The university is 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. The university is also educating the next generation of environmentally-aware citizens. Penn State is setting the tone and leading by example,” said Naylor.

“In the past 50 years we have consumed more of the earth’s resources than in all of previous history. As a society we need to shift how we view and manage waste. It is no longer enough to simply reduce, reuse and recycle, we must also rethink the resources we use and how we use them. The Sustainability Partnerships Program helps organizations examine what they traditionally considered to be waste, and see it as valuable materials with a lifecycle of reuse” said Naylor.

SPP partners receive technical support from EPA to accomplish their desired goals. Partners are also assigned a sustainability account manager who serves as a single point-of-contact with EPA to provide support, direction and assistance for the partners to meet their sustainability goals. The SPP is designed to produce significant environmental benefits in the areas of energy savings, waste disposal prevented or diverted, reduced water usage and impact on the climate.

For more information, please contact Paul Ruskin at 814-863-9620 or pdr2@psu.edu.

For information on the Sustainability Partnerships Program go to: www.epa.gov/region3/green.


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