locust walk in the evening lights

Purchasing Practices

Sustainable Procurement at Penn

Penn Purchasing will continue its efforts, in collaboration with School and Center partners, to reduce packaging and shipping waste and increase the number of environmentally friendly products brought to campus. Penn Purchasing collaborates with units across campus to improve value, sourcing, and performance through contracts, vendor approvals, and management of the Penn Marketplace. Working with partner Schools and Centers, Penn Purchasing advances campus sustainability through improved communications, dining contracting and food procurement, vehicle purchases, and office furniture.


Stationery and Business Cards

Penn branded business cards and stationery, printed on Mohawk Via 30% PC Bright White which is made with 30% post-consumer process chlorine-free waste fiber, can be ordered from Maximum Graphics via the Penn Marketplace, or for University purchasing card cardholders, from the Maximum Graphics purchasing card enabled online ordering web site. The selection of this paper was based in part upon the manufacturer's environmental performance. Mohawk's Environmental Management System incorporates measures which ensure biosphere protection and sustainable use of natural resources, materials, and energy.




Managed Print

Members of the Penn Community seeking to significantly reduce their office printing costs and environmental impact can take advantage of Penn’s Managed Print Services (MPS) Program. The MPS Program is a service that analyzes and manages document input/output devices to: improve efficiency and productivity; reduce electronic, paper, and plastic (ink/toner) waste; lower the total cost of office printing; reduce support burden to IT staff; and manage the printer fleet with greater visibility.




Green Packaging

University preferred contract suppliers partner with Purchasing Services to identify opportunities to reduce the amount of product packaging that will in turn end up in the University’s waste stream. For example, Purchasing Services, together with Telrose and Office Depot, now have a minimum order value of $25 for all office supply orders. This simple change can potentially eliminate over 3,000 packages reducing of over 17,000 lbs. of CO2, and eliminating over 8,500 lbs. of packaging waste (cardboard and pillows).



Quench Tap Water Filter


Campus-wide preferred purchasing agreements were made with providers such as Quench water filters, which replaced bottled water in many offices across campus. The Quench system works by UV filtration, purifying and cooling municipal water. This eliminates the need for plastic bottles and bottled water, cutting down on costs and greatly reducing the University’s carbon footprint.



Lab Supplies

Lab Supplies and Services

Penn Purchasing offers a number of services to help make Penn’s lab’s greener. These include securing contracts for recycling freezers, lab equipment, centrifuges and rotors and offering GreenGlo Safe DNA Dye and sustainable laundry services.

Energy Star

Energy Star

The University is committed to purchasing Energy Star qualified products such as printers, computers, and appliances. Penn Computing Green Information Technology (IT) program has established recommended guidelines for IT purchases that include Energy Star 4.0 compliant desktops, replacing CRT monitors with LCD monitors, and encouraging the purchase of small form factor or all-in-one desktops instead of mini-towers or towers.

Beyond its purchasing guidelines, Green IT provides resources to help users throughout the University improve the sustainable aspects of their computing operations by reducing energy consumption and producing less e-waste.

Bens attic

Ben's Attic

BEN’s Attic, a website developed by Purchasing Services, allows Penn faculty and staff to exchange and purchase surplus University-owned property. All faculty and staff are able to browse the site to see if there are any items they may need before purchasing new. To list or purchase items, you just need to first register as a Buyer/Seller using the menu option on the site. Items are listed by category and can be sold or given away at no cost. Users can request an email notification of items by category as they become available. You can also utilize the “I’m Searching For Feature”, in the event you don’t see what you need, but someone in the University has such an item and simply has not listed it.

If you have any questions regarding the usage of Ben’s Attic, please email




Infographic showing a hierarchy for travel based on carbon emissions. Conference calls and video conference are the least impactful followed by cycling or walking, public transport, car share, traveling in a car alone, taxi, and air travel.

Infographic courtesy of the University of Edinburgh *Illustration not at scale

Air Travel Sustainability

While air travel can be necessary, it’s also environmentally impactful. Air travel alone makes up approximately 10% of Penn’s main campus carbon footprint, emitting almost 20,000 metric tons of CO2 per year. That’s about the same amount of carbon emitted by powering 2,000 homes for one year.

As the University is committed to advancing travel sustainability for the Penn Community, a cross-disciplinary Air Travel Working Group, comprised of faculty and staff, is working to find the best solutions for achieving carbon neutrality for air travel at Penn. 

Scope 3 Emissions

Supply chain emissions are often the largest contributor to greenhouse gases for an organization, but are not frequently accounted for. This white paper aims to explore the extent of Penn’s main campus purchased goods and services emissions and identify opportunities for further investigation.