Engineering a Greener SEAS
What’s the deal with that awesome new Pennovation Center? How about those water bottle filling stations? What’s a recycling center? For all these questions and more, we took to the engineering quad to discover the sustainability initiatives being undertaken by the School of Engineering and Applied Science. We spoke with Leandra Davis, Sustainability Coordinator for SEAS.
What are your main responsibilities?
Leandra Davis: We run the sustainability program and the design and construction group for SEAS. We mainly manage renovations and new construction projects. Our sustainability mission on larger projects is to make sure that the project obtains its LEED Certification. That encompasses everything from what finishes you choose and what furniture you order, to how we manage waste demolition and where we order materials from. On smaller projects, we implement the University Green Guidelines. We work with all of the SEAS buildings including: the Singh Center for Nanotechnology, Towne Hall, Skirkanich Hall, Levine Hall, Moore Building, Levine North, and portions of the Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter, Hayden Hall, Vagelos, 3401 Walnut Street, and the Pennovation Center.
What are some of the larger sustainability/LEED projects SEAS has done?
Leandra: Our most recent large project is the Pennovation Center. The team is submitting for a LEED certification. SEAS owns the third floor and a portion of the first floor. SEAS is also in the process of certifying three other projects: 3401 Walnut 4th floor, Towne Building 1st and basement floors, and 3537 Locust Walk. Our most recent certification is Levine North, floors 1-3, which received a LEED CI Silver certification.
What other sustainability initiatives have SEAS started?
Leandra: We have created a SEAS Green Team for staff and students, with representatives from each of our departments within SEAS on the team. One of the team’s projects was converting our trash room into the SEAS Recycling Center. We recycle everything from cardboard to electronics, books, light bulbs, batteries, furniture, and Styrofoam. We host many events through our Green Team including SEAS Sustainability Fair, book drives, e-waste pickups, water taste challenge, and plant and smart strip giveaways. Our water bottle goal in SEAS is to replace all water bottle jugs with filtration systems. SEAS also has a furniture reuse listserv. 90% of the furniture that used to be trashed is reused within our school. If we are unable to reuse or save for future, we will send it to a recycler. We have over 12 battery recycling boxes throughout the school and continue to certify Green Offices through Penn’s sustainability office.
What about any upcoming initiatives or areas where you see SEAS becoming more sustainable?
Leandra: We are working on other initiatives on the academic front. SEAS and SAS are partnering to create a group of faculty and staff who are interested in energy related research and work across campus. This group is named EnerFront. We are coordinating monthly energy talks for those interested across campus. We’re also collaborating with FRES [Facilities & Real Estate Services] to work on energy related initiatives with faculty.
What can students and building occupants do better when it comes to energy conservation?
Leandra: Be mindful of what you do in your office or workspace. You think one person doesn’t make a difference, but they do. Think about the energy one staff member can waste or save when their office lights and monitor are continually left on or off. For students, get involved with other student initiatives. Engage and participate at events, speak up when you see issues or have ideas, and help with awareness campaigns within your circles. Know that all voices are important and please speak up if you want change! The student voice is very important.