Shoemaker Green


The Invisible Hand in Wharton's Sustainability Efforts

January 30, 2017
zero waste event

From Huntsman Hall to Joe’s Café, the staff in Wharton Operations works hard to make sure everything from scheduling to lighting in these buildings functions without a hitch. We sat down with David Mazzocco, Associate Director of Sustainability and Projects, Wharton Operations. Want to know more about the behind-the-scenes sustainability at Wharton? Read below! 

What is Wharton Operations responsible for? 

David Mazzocco: Wharton Operations is responsible for all Wharton infrastructure on the facilities side. So that’s Colonial Penn Center, Steinberg Hall-Dietrich Hall, Lauder-Fischer Hall, Vance Hall, and Jon M. Huntsman Hall. 

What are some of the actions Wharton Operations is taking when it comes to energy conservation? 

David: So we have done initiatives like shutting down the escalators in Huntsman Hall during the night and other off-cycle times (winter break, summer). We’ve added lighting controls in many buildings. We also have the guards that tour the buildings and shut off lights in unoccupied rooms. Exterior accent lighting is on timers. We’ve done a lot of other lighting upgrades, too, either to increase efficiency or switching to LEDs. Classroom technology and the general computers shut down after a certain hour. And we have a specialized cooling system for the data center in Vance Hall that minimizes energy use.  

But the big issue comes with the HVAC system. We’re working in Huntsman and in Vance Hall to make the HVAC more efficient and have just completed the third and final phase of an HVAC upgrade to Steinberg-Dietrich, where we are showing a steady and continued downward trend in consumption. 

How about sustainability initiatives more generally? 

David: From a waste perspective, our office composts and Wharton Operations’ Special Events Manager pre-certifies all caterers on a policy of zero waste for all Wharton events. We have designated cans throughout our facilities for waste and recycling. Wharton Computing has its own organized quarterly electronic recycling program and in 2016 they recycled over 10 tons of e-waste. We’re also testing new de-icing material for the winter, bio-based and a lot less caustic to use instead of salt. It’s better for the environment and for the buildings. In 2016, we completed the addition of bottle filling stations in the public areas of all Wharton Buildings; to date, the installation of water filling stations has offset the equivalent of 900,000 plastic bottles from entering the waste stream.  

We also have five green roofs: one in Koo Plaza (second floor of Huntsman Hall) and four in Steinberg-Dietrich Hall. And all the projects that Wharton completes have a LEED aspect to it with the goal of LEED Silver. 

David: We were also one of the first school’s to utilize Penn’s new Green Guidelines for Renovations on small projects that do not qualify for LEED. The new lactation Suites in Huntsman Hall includes Greenguard Gold certified furniture finished with a cleanable, anti-microbial fabric and moisture barrier to protect against germs and bacteria and inner foams and fabrics free of chemical flame retardants. All finishes, including paint, ceiling tiles, floor covering and millwork, contain low or Zero-VOC materials.  

From an academic perspective, it’s worth highlighting Wharton’s IGEL (link is external) [the Institute for Global Environmental Leadership] and what they do both within the school and internationally. IGEL has a great reputation for furthering the discussion of sustainability in academics and the business community. We also reinitiated the Wharton Student Sustainability Advisory Board - it is sponsored by and works directly with Wharton Operations to support and advance the Wharton Schools sustainability objectives. The SSAB is the only board at Wharton to be comprised of both MBAs and Undergraduates. The Board has been meeting regularly since October. 

What can the Penn community do better to conserve energy? 

David: Shut-off lights when leaving a room, shut-off computers, TVs, and so on. And get involved. Having an understanding of your actions and becoming good environmental stewards for the greater good plays a huge part in the success of the University’s Climate Action Plan. 

On February 22nd, we are challenging the Penn community to take part in our single-day and campus-wide energy-reduction campaign. Can you tell us what Wharton Operations has planned to conserve energy? 

David: We are considering, among others, turning off all non-essential lighting, equipment and systems that day in Huntsman, Vance, Steinberg-Dietrich and Lauder Fischer Halls (as event scheduling permits) and powering down Huntsman’s escalaotrs in the evening. We are also looking to host a film event as part of the larger February campaign. We may be showing Leonardo DiCaprio’s “Before the Flood” (waiting on film rights) or another climate change related movie. 

Anything else we should know? 

David: We’re always open to suggestions. You can contact me at to give us any ideas. And you can use to report problems. 

Scheduled Events

Please visit for more information about Wharton Operations. Currently Wharton has LEED certifications in the following buildings: Joe’s Café (Commercial Interiors Gold Certification), Steinberg-Dietrich Tower Addition (New Construction Gold Certification), the Dean’s Suite renovation in Steinberg-Dietrich (Commercial Interiors Silver Certification, pending), Vance Hall first and second floor renovations (Commercial Interiors Silver Certification), and our Wharton facility out in San Francisco (Commercial Interiors Gold Certification). 

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