Penn State first to join EPA's Sustainability Partnership Program

University Park, Pa. — Penn State is no stranger to environmental activities that protect the planet and reduce energy use. It 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 at least five student environmental organizations. And that's only the beginning.

Even with all of those initiatives in place, University officials believe there is more to be done, so 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.

Penn State will formally sign the SPP agreement with the EPA at 12:15 p.m. on  Earth Day (April 22). The event will be held at the front entrance of the HUB-Robeson Center on Pollock Road, and will be hosted by Steve Maruszewski, the leader of Penn State's Environmental Stewardship Strategy, along with Al Horvath, Penn State vice president for Finance and Business, who will sign the agreement on behalf of the institution. There will be featured appearances by Ryan Fitzgerald, head of Penn State's student Sustainability Coalition and EPA's Wayne Naylor, deputy director of the Land and Chemicals Division and a Penn State alumnus.

The signing ceremony will signify 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, which house more than 14,000 students. The University also is committed to increasing its recycling efforts.

As part of the event, audience members will be able to take the sustainability pledge, sponsored by Penn State's Environmental Stewardship Office and the Take Charge Committee. Those who sign up will pledge to change three behaviors over the week in order to reduce their impact on the environment.

The Penn State ECO-CAR also will be on hand and students will be available to answer questions on this innovative vehicle. The ECO-CAR team is working to construct vehicles employing innovative technology which reduce greenhouse emissions, have better efficiency and reduce overall petroleum consumption from well-to-wheels, while they are working to maintain consumer acceptability and usability.

What differentiates the SPP from other programs, and what attracted Penn State to the program, is that EPA's Sustainability Partnerships Program focuses on large organizations such as 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.

Naylor noted that the SPP was created by the mid-Atlantic regional office as a national pilot program for major consumers of energy, water and natural resources, such as Penn State.

"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 also is 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 also are 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 contact Paul Ruskin at or (814) 863-9620. For information on the Sustainability Partnerships Program go to or call David Iacono at (215) 814-3231.

To view video highlights of the partnership ceremony, visit /video/177286/2013/02/09/video-no-title online.

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Last Updated April 24, 2009