Penn faculty and staff who hold their reusable mugs and eco-totes high now have the opportunity to make their dedication to environmental sustainability official.
“The Eco-Reps program is a way for members of the Penn community to learn about sustainability on campus and to take this interest into their workplace,” says Dan Garofalo, director of the Sustainability Office for Facilities and Real Estate Services (FRES). “It’s an opportunity to apply their passion and knowledge to their day job and make a difference every day.”
Volunteer participants from Penn schools, centers, offices, and departments convene at monthly meetings to brainstorm how to best save energy, minimize waste, and reduce Penn’s overall environmental footprint. Eco-Reps return to their respective communities and workplaces to share what they’ve learned and implement conservation strategies and awareness campaigns across campus.
“The beauty of the program is the variety of people and the roles and responsibilities they have,” says Andrea Kreiner, sustainability consultant for FRES. “An ideal candidate is someone who cares about how their office impacts the environment, and is interested in learning what they can do to help reduce that impact.”
In addition to attending monthly meetings, Eco-Reps participate in sustainability-related field trips and University-wide events such as ReThink Your Footprint, Penn’s fall waste minimization campaign, and the Power Down Challenge, a spring multi-week competition to reduce building energy use.
“There’s a sense of coherence at Eco-Reps meetings that, as participants get to know each other and rely on each other, rolls back into the program and helps build a culture of sustainability across the University,” Garofalo says. “It’s a fun program, but everyone involved knows how serious the work is.”