Climate Action Plan

On May 9, 2011, President Stephen Spinelli on behalf of the University signed the American University and College Presidents' Climate Commitment, pledging our institution to climate neutrality (zero net carbon emissions) by 2035.  Our immediate actions as part of this pledge include:

  • the purchase of 100% renewable energy starting in July 2014
  • a policy for all new campus construction to meet the USGBC LEED Silver standard
  • an ENERGY STAR appliance purchasing policy
  • a program to encourage public transportation use for all students, faculty and staff

Our Climate Action Plan provides detailed analysis of the sustainability efforts at Philadelphia University and outlines the plan to achieve net carbon neutrality by 2035.

These efforts include:

Space efficiency

Based on current utilization efficiencies and standard ratios, it is projected that Philadelphia University will grow more than 1,000,000 square feet by 2035. The University considers several strategies, such as better space utilization and efficient, flexible scheduling. Therefore, as a result of this mitigation action, the University has a goal to decrease new building square footage from 1,000,000 square feet to 600,000 square feet by 2035.

Green power

Greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories for the fiscal years (FYs) 2011 and 2013 report that Scope 2 is responsible for half of the emissions. Scope 2 refers to electricity purchased from third-party generating company. Starting from July, 2014, Philadelphia University has made the commitment to purchase 100% of its electricity from certified green-e sources, currently wind- generated. Such commitment brought the biggest emission contributor of the University down to near zero and it would have to be reflected in GHG inventory for FY 2015.

Building Automation

About 85% of the University`s buildings have some level of building automation systems (BAS). Philadelphia University shooting for 100% of advanced building automation systems to be in place by 2035. Advanced BAS is planning to include full real time integration of planned schedules and actual occupancy, light levels, building temperature, CO2 level, energy and water usage, along with micro grid redundancy of 100% of its footprint, allowing for optimum energy usage, emission control, health and safety.

Hybrid/Electric Vehicles

There are several vehicles that operate on campus, including security, service and maintenance vehicles, as well as buses used to transport students on campus and to sporting events. Philadelphia University has a plan to phase-out gasoline-only vehicles and to introduce hybrid and electrical vehicles instead. This mitigation action will serve positively for both emission reduction and as an education tool for students who use campus transportation.

Efficient Gas Boilers and IT Infrastructure and Improvements

The University has a goal to optimize gas usage through a comprehensive plan for systematical replacement of older less efficient equipment. Among other actions there is a move to micro-grid independence and enhancement of the grid infrastructure. The predicted savings in heating energy by implementing these mitigation actions is about 30%.

ENERGY STAR Purchasing & Benchmarking

ENERGY STAR is a purchase program for equipment and appliances. Philadelphia University has a high level of operational efficiency (below 100,000 MMBTU/GSF). However, the University strives for a more sophisticated level.

Building Envelope Improvements

Philadelphia University has buildings with various qualities of envelopes. The University has a schedule for building maintenance, repairs and improvements of building envelopes, including window replacement, insulation and roofing, which would allow energy conservation in the buildings.

SEPTA Partnership

Approximately 43% of Philadelphia University`s students are daily commuters, which totals 1.7 million miles. SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) has a widely developed public transportation system in the Philadelphia Region. Also, SEPTA offers various partnerships with local schools and universities to provide student fares and discounted rates. Philadelphia University is planning to sign a partnership with SEPTA, which hopefully will significantly reduce the amount of students commuting to campus.


There is one geothermal well on campus. Philadelphia University conducted cost benefit analysis and suggested that the geothermal exchange is expedient to supplement campus buildings` heating and cooling loads. The CAP reports University projections to eliminate 8% of the emissions by means of geothermal sources.

Building Commitment

Even prior to the publication of the Climate Action Plan, our two most recent building projects have both received LEED ratings: the renovated SEED Center and the Field DEC Center are both LEED Gold.