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Sustainability in our Residence Halls


  • Dress for the weather. Dressing in layers allows for adjusting to various building temperatures.
  • Nittany Lion with freshmanControl your climate. Set the temperature in rooms to 70 degrees during the fall, winter, and spring seasons and to 75 degrees during the summer season.
  • Keep it closed. Rather than opening a window when a building seems too hot or cold for comfort, report the problem to OPP.
  • Get approval. If your room is too cold, please contact your R.A. or your commons housing office.
  • Use blinds to reduce uncomfortable office temperatures. Lower blinds during the day in the summer to block the sun. In the winter, lower blinds at night to keep heat inside.


  • Flick the switch to save electricity and money. Incandescent bulbs give off heat, so they should be turned off whenever you leave a room. Compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) should be turned off if you will be away for 15 minutes or longer.
  • Spotlight the action. Use task lighting — such as desk lamps — rather than overhead lighting whenever possible.
  • Let the sun shine in. If you can, sit near a window or open the shades and use natural light whenever possible.


  • Share: Reduce the number of appliances through shared use, such as a group using one refrigerator rather than each having their own.
  • Purchase Energy Star and EPEAT* rated computers and appliances.
  • Give your computer a power nap by activating all power management settings and turning it off when not in use.
  • Use power strips to shut appliances completely off when possible, such as turning your printer or gaming system off when you leave the room.


  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Get exercise and save energy at once.
  • Ride a bicycle to class or work.
  • Take the Centre Area Transportation Authority (CATA) bus around the campus to get to class or work.
    • Blue Loop, White Loop, Green Link, Red Link are free campus buses.
    • CATA Schedule Information
    • CATA buses use compressed natural gas that results in fewer emissions than gasoline.
  • Take the bus off campus.
    • Buying a bus pass for $69 a month is cheaper than having a car that includes purchasing gas, car insurance, and maintenance.
    • CATA Schedule Information
  • Participate in Rideshare. The free service matches students with car and van pools. It's a great way to take weekend trips. Take the campus shuttle service around campus weekdays from 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. The service is free.
  • Walk around the campus for exercise



At University Park, the reusable containers operate much like the current carryout containers. In the all-you-care-to-eat dining locations on campus, students and staff pick up a container at the cashier. When they bring the container back, they give it to the cashier and receive a clean container if they want carryout. If not, they are given a carabiner to keep with their ID for their next carryout meal. Students and staff using the containers are charged a one-time fee at their first use and issued a refund at the end of the semester upon return of the container or carabiner.

Penn State Food Services

  • Reduces the size of the plates used in the dining halls
  • Supports local vendor purchasing
  • Donates leftover food to Meals on Wheels

Carbon Negative: Reducing Dining's Carbon Foodprint at Penn State
This research report was a project created as part of the 2020 Drawdown Scholars Program by Divya Jain, a Penn State student under the mentorship of Rachel Brennan during Summer 2020. 


  • Don’t buy. Before making a purchase, consider other ways to meet the same need. Can you borrow it? Share with someone? Reuse? In general, what other ways might you meet the same need?
  • If you have to buy, buy eco-friendly. Use the following Buy Green checklist.
    • Buy used & buy local
    • Buy durable
    • Check for energy efficiency (look for the Energy Star and EPEAT* labels for computers and appliances)
    • Get the highest recycled content possible
    • Is it made with natural, non-toxic, organic, renewable resources?
    • Look for low to no packaging
    • Reusable or recyclable (packaging and product)
    • Fair treatment of employees and suppliers
    • Use online resources such as the Good Guide, EnergyStar, EPEAT*


  • Recycle It! These items can be recycled at University Park:
    • Mixed office paper, enveloped, cardboard, newspapers, gift wrap, Post-it notes, books and magazine.
    • Plastic containers, plastic bottles, plastic bags, bubble wrap and packing pillows.
    • Glass, metal and aluminum cans, Motor Oil and Cooking Oil, Toner Cartridges.
    • Computers, cell phones and MP3 players, light bulbs, batteries, CDs and DVDs
    • Need a container for batteries or have items that require special pick-up? Contact
    • For detailed information, visit the Recycling and Waste Management guidelines
  • Compost it! There are many items that can be composted at University Park:
    • Food waste, fruit, diary products, meat and bones.
    • Pizza boxes, compostable plates, cups and silverware, paper towels and tissues, filters, coffee grounds and tea bags.
    • For specifics, please view the Composting guidelines.
  • Paper Cut: 33% of American waste is paper.
    • Cut paper use by printing double sided.
    • Change the margin settings from the 1.25” default to 0.75” and save 5 percent of paper, according to the Mueller study and the Penn State Green Destiny Council.
    • If you are flooded by catalogs, stop the overflow by contacting
  • Buy Green: Get a reusable bottle and help to reduce plastic use.
    • Only 25 percent of plastic beverage bottles are recycled nationwide.
    • Purchase items that are minimally packaged and can be recycled.
    • Take reusable bags with you when you shop.
    • Close the resource loop by purchasing products made with recycled content, such as paper and carpets.

Water Use

  • Bathroom Actions:
    • Take shorter showers.
    • Close the tap while brushing teeth or shaving.
  • Laundry Actions:
    • Wash clothes in cold water.
    • Wash full loads of clothes.
  • Kitchen Actions:
    • Run the dishwasher with a full load of dishes.
    • Fill a dishpan with water for cleaning dishes instead of constantly letting water run.