Pennsylvania Environmental Resource Consortium

 Higher Education connecting, collaborating and taking action



This page features sustainability-related news from PERC Member Campuses.

  • 24 Apr 2020 9:59 AM | Abbey Castor

    Allegheny College recently became the first college or university in Pennsylvania — and the eighth in the United States — to achieve carbon neutrality.

    In 2010, Allegheny set a goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2020 as part of their climate action plan.

    What does it mean to be a carbon-neutral institution? 

    First it reduces its operational carbon footprint and then balances remaining emissions by investing in projects that will remove an equal amount of carbon from the atmosphere.

    How did they  accomplish this?

    • Reducing emissions through efficiency retrofits, system and behavior changes, and sustainable construction and renovation. The college has increased its energy efficiency by 19.2 percent during the last decade, even as the square footage of campus buildings expanded. Reducing energy consumption has led to significant cost savings for Allegheny.

    • Decarbonizing energy sources by shifting from fossil fuel to alternative energy sources. Allegheny has installed geothermal heating and cooling systems in four buildings. In addition, photovoltaic arrays on campus generate 8,500 kilowatt-hours annually, and all electricity purchased by the college comes from wind-generated sources.

    • Offsetting remaining emissions by investing in projects that prevent or remove an equivalent amount of carbon from the atmosphere. Through increased efficiency, the college not only has realized budget savings each year but also has been able to purchase offsets from its existing energy budget without allocating additional funds.

    Carbon neutrality efforts demonstrate urgent climate action to reduce the concentration of climate-changing gases in the atmosphere dramatically, said Allegheny Director of Sustainability Kelly Boulton.

    “Achieving carbon neutrality reflects more than a decade of effort to enhance efficiency in our operations, engage students in our research and action, and build collaborations with partners,” she said. “Carbon neutrality is not the end goal but rather another moment of progress in our continued efforts to be a sustainable and resilient campus and community member.”

  • 22 Apr 2020 5:02 PM | Abbey Castor

    Like universities and colleges around the world, WCU has had to revise our plans for Earth Day 2020. We’ll miss celebrating in person with friends, classmates, and co-workers, but we’re carrying on with the message and mission of Earth Day this year, the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day protests and demonstrations in 1970. Here are some ways we can all participate in the theme of Earth Day this year – climate action – with events planned here on campus and by partner organizations: 

    From April 22 to 24, people across the world will come together for a three-day online event focused on climate action called Earth Day Live. Click here to find out more.

    Earth Day Live will be a 3-day live stream and online mobilization to engage people across the world as we demand action on from our leaders on climate change, jobs, and justice. On all three days, we are centering the stories and voices of leaders from communities of color, frontline communities, indigenous communities, workers, and more.

    The live stream will include training sessions, performances, and appearances to keep people engaged, informed, and inspired, with speakers including celebrities, politicians, scientists, and youth activists.

    Here's an overview of what's happening each day:

    • April 22 — STRIKE: On the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we will demonstrate our collective power and unity through community building and storytelling. This first day will focus on amplifying the voice of Indigenous leaders and youth climate activists who are leading the movement to halt the climate crisis.
    • April 23 — DIVEST: The world’s largest banks have pumped $1.9 trillion into fossil fuels since the 2015 Paris Agreement. We can’t let fossil fuel companies use the pandemic to loot trillions more when people need relief so desperately. Led by the Stop the Money Pipeline Coalition, April 23rd focuses on the role of money in driving the climate crisis.
    • April 24 — VOTE: We need leaders who will address the existential threat of climate change, and for this to happen, we need people to show up at the polls. Led by the US Youth Strike Coalition, April 24th will focus on the urgency of political change through a nationwide youth voter registration day.

    Click here to RSVP to Earth Day Live and take part in one of the biggest days of digital action the climate movement has ever seen.

    The 50th anniversary of Earth Day is a day to demonstrate our collective power and unity through community building and storytelling. Just because we can't be together in person, doesn't mean that we can't stand together in spirit.

  • 22 Apr 2020 10:37 AM | Abbey Castor

    Dickinson College has reached it's 2020 carbon neutral goal and is one of the first in the U.S to produce zero net emissions of greenhouse gases. 

    “My impression of Dickinson’s sustainability is [it’s] so impressive, so heartfelt, so encouraging,” says actor and environmental activist Pierce Brosnan, who delivered the college's 2019 Commencement address and accepted the Sam Rose ’58 and Julie Walters Prize at Dickinson College for Global Environmental Activism on behalf of the NRDC. “I’m absolutely blown away by the commitment of the students [and] the faculty, to educate, to enlighten to enhance a better world for us all.”

    Check out their Youtube Video here

    Fore more information on the carbon neutrality push click here

  • 11 Apr 2020 1:16 PM | Abbey Castor

    The Council of Sustainable Leaders at Penn State have been hosting a variety of showcases this spring offering connections between faculty research and personal and professional interest for the United Nation's SDG's. The speakers have been invited to give a thirty-minute talk and answer any questions attendees may have.

    The events were originally held in person but have been moved onto the zoom platform.

    The Events are Friday's at 12 p.m.- 1:30 p.m 

    To gain access to the zoom link, and take a look at the up coming speakers, visit their website here!

  • 08 Apr 2020 1:38 PM | Abbey Castor

    "I have been thinking that the current situation provides some interesting insights regarding behavior change in the midst of a crisis.  COVID-19 is a crisis now, with dire implications and it is still challenging to get people to change behaviors.  Climate change is an emergency with a different timeline, but still with dire implications so maybe we can draw conclusions from the way people are responding to different behavior change messages"

    Ken Shultes, Associate VP for Sustainability & Facilities Planning

  • 30 Mar 2020 2:59 PM | Abbey Castor

    “Sustainability is…the foremost challenge of the CoVid public health emergency we are currently facing,” says Paul Shrivastava, Chief Sustainability Officer and Director of Penn State’s Sustainability Institute. In a recent communication with PERC, he continued, “CoVid and other viruses originate from unsustainable human food systems and land use practices. Viral vectors are accentuated by climate change. So CoVid is very much a sustainability issue. In the current hot phase of the Covid crisis the focus is on health and wellbeing (SDG Goal #3), also close behind is financial sustainability (SDG Goals # 8, 9, 10). After this hot phase we will continue to address CoVid effects on reducing inequalities (SDG Goal #10) creating livable Cities (SDG Goal # 11), sustainable production and consumption (SDG Goal #12).”


    An insight we thought worth sharing. We welcome your thoughts and comments and hope you all are staying well and safe in these challenging times.

  • 30 Mar 2020 12:54 PM | Abbey Castor

    West Chester University had been hosting Sustainability Research and Practice Seminars every Wednesday for students, faculty, and members of the community. However, as we all adapt to life with COVID-19, they decided to move the seminar to a webinar!

    The presentations will still take place every Wednesday at noon through April 22, 2020. HERE:

    On March 18, Professor Kathleen Riley of WCU’s Literacy Department and Professor Elizabeth Soslau, University of Delaware, kicked off the new format with Preparing Youth for (Climate) Action: Philadelphia Teachers Facilitating Student-Led Social Change in Elementary and Middle School Classrooms (a recording of their fascinating talk will soon be available, as are previous presentations from this semester, on the Office of Sustainability’s Digital Commons Sustainability Research and Creative Activities site).

    Check our Twitter at pagreencolleges for updates

     Here is the link again: Zoom link (

  • 26 Mar 2020 12:57 PM | Abbey Castor

    On April 7, 2020, colleges in every state in the US will engage in a new set of power dialogs. Solve Climate by 2030, organized through the Bard Center for Environmental Policy, will host a nationally coordinated on-line event with hundreds of participating schools in every state. College and University partners across the US are coordinating this convening of hundreds of conversations focused on the  potential to solve the energy side of climate change by 2030. 

    The event features 52 simultaneous, University hosted webinars, one in every state, and in DC and Puerto Rico. That evening, we will find out what are three, ambitious but feasible actions that need doing in Texas and Idaho, Missouri and New Jersey, Florida and Minnesota, if we really aim to solve climate change by 2030. Start times vary in the evening by state. The two-hour event begins with the university-hosted, one-hour state-level webinars in each state, followed by 45 minutes of community dialogs.

    The Pennsylvania event will be hosted through PERC Member school Penn State. The Pennsylania webinar will focus on strategies that Pennsylvania can adopt to address climate change in the next ten years. Panelists include:

    Some of the speakers at the event will be 

    Jacqui Bonomo, the Executive Director, PennFuture

    Joylette Portlock, Executive Director, Sustainable Pittsburgh

    Hannah Smith-Brubaker, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture 

    Grant Ervin, Chief Resiliency Officer, City of Pittsburgh

    Click here to read more

    The timing and scheduling of this event is up to each individual campus and community, based on their needs and whether they want to coordinate with the national Solve Climate event.. If you would like to stay informed about the event register with the link here!

    On April 7th, you can view the webinar HERE:

    Link to Join:

  • 26 Mar 2020 12:47 PM | Abbey Castor

    The Sustainable Development Goals are about more than just climate change. In the Public Health and Sustainability Webinar members from Penn State’s Sustainability Institute and public health officials from all across the state of Pennsylvania came together to discuss the synergy between the goals and public health.

    The SDG’s are a group of attainable goals, set by nations all around the world, to achieve by the year 2030. The idea is to advance global progress and fix climate change. There are 17 goals that address global issues surrounding clean water and sanitation for all, the ending of extreme poverty, the education of women, and things like clean energy, good health, peace and justice. 

    Goal 17 for the SDG’s is Partnership for the Goals, which is exactly why this collaboration is crucial to creating change. The need for a dialogue has never been more urgent. Pennsylvania is ranked 30th out of all 50 states in the U.S for achieving the goals. 

    This webinar provided an excellent overview of the relationship between human activity and the natural world, specifically honing in on the public health aspect. When comparing the social and economic factors of society with the earth’s system trends there are direct correlations between what people are doing and the impacts on the earth. As this trend line continues to go up, we see failures within the public health sector for humanity. Public health is all about the education and empowerment of communities to cure and prevent disease. 

    The interconnected web in the public health sector ranges from biologists, to elected officials, and lab testing centers, mental health facilities, hospitals, schools, etc… the goal is to have healthy people. But as we see things like increased warm climates, with less winter seasons, we also see things like lyme disease increasing. Without a winter, tick populations can survive longer and grow and infect more people.  When talking about ground level ozones and allergens, people that are dealing with building community parks can work to fight climate change, and promote cleaner air for people to breathe without even realizing it. Planting trees and building those parks can mitigate the urban heat island effect up to 9 degrees which is a significant impact for communities. The intersection between public health and the sustainable development goals addresses the increased possibility of infectious diseases, but enables programs like some in Philadelphia that look at the correlation between the health of the environment and maternal mortality rates. 

    The goal is to attain healthy and thriving human life and eliminate the disparity between certain groups of people. The goal is to promote social, physical, and economic environments that get communities to reach their full potential and well-being. Pennsylvania is a diverse place and coming together for this webinar is the start in creating a healthier state to be.

    If you would like to view a recording of the webinar view this link here

    A very big thank you to all of our speakers!!!

    Josh Hooper Director of PERC

    Peter Boger Assistant Director for Community Engagement, Penn State Sustainability Institute

    Peter Buck President-elect of PERC and academic programs manager, Penn State Sustainability Institute

    Lisa Davis Director of the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health

    Rebecca Kishbaugh Director of Division Cancer Prevention and Control for the Pennsylvania Department of Health

    Ruth McDermott-Levy Director for Center for Global and Public Health at Villanova University 

  • 03 Mar 2020 12:18 PM | Abbey Castor

    Monday, March 16 @ 5 p.m.

    Perkins Center, Multi Purpose Room

    For an inside look into the rise of the Global Youth Climate Movement. Youth Unstoppable follows the evolution of a diverse network of youth rising up to share the world they live in. It captures the vibrant untold story of the Global Youth Climate Movement and how decisions made today will shape the world that they live in.

    This Event features Shana Rose who is Reading for 100’s Berks County Outreach Coordinator and will share her experience as a delegate at the two recent United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) or COP23 & COP25 in Bonn, Germany and Madrid, Spain.

    They ask that attendees bring their own cup for refreshments to cut down on waste! 

    For more information contact Masha Kazempour at 610-296-6312


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