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In 2013, the University of Pennsylvania launched a new sustainability certification for on-campus residents called “Green Living.” The program offers students the opportunity to receive a certification and earn rewards for making choices that reduce their environmental footprint and contribute to Penn’s Climate Action Plan goals. In order to become certified, students are asked to fill out an online survey about their habits, which gives them a gold, silver, or bronze score based on their responses. The point values assigned to each of the habits in the survey vary, similar to USGBC’s LEED certification for buildings. The certification includes actions related to waste, energy, water, transportation, purchasing, and community involvement.

In addition to giving certified students a sticker acknowledging their accomplishment, the program also includes prize incentives. Prizes for becoming certified depend on the level of certification and include coupons from local businesses and a reusable ceramic mug. Several local restaurants engaged in purchasing and operational sustainability initiatives have partnered with the university to provide coupons to certified students.

150 students were certified in the program’s first year, and in the second year, the number of certified students rose to 260, an increase of 73%. The growth of the program can be attributed to improvements to the program’s branding and marketing efforts and prize distribution methods.

Analysis of the program over the past year and a half has revealed many successes and possible improvements. This presentation will focus on the Green Living program’s development, implementation, logistics, results, and lessons learned. This presentation will be informative for other schools interested in resident engagement or creating a similar program on their campus.

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