Tag Archives: students

PennSustains Competition Gives Over $7,000 in Prizes in its Inaugural Year

*By PennSustains

IMG_7963-001PennSustains participants

Philadelphia, PA – PennSustains, the University of Pennsylvania’s first sustainability solution competition, hosted its inaugural event on October 19, 2013. The contest came together in just six months through the efforts of members from the Society of Women Engineers, Engineers without Borders, SEAS Green, and Penn International Sustainability Association. Benefactor Andy Rachleff, an alumnus and chairman of the SEAS Board of Overseers, challenged Penn students to devise something that celebrated “the joy of building things” and the fun of engineering. Wharton’s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (Wharton IGEL) and Conestoga Bank also generously sponsored the competition. Continue reading

Board Game for the Environment


by Yixiu Zheng*

It has been roughly seven months since my first blog post entitled ‘A Portable Environmental Economics Lab,’ which illustrated my idea on developing an educational board game about water pollution trading. This idea came from a concept of environment economics, property rights, and I wanted to develop a game that could help students understand how permit trading works. Continue reading

Professional Sports Teams Win Big on Sustainability

By Sara Drexler*

Panelists and Moderators from Friday’s Leadership in Greening the Sports Industry Conference. Courtesy of NRDC.

Last Friday, the Wharton Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (Wharton IGEL) partnered with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Wharton Sports Business Initiative to host representatives from the professional sports industry to share ideas around “Leadership in Greening the Sports Industry: Raising the Bar for Sustainability.” Allen Hershkowitz from NRDC, a senior scientist who is a thought leader in sustainability efforts in the sports industry, opened the panel with a remarkable statistic: 13% of people follow science, over 63% follow sports. The sports industry has a unique opportunity to influence trends in sustainability through its significant fan base across all types of sports. Additionally, the sports industry’s unique facilities and operations present significant opportunity for long-term cost savings through investments in environmental sustainability. This combination of financial incentives and a large base of loyal fans positions the sports industry for maximum impact on sustainability. Continue reading

PennSustains Competition


The Penn sections of the Society of Women Engineers, Engineers Without Borders, and SEAS Green proposes a competition centered around sustainability. Sustainability is supported by three pillars: people, profit, and the planet. By maintaining these factors and practices that contribute to the quality of environment on a long-term basis, we can support the growth of our community and society as a whole. Continue reading

Boosting Household Investments in Energy Efficiency

by Matej Hodek, Hyojoo Kim, Douglas Miller (C’12) & Antonia Weitzer

sunset window reflection

Despite widespread political support for measures promoting investments in energy efficiency in the residential sector, there remains vast, unmet potential. In order to better understand the reasoning behind meager investments in energy efficiency, a study was conducted by four graduate students at Imperial College London – including one former member of the IGEL team – to investigate the role of financial and non-financial factors affecting household decisions to invest in energy efficiency. Continue reading

The 2013 Wharton IGEL Conference Workshop


Thank you to all the speakers and participants of our 2013 Wharton IGEL Conference Workshop! Please make sure to visit the conference page for pictures and speaker presentations. In addition, a Knowledge@Wharton Special Report on the conference will be released soon, so stay tuned!

In the meantime please check out the following blog posts from Oikos Penn students Ruchi Shah and Leah Khaler, who covered our 2013 IGEL Conference:

Love Coca-Cola not for its taste but for its efforts

by Ruchi Shah
Businesses and brands are increasingly obliged to healthy communities and constituents for their bottom-line growth. On March 21, 2013 at the IGEL Conference-Workshop on The Nexus of Energy, Food and Water, Coca- Cola talked about their sustainability goals and accomplishments. Continue reading →

Local Economy in a Global World

by Leah Khaler
Entrepreneur, activist, and White Dog Café founder, Judy Wicks provided a different perspective at the 2013 IGEL conference at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Continue reading →

Supply Chain Compliance: Addressing the Elephant in the Room

by Derek Newberry*

If events like Apple’s Foxconn debacle teach us anything, it is that even reputable companies with strong supplier codes of conduct can face serious compliance issues where regulatory mechanisms are lacking.  I reflected on this recently when leafing through the summary report from last year’s Wharton Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (Wharton IGEL) Conference “Greening the Supply Chain”.  While I enjoyed reading about the participants’ experiences in sustainability management, I was struck by the short shrift they paid to the all-important question of compliance, despite acknowledging that when it comes to producing tangible results, this really is the “elephant in the room”.

Indeed, ensuring that suppliers adhere to social and environmental criteria and comply with applicable legislation is a thorny problem in settings where the boundaries of corporate responsibility are unclear and enforcement can be costly and onerous.  This is doubly true in production chains characterized by numerous small suppliers and sparse governmental regulations, as is the case in much of the global agricultural sector.  How can we create regulatory mechanisms that enable these sustainability programs to look as good in practice as they do on paper? Continue reading

Water for Energy

by Iliana Sepulveda*

water mage - Copy

Water is essential for human life. It is also very useful for transportation, and agricultural and industrial production. Energy is also an essential ingredient. The relationship between these two resources has become an important topic for national security and for human development worldwide. With current available technology, vast quantities of water are required to produce energy (thermoelectric production as an example). Moreover, due to the geographical mismatch of water supply and demand, a significant amount of energy is needed to transport water where it is consumed, and to ensure that it has the proper quality for its different end uses (human consumption, agricultural uses, industrial production, and ecosystems protection). Continue reading

Survey: Risk of Drought in the United States

by Sharon Muli*

Water covers 70.9% of the Earth’s surface. However, only 3% of the Earth’s water is freshwater, and 68.7% of this freshwater is in glaciers, 30% is ground water, and 0.3% is surface water.  Humans depend on freshwater for a wide variety of uses, and this finite amount of water must be properly managed and allocated.

The chart below shows the uses of freshwater in the U.S. The chart highlights the nexus between water, food, energy –the focus of the upcoming Wharton IGEL Conference on March 20-21, 2013.  The two leading uses of freshwater withdrawals in the U.S. are thermoelectric power and irrigation, and any significant change in water use in these sectors will likely have an impact on the other categories.

US Freshwater Withdrawals

How do droughts affect our country?  As part of a group project for the Wharton course Risk Analysis and Environmental Management, Penn students Sharon Muli, Brent Ginsberg, Zenia Zelechiwsky, and Yaowen Ma are gathering data on how individuals perceive the risk of drought. The focus of this project is to investigate the likelihood of more droughts occurring in the United States in the future and to shed light on their associated impacts.

Please click here to take a survey to help us with our investigation.  The survey takes approximately 2-3 minutes to complete. Thank you for your participation.

*Sharon Muli is enrolled in Penn’s Master of Environmental Studies program with a concentration in Environmental Policy.  She has a background in Biology, is particularly interested in water issues and corporate sustainability, and currently works as a Product Sustainability Co-op at Johnson & Johnson.

A Portable Environmental Economics Lab

by Yixiu Zheng*

I started working on this project last semester, while taking a course in environmental economics.

As a subfield of economics, environmental economics draws on both microeconomics and macroeconomics[i], but it also has unique concepts of its own. I have seen that students who have never studied economics before can find terms like “property rights” and “marginal abatement cost” overwhelming. While scholars of economics often use historical data and experiments, environmental economics is a relatively recent discipline, developed first in 1950s in the U.S.[ii] There aren’t many experiments to build upon; for instance, the water rights trade doesn’t have a large scope of application, except for some arid areas like California and Australia. So how are students supposed to fully understand and apply these concepts in the real world?

I learn best through direct experience. This type of teaching doesn’t seem boring to me. And in fact, it is suggested that people do have a better memory when they put teachings into practice, for example, by trying to cook a meal rather than just reading its recipe. This is why I want to create a game about environmental economics. Continue reading