Power Down - Wharton Operations

January 29, 2016

From Huntsman Hall to Joe’s Café, the staff in Wharton Operations works hard to make sure everything from scheduling to lighting in these buildings functions without a hitch. We sat down with two people from Wharton Operations: David Mazzocco, Associate Director of Sustainability and Projects, and Robert Whitehouse, Senior Manager Engineering Services. Want to know more about the behind-the-scenes sustainability at Wharton? Read below!


Green Campus Partnership: What is Wharton Operations responsible for?

Bob Whitehouse: Wharton Operations is responsible for all Wharton infrastructure on the facilities side. So that’s Colonial Penn Center, Steinberg Hall-Dietrich Hall, Lauder-Fischer Hall, Vance Hall, and Jon M. Huntsman Hall.


GCP: What are some of the actions Wharton Operations is taking when it comes to energy conservation?

David Mazzocco: So we have done initiatives like shutting down the escalators in Huntsman Hall during the night and other off-cycle times (winter break, summer). We’ve added lighting controls in many buildings. We also have the guards that tour the buildings shut off lights in unoccupied rooms. Exterior accent lighting is on timers. We’ve done a lot of other lighting upgrades, too, either to increase efficiency or switching to LEDs. Classroom technology and the general computers shut down after a certain hour. And we have a specialized cooling system for the data center in Vance Hall that minimizes energy use. But the big issue comes with the HVAC system. We’re working in Huntsman and in Vance Hall to make the HVAC more efficient.

Bob: And we do shut off some air handlers over night, but we can’t do that in Huntsman, since between the GSRs and PhDs, people are pretty much here 24/7. That’s the big challenge with Huntsman Hall; it’s one of the few buildings at the university that’s open 24 hours.


GCP: How about sustainability initiatives more generally?

David: From a waste perspective, our office composts and we’ve worked with all our food vendors to utilize composting back-of-house. We have designated cans throughout our facilities for waste and recycling. Wharton Computing has its own organized quarterly electronic recycling program. We’re also testing new de-icing material for the winter, bio-based and a lot less caustic to use instead of salt. It’s better for the environment and for the buildings. We are also in the process of replacing and/or adding bottle filling stations at existing water fountain locations in all Wharton buildings. The hope is to obviously cut down on waste by minimizing the use of ‘disposable’ bottled water by providing a convenient way to refill re-usable bottles.

Bob: We have five green roofs: one in Koo Plaza (second floor of Huntsman Hall) and four in Steinberg-Dietrich Hall. And all the projects that Wharton completes have a LEED aspect to it with the goal of LEED Silver.

David: And from an academic perspective, it’s worth highlighting Wharton’s IGEL [the Institute for Global Environmental Leadership] and what they do both within the school and internationally. IGEL has a great reputation for furthering the discussion of sustainability in academics and the business community.


GCP: What can the Penn community do better to conserve energy?

David: Shut-off lights when leaving a room, shut-off computers, TVs, and so on. And get involved. Having an understanding of your actions and becoming good environmental stewards for the greater good plays a huge part in the success of the University’s Climate Action Plan.

Bob: Know your waste flow. What you often have is that people aren’t sure about which bin to use, and so they contaminate the recycling. That’s really just knowledge and it takes time and cognition to recognize where it goes, and sometimes the pace is just too fast and people don’t stop.


GCP: On February 24th, we are challenging the Penn community to take part in our single-day and campus-wide energy-reduction campaign. Can you tell us what Wharton Operations has planned to conserve energy?

Bob: We’re discussing a lot of ideas, but you’ll have to wait until the 24th to see what we’re doing!


GCP: Anything else we should know?

Bob: We’re always open to suggestions and recommendations, especially problems you may notice.

David: You can contact me at to give us any ideas. And you can use to report problems.


Please visit for more information about Wharton Operations. Currently Wharton has LEED certifications in the following buildings: Joe’s Café (Commercial Interiors Gold Certification), Steinberg-Dietrich Tower Addition (New Construction Gold Certification), the Dean’s Suite renovation in Steinberg-Dietrich (Commercial Interiors Silver Certification, pending), Vance Hall first and second floor renovations (Commercial Interiors Silver Certification), and our Wharton facility out in San Francisco (Commercial Interiors Gold Certification).

Image Copyright: Wharton Instagram

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