Sustainability Gets Creative at UPenn

Members of PennSustains' planning committee (from left): Kate Miller, Kim Cohen, Shivali Khetan, Tyler Fini, Bianca Datta, Julia Cohen, Nicole Woon and Judy ZengPennSustains, a new sustainability competition at the University of Pennsylvania, will launch this fall, with the goal of inspiring and supporting creative projects to make UPenn, and the city of Philadelphia, a more sustainable place to live.

"PennSustains is a pivotal event in that it is the first sustainability solution-focused competition of its kind here at Penn. We are excited to celebrate "the joy of building things" and the innovations that students can dream up to improve life at Penn and in Philadelphia." says Nicole Woon, member of the planning committee.

Teams of four Penn students each can put their engineering skills and creativity to the test to compete for a cash prize to kick start funding to make their winning ideas a reality. Competitors have until September 28th to engineer a sustainability project and accompanying business plan. There are no limitations to what kind of project it can be, but it must have a triple bottom line - people, the planet, and profit. The final judgement will be October 19th in the Wu and Chen Auditorium on Penn Campus with a grand prize of three thousand dollars.

The projects themselves can range from phone apps to more environmentally friendly laundry detergent. Sponsors already have a page on the event website listing their suggestions for projects, but the possibilities are wide open, making this a competition of wildcards where anything can happen.

Learn more about the competition at


Sarah E. Adams is an editorial intern at Grid and can also be found working for Bennett Compost at a farmer’s market near you.