Conservation Measures

Wharton works to reduce energy consumption while maintaining service and safety.


  • Overnight Escalator Shut-Downs
    Huntsman Hall is a 24-hour building with students using study rooms, lounges and public space at all hours of the day and night. To save energy, we turn off the building’s 6 escalators overnight during the summer and off completely for the duration of winter break.
  • Elevator Sleep Mode
    When modern elevators are not in use, internal lighting, signalization and ventilation are still consuming energy. In Huntsman, Vance and Steinberg-Dietrich Halls, we’ve programmed all elevators to go into sleep mode (shut down) when not called to minimize energy consumption.


  • Wharton Computing Changes Monitor Sleep Mode Settings
    Huntsman Hall has over 500 public computers and about 570 monitors, since each group study room houses two monitors. In 2009, Wharton Computing and Information Technology (WCIT) changed the sleep mode on the monitors to automatically power down all monitors in Huntsman after 1 hour of inactivity. This has saved over $8,000/year and over 93,000 kWh annually.
  • Data Center – Cooling and Optimization
    The  Vance Hall data center was built using in-row cooling, which focuses cooling energy directly towards the systems that require it rather than relying on larger chillers to reduce the ambient temperature. Wharton was an early adopter of server virtualization technology, which essentially consolidates computing capacity and allows for dynamic management of the system, rather than relying on a larger number of servers with a lower utilization rate. This effectively reduces energy consumption by more fully utilizing existing processor and memory cycles.
  • Classroom Technology Timers
    Since classrooms are not used 24 hours a day, all technology equipment shuts down at a set time each night in all Wharton buildings. For many classrooms, this is essential for energy conservation since they are equipped with Wharton’s high-tech podiums, each of which contain a computer and monitor and controls that adjust the height of the podium itself, lighting levels in the room, the window shades, projection screens, and video cameras for recording lectures.


  • Motion Sensors in Group Study Rooms
    In Huntsman, all group study rooms are outfitted with motion sensors. While we still encourage students to manually turn off the lights when they leave the room, these sensors ensure that lights are not left on when unneeded between reservations.
  • Huntsman Hall Tiered Classrooms Reduced Lighting
    Huntsman Hall uses a Lutron central lighting control system for about 53% of the lights in the building. Last year, we reduced the default lighting setting in all tiered classrooms by 25%. Light levels can still be adjusted manually in each room if necessary. We estimate this reduction saves a few thousand dollars annually and did not result in any complaints or concerns from users.
  • LED Retrofits
    Recently, we replaced over 300 incandescent and halogen lamps in Huntsman Hall with PAR90 LED lamps. We expect the annual energy savings to add up to over $5,000 and to reap significant savings on labor considering the dramatically longer life of the LED bulbs.
  • Turning Off Lights
    Security guards tour each building by floor and turn off all unoccupied space lighting between 7:00pm and 7:00am year-round.
  • Peak Load Energy Management – Lighting
    During high peak load time frames, typically June through August when electricity demand for cooling puts strain on the electric grid, all Wharton buildings shut down all non-essential lighting. Wharton participates in weekly peak load meetings with Penn’s central facilities team to strategize about energy saving measures during peak load periods.

Heating & Cooling

  • Peak Load Energy Management – HVAC
    As part of Penn’s partnership with grid operator PJM, when the grid is overloaded on peak energy days Penn is asked to reduce consumption. Penn’s Facilities and Real Estate Services division asks each school and center to enter energy conservation mode. On our first “Red Day” of 2011, Wharton was recognized for suggesting extra measures to reduce load. These included additional air handler shutdowns in Vance and Huntsman Halls, limited lighting mode in Steinberg Hall-Dietrich Hall and Vance Hall, and escalator shutdowns in Huntsman. Thanks goes to the energy team at Wharton Operations for their creative approach to demand reduction, with special recognition to Maria O’Callaghan, Bob Whitehouse, Chris Ferraiolo and Michah Mack.
  • Air Handler Shutdowns Have Big Impact
    Air handlers, used for heating, cooling, ventilation, humidity control and more, are one of the largest users of energy for Wharton, making up about 50% of Huntsman’s total electricity usage, plus a significant portion of steam and chilled water use. Since Steinberg-Dietrich and Vance Halls close at night, all air handlers servicing those facilities are cycled off each night. The air handler that services the 8th floor of Huntsman Hall is cycled off each evening, since that floor is primarily used as a conference center. We are currently evaluating whether we can take additional steps with air handler shutdowns while maintaining indoor air quality and comfort.
  • Real-Time HVAC Monitoring
    Wharton is the only school at Penn that monitors its own HVAC equipment each day via a building management system used by Wharton staff. This creates a unique relationship with Penn’s central facilities that allows Wharton to engage on issues of operational efficiency and support the University’s broader sustainability goals.