Success. Sustainable Success.
Since 1985 Penn has developed over 50 projects and has incorporated advanced environmental strategies in each to ensure that the projects were built with the highest regards for human health and the natural environment.
Penn has been an early adopter of many advanced (as well as simple) environmental methods and techniques and has incorporated these methods and techniques into its work since the company was founded:
It may sound simple, but if you incorporate toxic materials into your project, then you will have a toxic project. Formaldehyde, solvents, asbestos, lead, high-voc glues & paints, out-gassing plastics and other toxic materials have historically been part of the palate of materials used in building construction. Penn uses non-toxic materials in its projects, such as cotton insulation, low (and no) voc paints, lead-free solder, natural jute floor padding, natural linoleum (made with linseed oil and sawdust), wood and bamboo flooring etc. Using safe, natural materials promotes the health and safety of Penn’s personnel and the people who visit, work-in and occupy Penn’s projects.
Every day brings an opportunity for sunlight to enter buildings to light workspaces, schools, retail stores, factories and other buildings. So why are so many of these buildings devoid of natural light? Penn incorporates various daylighting techniques to bring natural light into the built environment.
One of the highest and best forms of recycling. Restoring and, if necessary, re-purposing existing buildings ensures that the materials from which they are made are not sent to a landfill. It also simultaneously reduces the demands on the environment for replacement materials. Many older structures were built with superb materials and craftsmanship and often are architecturally significant. Restoring these buildings is sound ecologically and contributes to a built-environment that is both interesting and unique. Penn re-uses salvaged architectural elements in these projects creating an opportunity for “re-use” within “re-use”. Timeless, classic designs contribute to the longevity of a building and enhance the chances that it will be used well into the future.
Sourcing materials and personnel locally permits Penn to support local communities, traditional crafts and local industry. Local crafts and materials are particularly well-suited to historic restoration, but are applicable to any project. Sourcing locally saves energy, reduces waste and supports the very communities within which our projects are located. Over time Penn has supported traditional crafts and material providers in fields such as: stone masonry, plastering, woodworking, (including locally-made furniture and cabinetry), slate roofing, hardwood flooring, etc. We have sourced wood from local forests, slate and stone from nearby quarries, bricks and tile from nearby brick and tile works, etc.
Penn incorporates renewable, recycled and recyclable materials into its projects and sources materials with this in mind. Re-cycled cotton insulation, bamboo and wood flooring, structural wood products and copper plumbing are examples of materials that we utilize in place of non-recyclable substitutes. Honest, real materials are the building blocks for durable, long-lasting projects that can serve our current and future needs.
Remarkably, of all the water on Earth, only three percent isn’t salty. Subtract out the water trapped in snow and ice and we have less than one percent of the world’s water available for essential human needs. Fortunately, water is an infinitely renewable resource. Provided that we are good stewards of our water resources, we will never run out of fresh water.
Penn considers water issues in every aspect of its projects from conception to operations. Below are some of the actions that we take to protect and conserve our water resources.
Penn designs its projects to promote the re-charge of underground aquifers. Our approach helps to ensure that underground water resources are not depleted and that downstream properties are not flooded. The first goal is to reduce impervious areas and maximize natural surfaces on the property. This allows rainwater to naturally filter through and into the earth. This is a case where less (impervious surface) equals more (water infiltration). Beyond that, Penn has used many different system designs to achieve aquifer recharge including: surface infiltration basins, underground re-charge structures and porous paving which allows for the infiltration of rainfall directly through paved surfaces.
In all climates there are plant species that have adapted to local conditions. By selecting native species, drought tolerant plants and other hardy plants and trees, Penn plans landscapes that can succeed without the need for artificial irrigation. The right plant selection is combined with: grading designs that enhances the flow of natural water to the landscape environment; aquifer recharge methods: and natural materials that retain water to minimize the need for artificial irrigation.
Water makes up about 60% of the human body. Therefore the water that we drink needs to be safe and pure as it is one of the foundations for our lives. Modern water treatment plants have essentially eradicated water-borne diseases. However, pure healthy water needs to be more than disease-free. Penn takes many actions to protect our water supply. It is Penn’s policy to not use pesticides or herbicides in its projects. Pesticides and herbicides used at the surface will enter the aquifer under the site with uncertain consequences. Likewise, Penn uses copper water supply systems instead of plastic water supply pipes because Penn believes that copper can have a positive health impact on water, whereas plastic’s effects are, at best, unproven. In the rare locations where bottled drinking water is required, Penn sources water that is bottled in glass.
It takes lots of energy and chemical inputs to clean, treat and move water. That’s why even though water is free, most of us receive a water bill every month. In order to reduce this energy and chemical use, Penn employs numerous strategies to reduce water consumption. In addition to xeriscaping and using low water consumption fixtures, Penn utilizes point-of-use (tankless) water heaters to create hot water instantly and at the point of use so that water doesn’t have to travel from a remote water heater. This also saves energy by eliminating the need to maintain a reservoir of hot water.