Sustainability and Energy

This post from student Timothy Godaire on his experience in Unity’s “STARS: Sustainability Assessment” course this semester.

As a student enrolled in the STARS: AASHE’s Sustainability Tracking course, and an intern in the Sustainability office, I am on the frontline of the sustainability efforts and energy tracking taking place on campus.  This work has provided me a unique opportunity to influence the procedure the college uses to track energy usage and implementation of energy conservation measures on campus. My work involved the untangling of years worth of energy data in several different formats, and organizing it all in easy to understand workbooks.  As part of my internship, I have established and institutionalized an Excel workbook to track campus utilities, BTU’s and emissions by building on campus.  I have also created a data file to track these values from year to year.  These two data files allow our sustainability coordinator to monitor energy usage on campus, and to understand the implications of various energy conservation measures.  These efforts began in the fall of 2010, and were critically important to the STARS reporting taking place this semester.

In the STARS class, we were able to choose the credits that we wished to pursue.  I immediately thought of the energy and climate credits because of my experience with energy tracking on campus.  My data management work made the STARS reporting for the energy credits much easier since I had already found, sorted and organized the data.  These efforts have been instrumental in the creation of institutionalized energy tracking.  The STARS class is enforcing the importance of tracking the campus-wide sustainability efforts to staff, faculty and students.

Previously, energy tracking has not taken precedence over other sustainability efforts, and consequently has hindered our ability to assess building performance, building efficiency and occupant behavior and energy use.  This is especially challenging when nearly every electrical meter has multiple buildings feeding into it.  Our recent efforts to understand campus-wide energy use by tracking utility data is a transition to better understand our sustainability efforts and to begin to quantify those efforts.  The STARS reporting is allowing us to evaluate our efforts, and where improvements can be made.  When the time comes where we can quantify the energy use per building, we will be able to implement educational, behavioral change programs.  This is the “real” work of the sustainability office; to provide education to the campus community on how to live, work and act more sustainably and live an ecologically aware life.  The culmination of our work in the office and with STARS is preparing us, personally and as an institution, to address the imminent global environmental and energy issues of the 21st Century.


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