By Penn State Sustainability Institute

Credit: Penn State. All Rights Reserved.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Sustainability Institute (SI) is proud to announce the recent release of its new interactive data dashboards. The dashboards, created by David Cullmer – Sustainable Operations Analyst at SI, serve as an informational hub to view and understand Penn State’s sustainability progress.

Currently, users can access data at both campus and university-wide levels, spanning seven categories of information: Source Energy Usage, Building-level Energy Use Intensity, Procurement, Transportation, Waste, Water, and Greenhouse Gas Emissions. These dynamic and transparent dashboards will be updated continually as Penn State furthers its progress and gathers more data from its commonwealth campuses.

To ensure that the data is easily understood by users at every level, the dashboards are equipped with links to additional resources, a glossary of terms, and in some cases, the ability to download the raw data.  For example, the Water Dashboard features links that provide context surrounding Penn State’s management of water consumption as well as information on reducing personal water consumption.

“We wanted to showcase a lot of the information that we’ve collected from STARS, our sustainability assessment,” said Cullmer.

STARS, or the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System, run by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, assesses universities in numerous sustainability categories, such as academics, operations, and planning & administration. In 2020, Penn State was awarded a gold rating, reflecting the significant sustainability progress of the university. The dashboard combines the information collected for STARS with other energy consumption, water, and waste data from across the commonwealth campuses. This provides an opportunity to showcase the achievements of Penn State as well as identify future priorities for improvement.

“We want to make the Penn State community aware of our operational footprint. So that means we need to get as many eyes on these dashboards as we can,” said Cullmer.

The data showcased in the dashboards can inform both the public and university decision-makers where our sustainability gains and success are found. For example, the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory highlights data that indicates Penn State has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 42% since 2005, putting the university firmly on track to meet its emission reduction goals.

Conversely, the water dashboard illustrates that each weighted campus user currently consumes 47.5 gallons of water per day, which is the equivalent of a 22-minute shower. This identifies an area for improvement and prompts individuals and administrators to brainstorm how our campus community can reduce its water consumption.

Furthermore, much of the data can be displayed per individual campus (as seen with the water dashboard).  This feature allows for direct comparisons to be drawn which will help identify circumstances where specific campuses may be confronted with unique challenges to their sustainability advancements.

Cullmer worked collaboratively with several units and individuals across Penn State to gather the data for the development of these dashboards.  Thanks go out to Tara Chrzanowski, Shelly Mckeague, and Erik Cagle at OPP, Meg Harpster and Benjamin Tolton at Procurement Services, and Rob DeMayo and Cecily Zhu at Transportation Services.

Both the public and the Penn State community are invited to explore the University’s sustainability progress through the dashboards located here.

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