The Office of Physical Plant put on a good public forum last night in the HUB Auditorium. OPP Director Rob Cooper and Steam Services Supervisor Paul Moser presented a lot of excellent information about energy consumption and production on campus, and audience members asked a lot of excellent questions.
The complete set of PowerPoint slides from the presentation, along with the questions and answers, will be posted sometime next week at the Sustainability Institute website.
I’m working on a more thorough update about the contents of the forum, but in the meantime, wanted to highlight one development.
During a meeting on September 4 with SI Director Denice Wardrop, I learned of the existence of a Master Strategic Energy Plan for the university. The OPP apparently began the strategic planning process in 2005 with assistance from Rocky Mountain Institute consultants; the plan was updated in 2007 and completed in 2011.
A tantalizing photograph of the binder containing the report was included in the PowerPoint presentation last night.
When I met with Steve Maruszewski, Assistant Vice-President for Physical Plant, on September 5, he indicated that OPP administrators are preparing to launch a new energy plan update process that may include a faculty advisory council comprised of energy researchers working at Penn State.
Although Denice believed (as of September 4) that the 2011 strategic energy plan was posted online for public review, she later learned that it’s not. The topic came up again last night, when an audience member asked whether the strategic plan would be made available online.
Rob Cooper responded to the question, saying that the plan is regarded by OPP staff as an internal working document, is “not a glossy product” and that it also contains confidential, proprietary information: for example, data from a biofuels company provided during internal discussions about biofuels feasibility.
Rob added that, if members of the audience are interested in reviewing the strategic energy plan, they’re welcome to make an appointment (call him at 863-5362 to schedule) so that OPP staff can be on hand during the review to “dialogue” about the contents.
This seems strange for a lot of reasons, including the fact that many other Penn State departments prepare and publish their strategic plans online. See, for example:
- PSU College of Agriculture Strategic Plan
- PSU Smeal College of Business Strategic Plan
- PSU College of Liberal Arts Strategic Plan
Similarly, other universities post their strategic energy plans online. See, for example:
- UC Berkeley Strategic Energy Plan
- Michigan State University Energy Transition Plan
- Ohio State University Climate Action Plan
- Harvard University Greenhouse Gas Emissions Task Force Report
The confidential, propriety information from businesses consulted during the Penn State energy planning planning process can be redacted, while providing the public with unsupervised access to non-propriety data about the university’s physical plant growth projections, energy consumption projections, and energy production projections.
The document doesn’t need to be polished and camera-ready; we’re just interested in finding out what assumptions formed the basis of the current energy plan and what data was considered in creating the current plan, as we prepare to engage more fully in the ongoing process of refining and improving the plan to reach toward the ambitious shared goal of cutting community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 80% from 1990 levels by 2050.