ESMP-in-Exile Draft Started – Contributing Editors Welcome

I’ve set up a GoogleDoc to create a community-drafted Penn State Energy System Master Plan. Here’s the initial document, as a PDF: 7.8.14 PSU ESMP-in-Exile Draft

Please email me if you’d like access for editing – I’ll send the GoogleDoc invitation to your email address.




  1. Genesis & Possible Approaches (Situational Analysis)
  2. Starting Assumptions & Drafting Process
  3. Key Starting Facts (Data Analysis)

1. Genesis & Possible Approaches

Investigative reporting since March 2013 has clarified a few aspects of the historical and current strategic energy planning situation:

  • The PSU Office of Physical Plant is not ready to share the internally-developed University Park energy strategy with the general public
  • The PSU Records Management Advisory Committee is not ready to override the OPP confidentiality classification.
  • President Barron is not ready to reverse the Records Management Advisory Committee’s decision to uphold the OPP confidentiality determinations.
  • The PSU Office of Risk Management at PSU doesn’t consider community food security, energy security and climate change mitigation and adaptation to be relevant institutional risk factors.
  • The PSU Board of Trustees doesn’t regard energy security and food security as among their fiduciary duties regarding protection of institutional assets.
  • Prominent PSU researchers including Michael Mann and Richard Alley are not ready to take public positions on Penn State’s University Park energy system as it relates to regional and global energy security and climate change.

What then? In terms of strategic community energy planning, what’s within the control of community members as such?

We can take up the information that has been pried out of the University and begin to build a public plan for the University’s future energy consumption and production: an Energy System Master Plan-in-Exile.

2. Starting Assumptions & Drafting Process

“…The RCP2.6 Scenario assumes that anthropogenic carbon emissions will still be at 84% of 2010 levels in 2030. In comparison, my expectation (Figure 3, below) is that fossil fuel use (and thus anthropogenic carbon emissions) will be at a little less than 40% of 2010 levels in 2030…

One of the big issues is that energy supplies seem to be leaving us, indirectly through economic changes that we have little control over. The IPCC report is written from the opposite viewpoint:  we humans are in charge and need to decide to leave energy supplies. The view is that the economy, despite our energy problems, will return to robust growth. With this robust growth, our big problem will be climate change because of the huge amount of carbon emissions coming from fossil fuel burning.

Unfortunately, the real situation is that the laws of physics, rather than humans, are in charge…” (Tverberg, Oil Limits and Climate Change: How They Fit Together)

For the purposes of the ESMP-in-Exile, this plan assumes, that, from a 2010 baseline, our community needs to prepare for:

  • 25% decline in regional access to affordable fossil fuels by 2025
  • 50% decline in regional access to affordable fossil fuels by 2035
  • related shifts in food access, population, employment, built environment etc.

The ESMP-in-Exile will include projections of declining enrollment and campus contraction, along with a list of academic programs to be maintained, expanded, discontinued or merged, and buildings to be vacated over the next one to two decades to reduce system load as the student population shrinks with the collapse of debt-financing for higher education and new energy resource development.

This first draft sets a 3% annual enrollment contraction target, to reduce student population from the current 46,000 to 32,000 by 2025 and 23,000 by 2035. First draft proposes reducing floor space in use to 11 million square feet by 2025 and 8 million square feet by 2035, along with decommissioning the summer air conditioning infrastructure and replacing inoperable windows with well-insulated but operable windows with screens.

First draft proposes maintaining or expanding academic programs in agriculture, engineering, nursing and basic primary and secondary education should (training for farmers, builders, nurses and teachers), and discontinuing most other programs.

The ESMP-in-Exile will also assess local energy resources (biofuels), renewable energy potential, and the carbon footprint of the University Park campus food supply (currently only 1-2% sourced in Pennsylvania according to PSU buyer John Mondock) and provide a specific plan to cut the food carbon budget by 25% by 2025 and by 50% by 2035

Our original intention was to have the ESMP-in-Exile replicate the document structure of the existing PSU ESMP (most recently updated by Wiley & Wilson in 2008, in terms of sections, depth of data, specificity of building analyses, plans and budgets, and overall length.

Lacking public access to the existing plans, we have to guess at these parameters in our community-drafted energy plan.

If you’re interested in working on the ESMP-in-Exile, let me know and I’ll send an invite to edit the GoogleDoc to your email address. Please add your contributions without deleting other contributions and mark any edits with your name. We may have multiple versions of several sections for awhile, which is fine. Once we get a little deeper into the plan, we can figure out a voting system or negotiation process to select final proposals.

3. Key Starting Facts

Campus Fossil Fuel Consumption Data – 1997 to 2012:

 PSU Fuel Consumption 1998-2012

Source: April 25, 2013 Email by Shelley McKeague, PSU
 Environmental Compliance Specialist

As of the September 2013 OPP presentations, OPP reported campus electricity consumption was 285,000,000 kilowatt hours for 20,000,000 square feet. (Source: OPP slide)

Campus Master Plans

We have a chronology of all the campus master plans done since 1907…

Campus Utility Master Plans

We have a rough chronology of the electrification of campus from 1923 (starting with two 300-kilowatt steam generators serving the entire campus at that time) through 1983…

We don’t have the first comprehensive University Park Campus Utility Master Plan, drafted by consultants at Wiley & Wilson, and approved by the Board of Trustees on September 18, 1987. Nor do we have the updates, completed in 1994 and again in 2008. 

The 1994 proposal and final draft might become public as of Jan. 1, 2015, when the 20-year confidentiality period ends. But maybe not. The 1987 final report is outside the 20-year confidentiality period, and it’s not available.

We do have access to the December 3, 1985 Wiley & Wilson proposal for a Utilities Master Plan by W.M. Greenwood to Charles E. Brueggebors, Director of Planning Design at the Office of Physical Plant, which contains information about the consultants’ proposal to prepare a plan covering university energy system needs from 1985 to 2000.

Tab 1 of the 1985 proposal notes that enrollment was then at 32,000 students, gross floor area was at 12 million square feet, with 1 million more planned. We can also look at bid proposals, executive summaries, and narratives with slide shows to the Trustees about the 1987 Utilities Master Plan contents.

Campus Energy Conservation Analysis

In 1983, a committee developed extensive building-by-building energy conservation analysis document. The report is open to public review…

History of Administrative Interference with OPP Planning

A February 2, 1988 report by Lloyd Niemann describes how difficult the administration has historically made it for OPP to plan and budget for utility system maintenance and upgrades, in particular by repeatedly blowing past seemingly hard caps on enrollment (set at 18,000 in the mid-1950s, 25,000 in 1970, 32,000 in 1988 – at which point it was actually 36,000) and therefore the related infrastructure to support larger enrollment.  For example, the loop bus system was implemented in 1973 specifically because the campus had grown too large for students to walk or bike to all their classes on time, and because so many lived off campus. Campus needs to shrink back to pre-1973 dimensions. 

Enrollment History & Projections

In February 2014, Penn State officials gave enrollment projections to Borough Council as part of a neighborhood planning discussion, anticipating 1% enrollment growth per year for the next 10-20 years.

The first part of the following line graph and table cover historic enrollment growth by decade from 1860 to 2010, and enrollment projections from 2015 through 2035 under a 1% annual growth scenario (blue); a 2% annual contraction scenario (red) and a 3% annual contraction scenario (green). [Colonel Edwin L. Drake drilled the first commercially successful oil well on August 27, 1859, in  Titusville PA.(Wikipedia)]

PSU Enrollment 2014-2035



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