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The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 67.88
Liaison Mary Easterling
Submission Date Sept. 14, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Pennsylvania State University
EN-5: Outreach Campaign

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Mary Easterling
Assoc Director, Analysis & Assessment
Sustainability Institute
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Has the institution held at least one sustainability-related outreach campaign during the previous three years that was directed at students and yielded measurable, positive results in advancing sustainability? :

Has the institution held at least one sustainability-related outreach campaign during the previous three years that was directed at employees and yielded measurable, positive results in advancing sustainability?:

Name of the campaign:
Residence Hall Energy Challenge, Residence Hall Recycling Challenge

A brief description of the campaign, including how students and/or employees were engaged:

Student Energy Challenge
During the fall semester, students living within 5 residence halls on the Penn State University Park Campus participate in an annual week-long energy challenge. For 7 days, the students are encouraged to take action to reduce their building's electrical energy usage by following actions that reduce individual energy use. Students are given daily feedback on their building's kilowatt hour usage per student and per building.

Also in Spring 2014, 2015, and 2016 students in 14 East Halls residence buildings competed against each other and over 100 other universities in the Campus Conservation Nationals energy reduction challenge during three weeks in March and April. The challenge is led by Eco-Reps and their captains (students recruited from their halls).

Student Recycling Challenge
During Fall 2015 and 2016, students living within each residential area participated in the Recycling Challenge. Students in each participating residential area (East, North, South, Pollock, West) compete to see which area can recycle the most. Waste audits are done in the various halls and the area with the least amount of recyclables in the trash at the end of 7 days wins the challenge. A trophy is displayed in the common area.

Students learn about both campaigns from emails sent by their Resident Assistants. The campaigns are also advertised in the monthly Residence Hall Newsletter "Stall Stories" posted in restroom stalls.

A brief description of the measured positive impact(s) of the campaign:

During the energy challenge, daily kilowatt hours are provided for each residence hall . These numbers are painted on the windows of each commons area: East, Pollock, North, West, South.
The energy challenge week has resulted in significant decreases in electrical energy use during the week. All residence halls have building metering systems to track daily, weekly, or monthly electricity usage per building.
During the Spring 2014 and 2015 Campus Conservation Nationals energy challenge, an online Lucid building dashboard shows 14 Penn State residence halls participating, with energy savings that ranged from a 7.4% reduction to a 1.5% increase, and an average reduction of 3.2%.

A waste audit determines the winning residential area of the recycling challenge. Recyclable items in the trash bins are taken and weighed daily for a week.

The website URL where information about the campaign is available:
Name of the campaign (2nd campaign):
20/20 Energy Challenge for Staff

A brief description of the campaign, including how students and/or employees were engaged (2nd campaign):

This two-week challenge is designed to engage faculty and staff in learning new energy conservation practices such as turning off lights, appliances and electronics. These small behavior changes, when performed collectively, can decrease Penn State’s environmental impact. Participating reduces energy waste, helping Penn State achieve its dual goals of a 20% reduction in overall energy usage over the next 10 years and a 35% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (over 2005 levels) by 2020.

A brief description of the measured positive impact(s) of the campaign (2nd campaign):

In 2014, we had 144 Green Team members engaging over 900 non-team members to participate and complete the challenge. Because we cannot measure energy consumption at the sub-building level, we measured the impact via the number of people who took six actions every day for two weeks. These actions included: turning off lights, computers, appliances and electronics when not in use; putting printers to sleep; taking the stairs; and unplugging coffee makers and other appliances over the weekends. We offered four additional actions that participants could take over the weekends. Prizes were awarded for those who completed all actions for two weeks.

In 2015 this challenge was replaced with a virtual brown bag webinar series.

The website URL where information about the campaign is available (2nd campaign):
A brief description of other sustainability-related outreach campaigns, including measured positive impacts:

Annually, Penn State conducts a test of University Park’s ability to reduce its demand on the regional electrical grid. The test is conducted between 4 and 5 pm on a non-holiday weekday in June. In 2017 demand was reduced by 40 percent. Penn State’s Office of Physical Plant works remotely to power down as many pumps, fans, compressors and lights as possible, while University employees and students are encouraged to shut off their lights and office equipment. The Emergency DR (Demand Response) program demonstrates the University’s capability to reduce its demand on the grid during a regional power emergency.

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:

Additional documentation to support the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.