Urban Studies Senior Seminar Papers

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Suggested Citation:
Gollotti, Brandon. "Energy Use in Penn's Student Housing and Techniques to Achieve Energy Reduction." University of Pennsylvania, Urban Studies Program. 2009.


Institutions of higher education have a profound role in the battle against climate change. From making large purchases to educating thousands of people in a localized setting, universities and colleges can truly make a difference. While instituting large-scale changes are difficult and can take years, small initiatives are necessary to achieve to the overarching goal of creating a sustainable university. The purpose of this thesis is to look at electricity consumption in student housing and specific techniques to achieve energy reduction at this level of the university. The paper seeks to advise the University of Pennsylvania’s Facilities and Real Estate Services and the Sustainability Team at Penn on potential techniques to reduce energy in student housing on campus.

Using data collected from an online survey and energy audits, the thesis has numerous findings. First, electricity consumption, as measured by individual energy audits, is dominated by the refrigerator making up over a majority of total electricity consumed. Wasted electricity is minimal making up only 1% of total electricity. Additionally, survey respondents indicated that students were willing to support sustainable initiatives on campus. Lastly, according to survey results, the initiatives that could be most effective in lowering electricity use require the individual metering of rooms to track consumption. Several of the suggested techniques to lower energy consumption include: 1) encourage the use of or provide energy efficient refrigerators, 2) highlight preexisting university initiatives, 3) start educational campaigns for students on energy conservation, 4) facilitate energy conservation through subsidies, and 5) improve the design of the rooms to ensure energy conservation. By implementing some or all of these techniques, it is likely there will be a reduction of electricity in student housing.


Urban Studies; University of Pennsylvania; energy use; student housing



Date Posted: 28 July 2010