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As the largest private employer in the Philadelphia area, you might think that Penn would be hesitant to divulge how much energy they are using at any given moment, but the University makes it available for anyone to see.

The University provides Penn-specific and even building-specific data on the website for Facilities and Real Estate Services. The data is available on FRES’ website to anybody with a PennKey.

In addition, they display a Campus Energy Usage gadget, which shows the current wholesale price of power in the Philadelphia area.

The University-specific website features a graph which shows the campus’s electrical demand in megawatts for the entire day.

According to the website, the data is updated every five to 15 minutes. The graph includes the same data from last year, which illustrates that across most of this year, the University has seen a decrease in energy demand from the previous year.

Below the graph, the temperature and humidity for the current day, as well for as the same day a year ago, are shown in order to “display the strong relationship between the weather and electric consumption,” according to the website.

The website also includes a graph which shows energy usage of the whole campus over 13 months. Under the graph, users can see a year-to-year comparison of temperature readings.

“This shows that Penn is committed to environmental sustainability and transparency,” College sophomore Shayan Cheraghlou, a current Eco-Rep for Hill College House, said. “It takes a lot for a school to be this transparent in terms of its energy use.”

College freshman and Fisher-Hassenfeld Eco-Rep Virginia Walcott, a Daily Pennsylvanian contributing writer, hopes that the information can become a resource for the Penn green community.

“This will be an extremely valuable tool for people already interested in environmental issues and energy conservation, and I hope that our green organizations will do their part to spread the word about this access and help make it a concern for us all,” Walcott said.

The electrical usage data from over 100 individual buildings on campus is also included. This information is updated approximately once a month by manually checking the meters.

FRES is currently working on making data for individual buildings available on a live feed.

“Once the other meters are installed and operational, we will look at adding that info to the website,” said FRES Executive Director of Operations Ken Ogawa.

While typical homeowners in the area do not feel the direct impact of a change in the cost of energy, the price does swing “significantly,” according to Ogawa. “Large commercial/industrial customers like Penn are impacted by these real time price swings now,” Ogawa said in an email.

One method the University utilizes in hopes to minimize costs is shifting electrical use from more-expensive afternoons to nighttime, when electricity is generally less expensive.

“The whole point of the ticker was to start the process of educating the general public about this pricing volatility,” Ogawa added.

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