# Blogging Theme, week 3

The blogging theme for this week is Penn State Campus.   A brief reminder about blogging requirements: you may post on anything related to the course (the “theme” for the week is only a suggestion), and your postings will be graded according to the rubric that appears in the syllabus,  The rubric involves five grading elements: frequency of posting, mathematical content, thematic content, organization and presentation, references and connections.

It is suggested that you post about some measurement or estimate related to sustainability on the Penn State (UP) campus. Example topics (many more are possible).

• Waste and recycling – see http://sustainability.psu.edu/mobius, and listen and respond to Al Matyasovsky’s presentation on Wednesday.
• Over the winter break (approx December 24th – January 5th), the Office of Physical Plant “sets back” temperatures in most PSU buildings from their normal 70 degrees (F) to about 50 degrees. How much difference does this make to PSU’s energy consumption?
• Estimate the environmental impact of a big football game.
• Learn about the UP campus’ water consumption. Where does our water come from? Is the supply sustainable (define this term how you wish, but make sure you answer the question in terms of your definition). What activities on campus use the most water?
• Blog about the work of Penn State’s Consortium for Building Energy Innovation at the Philadelphia Navy yard (http://cbei.psu.edu) What is their goal? How do they plan to achieve it? Is it realistic?
• Conversion of the PSU steam plant from coal to natural gas. (http://www.opp.psu.edu/planning-construction/penn-states-switch-from-coal-to-natural-gas)
• Estimate how many showers per day are taken on the Penn State campus.   How much energy is used to heat the water for them?
• Interview some faculty members about their academic travel.   Estimate the number of barrels of oil per year used by faculty academic travel. Are there alternatives?
• If we covered the roof of a dorm with solar panels, what fraction of that building’s energy needs might they realistically supply?

# Blogging theme, week 2

The blogging theme for this week is Water.   A brief reminder about blogging requirements: you may post on anything related to the course (the “theme” for the week is only a suggestion), and your postings will be graded according to the rubric that appears in the syllabus,  The rubric involves five grading elements: frequency of posting, mathematical content, thematic content, organization and presentation, references and connections.

Because from now on we will be looking for actual mathematics, you may want to review this post which explains how to include mathematical expressions like

[ 5.7 times 10^{11}, qquad y = mx + c, qquad frac{1 – r^{n+1}}{1-r} ]

Suggestions (possible starting points) related to the theme.

• Find examples of water waste, either in the US or abroad.  You could focus on agricultural, industrial, or domestic use.  Make suggestions for reducing the level of waste, and quantify the amount of water that could be saved by implementing them.
• Carry out an Internet search on the term “water pricing”.  Give examples of apparently irrational pricing or of conflicts over water prices.  Does it make sense to speak of a single “price of water”?
• Think about bottled water.  How many disposable drinking-water bottles are used every year on the University Park campus?   Estimate how much oil is used to make these bottles and to ship the water here.  Compare with the energy costs of delivering water by pipe.   Why is bottled water so popular? Is the bottled water industry sustainable?
• Learn about the concept of “virtual water”, that is, water that is embodied in other products that we consume.   Give some calculations of the amount of virtual water in various consumables.  On a “virtual water” basis, where does most of our water consumption come from?
• The Greenland ice sheet is roughly 600,000 square miles in area, and on average is over a mile thick.   If all that ice were to melt and end up in the ocean, by how much (on average) would global sea levels rise?  Show how you do the calculation.
• Write about groundwater supplies in the southwestern US.  (This article by Jay Famiglietti, Senior Water Scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is a good place to start.)

# Blogging Theme Week 1

The theme for week 1 is to write a post introducing yourself to the class.  Your post needs to include the following items

• something about who you are and why you want to take this course
• something about what you understand by the words “sustainability” and “resilience”