Discussions and dialogue among the community of students, staff, and faculty at UW-Eau Claire working on the 2nd campus greenhouse gas emissions inventory: Carbon Neutral Team 2010.
Friday, March 5, 2010
It's All About Timing (elevated from a comment to a post by Dr H)
Because this is an important issue, and I'm afraid Andi's thoughtful summarizing of the situation will be missed where it is, I'm copying/pasting/posting it here to get your attention. The rest of this is all from Andi. (also, don't miss Lynn's post right below this one, which I don't want you to miss because it is so COOL!)
I agree with Elizabeth - we should quickly come to a decision; until we do, our survey and data-collecting are at a stand-still. I also agree with Isaac in that we absolutely cannot use data from two separate years. The transportation and University-usage data must be from the same year or our results will be more skewed than they would be from estimating one or the other. We have three year choices: July 1, 2008 - June 31, 2009 June 1, 2009 - May 31, 2010 July 1, 2009 - June 31, 2010 Below, I've commented on what I see as pro's and con's for each. Please let me know what you think, and let's make a decision.
July 1, 2008 - June 31, 2009 (+) True data for University-related electricity, waste, etc. (-) New student body - the transportation survey would have to extend only to the 2009-2010 sophomores, juniors, and seniors because the seniors from last year are no longer on campus, and the freshman of this year weren't at UWEC yet. This significantly narrows our participant pool. (-) Reliability statistically decreases the further back you go when surveys include self-report. In addition, the relevance for the student body would decrease. "Who cares about last year?" Though the information from last year IS important to us, it's the rest of the campus who has to feel like their responses will help make a difference. The more displaced they are from the dates/times in question, the less they'll be willing to "help." June 1, 2009 - May 31, 2010 (+) This keeps the same student body and keeps the survey relevant to participants. In addition (part negative, part positive,) the information will be entered into the CACPCC in early May (after spring break.) We would only need to estimate of the campus-collected information on electricity, waste, etc. for the month of May. My guess is that over the past few years, the waste, heating, etc. has been pretty stable for the month of May. Could we average and follow the trend? (-) Averaging May (-) This does not run with the school's fiscal year. How is the year separated? If it's just 1 month we're looking at, it's not a huge deal to add/edit that into a spreadsheet. If it's calculated annually, that would require taking each annual datum and dividing by 12. Still not hard to do, but it does increase error. July 1, 2009 - June 31, 2010 (+) Runs with the school year (+) Same student body (-) We would have to estimate two months worth of data (using past trends) which increases error. (-) Where would summer fit in for transportation? We could certainly separate out the summer months and ask for July/August, 2009 and then June, 2010, but that may be tedious for our participants. We could also average the summer months and add it into the spreadsheet that way, but again, it introduces further error. Other things to consider: Have any significant changes been made across our campus that would influence our numbers between 2008/2009 and 2009/2010? For example, has study abroad increased? Air travel is a large contributor to carbon or this campus. Big enough to matter? Has there been a greater push for recycling this year as compared to 2008-2009? Does that significantly influence our waste? Has the campus added electric/diesel fleets that would change the output between 2008-2010? When? How much do these things matter? I think we should take a vote. Pick one and explain why (as briefly as possible): Choice 1: July 1, 2008 - June 31, 2009 Choice 2: June 1, 2009 - May 31, 2010 Choice 3: July 1, 2009 - June 31, 2010