Power Down - Penn Sustainability Review

February 5, 2016

Founded in Fall 2011, Penn Sustainability Review (or PSR) is a student-run, peer-reviewed online and print publication, focused on energy policy, sustainability, and environmental issues. They are made up of a 12 person board and a wide range of writers and contributors for their op-ed articles, speaking events, and blogs. Recently, we sat down with Sasha Klebnikov, PSR’s Editor-in-Chief, to discuss how PSR is driving much-needed discourse on energy and sustainability issues.

Green Campus Partnership: What is Penn Sustainability Review’s mission?

Sasha Klebnikov: Our main agenda is to promote dialogue and increase understanding of sustainability. We want [the Penn community] to become more informed, to question their previous decisions, and to think about if they are actually the best decisions possible. Our most recent issue, on optimizing sustainability, highlights this. In this issue, we asked if our commonplace decisions and ideal assumptions were really that beneficial. We had one article on the effect of overfishing on tuna, and how correct allocations of fishing quotas can drastically improve survival of Atlantic bluefish tuna. We also called Mark Lynas, the founder of a newfangled philosophy, “ecomodernism”. He tries to challenge us. For instance, why should we go organic and rural when it’s more energy efficient to live in a city and grow food at an industrial scale?  Is intensive activity in a few locations better for the environment than widespread local activity?


GCP: What are some energy-related events PSR has held in the past?

Sasha: We had a panel, the Future of Communicating Energy Policy, last April. There were a number of speakers, and the conversation revolved around how we should be discussing and energy and how these discussions in turn changes the way we consider these energy policy issues. For instance, it was interesting to hear about what the most optimal angle solar panels should face really is. Most people believe that the key time for greatest energy production is noon, and so angle their solar panels appropriately. However the key time is actually later in the afternoon, so to have a much lower carbon impact, the solar panels should be angled much more to the west. The way we present and make assumptions about energy issues drastically changes the impact we can have. Since then, related to energy, we have also had a panel on hydraulic fracturing and a panel on the ethics of climate change denial.


GCP: What do you see as biggest challenge to reducing energy consumption on campus?

Sasha: One thing students don’t do and don’t think about is turning off larger electronics. We’re always told to turn off the lights when leaving the room. But unplugging your computers or turning off your TV when leaving the room can be far more important. For example, unplugging your fridge and removing everything that’s inside of it will save massive amounts of electricity over winter break − potentially far more than turning off the lights would save.


GCP: We’re excited to have PSR as one of our partners this year. Power Down 2016 asks Penn to “discover ways to save”. How does the PSR help us discover?

Sasha: PSR is running a column in the Daily Pennsylvanian to ask these hard questions, to reconsider their assumptions and actions in everyday life. By being informative and writing about topics students didn’t know about or haven’t considered before, we hope to increase student knowledge and prompt interesting debates in the futures.

Learn more about PSR, read their articles, and submit your own at

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