Curious about what happens behind the scenes at the Dane County Office of Energy and Climate Change? One important initiative is tracking and reporting on Dane County's energy, water, and fuel usage. These reports help guide the OECC to most efficiently achieve the goals set forth by the Climate Action Plan. Sara Pabich, a current UW-Madison graduate student, is behind this work; hear from her about the scope and impact of her work in Dane County and beyond.
Q: What got you interested in energy accounting and what traininig did you have that gave you the expertise required for this position?
When I applied for this position, I had experience using data to set budgets and track spending for a non-profit organization and had just completed an undergraduate degree in Economics and Environmental Studies. The Climate Data Assistant position at Dane County blended my strengths of being detail-oriented within excel spreadsheets and my interest in making an impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Q: What does your job entail and why is tracking the county's energy usage important?
Because Dane County has set ambitious emission reduction goals in our Climate Action Plan, keeping an accurate record of our current emissions is essential. My job requires coalescing data from utility companies (MG&E, Alliant, Municipal Water sources, etc.) and County departments that use fleet vehicles to track fuel usage. By knowing where the County is at and how the county continues to grow, we can better strategize and plan to put the County on the path to being carbon-neutral by 2050.
Q: How does this program relate to your graduate school program?
I am currently in UW-Madison's dual master's degree for Public Affairs (public policy) and Public Health, where I study how different places respond to community issues. My policy areas of interest are environmental and health policy. Being a Climate Data Assistant for the County, I learn what levers the County pulls to influence policy or change our community.
Q: How do you leverage your knowledge and experience to help other communities?
Dane County is fortuanate to have an Office of Energy and Climate Change that communicates best energy practices, available incentives, and other relevant climate information. Given the working knowledge of the team and resources on our website, I try to share as much information as possible with my hometown climate change organization, Climate Change Coalition of Door County. When we leverage resources across communities, we can make a significant positive environmental impact.