Ohio University

Ohio University
Campus Category: 
Four year and graduate institutions over 15,000 student FTE

Contact Information

Sustainability Coordinator
Office of Sustainability
Education and Research:

Center of Excellence: "Energy & Environment" was chosen by our university as one of three Centers of Excellence submitted to the Chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents. A Center of Excellence represents one of the best or unique programs on one campus, across campuses, or throughout the state.

Schools: The Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, through the Appalachian Watershed Research Group, the Consortium for Energy, Economics and the Environment (CE3), the Center for Air Quality, and the Environmental Studies program, has established itself as a leader in bringing people together to solve energy and environmental problems.

Programs: Since 1970, Ohio University has offered a Masters of Science in Environmental Studies. The program is developed around five areas of concentration: life sciences, physical and earth sciences, environmental archaeology, environmental policy and planning, or environmental monitoring.

Since 1994, OHIO has offered an interdisciplinary Environmental Studies Certificate for undergraduate students in any major. Over 300 students have graduated with this certificate.

Newly created in 2005, the Graduate Certificate in Sustainability offers non-Environmental Studies majors the necessary multidisciplinary skills and global awareness needed to understand the broader impacts of personal consumer choices on the environment.

Undergraduate majors with sustainability focus: Applied Ecology, Environmental Biology, Environmental Chemistry, Environmental Pre-Law, Environmental & Plant Biology, Marine, Freshwater, and Environmental Biology, Environmental Geology, and Environmental Geography.

Coursework: Each quarter, the university offers over 30 graduate and undergraduate courses directly related to sustainability, e.g. sustainable and alternative agriculture, science & environmental journalism, and environmental sociology.

Centers & Institutes: Ohio U. houses the Ohio Center for Ecology and Evolutionary Studies and the Institute for Sustainable Energy and the Environment (ISEE). ISEE includes the Center for Air Quality and the Ohio Coal Research Consortium.

Awards: Between 2007-2009, three Ohio University students received honorable mentions for the Morris K. Udall fellowship and 2 students were selected as Udall scholars. One student was selected in 2008 as a NWF Campus Ecology Fellow.

Professional Development: The Kanawha project seeks to enhance the environmental literacy of undergraduate students by helping professors of all disciplines revise their syllabi to include environmental components. Over 40 faculty members have participated in the first two sessions.

Faculty Research: Over 25 professors across 15 disciplines involved in research directly related to sustainability issues.

Assistantships and Student Development: Students can apply for one of three $11,000 graduate assistantships in sustainability. Internships for class credit are also available through the Office of Sustainability as well as other student positions including project coordinator and graphic designer.

Students also gain valuable real-world experience as a result of the partnership between the Voinovich School and the Environmental Studies Program. The partnership enables students to work with agencies such as the Midwest Biodiversity Institute, the Center for Applied Bioassessment and Biocriteria, the U.S. Forest Service, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Campus Operations:

Climate: Over the past 2 decades, Ohio University has invested over $9 million in upgrades targeting efficiency in our buildings and infrastructure. These projects have resulted in cumulative savings of over $7 million dollars.

The Residence Challenge competition, launched in 2001, targets energy and water conservation in our 40 residence halls. The annual competition lasts 7 weeks and regularly generates savings rates in the 10-30% range.

The Athens campus operates 5 photovoltaic arrays (over 19 kW of total power) as well as a solar thermal water heating system at the OHIO Ecohouse.

The Ohio Climate & Energy Conference was collaborative effort of the Ohio University Office of Sustainability and the Inter-University Council. This event highlighted institutional efforts to address climate and energy issues within the context of Ohio State House Bill 251, Governor Strickland’s Executive Order 2007-02S, the Higher Education Energy Challenge, the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, and other relevant policy initiatives mandating energy reduction in campus buildings. Representatives from 22 institutes of higher education participated.

Waste: Ohio University has been a leader in the area of recycling since the early 1990’s. Ohio University along with Miami University of Ohio was the originator of the RecycleMania competition in 2001. Ed Newman, manager of Campus Recycling, was honored with a lifetime achievement award from the National Recycling Council last year. The university has pioneered the Adopt-a-Game program which allows waste from basketball games to be diverted toward recycling.

In January 2009, Ohio University installed the largest in-vessel composting system at any college or university online, complementing the campus’ existing yard waste composting site. The in-vessel system is capable of handling up to 2 tons of organic material a day. The compost system also features solar panels, which provide about 50% of the power for the site, a rainwater harvesting system, and a road made of recovered asphalt from old parking lots. Pre- and post-consumer food waste from all dining halls and the Central Foods facility will eventually be composted. In conjunction with dining services, the Office of Sustainability has conducted several food waste audits in the dining hall to begin to raise awareness and find ways to reduce wasted food.

Transportation: The University provides a free shuttle for university students, faculty, staff, and visitors throughout campus. Carpooling is facilitated through an online ride board to connect ride-share participants.

Purchasing: Custodial Services procures 100% recycled paper towels and toilet paper. Many offices and departments (including Facilities and the Libraries) purchase 50-100% recycled paper for all printers and fax machines. Campus laundry equipment and micro-fridges in the dorms are Energy Star Certified. Computer equipment recommended by the Office of Information Technology is rated EPEAT gold. Student Center eateries offer 100% biodegradable serviceware.

Building & Renovation: All new construction and renovation projects will meet or exceed LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certification standards.

Administration and Finance:

Planning: President Roderick McDavis signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment in March 2007. The first Greenhouse Gas Inventory was completed in October 2008.

The President's Advisory Council on Sustainability Planning is charged with the development of a recommendation for a comprehensive sustainability plan by the fall of 2010 in accordance with Vision OHIO and the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment. A secondary responsibility of the Council is to ensure the creation of a Climate Action Plan by the fall of 2009.

The Ecology and Energy Conservation Committee is a standing Faculty Senate committee in place since the 1970's that seeks to preserve and enhance the physical environment at Ohio University and promote energy conservation on the campus and in the lifestyle of Ohio University faculty, students and staff.

The Office of Sustainability, established in May 2006, was the first of its kind at any public college or university in the state.

Community Outreach: The "Green House Project" seeks to improve energy efficiency of off-campus student housing units. Landlords and residents benefit from a whole house energy audit, a list of recommended efficiency upgrades, 6 free CFLs, a low-flow shower head as well as cash rebates of up to $500 toward efficiency improvements.

The Office of Sustainability regularly implements education programs for school children of all ages. Energy Days, an annual event, attracts over 1,000 Athens students in grades 3-6 for curriculum standard-based programs on alternative energy.

Campus Education: The "Light It Up Right" light bulb exchange provides CFL’s to the campus community at no charge. The Office of Sustainability exchanges one CFL for each incandescent bulb in a dorm room or office. Dorm residents often take up this initiative on their own and contact the office to distribute bulbs to other students.

The “Think Outside the Bottle” campaign encouraged University community members to sign a pledge to choose tap water over bottled water everywhere on campus and use a filter for tap or filtered water pitcher if necessary.

The “Get Caught Green Handed” project is a recognition program for university employees who turn off all of their office equipment at night and have recycling containers.

Public programs: Earth Month 2009—a month of over 50 workshops, programs and activities that were free and open to the public. This year’s theme was “Bold & Uncensored” and attempted to capture a wide range of unconventional, diverse voices from the environmental field.

The OHIO Ecohouse is a student residence that demonstrates affordable green technology and sustainable living in order to inform, engage and inspire both residents and visitors. Thousands of students, staff, faculty and community members have participated in programs at the Ecohouse designed to stimulate critical thinking on sustainability issues.

Resources: The Office of Sustainability publishes several different Web sites, newsletters and guides that serve as sustainability resources for both our campus and larger community including the Planet OHIO Web site, Planet OHIO News, the Ecohouse Digest, Athens Green Guide, and a Green Computing Guide.