Green initiatives at Ohio University

By Austin Stahl | | @AustinStahl24

Ohio University has prided itself in being a green campus, and it is living up to that reputation.

Perhaps the two single biggest things we are currently doing to be green are the adoption of the school’s Sustainability Plan and, more recently, the release of the first draft of the Climate Action Plan.

Sustainability is a very broad term. It is defined on as “the quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance.” Moving towards a more sustainable way of living is imperative if we hope to continue to enjoy the quality of life we have now. The finite resources we depend on will not last forever, and dependence on them could even threaten our future existence, not just way of life.

Currently, the university is not sustainable. No universities right now are, and very few large organizations, if any, are truly sustainable. But many like us are working to get there. Ohio’s Sustainability Plan focuses on three main areas: citizenship, stewardship and justice.

Citizenship tackles the challenge of incorporating sustainability into the curriculum through more majors and classes, and engaging students to be part of the solution by their actions. Participation from students will be key if the school is to meet its goals. For more suggestions on what you can be doing now, check my earlier post titled “The emergence of sustainabiity: what you can do to help.”

Stewardship includes taking good care of our environment and tackling the biggest issues, such as reducing our institutional greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, and waste; sourcing renewable energy; and increasing recycling rates.

Justice — perhaps the most intriguing of the three — focuses on investing in corporations that make sustainability a priority, increasing resource accountability on campus, and reallocating surplus resources to local communities in need.

In addition to the Sustainability Plan, the school released the first draft of our Climate Action Plan last week. This is a similar initiative, but different because it specifically addresses Ohio University’s stated goal of carbon neutrality by 2075.

To reach carbon neutrality, the university must reduce institutional greenhouse gas emissions to zero. Energy is the main focus of this plan because it represents the vast majority of our emissions. Last year purchased electricity resulted in 88,165 metric tons of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere, primarily from burning coal. That’s nearly 75 percent out of a total of 118,788 metric tons emitted by the institution.

Other areas of attention include waste reduction and recycling, land and resource management, transportation and construction. Like the Sustainability Plan, education and outreach to create behavioral change among students and faculty is considered crucial for the plan’s success.

The university is taking sustainability seriously. It’s now up to us to participate and be part of the solution.

The Sustainability Plan was adopted last summer. A full report on its implementation will be available in June.

To view the Sustainability Plan, click here:

The first draft of the Climate Action Plan was released last Tuesday and is awaiting approval from the Board of Trustees.

To view the draft of the Climate Action Plan, click here:

  1. Nancy from Cincinnati said:

    Sounds like OU is leading the way and setting a great example for other universities to follow. I liked how they broke down their sustainability plan into 3 areas: Citizenship, Stewardship & Justice. I am also impressed with the Climate Action Plan and OU’s goal to be carbon neutral by 2075. Good post!

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