Ohio University President Roderick McDavis adopted a comprehensive sustainability plan last week, however some of the goals listed in the plan have implementation well under way.
The plan, developed by OU faculty, staff, students and Athens community members, will be used to guide the university in campus and community sustainability through a commitment to ecological citizenship, stewardship and justice.
According to Harry Wyatt, associate vice president for facilities at OU, the process of creating the plan began in the fall of 2009. He said the process kicked off with an open forum input session that pulled in approximately 100 people expressing interest in helping.
Wyatt said those who attended the input session were then divided into working groups covering a variety of topics including transportation, procurement, energy infrastructure, buildings and grounds, academics and research, fundraising and endowment, dining, and low-and-no-cost energy conservation.
Wyatt said the small group discussions yielded about 400 individual suggestions for the university to increase is sustainability. He said those suggestions were the basis for the plan.
The plan highlights nine top benchmarks for the university — the top being reducing institutional greenhouse gas emissions across all campuses. Other top benchmarks include reducing campus and building energy intensity, increasing renewable energy generation and sourcing, LEED certifying new buildings and major renovations on all campuses and reducing solid waste.
While the plan highlights many goals of OU when working towards more sustainability, Wyatt said some of the plans are already in place and would have occurred without the adoption of such a plan. For example, Wyatt said the university is currently looking to contract to invest in $30 million worth of conservation measures on buildings.
Another example of the university already moving toward a more sustainable campus is the process to replace the coal-fired Lausche Heating Plant, which is about 40 years old and near the end of its usable life.
Wyatt said the university needed to replace the heating plant anyway, but the sustainability plan makes sure that the university looks at different types of fuels and more energy efficient, ecological-friendly ways of heating the Athens campus.
Other goals in the sustainability plan, such as increasing community wide recycling, have not been started yet, but were created solely in the plan.
According to Wyatt, there will be a group to monitor the progress of the sustainability plan and a permanent sustainability coordinator is nearly hired. Former sustainability coordinator Sonia Marcus resigned in January.
“I’m very, very happy that the plan has been adopted,” Wyatt said. “It’s setting the tone for the future of Ohio University on many fronts.”
To view the entire OU sustainability plan, visit http://www.ohio.edu/pacsp/sustainability_plan.html.