Overall Rating Silver - expired
Overall Score 54.34
Liaison Elaine Goetz
Submission Date March 11, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Ohio University
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Annie Laurie Cadmus
Director of Sustainability
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Is the institution utilizing the campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in the following areas?:
Yes or No
Air & Climate Yes
Buildings Yes
Dining Services/Food Yes
Energy Yes
Grounds Yes
Purchasing Yes
Transportation Yes
Waste Yes
Water Yes
Coordination, Planning & Governance Yes
Diversity & Affordability ---
Health, Wellbeing & Work Yes
Investment Yes
Public Engagement Yes
Other No

A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Air & Climate and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

Ohio University is located in the Ohio River Valley, which is home to 42 coal-fired power plants. These power plants, though profitable, produce a significant amount of air pollution. Dr. Kevin Crist directs Ohio University's Center for Air Quality in the Russ College of Engineering. The center includes a consortium of researchers that collect air pollution data for use by colleagues in the field and state and federal policy makers. Researchers also conduct studies on air pollution's effect on public health. The center is the first broad-based effort to scientifically monitor and measure the emissions generated in the Ohio River Valley region.

Gary Conley is also making strides in air pollution and monitoring research at Ohio University. Conley is a supervisor with the Voinovich School providing project support for the Center for Air Quality with the Institute for Sustainable Energy & the Environment that is held within the Russ College of Engineering and Technology. He operates the Athens Supersite which monitors air pollution transported through and deposited in Athens. The monitoring site measures atmospheric and wet-deposition mercury, meteorological data, and regionally-transported gas pollutants. Conley also supervises student research that includes the identification of pollution sources and evaluation of environmental impacts.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Buildings and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The Ohio University Sustainability Plan is composed of 35 benchmarks or university sustainability priorities. Benchmark 12 is entitled "Evaluate LEED EBOM of exiting facilities". In various courses offered at the university, students are given the opportunity to evaluate a building on campus for LEED EBOM eligibility for credit.

Another, and probably the most obvious, example of Ohio University's efforts to make the campus a living laboratory for buildings is the OHIO Ecohouse. The Ecohouse is currently the only residence at Ohio University that offers students the chance to focus on sustainable behaviors. The mission of the OHIO Ecohouse is to demonstrate affordable green technology and sustainable living in order to inform, engage and inspire both residents and visitors. The OHIO Ecohouse is not just another student home – it is a dynamic education experience which promotes critical thinking and tangible actions toward sustainability. Any student at Ohio University (undergraduate or graduate) who is eligible to live off campus is welcome to apply to live in the house.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Dining Services/Food and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The Culinary Services Development Committee (CSDC) is a student-led group that is also composed of various members of the Culinary Services staff. The committee meets bi-weekly to discuss relevant issues to dining halls.The CSDC has been instrumental in providing feedback that has led to the improvements such as new partnerships that have allowed the university to offer organically grown and fair trade coffee and all Culinary Service venues are now utilizing soaps and detergents that are biodegradable. The most recent initiative that the CSDC has been involved in is the reusable bag program, in which all incoming Freshmen on a meal plan in Fall 2013 were provided with a reusable bag free of charge.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Energy and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

Dr. Sarah Davis, Assistant Professor in the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, is an ecosystem ecologist with experience in energy bioscience. Dr. Davis, with the assistance of several graduate students, is studying bioenergy production systems in 30 plots spread across two different locations within the Land Lab. Situated on the south side of the Ohio University Athens campus is 740 acres of land known as the Ridges; 200 acres of that land has been dedicated as a Land Laboratory. It is on this land that Dr. Davis conducts bioenergy research experiments.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Grounds and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

Ohio University is home to the largest in-vessel composting facility at any college or university in the nation. The facility can accept up to 6+ tons of food waste per day, which allows 100% of the food waste that is produced in dining facilities across campus to be composted. Once the food waste and other organic matter are in the composting facility on campus, the final product is then used on university grounds such as garden beds. Excess soil amendment is also sold to students, faculty, staff and community members looking for high quality soil for gardening and class projects. Classes, student groups, organizations, and the public are welcome to schedule a tour of the facility. Educating the University community and public about the importance of composting is a strong priority of the Office of Sustainability; therefore, it is required that each Office employee is proficient in the Compost Facility tour materials and is able to lead a tour at any time.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Purchasing and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

Ohio University's Sustainability Plan outlines eight benchmarks which highlight the purchasing power of students, faculty and staff. Most notably, the University's official point of sale for computer products, Bobcat Depot, has committed to selling only EPEAT Gold-rated products (or higher) to students, faculty and staff. Initiatives such as this allow for educational opportunities regarding the important role each of us plays in procurement on campus and within our community. As a result of such commitments, various students (through classes such as ES4900: Sustainability Implementation), are working to develop Sustainable Procurement policies, guidelines and resources for the entire campus community on a variety of topics. An example of a successful purchasing-related project is the development of a campus-wide educational campaign for faculty, staff and students that focuses on tips for purchasing personal vehicles in a more sustainable manner.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Transportation and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

In Fall 2014, Sustainable Ohio University Leaders (SOUL), the implementation arm of the Sustainability Plan, was offered as a for-credit option for students. Students were given the opportunity to pick a project to work on for the semester that would positively impact the objectives and goals of the Sustainability Plan. One student chose a project that aimed to reduce single occupancy vehicles (SOV) on campus. The student worked with Parking Services to collect historical data on parking permits sold. At the conclusion of the semester, the student proposed an amendment to the Sustainability Plan which included a new structure of fees for parking permits that would provide incentives to decrease SOV. This student is continuing this project in Spring 2015 to advance the proposals made in Fall 2014.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Waste and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

In Fall 2014, the Student Zero Waste Coordinator at Ohio University created the Ohio University Green Event Guide. By means of a checklist, the guide helps student organizations, colleges, departments, and individuals identify the components of their event that can be made sustainable and how to achieve zero waste. Participants can meet with the Zero Waste Coordinator prior to their event to officially receive recognition for hosting a "Certified Green Event." The Green Event Guide can be found here: http://www.ohio.edu/sustainability/programs/upload/OHIO-Green-Event-Guide-2014-15.pdf

Compost initiatives at Ohio University are also a great example of how the university is a living laboratory for waste minimization. Ohio University is home to the largest in-vessel compost facility at any college or university in the nation. The facility is situated on several acres of land and, therefore, is the perfect location for students and research faculty to conduct waste-related research. For instance, waste to energy research is currently being conducted at the facility by Dr. Sarah Davis. Historically, experiments and Ph.D research relating to biodegradable materials have also been hosted on-site.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Water and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

Acid mine drainage (AMD) from abandoned coal mines affects the quality of both ground water and surface water in the region of southeast Ohio, where Ohio University is located. Faculty and students of the Ohio Research Institute for Transportation and the Environment, which is housed within the Ohio University Russ College of Engineering and Technology, are currently studying promising solutions for AMD remediation. For example, faculty and students are currently working to create predictive models based on water quality, flow rate, and water table measurements taken in the field to develop groundwater and surface water restoration plans. Work with AMD has also become interdisciplinary at Ohio University; a professor of painting and drawing is extracting the compounds found in AMD and utilizing them for use in paint and artworks.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Coordination, Planning & Governance and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

In 2011, when the Sustainability and Climate Action plans had been created, President Roderick McDavis created the Ecology and Energy Conservation Committee (EECC) as an inclusive governance approach that also utilizes institutional administrative structures.. The EECC manages the implementation of the plans and oversees other related issues. Members of the committee are appointed by the president; the committee is composed of 4 faculty, 2 undergraduates, 1 graduate student, 1 community member, and 1 administrator. Sustainable Ohio University Leaders (SOUL) transpired as a response to implementation efforts of the EECC.

Sustainable Ohio University Leaders (SOUL) is a liaison group composed of students, faculty, and staff. SOUL is the implementation arm of the University's Sustainability and Climate Action Plans. The mission of SOUL is to empower students, faculty and staff of different educational and experiential backgrounds to engage in open dialogue, develop strong capacities for leadership, and embed sustainability into every facet of academic, operational, and institutional practices.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Diversity & Affordability and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
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A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Health, Wellbeing & Work and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine has a community health program that aims to develop and deliver quality medical and health care services for children and adults throughout southeastern Ohio. The community health program has two 40-foot mobile clinics that regularly visit counties throughout southeast Ohio. The mobile health clinics are staffed by volunteer physicians, a certified nurse practitioner, a registered nurse, and an assistant coordinator. The clinics are also often accompanied by an AmeriCorps volunteer or an Ohio University student studying osteopathic medicine.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Investment and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The Sustainable Investing Advisory Committee (SIAC) is a student organization that works to develop investment guidelines in partnership with the Student Equity Management Group (SEMG) and the Fixed Income Management Group (FIMG). The investment guidelines wil, in turn, help these student groups to incorporate environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) analysis into their investment decision-making. The investment funds for the group are provided by, and on behalf of, The Ohio University Foundation. SIAC is supervised by faculty and sustainability advisers, and is supported by a Graduate Assistant in the Office of Sustainability. All three student groups report to The Ohio University Foundation.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Public Engagement and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The Ohio University Ecohouse is a sustainable living laboratory and home available to three undergraduate and/or graduate students annually. The home was originally a farm house on the Ridges property; however, in 2004 over $60,000 in grant money was acquired and utilized for the purpose of retrofitting the house with sustainable amenities such as solar panels, energy efficient appliances, and a biomass furnace. Each year, the residents of the home are required to enroll in a 1-credit hour class that is intended to educate the residents about the house features. Through this course, the students are required to complete one project related to sustainable living of their choosing. Classes, student groups, and community members are welcome to contact the Office of Sustainability to schedule a tour of the house and the home's surrounding features. Sustainable features of the house and workshops on sustainable living are ongoing and continuous turn-over of topics does occur so as to keep the lessons timely and applicable to participating students.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory in Other areas and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
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The website URL where information about the institution’s campus as a living laboratory program or projects is available:
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