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Thursday, Jul 24, 2014

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New solar panels at Ohio University

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University releases first progress report on Sustainability Plan


Ohio University's Office of Sustainability and Ecology and Energy Conservation Committee (EECC) have released the first of its annual Sustainability Progress Reports. The FY 12 Sustainability Plan Report outlines the progress made toward each of the Sustainability Plan's 35 Benchmarks and identifies "Next Steps" for the university's future sustainable efforts.

The Ohio University Sustainability Plan is a 35-point plan aimed at improving the institution's sustainability profile. The document was formally adopted by Ohio University in summer 2011.

Implementation planning began shortly after adoption and involved the Office of Sustainability staff, members of EECC and many departments across campus.

"It was interesting to see the different stages of implementation already occurring in various departments," stated former Office of Sustainability Graduate Assistant Elaine Goetz. "Some had proactively begun implementation ahead of the planning process while others had not yet been informed of their roles. Our planning process took all of these different stages of implementation into account while forming a comprehensive implementation plan."

Goetz played a key role in the development of the implementation process for the Sustainability Plan.

"The implementation started with a subset of campus this year, but will expand to reach all members of Ohio University in upcoming years," explained Goetz of the long-term implementation plans.

"While we're very proud of our university's efforts and successes in just one short year, we want to stress that this is a long-term plan," explained Director of Sustainability Annie Laurie Cadmus. "So, we certainly didn't expect progress levels on each benchmark to reach completion this year. But, the report clearly shows us that we need additional support from all students, faculty and staff if we wish to gain even more momentum in our efforts."

Former Office of Sustainability Graduate Assistant Jessica Bilecki stressed that the implementation and reporting responsibilities of this plan fall into the hands of each individual of the campus; suggesting that success is dependent upon individuals committing to a cultural shift.

"The sustainability report is essentially a compilation of all OU sustainability efforts ranging from operations to education," said Bilecki. "It illustrates the interdisciplinary nature of sustainability and demonstrates that every member of the campus community has a role to play. If anyone feels their efforts were not acknowledged or wishes to become more involved in sustainability efforts specific to their area of expertise, they can contact the Office of Sustainability."

The actual reporting process is subject to change annually, dependent upon campus and community feedback on the format.

"Clearly, since this is the first year of reporting in this manner, there will be some lessons to learn. So, we're really encouraging everyone to read through the document and tell us what works and what doesn't." explained Cadmus. Feedback can be emailed to sustainability@ohio.edu.

In related news, the University recently presented the Climate Action Plan, a 63-year plan aimed at achieving institutional carbon neutrality, to the Board of Trustees. Implementation of that plan will begin immediately upon formal approval from President McDavis. The implementation and reporting process for the Climate Action Plan will assume a similar model to that of the Sustainability Plan.

Those interested in becoming involved in the implementation and reporting process are invited to do so by emailing sustainability@ohio.edu.

It is anticipated that annual reports for both the Sustainability Plan and Climate Action Plan will be made available in the fall semester of each academic year beginning in 2013.

The full Sustainability Report may be viewed online here.