Deadline to register is Friday
Sept. 27, 2007
By Kaleigh Frazier
Representatives from close to two dozen colleges and universities around the state are expected to turn out next week for a daylong workshop on climate and energy initiatives sponsored by Ohio University.
Students, faculty and staff -- from the Athens and regional campuses as well as public higher education institutions throughout Ohio -- will find the Ohio Climate and Energy Workshop timely and informative. The Oct. 4 event is free to students, and preregistration is required by Friday.
The Ohio University Office of Sustainability has partnered with the Inter-University Council to create this event, a first in Ohio. It is designed to highlight institutional efforts to address climate and energy issues within the context of new legislation, an executive order by the governor, the Higher Education Energy Challenge, the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment and other initiatives. As of Wednesday, representatives of 19 two- and four-year institutions had signed up.
Sustainability Coordinator Sonia Marcus and other university colleagues were inspired to organize the event because of their own questions and concerns about the various initiatives.
"We realized that if we had questions," she said, "all universities probably had questions."
Mike Jung, a representative for Gov. Ted Strickland, will be on hand to discuss the governor's executive order as well as the Energy, Jobs and Progress plan, which consists of seven principles for an energy-efficient Ohio.
The executive order established an energy adviser to the governor, measurable goals and deadlines for the Ohio government's energy consumption, and called for state vehicles to use ethanol, or E85, and biodiesel fuel. It also created the Higher Education Energy Challenge, in which participating institutions will be involved in a statewide competition to encourage energy efficiency on their campuses.
Also presenting is Tom Kimmerer, executive director of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, who will speak about the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. This is an effort to address global warming by collecting commitments from colleges and universities and accelerating research and educational efforts to help stabilize the environment.
Ohio University President Roderick McDavis is among 406 presidents in the higher education community to sign this commitment. In addition, McDavis is a member of the Leadership Circle, which consists of signatories who have agreed to help lead, promote and recruit for the commitment.
"Ohio University is proud of its accomplishments in this arena," McDavis has said of sustainability efforts. "The campus is home to some of the most innovative projects and programs dealing with sustainable energy systems, environmental engineering, green living and environmental education."
Mike Mayher, vice president for administrative services and treasurer at Lakeland Community College, will review Ohio House Bill 251. Mayher worked with the IUC to draft implementation guidelines that encourage energy efficiency and conservation in campus and off-campus buildings.
Within these guidelines, each school's board of trustees creates a 15-year plan to phase in energy efficiency and conservation projects. It also asks colleges and universities to document the effects of energy efficiency and conservation on project impact assessments. The ultimate goal is to reduce campuses' energy consumption by at least 20 percent by 2014.
Following the presentations, workshop participants will break into smaller groups to discuss the options and approaches for carrying out the institutions' commitments to energy efficiency.
Marcus encourages members of the university community -- from administrators who will be directly affected by this legislation to faculty and students who have personal or professional interests in environmental policy -- to attend.
"This is a premier opportunity to get involved in an area that is in dire need of attention," she said. "What better way to learn about how environmental policy takes place than to attend a conference of this kind?"
And fittingly, the event will be waste-free, meaning all materials used and food provided will be recyclable or compostable.
The event is free for students and $35 for others. To register please visit www.ohio.edu/sustainability.