In 2005, Ohio University welcomed a new office to campus: The Office of Resource Conservation. Under the direction of the Resource Coordinator, Sonia Marcus, this office thrived as it worked to promote sustainability and energy conservation efforts across its campuses.
When President Roderick McDavis signed the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) in 2007, he assumed a strong leadership role by announcing the institution's intention to become a carbon neutral campus by the year 2075. Such a commitment allowed the Office of Resource Conservation to transition to the Office of Sustainability and begin the planning process involved in obtaining such an aggressive goal. Ohio University then became the first public institution in Ohio to hire a full-time Sustainability Coordinator (Sonia Marcus).
Ohio University quickly emerged as a leader in sustainability within higher education over the course of the next few years. Influential projects of this office include:
- The Greenhouse Project
- OHIO Ecohouse
- Compost Program
- Residence Challenge
- Light bulb exchange program
- Energy Days educational program
- Involvement in a variety of community organizations
- Increase in renewable energy on campus
In 2011, the university's first formal Sustainability Plan was adopted under the direction of Interim Sustainability Coordinator Erin Sykes. Implementation of that plan began at the same time that the Office of Sustainability welcomed its new Director of Sustainability, Annie Laurie Cadmus. While a great number of the previously mentioned programs remain, new programs have been developed and old programs have evolved in an effort to accommodate the growing interest in sustainability at Ohio University. Some of these programs include:
- Development of a Climate Action Plan
- Mini Grants Program
- Common Experience Project on Sustainability
- Sustainable Ridges Tours
- The development of an online publication, Routes
- Structured professional development opportunities for student staff
This office is constantly evolving to adapt to a changing environment, culture and economy. Students, faculty, staff and community members who have recommendations for the future roles played by the Office of Sustainability are invited to become involved by visiting our office or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is the philosophy of the Office of Sustainability (OoS) that sustainable behaviors are everyone's responsibility and should be seen as an opportunity to grow our institutional programs and our personal well-being. As such, the OoS prides itself in its ability to serve as a platform of support for others to create, host or enforce sustainable behaviors, programs and policies. The primary role of the Office if Sustainability is to gather reporting from various institutional entities regarding progress made toward the institution's Sustainability Plan and Climate Action Plan. After assessing annual progress, additional efforts are then made by the Office to provide recommendations and support for increased implementation the following year.
The OoS maintains large efforts such as management of the OHIO Ecohouse and the development of sustainable programs through grants. Additionally, the office chooses to host a small number of sustainability-focused programs annually that can contribute to the sustainable growth of the institution and local communities. If any member of the campus community wishes to host additional events, they are invited to apply for funding from the Mini Grant Program. OoS staff and volunteers will teach grantees how to use their funds to market, plan, implement and assess a sustainable event.
In addition to programs and events, OoS works alongside Ecology and Energy Conservation Committee as the "monitoring agent" to the Sustainability Plan and Climate Action Plan. Staff within the office work throughout the year to collect data from various offices at all OU campuses in an effort to compile, analyze and report accurate data in these annual reports. In fact, in 2012, the Chillicothe campus took a strong leadership role in this effort by hiring a regional campus liaison that works with the Office of Sustainability to gather much-needed regional campus data and implement relevant programs. As a signatory to the American College and Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), the OoS also strives to provide timely and accurate reporting to other agencies such as ACUPCC and the Princeton Review.
In addition to the ACUPCC, Ohio University is a member of the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). As a member institution to AASHE, any individual with an OHIO email address has the ability to register on the AASHE website and gain access to exceptional resources. The Office of Sustainability encourages all Ohio University students, faculty and staff to increase their knowledge on the subject of sustainability by utilizing this opportunity and/or contacting our office directly.