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Ohio EPA issues 2017 Encouraging Environmental Excellence Award to Ohio University

Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis announced today that OHIO has received the Ohio EPA’s 2017 Encouraging Environmental Excellence (E3) Award.

Ohio University was one of three institutions of higher education in the state to receive an E3 award, and the only institution to be awarded Gold Level achievement. President Nellis made the announcement on Ohio University’s Sustainability Day, one of Inauguration Week’s themed days.

President Nellis remarked, “The Ohio EPA recognition of Ohio University for encouraging environmental excellence is the most recent indication that the University continues to be a leader of sustainability initiatives within higher education in Ohio. We take sustainability very seriously at Ohio University, and we are proud that the EPA has recognized our environmental achievements with a Gold Level award.”

The Ohio EPA’s E3 Program recognizes businesses, nonprofits and government agencies for exceeding compliance with requirements while demonstrating environmental excellence. The Program awards Platinum, Gold, Silver and Achievement levels of recognition. 2017 marks the first year the agency awarded Platinum Level achievement, which recognizes organizations that have expanded their environmental programs beyond their own facility to make a positive impact on the surrounding community.

An organization can work through levels of recognition including Achievement at the base level; Silver Level recognizing outstanding accomplishments in environmental stewardship; and Gold Level recognizing comprehensive environmental stewardship programs. All levels require a commitment to meet or exceed environmental regulatory requirements.

Ohio University received Gold Level status after submitting a comprehensive application outlining the institution’s environmental programming efforts and then hosting members of the Ohio EPA on campus in September. Numerous University departments collaborated to make the site visit a success, including Culinary Services, Campus Grounds, Environmental Health & Safety, Facilities Management, Recycling & Zero Waste, Utilities, Transportation & Parking Services, University Planning and Housing & Residence Life.

Ohio University’s award application highlighted Office of Sustainability’s efforts to coordinate initiatives in the University’s sustainability and climate action plans, including a commitment to being carbon neutral by 2075. The University was recognized for using green procurement, green cleaning standards, LEED standards for new construction, and for energy and water use reductions.

In the first six months of 2016, the University reduced water use by 30 percent compared to the previous year. OHIO’s Energy Infrastructure Projects Initiative (EIPI) reduced energy usage by 23 percent (531,064 KWHs reduction annually) resulting in $385,000 savings from steam shut down, chiller replacements and repairs, hot water repairs and gas line upgrades.

In addition, the EPA noted that OHIO has banned the installation of potable water systems for irrigation, has composted more than 600 tons of organics in the largest in-vessel system of any university in the U.S., and has a 65 percent recycling rate.

“I think it says a great deal about the University’s commitment to sustainability that we achieved the Gold Level status for which we applied,” said Annie Laurie Cadmus, Director of Sustainability. 

Cadmus added that the Office of Sustainability has reviewed the requirements of the newly-established Platinum Level Award and suggested that the University would be applying for such status in the future.

“Ohio University is already doing sustainability-focused work out in the community,” Cadmus said. “The revision to the University’s Sustainability Plan will allow us to expand those efforts, so I think we have a real shot at receiving that honor in the future.”