OHIO earns 2018 Climate Innovation Award

Ohio University has earned an “Honorable Mention” for Climate Innovation in the 2018 Climate Leadership Awards’ four-year institution category by Second Nature.

Ohio University is just one of eight institutions to be honored by Second Nature, an organization committed to accelerating climate action in, and through, higher education. The University’s award will be presented later this month during Second Nature’s 2019 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit in Tempe, Ariz.

OHIO’s recognition was based on a combination of University initiatives, innovation efforts and support and collaboration with other organizations.

“Ohio University remains focused on serving as a national leader in sustainability, both through our internal efforts and through our partnerships with others,” Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis said. “I look forward to working collectively with OHIO’s Office of Sustainability and the rest of the campus community as we continue down our path to becoming a zero carbon footprint campus.”

Ohio University, in alignment with President Nellis’ strategic pathways, recently launched a new Sustainability Committee as part of a major sustainability restructuring in October 2018.

The new committee will utilize Sustainable Living, Sustainable Administration and Sustainable Infrastructure Hubs to better integrate OHIO’s operational and academic sustainability efforts. Each Hub will include student, faculty, staff and community participants in engagement ecosystems that advance initiatives related to the University’s sustainability and climate action goals.

OHIO has already decreased its own scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions by 49 percent since enacting its Climate Action Plan in 2012; it has also partnered with start-up companies in clean energy technologies that decrease carbon emissions. The University decreased its own emissions via a combination of fuel-switching, renewable energy certificate purchases and energy-efficiency initiatives.

Additionally, OHIO has completed a major infrastructure maintenance project that resulted in energy and water savings, created a Utility Master Plan, signed a contract to provide 50 percent of campus-purchased electricity from Green-e certified REC’s and met its commitment to stop burning coal by the end of 2015.

The University has also spearheaded numerous energy-efficiency projects within the campus community and beyond, including the construction and renovation of numerous campus buildings to meet LEED building requirements.

TechGROWTH Ohio, a public-private partnership of OHIO’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, Ohio Third Frontier and the private investment community, has generated more than $450 million in economic activity while supporting growth of several successful businesses whose products lead to carbon emissions reductions.

The Appalachia Ohio Zero Waste Initiative (AOZWI) and the AMD Paint Pigment project, both funded by the local Sugar Bush Foundation, are two additional examples of OHIO’s commitment to furthering sustainability efforts across the Appalachian region.  

AOZWI is a “comprehensive collaboration within Southeast Ohio that is turning waste into resources and changing the way the region thinks about waste,” and includes a popular Zero Waste Pledge for local businesses. The AMD Paint Pigment project turns an environmental liability, acid mine drainage from a local abandoned coal mine, into a saleable commodity, artists’ paint. Both are examples of locally based, intentionally circular approaches to combat carbon emissions from excess waste and transportation.

OHIO also remains committed to preparing its students for a sustainable future through various undergraduate and graduate degree programs, a wide variety of courses that include sustainability and a Sustainability Studies theme. Student sustainability and climate action research is encouraged in many ways, including cash prizes for sustainability research at the annual Student Research and Creative Activity Expo, the alumni-created EcoChallenge sustainability competition and the local Sugar Bush Foundation, who provides grant support to sustainability- and community-focused projects.

In 2018, the Ohio EPA recognized Ohio University with its top environmental stewardship award, the E3 Platinum award. Ohio University was the first university in Ohio to achieve this recognition.

February 6, 2019
Staff reports