Resource conservation becomes sustainability
July 19, 2007
By Alison Wayner
Ohio University has changed the name of its one-year-old Office of Resource Conservation to better reflect the office's evolving focus. The new name - Office of Sustainability - conveys that the office has expanded its scope beyond resource conservation activities as it takes steps to make the university a more ecologically sensitive institution.
Executive Director of Facilities Management Harry Wyatt notes that the new name signals the university's commitment to being a state leader in working toward a "green" university.
"We are taking the office to the next level," Wyatt said. "With the campus' commitment to the climate initiative and mandates from the state to monitor our carbon footprint, the scope is broadening from just conservation. The work of this office will serve to influence projects campuswide."
Among the office's major accomplishments in its first year was securing more than $320,000 in grant funding to establish the first full-scale composting system at an Ohio college or university by spring 2008. The project will create what's believed to be the largest in-vessel composting system at a college in the United States. An in-vessel system allows for the processing of biodegradable waste to a fertile soil additive in just 14 days.
President Roderick J. McDavis' signing of the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment in March was another high point for the office this year. The commitment pledges that the university will address global warming through completion of a greenhouse gas emissions inventory, creation of a climate action plan and establishment of target dates for climate neutrality among other things. The university's greenhouse gas emissions inventory is already under way.
Sonia Marcus, whose title has changed from resource conservation coordinator to sustainability coordinator, said the office's name change demonstrates the degree to which Ohio University is looking at environmental issues from a more integrated perspective.
Marcus noted that while resource conservation is still central to the office's mission, considerable emphasis also is placed on proactively searching for ways to "do the right thing" from economic, social and environmental perspectives.
"That is what sustainability is all about," Marcus said. "Initiatives such as the Presidents' Climate Commitment, the composting project, RecycleMania, Earth Week and the Ecohouse are all addressing those integrated needs."