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Composting project gets another boost
ODNR awards additional $50,000 grant for solar array

June 7, 2007

By Sonia Marcus 

Ohio University is continuing on the fast track toward its goal of establishing the first full-scale composting system at a college or university by spring 2008. 

A recently announced grant will go toward the purchase of a 6.15-kilowatt solar photovoltaic array expected to generate 35 percent of the electricity needed for the composting site. Additional funds from this grant will be directed toward site preparation, including water and drainage lines, and Ohio University's first compost toilet.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Recycling and Litter Prevention awarded Ohio University another $50,000 toward the in-vessel composting initiative planned by the College and University Recycling and Waste Reduction Program. This award supplements a $250,000 grant announced in April.

"This particular grant targeted college and university programs, so we are especially proud to be recognized among our peer institutions in the state as a leader in the area of waste minimization and recycling," said Resource Conservation Coordinator Sonia Marcus. Using a solar array to power the composting system will offset 9,000 pounds of carbon emissions each year, resulting in roughly 270,000 pounds of carbon avoided over an operational period of 30 years, Marcus said. The installation of a solar energy source for the system also will free up additional resources for the Department of Facilities Management in a time of rising energy costs.

"Combining a 'green' power source with our in-vessel composting unit is a great way to address numerous environmental concerns in an integrated, systematic way,? Marcus said. ?This is the way we need to be thinking about all our operations here at Ohio University, now and into the future.?

In March of this year, President Roderick J. McDavis signed on to the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, which requires that the university move toward climate neutrality through the development of a comprehensive plan to reduce greenhouse gases. 

In a letter included in the grant application, McDavis noted that this initiative would provide both a fiscally progressive and environmentally sound method to dispose of the university's biodegradable waste and help position the state of Ohio as a national leader in new energy solutions. 

"Publicly funded universities have played, and will continue to play, a key role in this process. Ohio University is proud of its accomplishments in this arena; 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," McDavis stated. 

This initiative also will qualify for assistance from the Ohio Department of Development's Energy Loan Fund Grant Program. The solar compost initiative will have access to an incentive of $3.50 per watt, for a total of $21,525 based on the 6.15-kilowatt array.

The compost initiative will provide the Ohio University campus with a model for a larger-scale renewable power system that will serve to inform future construction and renovation projects. 

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