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A group portrait of the sustainability climate ambassadors
Sustainable Administration Hub: Climate

Sustainable Administration Hub: Climate


A climate which supports people and prosperity was the first concern and is the most important theme of Ohio University’s Office of Sustainability.  Ohio University signed the Presidents Carbon Commitment (formerly American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, or ACUPCC) in 2007 to show our commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Our carbon neutrality date is 2050. Our 2021 5-year Sustainability and Climate Action plan includes a goal of 50% emissions reduction from a fiscal year 2012 baseline by 2026. We aim to meet that goal with 100% reduction of emissions from electricity usage, and with efforts to heating and cooling, commuting, paper purchasing emissions. The Office of Sustainability is charged with facilitating the university's effort to combat the climate crisis and spurring sustainable lifestyles and activities in the university community.

Sustainability Project Laboratory Icon




The Sustainability Project Laboratory is a database of sustainability-related project proposals. This resource hosts projects and project ideas that can be adopted by faculty, staff, and students for course projects, capstone or senior projects, theses, and more.

To find climate related projects just type "climate" into the search bar at the top of the Project Database.


The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) is currently revising its Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), which Ohio University uses to measure its sustainability efforts. You may view a draft of the proposed updates to Climate guidelines here


2017 Climate Infographic: all text and graphics are outlined in the page content.
The 2017 Transportation infographic outlining progress towards the 2011 sustainability benchmarks and new goals set for fiscal year 2026. Find the information in the tabs "Where we are now (2017): Progress toward 2011 Sustainability Plan," "Moving Forward: 2017 Sustainability & Climate Action Plan Goal #1," and "Moving Forward: 2017 Sustainability & Climate Action Plan Goal #2."


Accessibility View of Climate Graphic

Where we are now (2017): Progress toward 2011 Sustainability Plan

  • Benchmark 1: Reduce institutional greenhouse gas emissions. Target of 25% reduction by 2030 exceeded (34% reduction occurred by FY17)​

Climate Graphics
STARS Climate Comparison Graphic
AASHE STARS compares programs across the nation in many different categories. Ohio University reports above the national average in transportation.
Ohio University Emissions Breakdown
At Ohio University (and anywhere you may go), all carbon emissions impact the climate. Transportation makes up about a quarter of the emissions, with faculty (teal), staff (orange), and student (dark blue) composing a large part of that. Air travel (brown) and direct transportation (orange) also contribute to the transportation total. Buildings make up about two-thirds of the emissions, mostly due to the great amount of purchased electricity (purple) and on-campus stationary (light blue).

Moving Forward: 2017 Sustainability & Climate Action Plan Goal #1

Goal 1: Reduce institutional greenhouse gas emissions by:

  • Decreasing the metric tons equivalent of carbon dioxide (MT e-CO2) from 112,495 to 92,140
  • Increasing the percent of MT e-CO2 from FY12 baseline (184281 MT e-CO2) from 34% to 50%
    • Emissions from food are not included in baseline or goal.​
FY26 Projected Emissions
Ohio University Projection Breakdown
In FY26, Ohio University aims to maintain or decrease its carbon footprint, not increase it. The main goal is to reduce purchased electricity (purple) to zero.
Potential Strategies​
  • Reduce emissions by 100% from purchased electricity​

  • Incrementally reduce emissions from on-campus stationary sources (not including food), commuting, and paper purchasing ​

  • Improved monitoring and reporting of all carbon offsets​

  • Replace steam heating with more efficient, lower carbon form of heating​

  • Reimagine space utilization and the University’s footprint5. See the Ohio University space utilization strategic initiative

Benefits of Goal #1 
  • Increased economic activity
  • Reduced emissions
  • Human health benefits 
  • Increased environmental resiliency
  • Improved reputation
Costs of Goal #1
  • Capital expenses
  • Operation and management costs


Moving Forward: 2017 Sustainability & Climate Action Plan Goal #2

Goal 2: Reduce or eliminate criteria air pollution from stationary (including, but not limited to, central heating & cooling equipment, such as boilers and chillers) and mobile sources, by reducing the tons of EPA criteria air pollutants from 61.7 tons to 58 tons. EPA criteria air pollutants are: nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, ground-level ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide and lead.

Potential Strategies​
  • Create and implement written policy on air pollutant emissions from mobile sources such as from fleet vehicle or lawn care equipment idling​

  • Continue corrective and preventative repairs on steam system​

  • Increase energy efficiency (see Energy theme goals)​

  • Improve energy recovery from all stationary sources​

  • Utilize cleaner fuel sources where possible: heating plant, chiller plant, vehicles, lawn care equipment​

Benefits of Goal #2
  • Reduced operating expense
  • Improved air quality
  • Human health benefits 
Costs of Goal #2
  • Capital expenses
  • Operation and management costs

Current Data

Ohio University has committed to being carbon neutral by the year 2075, but the carbon neutrality data of 2050 is proposed for the 2021 Sustainability & Climate Action Plan (see above).

Carbon emissions are calculated each year and are reported(opens in a new window) to Second Nature, the organization responsible for the Presidents' Carbon Commitment.  Ohio University is a signatory of the Presidents' Carbon Commitment, formerly the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC).  Reporting lags by over a year, as carbon emissions for one fiscal year are due May 1 of the next fiscal year.

A line graph showing OU's carbon emissions with a line representing each scope.
OU carbon emissions from FY12 - FY22. Scope 2 emissions reach zero in 2022 because 100% of its purchased electricity is from RECs, Renewable Energy Certificates.
A line graph showing OU's nitrogen emissions with a line representing each scope.
OU's nitrogen emissions by scope from FY12 - FY22. Scope 2 emissions reach zero in 2022 because 100% of its purchased electricity is from RECs, Renewable Energy Certificates.


Fiscal Year 2012 (FY12) is the baseline year for Ohio University, and emissions have decreased substantially on the Athens Campus since FY12, thanks primarily to:

  • energy conservation measures through the Energy Infrastructure Project (EIP),
  • fuel switching from coal to all natural gas at the Lausche Heating Plant on Thanksgiving Day, 2015, and
  • the purchase of renewable energy certificates (RECs) for 50% of electricity purchases, beginning in January, 2016, and beginning in January, 2021 for 100% of electricity purchases.

In 2016, an effort was made to create baseline greenhouse gas emissions across all campuses. Baseline data has been collected from Southern, Chillicothe and Lancaster campuses, and emissions reports are partially completed.



2022 Hub Supported Initiatives

Initiatives Goals SCAP Alignment

Climate and Sustainability Ambassadors:

A decentralized student volunteer and climate action group.

1.Create opportunities for student engagement in the areas of climate literacy and/or sustainability, with the specific goal of having each Ambassador participate in 3 events a semester

2. Increase student engagement at Ohio University in the areas of sustainability and climate literacy;

3.To foster existing relationships and form new partnerships with key groups both on and off campus to foster an engagement ecosystem around the concepts of sustainability and climate literacy. 

Waste Reduction, Energy Use Reduction, Transportation Emissions Reduction. Improving Climate Literacy.

Hub Seminars:

Monthly Seminars, open to the public for Hub Coordinators, Faculty and Staff to discuss SCAP goals.
To promote communication regarding the University’s Climate Action plan with students, staff, and faculty; and across all campuses and centers Communication and Education for all SCAP targets and initiatives


Initiative (Lead Department/Unit) SCAP Alignment

2050 Carbon Neutrality Pledge (President’s Office)

Ohio University’s pledge to reach carbon neutrality
Reduce institutional greenhouse gas emissions
Annual Greenhouse Gas Inventory (Office of Sustainability) Reduce institutional greenhouse gas emissions


Hub-Related Initiatives

All of the other Hub pages carry information and projects related to climate initiatives, so be sure to check them out.

Ohio University Experts & Area Stakeholders

OHIO Experts

Name:  Contact:  Description:  
Geoffrey Dabelko Professor; Associate Dean, Voinovich School  
Sarah Davis

Associate Professor, Voinovich School


John Sabraw Professor of Art and Chair of Painting + Drawing  
Jason Trembly Russ Professor of Mechanical Engineering & Director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy and the Environment  
R. Guy Riefler Chair and Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering  
David Drabold Distinguished Professor, Physics and Astronomy  
Kevin Crist

Director, Center for Air Quality and Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Tom Smucker Associate Professor & Graduate Chair  
Ryan Fogt Sustainable Administration Hub Coordinator; Professor, Geography  
Elaine Goetz Director of Energy Management & Sustainability  


Area Stakeholders

Name:  Contact:  Description:  
Rural Action A nonprofit that focuses on public and environmental enrichment projects in Appalachian Ohio 
Environment and Sustainability Commission… A climate advocacy group in Athens, Ohio