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Sustainability and Climate Action Plan


Office of Sustainability logo

2021 OHIO

Sustainability and Climate Action Plan

Approved June 18, 2021


Executive Summary


Planning Process

How to Read the Plan Categories

Categories in the Plan

Implementation and Tracking


Condensed List of Plan Goals


Executive Summary

The 2021 OHIO Sustainability & Climate Action Plan is a road map for the next 5 years of progress toward the carbon neutrality and academic requirements of the Presidents’ Carbon Commitment (formerly the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment) and the OHIO strategic priority of “enhancing the University’s national position as a leading edge laboratory for sustainability.” The plan challenges the University to reach new targets beyond those included in the 2011 Sustainability and 2012 Climate Action Plans. 

To streamline external reporting and facilitate national recognition, the plan aligns with the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS) credits as well as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The sixteen sections of the plan are:  Administrative Support, Buildings, Climate, Curriculum, Energy, Engagement, Food, Grounds, Human Resources, Investments, Procurement, Research, Student Life, Transportation, Waste and Water. Goals are included in each section of the plan along with metrics, targets, strategies for reaching those goals as well as general triple bottom line costs and benefits of implementing the strategies. The plan will be partnered with an internal implementation document which will be more fully developed over the next academic year.

The creation of this document was a University and community-wide effort, informed by more than 450 comments from faculty, staff, students, and community members with valuable feedback integrated into the plan.

Guiding principles for the 2021 OHIO Sustainability & Climate Action Plan were:

  • The new plan must direct progress toward the achievement of the Presidents’ Carbon Commitments.
  • The new plan must merge and align the goals of the former Ohio University Sustainability Plan, Ohio University Climate Action Plan and the AASHE STARS submissions to minimize duplicate reporting requirements.
  • The new plan must provide triple bottom line cost benefit analyses for strategies, to aid in implementation decisions.

Strengths of this plan lie in the expansion of sustainability goals to include issues such as diversity and inclusion in the Human Resources and Student Life areas; in the incorporation of flexible experiential and community-engaged learning laboratory strategies in both the plan and in the implementation process; and in the focus on strategies that simultaneously benefit the triple bottom line of sustainability: people, planet and prosperity, now and into the future.


Ohio University is known for its strong commitment to sustainability, evidenced in part by its founding of Recycle Mania with Miami University in January 2001, its listing on the Top 30 College & University US EPA Green Power Partner list, its status as home to the largest in-vessel composting system of any college or university in the nation, and its support of sustainability focused research and curriculum. The university has almost 1 million square feet of Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certified building space. Ohio University has achieved numerous sustainability accolades, including: AASHE STARS Silver status for the past six years; Tree Campus Higher Education recognition for the fifth straight year; Bicycle Friendly University for the past three years; recognition as a LEED Lab institution; a national Gameday Recycling Challenge repeat winner; and a Platinum Ohio EPA Encouraging Environmental Excellence recognition. Ohio University is a past winner of the APPA Sustainability Award and the NACUFS bronze award for Waste Management.

Former President Roderick McDavis signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, now called the Presidents’ Carbon Commitment, on March 15, 2007, committing the University to:

  • creating and updating a climate action plan to achieve carbon neutrality
  • annual carbon tracking and reporting
  • actions to make carbon neutrality part of the curriculum for all students
  • actions to expand research in carbon neutrality

The first Ohio University Sustainability Plan was created through an extensive public planning process and was approved by the Board of Trustees in 2011. The first Ohio University Climate Action Plan was then created the following year in 2012 to meet the Carbon Commitment requirements.

More recently, Former President Duane Nellis reaffirmed Ohio University’s Carbon Commitment on his first day in office, June 12, 2017, by signing the “We are Still In” declaration of continued commitment to reaching carbon neutrality.

Planning Process

The 2021 OHIO Sustainability and Climate Action Plan was created after an extensive planning process. Initial development began in 2016 by defining guiding principles and creating a timeline for plan completion. Despite consistent advances, we extended our process several times, first in response to faculty requests, then to needs of administrators and to navigate structural changes, and finally due to circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Guiding principles were:

  • The new plan must direct progress toward the achievement of the Presidents’ Carbon Commitments.
  • The new plan must merge and align the goals of the former Ohio University Sustainability Plan, Ohio University Climate Action Plan and the AASHE STARS submissions to minimize duplicate reporting requirements.
  • The new plan must provide triple bottom line cost benefit analyses for strategies, to aid in implementation decisions.

The final planning process timeline included goal and target envisioning, vetting by responsible parties and the public as well as multiple revisions over a two-year period, as is shown in Figure 1.

SCAP timeline at completion

How to Read the Plan Categories

Sustainability and Climate Action Plan How to Read Section

Categories in the Plan

Sustainability at Ohio University is structured into core components and Sustainability Hubs. There are three Sustainability Hubs, each led by a faculty member and comprising 4 thematic categories. The thematic categories in the core components and Sustainability Hubs are listed below in alphabetic order by core/Hub.  Click the heading to download each section of the plan. 

Core Components

Structure of Sustainability Hubs at Ohio University


Administrative Support





Sustainable Administration Hub Categories

Sustainable Administration Hub logo


Human Resources




Sustainable Infrastructure Hub Categories

Infrastructure Hub






Sustainable Living Hub Categories

Living Hub



Student Life



Implementation and Tracking

A plan achieves success when it is complemented by an effective implementation process. The 2021 OHIO Sustainability & Climate Action Plan will be implemented by administrators, faculty, students, and staff throughout the University. Implementation will be facilitated and tracked by the Office of Sustainability and the Sustainability Hubs.

In the 2021-22 academic year, detailed implementation guides will be developed for each category in the plan. The guides will include names of parties who have agreed to implement strategies, the specific metrics that will be gathered to determine progress on those strategies, implementation notes, and how the metrics from each strategy will be compiled to determine overall progress toward the plan goals. The Office of Sustainability Director and Associate Director will each facilitate implementation of eight categories, with assistance from the Sustainability Hub Coordinators, Sustainability Hub Graduate Assistants, and other student staff.

Implementation facilitation will also occur through the Sustainability Project Laboratory (SPL). Strategies will be listed in the SPL as either ideas to be developed into implementable projects, or full projects which are ready to be implemented by graduate students, as class projects, or as student organization projects. Strategy lists are designed to be flexible and to change over time. Strategies will move fluidly from the ideas section of the SPL into the full project section, to webpages as they are implemented, or perhaps back to the ideas section, as resources and priorities change.

Parties responsible for implementation from around the University will be contacted on an annual basis to gather metrics on progress. Metrics will be compiled and compared to targets for each goal in each category on an annual basis and will be reported in one or more of the following ways:

  • Second Nature’s Annual Presidents’ Carbon Commitment Report
  • Ohio University Board of Trustee’s Annual Sustainability Report
  • Ohio University Bi-annual Sustainability Committee Report
  • AASHE STARS Tri-annual Report
  • Office of Sustainability webpages


The creation of this plan was a labor of love, and we are grateful to the following people for their contributions.  Apologies if we have forgotten anyone; there were so many contributors!

Office of Sustainability Staff

Sam Crowl

Elaine Goetz

Ryan Fogt

Theresa Moran

Dave Bayless

Kim Thompson

Benton Wright

Meg Little

TJ Vanek

Olivia Wolff

Allison Shryock

Emma Linn

Andy Mayse

Vicky Kent

Abbey Rodjom

Sydney Hutchinson

Vanessa Thiel


Ecohouse Residents

Paola Munoz

Tristan Mandeville

Elle Dickerman


Faculty and Staff

Joel Baetens

Cliff Hamilton

Tia Hysell

Andrew Ladd

Lindsey Rudibaugh

Mary Nally

Jennifer Bowie

Tina Payne

Steve Mack

Shawna Wolfe

Jennifer Bennett

Annie Laurie Cadmus

Susan Calhoun

Catherine Marshall

Matthew Riley

Jacqueline Kloepfer

Catherine Allgood

Dominick Brook

Jonathon Cozad

Sarah David

Janet Hulm

Miranda Kridler

Jason Farmer

Joy Kostansek

Natalie Kruse Daniels

Diana McGrew

Rusty Thomas

Barbel Such

Elissa Welch

Nicole Kirchner

Thomas Stevenson

Pramod Kanwar

Nancy Manring

Gwyn Scott

Michael Stephens

Katherine Hartman

Sara Helfrich

Eric Burchard

Kathy Fahl

Barbara Harrison

Jim Sabin

Gigi Secuban

Geneva Murray

Jill Lallier

Mark Ferguson

David Gaume

David Stowe

Ana Rosado-Feger

Colleen Bendl

Cat Russell

Peter Trentacoste

Arthur Trese

Megan Vogel

Geoff Dabelko

Jeremy Daniels

Jesus Pagan

Brent Buckley

Greg Kremer

Adam Riehl

Jay North

Jeff McGlamery

Roxanne Male-Brune

Kelly Broughton

Jen Bowman

Becky Bushey-Miller

Valerie Miller

Jenny Hall-Jones

Jason Pina