Ohio University

Sustainability Project Laboratory

Introduction

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!

Projects are divided into two tables: "Project Database", where full projects are available, and "Project Idea Database", where the core premise and helpful or interested contacts are listed.

 

Check our Frequently Asked Questions for details and funding opportunities.

 

Propose a sustainability project whose outcome will be a simultaneous benefit to people, planet and prosperity.

Request a sustainability project for an Ohio University course.

 

Feel free to be creative! Contact the Office of Sustainability for assistance understanding project details or breaking large projects into smaller tasks.

Projects are updated regularly. Most projects have contact information available to learn more, additionally contact Elaine Goetz (goetze@ohio.edu) for information.

 


Project Database

Click heading titles to sort. Click the "+" for more information.

Project Idea Title Possible Academic Connection Project length Experiential Learning? Community Engagement? Connection to Sustainability Plan* Word Document Brief description
OHIO Carbon Offsets Environmental Studies, Plant Biology, Geography, Restaurant, Hotel & Tourism semester, multi-year Yes No Climate
Download this project.
Create a proposal for an Ohio University certified carbon offset program.

Hammock Stand Proposal

Recreation & Sport Pedagogy, Urban Planning & Sustainability semester Yes No Grounds
Download this project.
Create OHIO hammock stand proposal:  determine best practices, location(s), costs and benefits.
Green Roof Project Engineering, Communications, Public Health, Public Policy, Business, Economics month, semester, week Yes Yes Grounds, Buildings, Water, Energy
More Information.
Broad opportunities to create projects related to green roof infrastructure.  Engage students in public health, policy, business and economics while exploring benefits of green roof infrastructure.

Plant-based Burgers Taste Testing

Human & Consumer Sciences; Nutrition; Restaurant, Hotel, & Tourism semester Yes No Food
Download this project.
Evaluate opportunities for replacing all-beef burgers with a beef/mushroom mix
Increasing Active Transportation Marketing; Psychology semester Yes Yes Energy
Download this project.
Increase healthy, active transportation (particularly commuting) among University employees and WellWorks members
Barn Renovation Civil Engineering multi-year Yes Yes Grounds
Download this project.
Design and renovate the abandoned barn at Hebbardsville Farm using sustainably harvested wood and recycled corrugated metal roof
Surface Water Hydrocarbon Baseline Determination Chemistry; Civil Engineering; Environmental Studies; Urban Planning semester Yes Yes Water
Download this project.
Develop sampling plan; collect and analyze surface water samples along the Ohio River for a community group
Tree Inventory or Drone-based Tree Inventory Plant Biology; Environmental Studies; Geography, GIS thesis Yes No Grounds
Download this project.
Determination of species, size and diversity of trees on Ohio University campuses
Determining Carbon Emissions from Commuting – Average Distance GIS, Geography, Environmental Studies month (repeated annually) Yes No Energy
Download this project.
Utilize GIS data from Parking Services to determine average distance commuted by Ohio University faculty, staff and students
Food Share System: Prevent Food Insecurity and Food Waste on Campus Computer Science semester Yes No Food
Download this project.
Develop a food app, social media platform or texting system that allows for notification of waste food on campus.  Identify obstacles to implementation, including policy and procedural obstacles.
Triple bottom line cost-benefit analysis tool GUI Computer Science semester Yes Yes Climate, Procurement, Investments
Download this project.
Create GUI for an open access triple bottom line cost-benefit analysis tool.

* Ohio University's Sustainability and Climate Action Plan (SCAP)


Project Idea Database

Project Idea Title Possible Academic Connection Project length Experiential Learning? Community Engagement? Connection to Sustainability Plan* Brief description
Outdoor Recycling Implementation Operations Research, Management Courses semester Yes Yes Waste Reduce the overall number of waste locations by developing a multi-tier plan to co-locate recycling at every location.
Educating Faculty Researchers on 'Sustainability Research' Definition Teacher Education semester Yes No Human Resources

Create a plan to educate Faculty Researchers on the definition  for sustainable research, and to encourage them to conduct research which meets the definition. 

Determining Carbon Emissions from Commuting- Mode Share Determination  Civil Engineering - Transportation group semester Yes No Climate, Energy  Set up a transportation study on campus to determine mode share (% of walkers, bikers, SOV, carpoolers, bussers).
Solar PV Panels for Groundskeeper Shed near Clippinger Energy Engineering semester Yes No Energy, Grounds The project would be to size the PV installation needed to power the electric equipment and to estimate triple bottom line costs for the installation. 
Reforming Plastics - Equipment ETM, Mechanical Engineering semester Yes No Waste, Build and/or optimize use of shredders, melters, extruders to create recycled plastic feedstock 
Reforming Plastics - Usage

COFA, Mechanical engineering, Public Administration, Environmental Studies

semester No No Waste Determine circular economic use of recycled plastic feedstock 
Energy Reduction: Increase use of Natural Light Interior Architecture; Pyschology semester No No Buildings Why do faculty/staff/students turn on lights in buildings with plenty of natural lighting?  Which buildings could be targets for lighting use reduction, and how could this be achieved? 
Energy Competitions - Planning

Energy Engineering, Marketing

semester No  No Energy, Student Life How do we best encourage energy efficiency on campus (behavior change) with Energy Competitions?  What metrics can we/should we collect; how do we group buildings for competitions; how do we market the competition; what rewards should there be for the winning building, if any? 
Energy Competitions- Implementation (annual) Energy Engineering annual No No Energy Track progress and results from energy competitions. 
Carbon Emissions from Investments Finance, Environmental Studies MS project Yes No
             
Climate Determine the carbon emissions from OHIO Foundation investments. 
LEED Lab CE 4540/5540 semester Yes No Buildings Evaluate existing buildings on campus for LEED certification 
LEED Lab - Energy & Atmosphere Section Energy Engineering semester  Yes No Climate Use SAM and the TBL CBA framework to determine costs and benefits of various renewable energy systems for campus. 
LEED Lab - Sustainable Sites Section Geography semester Yes No Grounds, Buildings Design a stormwater BMP for a building on campus, considering water retention, potable water use replacement, feasibility of cost and maintenance (only should convert already maintained grounds to BMPs that need maintenance), etc. 
LEED Lab - Water Efficiency Section Civil Engineering semester No No Buildings Determine flow/flush rates needed in fixtures and toilets for the water line slopes found in buildings on campus. 
Hebbardsville Farm: Business Plan for Sustainable Tree Harvesting Plant Biology, Business semester Yes No Grounds Create a business plan for sustainably harvesting mature trees at Hebbardsville Farm and reusing timber to renovate barn on site. 
Video Projects:  How to recycle, compost and landfill at OHIO  Visual Communications, Journalism semester Yes No Waste Create a short, fun video for orientations about handling waste on campus
Video Projects:  Stormwater Management at OHIO  Visual Communications, Journalism semester Yes No Water Create a short, fun video about stormwater management at OHIO for EPA stormwater permit regulations 
Storm Drain Outlet Sampling Civil Engineering semester Yes No Water Have students locate dry weather storm drain discharges; sample and analyze for pH, alkalinity, fluoride, E. coli, etc., and produce report. 
Transportation on Campus:  What are the best routes and small mobility devices to choose to navigate campus?  Civil Engineering, Urban Planning & Sustainability semester Yes No Transportation Create maps and recommendations for non-automobile travel on campus.  Record travel times for walking, bicycling, e-scootering, etc. from select locations to select destinations  
Green bikes program Sport & Rec Pedagogy semester Yes No Transportation Create loaner program for used bikes, and a bike maintenance shop, both staffed by volunteers 
Plastic Bricks  Civil Engineering semester Yes Yes Waste Partner with service organizations and community groups to create plastic bricks, determine best use, and incorporate into structures
Pollution Prevention Challenge Environmental Studies, Environmental Health & Safety one week Yes Yes Waste Students participate in the Pollution Prevention Challenge (part of US EPA Pollution Prevention Week)
Canopy Cover Plant Biology, Environmental Studies, Geography, GIS semester Yes No Grounds Quantification of greenhouse gas emissions reduction potential and ecological services provided by trees on Ohio University campuses; use i-Tree

* Ohio University's Sustainability and Climate Action Plan (SCAP)

Detailed Project Descriptions


Green Roof Project: 

Project contact:  Kim Thompson, thompsk3@ohio.edu 

Project description: 

There are broad opportunities to create projects related to green roof infrastructure.  Currently students from many colleges are engaged in projects, even before the rooftop has been planted.  We hope to engage students in public health, policy, business and economics while exploring benefits of green roof infrastructure.  Please contact Dr. Thompson for more information about projects.

Resources available to students/faculty to complete project:

  • Green roof on Schoonover Center
  • Student and faculty time
  • Monitoring equipment

Project alignment to OHIO Sustainability & Climate Action Plan:

  • Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through energy savings (Climate category)
  • Increase opportunities for formal, experiential, and community-engaged sustainability learning experiences (Curriculum core)
  • Offer opportunities to participate in or contribute to sustainability initiatives (Engagement core)
  • Create, enhance & track transformative sustainability engagement ecosystems with University and community partners (Engagement core)
  • Support and promote employee wellbeing and resilience (Human Resources category)
  • Support and promote student wellbeing and resilience (Student Life category)
  • Reduce impacts from storm water (Water category)
  • Reduce building impacts (roof costs) by using best practices in construction, renovation and demolition (Buildings category)
  • Reduce or eliminate air pollution from stationary and mobile sources (Climate category)

Plant-Based Burger Taste Testing: 

Project contact:  Theresa Moran, morant@ohio.edu 

Project description: 

Evaluate the opportunities for offering a beef/mushroom burgers in place of an all-beef burger in dining facilities on campus by conducting a survey and a taste-test.  The ultimate goal is to promote healthy food choices and to reduce red meat consumption at Ohio University.

Resources available to students/faculty to complete project:

  • Faculty and staff time
  • Tabling space for survey and taste test
  • Kitchen facilities for food preparation

Project alignment to OHIO Sustainability & Climate Action Plan:

  • Support and promote student wellbeing and resilience (Student Life category)
  • Support and promote employee wellbeing and resilience (Human Resources category)
  • Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through reduction in red meat purchases (Climate category)

Barn Renovation

Project contact:   Dominick Brook,  brookd@ohio.edu

Project description: 

Redesign and renovate the abandoned barn at Hebbardsville Farm using sustainably harvested wood, recycled corrugated metal roof, and paint created from acid mine drainage.  A renovated barn could be used as an education and events center for community and University sustainability activities.

Resources available to students/faculty to complete project:

  • Student and faculty time
  • Existing structure
  • Used metal roofing material
  • Sustainably harvested wood for flooring

Project alignment to OHIO Sustainability & Climate Action Plan:

  • Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through reuse of existing building materials (Climate category)
  • Increase opportunities for formal, experiential, and community-engaged sustainability learning experiences (Curriculum core)
  • Offer opportunities to participate in or contribute to sustainability initiatives (Engagement core)
  • Create, enhance & track transformative sustainability engagement ecosystems with University and community partners (Engagement core)
  • Reduce building impacts (roof costs) by using best practices in construction, renovation and demolition (Buildings category)
  • Work with communities to protect ground water quality and surface waters (Water category)
  • Increase diversion from landfill to reuse, recycling and composting (Waste category)

Surface Water Hydrocarbon Baseline Determination: 

Project contact:  Leatra Harper, wewantcleanwater@gmail.com or 419-450-7042

Project description: 

We Want Clean Water has completed a project through AGU's Thriving Earth Exchange to sample for hydrocarbons in surface water in the Wills Creek Watershed in Guernsey and Noble counties. They would like to expand this program to include the Ohio River to collect baseline data which can later be used to ascertain if spills, leaks and migrations have occurred from horizontal hydraulic fracturing. They have developed and deployed the protocol through work done with Ohio Northern University and need a regional affiliate with GC-MS capabilities.  The project includes 1) developing a sampling plan (locations, timing, number of samples, supplies needed) and 2) collecting and analyzing samples.

Resources available to students/faculty to complete project:

  • Sampling protocols
  • Sampling equipment
  • Faculty and staff consultations

Project alignment to OHIO Sustainability & Climate Action Plan:

  • Work with communities to protect ground water quality and surface waters (Water category)
  • Increase opportunities for formal, experiential, and community-engaged sustainability learning experiences (Curriculum core)
  • Create, enhance & track transformative sustainability engagement ecosystems with University and community partners (Engagement core)

Tree Inventory or Drone-based Tree Inventory: 

Project contact:  Susan Calhoun, calhoun@ohio.edu; Matt Riley, rileym3@ohio.edu 

Project description: 

Contribute to the campus tree inventory by determining species, size and diversity of trees and adding to existing database.  This project will assist in improved management of trees on campus.

Resources available to students/faculty to complete project:

  • Equipment to measure tree size
  • Landscape coordinator and GIS technician assistance
  • Existing database
  • Drone and drone pilot

Project alignment to OHIO Sustainability & Climate Action Plan:

  • Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through carbon sequestration in trees (Climate category)
  • Offer opportunities to participate in or contribute to sustainability initiatives (Engagement core)
  • Create and maintain healthy, natural, biodiverse and beautiful landscapes that can act as the foundation for sustainability-oriented experiential learning opportunities (Grounds category)
  • Support and promote employee wellbeing and resilience through tree ecosystem benefits (Human Resources category)
  • Support and promote student wellbeing and resilience through tree ecosystem benefits (Student Life category)
  • Reduce impacts from storm water (Water category)
  • Reduce or eliminate air pollution from stationary and mobile sources (Climate category)

OHIO Carbon Offsets

Project contact:  Elaine Goetz, goetze@ohio.edu, Catherine Marshall, marshalc@ohio.edu, or Nina Adanin, ka005016@ohio.edu

Project description: 

Create a proposal for an Ohio University certified carbon offset program. Carbon offsets compensate for carbon emissions that cannot be avoided by reducing emissions elsewhere. For this project, students will investigate methods for creating certified carbon offset programs, and will write and present a proposal with recommendations and best practices. Future steps could include implementation of a certified carbon offset program (for example, tree plantings).

Resources available to students/faculty to complete project:

Project alignment to OHIO Sustainability & Climate Action Plan:

  • Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through carbon offsets (Climate category)
  • Achieve recognition for innovative and robust sustainability planning, coordination and governance (Administrative Support core)
  • Offer opportunities to participate in or contribute to sustainability initiatives (Engagement core)

OHIO Hammock Stand Proposal: 

Project contact:  Susan Calhoun, calhoun@ohio.edu

Project description: 

Create OHIO hammock stand proposal:  research best practices; survey stakeholders to determine preferred hammock stand locations; outline costs and benefits for installation of stand(s).

Resources available to students/faculty to complete project:

  • Initial interview with staff member

Project alignment to OHIO Sustainability & Climate Action Plan:

  • Create and maintain healthy, natural, biodiverse and beautiful landscapes that can act as the foundation for sustainability-oriented experiential learning opportunities (Grounds category)
  • Support and promote employee wellbeing and resilience (Human Resources category)
  • Support and promote student wellbeing and resilience (Student Life category)
  • Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through carbon sequestration in healthy trees (Climate category)

Increasing Active Transportation

Project contact:   Annie Laurie Cadmus, cadmus@ohio.edu

Project description:

Increase healthy, active transportation (particularly commuting) among University employees and WellWorks members. Goals of project include: 

  • Encourage active transportation to the campuses and fitness center.  
  • Track active transportation at WellWorks check-in and/or incentivize rides
  • Evaluate active transportation commuting routes for safety, timing, etc.
  • Create active transportation map/resource for campuses 

Resources available to students/faculty to complete project:

  • WellWorks staff time

Project alignment to OHIO Sustainability & Climate Action Plan:

  • Reduction of institutional greenhouse gas emissions from transportation (Climate, Transportation categories)
  • Support and promote employee wellbeing and resilience (Human Resources category)

Determining Carbon Emissions from Commuting – Average Distance

Project contact:   Elaine Goetz, goetze@ohio.edu

Project description:

Utilize GIS and address data from Transportation & Parking Services to determine average distance commuted by Ohio University faculty, staff and students.  Each year, the average commuting distance is required for our Greenhouse Gas Inventory report to Second Nature.

Resources available to students/faculty to complete project:

  • Address data of commuters
  • Second Nature technical manual

Project alignment to OHIO Sustainability & Climate Action Plan:

  • Reduction of institutional greenhouse gas emissions from transportation (Climate, Transportation categories)
  • Achieve recognition for innovative and robust sustainability planning, coordination and governance (Administrative Support category)

Triple bottom line cost-benefit analysis tool GUI

Project contact:   Elaine Goetz, goetze@ohio.edu or John Glazer, glazerj@ohio.edu 

Project description:

Create a Graphical User Interface (GUI) for a triple bottom line cost-benefit analysis tool, which is currently in an Excel spreadsheet format.  This tool is used for sustainability decision-making, and will be more accessible to external users of the tool if is has a graphical user interface.

Resources available to students/faculty to complete project:

  • Excel spreadsheet cost-benefit analysis tool
  • Staff consultation time

Project alignment to OHIO Sustainability & Climate Action Plan:

  • Achieve recognition for innovative and robust sustainability planning, coordination and governance (Administrative Support category)

Food Share System: Prevent Food Insecurity and Food Waste on Campus

Project contact:   Elaine Goetz, goetze@ohio.edu or Theresa Moran, morant@ohio.edu

Project description:

Develop an app or other electronic method of notification to food insecure students of available food on campuses, such as University of Pittsburgh's "PittGrub" system.

Resources available to students/faculty to complete project:

  • Staff consultation time

Project alignment to OHIO Sustainability & Climate Action Plan:

  • Support and promote student wellbeing and resilience (Student Life category)
  • Increase diversion from landfill to reuse, recycling and composting (Waste category)
  • Achieve recognition for innovative and robust sustainability planning, coordination and governance (Administrative Support category)