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Sustainability Project Laboratory

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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 raw ideas, often from public comments, are stored until they are developed into full projects.

For projects external to the university, please check the Projects that Matter website.

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.

COMPLETE - Hammock Stand Proposal

Recreation & Sport Pedagogy, Urban Planning & Sustainability semester Yes No Grounds

Download this project.

Completed project summary

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.
Hocking River Channel Biodiversity Environmental Studies, Plant Biology, Public Policy, Geography year, thesis Yes Yes Grounds,Water, Download this project Investigate process for updating the Hocking Conservancy District's charter to allow for less mowing and greater biodiversity.

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
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
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.
Pipette Tip Sterilization and Reuse Biochemistry, Biology, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry semester or thesis/dissertation Yes No Waste Download this project Generate a cost-benefit analysis and grant proposal for the purchase of pipette tip sterilization equipment to reduce plastic usage in Ohio University labs.
People-Powered Transit Bike Bus Civil Engineering Semester, year Yes No Climate, Transportation, Student Life Download this project Create a human-powered bike bus (bike with 8-12 seats) to increase healthy active transportation among students on campus.
Solar Installments Civil Engineering Multi-year Yes No Energy, Climate Download this project Cover rooftops and other surfaces with solar panels/other solar installments to use a better type of energy and reduce electricity consumption on campus.

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

Project Idea Database

Project Idea Title Possible Academic Connection Project length Connection to Sustainability Plan* Brief description
Outdoor Recycling Implementation Operations Research, Management Courses semester Waste Reduce the overall number of waste locations by developing a multi-tier plan to co-locate recycling at every location.
Pollinator Habitat Development Plant Biology, Biology semester Grounds Create plan for pollinator habitat development and maintenance
Educating Faculty Researchers on 'Sustainability Research' Definition Teacher Education semester 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 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 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 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 Waste Determine circular economic use of recycled plastic feedstock 
Energy Reduction: Increase use of Natural Light Interior Architecture; Psychology semester 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 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 Energy Track progress and results from energy competitions. 
Carbon Emissions from Investments Finance, Environmental Studies MS project Climate Determine the carbon emissions from OHIO Foundation investments. 
LEED Lab CE 4540/5540 thesis or dissertation Buildings Evaluate existing buildings on campus for LEED certification 
Renewable Energy Cost Benefit Analysis Energy Engineering semester  Climate Use SAM and the TBL CBA framework to determine costs and benefits of various renewable energy systems for campus. 
Storm Water Best Management Practices Geography, Civil Engineering semester Grounds, Buildings Design a stormwater BMP for a building or parking lot 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. 
Analysis of Low Flow Fixtures Civil Engineering semester 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 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 Waste Create a short, fun video for orientations about handling waste on campus
Video Projects:  Stormwater Management at OHIO  Visual Communications, Journalism semester Water Create a short, fun video about stormwater management at OHIO for EPA stormwater permit regulations 
Storm Drain Outlet Sampling Civil Engineering semester 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 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 Transportation Create loaner program for used bikes, and a bike maintenance shop, both staffed by volunteers 
Plastic Bricks  Civil Engineering, Construction Management semester 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 Waste Create and implement plan to market and encourage participation in the Pollution Prevention Challenge (part of US EPA Pollution Prevention Week)
Canopy Cover Plant Biology, Environmental Studies, Geography, GIS semester Grounds

Quantification of greenhouse gas emissions reduction potential and ecological services provided by trees on Ohio University campuses; use i-Tree.

Riparian Zone/Flood Protection Project Plant Maintenance Plant Biology, Urban Planning and Sustainability Month Grounds , Climate Work with Hocking Conservancy District and local governments to create updated flood protection project maintenance plan that allows for pollinator habitat
Increased Green Roof Development Environmental Studies, Plant Biology Year, Multi-year ClimateWater Develop green roofs on campus to better manage storm water runoff balance out carbon emissions.
Annual Climate Conference Geography-Urban Planning & Sustainability Annually Climate Plan an annual climate conference including students, faculty, and speakers on campus.
Local Solar Electricity Production Energy Engineering Multi-year Energy Increase local solar electricity production, specifically on rooftops and parking lot car ports.
Use Cleaner Fuel Sources Geography- Urban Planning& Sustainability Multi-year Climate Replace lawn mowers, vehicles, and air conditioners/heaters with a cleaner fuel source to reduce emissions.
Green Wall Plant Biology Multi-year Energy,  Water Create a green wall to help heat inside of buildings and reduce storm water management. 
Create Posters about Food Sustainability in Dining Hall Marketing Semester Waste Create posters for the dining hall that explain where food and other consumable items come from to educate the students about sustainable eating.
Buy from and Support Local Businesses Business; Marketing Continuously Food Buy from and support local businesses to promote sustainable foods and other items.
Increase Green Energy Energy Engineering Year, Multi-year Energy Install solar panels on more residence halls to increase the presence of green energy use on campus.
Recycling Education Program Education Major Year, Multi-year WasteWater Create a recycling education program to prevent stream  contamination and promote a cleaner campus.
Compost Bins near Residence Halls Environmental Studies Semester WasteWater Put compost bins near residence halls to reduce the amount of waste that goes into the landfill.
Stainless Steel Cutlery/ Straw Packs Environmental Studies Year, Multi-year Student LifeWaste Offer each incoming student a reusable, stainless steel cutlery/ straw pack to eliminate an enormous percentage of one-use plastic cutlery across campus.
Solar Installments Energy Engineering Multi-year Energy Cover rooftops with solar installments to use a better source of energy around campus.
Dining Hall Competitions/ Start Composting Programs Environmental Studies Semester Student LifeWaste Create dining hall competitions and programs for composting to reduce the amount of waste that goes to the landfill.
Benches Around Pond Area Mechanical Engineering Semester, Year Grounds,  Waste  if made from recyclable plastics) Make benches from recycled polystryene to put around pond areas to make the area more attractive to faculty/ students. 
Student Employment/ Volunteer Opportunities through Campus Recycling Community Leadership Semester, Year Student LifeWaste Promote student employment and volunteer opportunities through Campus Recycling to increase student involvement and educate students about benefits of recycling.
Additional Funding for Student Sustainability Majors/Certificates/Programs Business Could do fundraiser multiple times per year



Create a fundraiser to get scholarship funding for students in sustainability majors/ certificates/ programs
Create Sustainable Study Abroad Experiences Any- see the Office of Global Opportunities for more information Year Curriculum  Create and promote sustainability study abroad experiences, such as the urban planning in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Provide a first-year sustainability curriculum to students University College  Annually Curriculum Implement sustainability curriculum into the Learning Community Program to provide a one time lesson to first year students
Create a required Environmental Studies/ Sustainability Course Environmental Studies, Environmental Science and Sustainability, University College, Education Semester Curriculum Create a Gen-ed required Environmental Studies/ Sustainability course every undergraduate would have to take no matter their major. This would inform them of sustainable opportunities.
Create a more visible crowdfunding campaign for the office Marketing  Semester Investments  Create a more visible crowdfunding campaign for the office to start that goes into a collected pool to be able to provide more student related sustainable opportunities.
Carbon Offsets Business/ Accounting Semester  Investments  Create a budget management plan for purchasing carbon offsets for older/high-emitting buildings that aren't scheduled for renovation. 
Energy Usage Education Education Major Annually



Educate students on how to limit their energy usage to reduce the amount of energy used in residence halls.
Student Education about negative impacts of waste Education Major Semester



Education students about negative of waste and advantages to recycling, composting and not purchasing things they don't need.
Add Vegetarian/international food options Culinary Arts Year Food Add more vegetarian and international food options to cafeterias to promote sustainable foods.
Promote reusable bags Marketing  Semester Waste Promote reusable bags to carry food items to cut down on one-use plastic bags. 
Offer discounts for own reusable cutlery sets
Business, Center for Entrepreneurship  Semester

Student Life


Offer discounts for those who show their own reusable cutlery sets at checkout to promote reusable silverware.
More food awareness signs at checkout Marketing  Semester Waste Create more educational/ awareness signs to put at checkout to remind students about how much food they will actually be able to eat (to prevent food waste)
Increase natural growth by residence halls Plant Biology  Semester, Year  Climate Increase natural growth by residence halls: native plants and pollinator gardens that can grow free and undisturbed.
Make clear signage at naturalized/ pollinator sites Marketing Semester Grounds Create clear signage at naturalized/pollinator sites to help explain to students that these are significant areas, not just unmaintained spaces
Educational Campaign to encourage public transit Marketing Semester Climate Create an educational campaign to encourage incoming students not to bring cars into Athens and promote GoBus/ ZipCar to reduce emissions. 
Add Bike Routes on Campus Urban Planning and Sustainability, Civil Engineering, Outdoor Recreation Year, Multi-year



Add bike routes to campus to promote human transportation and reduce emissions from gas vehicles 
Give students a discount/extra meal swipe for healthy food choices Business Semester, year


Student Life

Incentivized students to make healthy/ vegetarian choices by providing them with a punch card/ discount/ extra meal swipe as these choices should be less expensive, and should be reflected in how much they pay.
Reduce the amount of red meat sold Human and Consumer Sciences, Nutrition Year, Multi year



Reduce the amount of red meat served ( meat industry generates 18% of annual global greenhouse gas production) to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Host farmers market Business, Center for Entrepreneurship  Semester


Student Life


Host farmers market with local foods and goods to promote sustainable food options.
Native Plants Plant Biology Year



Require plants and trees to in university landscaping to be native to remove carbon from the air and provide food and shelter for wildlife.
Launch Campaigns for public transmit and human transportation Marketing  Semester Transportation Launch campaigns for public transit and human transportation to encourage a healthy lifestyle for students/ faculty and reduce gas emissions.
Reduce on-campus routes open to cars Urban Planning and Sustainability, Engineering  Multi-year



Reduce the amount of routes open to cars on campus to make it more bike friendly. 
Drone-Based Tree Inventory Plant Biology, Environmental Studies, Geography, GIS Thesis Grounds

Determination of species, size and diversity of trees on Ohio University campuses.

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