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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.

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

Project Database

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

Project Title Possible Academic Connection Project length Experiential Learning? Community Engagement? Connection to Sustainability Plan* Project Information Sheet Brief description
Impacts of Laundry Chemistry, Energy Engineering, Environmental Science and Sustainability, Environmental Science, Business Semester Yes No


More Information Find and quantify the impact of student laundry on campus sustainability, including the carbon footprint, and supply recommendations for reductions.
OHIO Carbon Offsets Environmental Studies, Plant Biology, Geography, Restaurant, Hotel & Tourism Semester, multi-year Yes No Climate
More Information
Create a proposal for an Ohio University certified carbon offset program.

Hammock Stand Proposal - COMPLETE

Recreation & Sport Pedagogy, Urban Planning & Sustainability Semester Yes No Grounds, Student Life, Human Resources

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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 GroundsWater, Climate More Information 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, Student Life, Climate
More Information
Evaluate opportunities for replacing all-beef burgers with a beef/mushroom mix
Surface Water Hydrocarbon Baseline Determination Chemistry; Civil Engineering; Environmental Studies; Urban Planning Semester Yes Yes Water
More Information
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 Climate, Transportation
More Information
Utilize GIS data from Parking Services to determine average distance commuted by Ohio University faculty, staff and students
Triple bottom line cost-benefit analysis tool GUI Computer Science Semester Yes Yes Climate, Procurement, Investments
More Information
Create GUI for an open access triple bottom line cost-benefit analysis tool.
People-Powered Transit Bike Bus Civil Engineering Semester, year Yes No Climate, Transportation, Student Life More Information 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 More Information Cover rooftops and other surfaces with solar panels/other solar installments to use a better type of energy and reduce electricity consumption on campus.
Water Leak Detection System Civil Engineering, Business Semester No No Water, Buildings More Information Determine which leak detection system is the most effective and will cost the least for the University.
Shop Local!  Marketing Semester Yes Yes

Food, Investments, Student Life

More Information Create a marketing plan that can be utilized to encourage Ohio University students to buy goods and services from local businesses.
Educational Campaign for District Recycling Drop-off Locations  Marketing, Graphic Design Semester, year or thesis/dissertation Yes Yes Waste, Climate More Information Create an educational campaign for the Solid Waste District to promote District Drop-Off locations to improve recycling regionally.
Energy Competition  Marketing Semester Yes No Energy, Climate More Information Develop a marketing plan for an Ohio University Energy Competition.

Move-out Waste 

Marketing, Environmental Studies Semester, year or thesis/dissertation Yes Yes Waste More Information Create a proposal for the Solid Waste District for “Move Out” of dorms, college rentals, empty nesters, relocation and relatives of the deceased.
Crowdfunding Green Revolving Fund  Marketing, Visual Communication, Graphic Design Semester Yes No Administrative Support, Curriculum, Engagement More Information Create a crowdfunding campaign for a student Green Revolving Loan Fund.
Increase Public Transportation  Marketing, Urban Planning and Sustainability Semester Yes Yes Transportation More Information Develop marketing materials to promote the use of public transportation on campus.
Promoting Use of Reusable Bags  Marketing, Visual Communication Semester Yes No Waste More Information Design a graphic to be used around campus and in local businesses encouraging shoppers to opt for a reusable bag instead of plastic.
Encouraging Local Food Consumption Marketing, Visual Communication, Graphic Design Semester Yes Yes Food, Student Life More Information Create marketing for Ohio University dining halls encouraging local food consumption.
Aquatic Center Energy Capture  Civil Engineering Semester Yes No Energy More Information Develop a method of capturing hydroelectrical energy from falling water in the pool filtration system in the University Aquatic Center and generate a corresponding cost and benefits analysis.
Drone-Based Tree Inventory Plant Biology, Environmental Studies, Geography, GIS Semester, Thesis     Grounds More Information Determination of species, size and diversity of trees on Ohio University campuses.

* 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.
Pipette Tip Sterilization and Reuse Biochemistry, Biology, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry Semester or thesis/dissertation Waste Generate a cost-benefit analysis and grant proposal for the purchase of pipette tip sterilization equipment to reduce plastic usage in Ohio University labs.
Pollinator Habitat Development and Increased Natural Growth Nearby Residence Halls with Signage Plant Biology, Biology semester Grounds Create a plan to increase pollinator habitat development, maintenance, and natural plant growth by residence halls. Include clear signage at naturalized/pollinator sites to explain to students that these are significant areas, not just unmaintained spaces
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- 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. 
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.
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.
Create a required Environmental Studies/ Sustainability Course Environmental Studies, Environmental Science and Sustainability, University College, Education Semester, Annually Curriculum Create a Gen-ed required Environmental Studies/Sustainability course every undergraduate would have to take regardless of major. Implement sustainability curriculum into the Learning Community Program to provide a one-time lesson to first year students.
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.
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)
Add Bike Routes on Campus and Reduce Routes Open to Cars Urban Planning and Sustainability, Civil Engineering, Outdoor Recreation Year, Multi-year



Add bike routes and reduce the amount of routes open to cars on campus to make it more bike-friendly, 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.

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