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Earth Day: Sustainability in action

April 21, 2016

Every day, in countless ways, Buckeyes take responsibility for their environmental footprint and add sustainability to the list of reasons to be proud of Ohio State. Use this interactive map to discover many ways sustainability initiatives are flourishing here.

When you think Ohio State, do you think sustainability?

You should.

The university meets more than 20 percent of its Columbus campus electricity needs with wind power. Utilizing the Zero Waste program at Ohio Stadium, Buckeyes diverted 95.2 percent of football game-day materials from the landfill during the 2014 season. There is an incredible array of groundbreaking environment-related research: studying wetlands on campus, examining ice cores from around the globe and creating the world’s first solar battery.

And the list doesn’t end there.

Learn more about Ohio State’s commitment to sustainability in the map above, and share your thoughts on what the university should consider next at energy.environment.osu.edu.

Stories

Solar panels

“Block O” solar panels

RPAC

Solar panels

The Recreation and Physical Activity Center (RPAC) is everyone’s favorite place to break a sweat or grab a smoothie. But few may be aware that resting on its roof is a large array of solar panels in the shape of a “Block O.”

Installed in 2014 in collaboration with AEP Energy, the panels produce an estimated 116,000 kilowatt-hours of energy per year.

EnCORE House

EnCORE House

EnCORE House

This student-designed, two-bedroom house stands behind the 4-H Center, overlooking Chadwick Lake.

The house is considered net-zero: Any energy consumed is produced by the house itself. This is accomplished through the use of solar panels, super-insulated walls, a bioremediation system and several other strategies.

EnCORE House is used for research and education, and can be reserved as a meeting space. To reserve, contact energy.environment.osu.edu or 614-247-4762.

Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center

Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center

Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center

Ohio State’s oldest research center, the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center is a world leader in climate and polar research. The center keeps 7,000 meters of ice from 50-plus expeditions in storage for research and educational purposes.

Visitors are welcome to check it out but should dress warmly: The samples are kept at –30 degrees!

The Wilma H. Schiermeier Olentangy River Wetlands Research Park

Wetlands research park

The Wilma H. Schiermeier Olentangy River Wetlands Research Park

The Wilma H. Schiermeier Olentangy River Wetlands Research Park is a 52-acre research site that contains three experimental wetlands and a hardwood forest. The School of Environment and Natural Resources’ aquatics program is also housed in the wetlands.

The wetlands offer opportunities for undergraduate- and graduate-level training, as well as provide environmental services to the greater Columbus community, such as water purification, erosion control and increased biodiversity. Want to check it out? Hop on the Olentangy Greenway bike trail, which runs through the wetlands research park.

McCracken Power Plant

McCracken Power Plant

McCracken Power Plant

Though the McCracken Power Plant produces no electricity, it provides enough steam to support 85 percent of the heating and cooling for the buildings on the Columbus campus.

McCracken was originally a coal-fired power plant, but from 2004 to 2006 the plant underwent a multimillion-dollar transition from coal to natural gas. Natural gas burns cleaner than coal, and air pollution on campus dropped by 78 percent due to McCracken’s fuel source switch.

In the spring of 2015, McCracken started its sixth natural-gas-fired boiler to accommodate growing campus steam demands.

Zero Waste expansion

Zero Waste expansion

Zero Waste expansion Ohio Stadium

Feeling guilty about all those food and beverage containers you go through while watching the Buckeyes? Don’t! Ohio State achieved a 95.2 percent diversion rate of waste from the landfill during home football games in 2014 through the Zero Waste at Ohio Stadium program, which began in 2011. Fans divert waste by using recycling and compost bins throughout the stadium, and volunteers gather the rest after games.

The Zero Waste program is expanding: The Jerome Schottenstein Center has special equipment to divert food scraps from the landfill. Similar systems are installed at the Ohio Union, Kennedy Commons and the Blackwell Inn and Conference Center.

Center for Automotive Research

Center for Automotive Research

Center for Automotive Research

At the Center for Automotive Research (CAR), students and faculty work shoulder to shoulder to find ways to make cars more fuel efficient and to discover alternative fuel sources. CAR is also home to many award-winning student vehicle teams.

Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake improvements

Mirror Lake

One of the most scenic locations on campus, Mirror Lake previously drew nearly 50,000 gallons of potable daily.

In 2011, the Mirror Lake Enhancement Study was set in motion, with researchers, engineers and students boosting the lake’s sustainability. Now the main water source is from a campus well. By October 2015, daily potable water use decreased more than 98 percent.

Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Gardens

Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Gardens

Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Gardens

Looking for a place to unwind and get some fresh air after a long day of studying? Consider hopping on a CABS bus to visit the Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Gardens.

Housed on 62 acres of university land and home to more than 120 species of trees, the arboretum is open year-round and free to visit. It serves as an outdoor classroom, a training center, a recreational hotspot and a venue for events ranging from gardening workshops to yoga classes.

Student organizations

Student organizations

Student organizations

There are more than 90 sustainability-focused student organizations on campus, including Students for a Sustainable Campus, Students for Recycling, the Sierra Club Student Coalition and Project Green OSU. If you share a passion for sustainable living, get involved and make a difference on campus and beyond.

SUSTAINS Learning Community

SUSTAINS Learning Community

Scott House

SUSTAINS Learning Community

In 2014, Ohio State launched a new learning community devoted to sustainability. In its inaugural year, SUSTAINS (Students Understanding Sustainability and Taking Action to Improve Nature and Society) was comprised of 15 students from a variety of majors who had an interest in pursuing a career related to sustainability and in living and learning with students who were as passionate about that topic as they were.

The group volunteered around campus throughout the year: passing out recycling bags to tailgaters, renovating the Jennings Hall rain gardens, doing restoration work on the wetlands, assisting with the Ohio State recycling audit and more. The learning community expanded to 40 students in 2015.

Wind power

Wind power

Columbus campus

Wind power

Perhaps one of the most significant demonstrations of Ohio State’s commitment to sustainable practices is the university’s purchasing 50 megawatts of wind energy capacity from Blue Creek Wind Farm, located near Van Wert, Ohio.

It is one of the largest purchases of renewable energy by any university in the country, producing about 21 percent of the Columbus campus’ electricity needs and a step toward becoming a carbon neutral university, a long-term goal at Ohio State.

Rain gardens

Rain gardens

Rain gardens

See sustainability in action by visiting Jennings Hall’s rain gardens. The plants help filter rainwater and reduce runoff. The gardens are cleaned and replanted annually by teams of student volunteers.

School of Environment and Natural Resources

School of Environment and Natural Resources

School of Environment and Natural Resources Kottman Hall

When it opened in 1969, a mere 18 members made up the faculty of the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Science’s School of Environment and Natural Resources.

Today, the school is served by 40 full-time faculty and 75 administrative, research and teaching staff. More than 18,000 students have studied here, with graduates choosing careers from wetland ecologists to park rangers to environmental policy analysts.

The school’s fastest-growing major is the new Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability major, added in fall 2012.

First LEED-certified building


The Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center

Ohio State has a Green Build Policy for construction that aims for buildings to be certified as LEED Silver, though several have attained LEED Gold status.

Energy-conservation project


Biomedical Research Tower

Energy-conservation project


Physics Research Building

Energy-conservation project


RPAC

Energy-conservation project


Scott Laboratory

Energy-conservation project


Veterinary Medical Center

Dining Services food production


Howlett Hall

Energy offices


Columbus campus

World’s first solar battery


Scott Laboratory

LEED Silver building

LEED Silver building

LEED Silver building

LEED Silver building

LEED Silver building

LEED Gold building

LEED Gold building

LEED Gold building

LEED Gold building

Rooftop garden


Howlett Hall

Geothermal wells


South campus

Geothermal wells


South campus

Geothermal wells


South campus

Tree Campus USA

Olentangy River restoration

Bike-share program

Car-share program

Charge up


Lane Avenue Parking Garage

Charge up


Ninth East Parking Garage

Charge up


Gateway Parking Garage

Scavenge at Surplus

Student and faculty recycling


Recycling and Refuse Services

Hitch a ride with CABS

While the majority of CABS buses are powered by biodiesel, the fleet also includes compressed natural gas and hybrid-electric buses.

Students for sustainability

Ohio State's SUSTAINS Learning Community is an interdisciplinary group of students seeking to complement what's taught in the classroom with deep, diverse discussion around sustainability issues and service opportunities.