Page content

Featured news item: Undergraduate Climate Change Research at Ohio State

Sustainability at Ohio State


Sustainable Energy, Student Engagement Intersect at INNOVATE-O-thon

The Ohio State University’s energy partner ENGIE challenged students to help achieve one goal: improve energy efficiency through positive behavioral changes on campus. The students accepted.

During the latest INNOVATE-O-thon event, nearly 50 undergraduate students from varying disciplines came together, from Feb. 9 to 11 at the Institute for Materials Research (IMR) Innovation Lab on Kinnear Road, to work with representatives from ENGIE and IMR.

There, students formed strategies aimed to inspire fellow classmates to alter their energy consumption habits and, in turn, improve energy efficiency at the Columbus campus. IMR hosted the three-day externship program in collaboration with Ohio State’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Throughout the course of the event, students developed a myriad of concepts that were ultimately pitched to ENGIE, including mobile app and technology-based engagement efforts, education and training programs, awareness campaigns and cross-campus partnerships. Last year's launch of the university's Comprehensive Energy Management Project transferred the operation and management of the central utility systems that heat, cool and power the Columbus campus to Ohio State Energy Partners, a joint venture between Axium Infrastructure and ENGIE.

“I am really glad that ENGIE reached out to students to help with this,” said INNOVATE-O-thon winning group member Lauren Trapani, a second-year student in environment, economy, development and sustainability. “We know what is feasible to change in our behavior and what is infeasible.”

Details about the winning concept and its implementation will be unveiled later this year.


Students Partner with Ohio Environmental Council to Explore Clean Energy Choices

Fisher College of Business students worked on a semester-long clean energy choice project alongside the Ohio Environmental Council to help consumers understand sustainable energy choices and choose a renewable energy supplier.

The Personal Leadership and Team Effectiveness class helps build students’ awareness of local community issues while increasing their ability to positively influence these issues through teamwork and project management. Each group within the class consulted with a local nonprofit organization.

“I originally took this class because I wanted to gain real-world experience with a nonprofit in the Columbus area while also developing my leadership skills,” says Kayla Snider, a senior studying business marketing. “I couldn’t have been happier with the OEC.” (photo: (from left to right) Damon Webb, Kayla Snider, Emily Moon, Connor Coup, Colton Ruck and Trish Demeter after the project presentation.)

She explains that a major lack of public knowledge and trust regarding renewable energy companies prompted the OEC, which frequently received consumer calls for recommendations on specific companies, to seek more extensive research on the subject.

“The project we completed was multi-faceted and incorporated background research, marketing plans and project management strategies,” says Snider. She and fellow students created a presentation that outlined research on AEP-certified renewable power companies in Ohio. They also developed a tool that “graded” each company on a scale that included various factors relevant to consumers. Finally, the group outlined a marketing plan to effectively publicize the information and resources to consumers.

“The Ohio Environmental Council was selected because its project addressed an issue that impacts our community,” says Jen Shanahan, leadership initiative instructor and program manager for Fisher’s Leadership Initiative. “This project seemed a challenging yet surmountable project for our student team, comprising both research and analysis. I was very impressed with their dedication and proposed solution.”

“We do plan on building on the students' research to eventually feature the ranking or scoring tool on our website,” says Trish Demeter, vice president of policy for the OEC, whose mission is to secure healthy air, land and water for all Ohioans.

Read more.


Climate change planning underway for central Ohio

A task force led by researchers at the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center (BPCRC) at The Ohio State University has released a draft action plan to help central Ohio prepare for climate change.

The public is invited to review and comment on the report through March 9, after which the task force will present a finalized document to the Columbus City Council and Mayor Andrew Ginther.

BPCRC researchers collaborated with more than 75 local stakeholders and technical experts to develop the action plan, which outlines recommendations for adapting to extreme heat, deteriorating air quality, flooding, varied water quality and other changes that are expected to come with climate change. The report also addresses considerations for emergency preparedness and protecting vulnerable populations.

Jason Cervenec, education and outreach director for BPCRC and chair of the task force, said that public feedback is essential to the action plan’s success.

“We want to make sure that those individuals who have not been directly involved in the process, who may be long-term residents of the city or experts in fields that have not yet contributed, have a chance to provide information,” said Cervenec.

“Our goal has been to cast a wide net to provide the city with a comprehensive document that can best inform its operations and planning. While the city will need to decide how to address each of the actions recommended in the document, we believe it’s important to empower citizens, while there is time to act, with knowledge of the climate change impacts that experts agree are likely to occur.”

Read the full story


Ohio State joins international coalition to accelerate local climate action

The Ohio State University today joined the newly launched University Climate Change Coalition, or UC3, an alliance of 13 leading North American research universities that will create a collaborative model to help local communities achieve their climate goals and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon future.

In launching UC3, an initial group of universities from the United States, Canada and Mexico has committed to mobilize their resources and expertise to accelerate local and regional climate action in partnership with businesses, cities and states. All UC3 members have pledged to reduce their institutional carbon footprints, with commitments ranging from making more climate-friendly investments to becoming operationally carbon neutral.

In 2015, Ohio State established strategic sustainability goals to guide the university into the future in its core areas of collaborative teaching, pioneering research, comprehensive outreach and innovative operations. Specific to Ohio State’s carbon footprint is a goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and another to reduce total campus building energy consumption by 25 percent by 2025.

“Ohio State is deeply committed to reducing our carbon footprint and promoting energy efficiency,” said President Michael V. Drake. “Our participation in UC3 significantly advances several long-term sustainability goals, including the university’s commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. As a flagship public research university, we are leveraging our resources to explore cleaner energy sources and solve sustainability challenges in Ohio and around the world.”

Read the full story


Ohio State named Big Ten Diversion Rate Champion for 6th straight season

The Ohio State University was named Big Ten Conference champion in the annual 2017 Game Day Recycling Challenge. Ohio State earned the title after achieving the highest diversion rate for a single home football game during the 2017 season.

The Game Day Recycling Challenge is a national competition among colleges and universities to promote waste reduction and sustainability at home football games.

Ohio State achieved a 94.2 percent diversion rate in its game against the University of Maryland on Oct. 7, which was the highest single-game percentage of waste diverted from the landfill in the Big Ten.

“We are proud that the efforts of our zero waste team continue to deliver positive results,” said Tony Gillund, sustainability manager for Ohio State’s Facilities Operations and Development. “Sustainability is a focus campus-wide as we work toward our university goals, including achieving zero waste on campus by 2025.”

Read the full story


University Panel on Ecosystem Services Announced


In November 2015, university leaders accepted a comprehensive set of sustainability goals developed by the President and Provost's Council on Sustainability. One of the goals calls for the university to "double the acreage that provides at least two ecosystem services, by 2025."

In December 2017, the charge was issued to establish a University Panel on Ecosystem Services. The panel will consider issues including clarifying terms such as "ecosystem services," review acceptable metrics for activities that add to increasing ecosystem acreage, and establish baselines for each metric. 

To read the panel charge, click here.


Sustainability Successes 2017

Two years after the establishment of university-wide sustainability goals, The Ohio State University continues to make progress toward meeting the pressing challenges of sustainability and in evolving a culture of sustainability through collaborative teaching, pioneering research, comprehensive outreach, and innovative operations, practices and policies.

The most notable 2017 accomplishment was the establishment of an unprecedented energy efficiency partnership to modernize our 485-building campus to meet our sustainability goal of 25 percent improvement in energy efficiency within 10 years. The university also increased sustainability-related education and activity opportunities for students and the local and state community and received significant state and federal grants for university research in energy, environment and sustainability.



Energy partnership announces academic investments to support Ohio State programs

ENGIE and Axium funds go to engineering, sustainability, cartoon library
The partners in charge of The Ohio State University’s Comprehensive Energy Management Project announced their first academic investments in the university Aug. 29. ENGIE North America and Axium Infrastructure announced $200,000 in academic support to programs aiding women in engineering, student sustainability programs and The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum.
“We’re very pleased to have resources to be invested in many of the most important things we work with, such as our students,” said President Michael V. Drake.
In July, Ohio State entered a 50-year partnership With ENGIE and Axium to manage and maintain the university’s energy infrastructure. The $1.165 billion deal includes a $1.015 billion payment to the university and a $150 million commitment to support academics in specific areas requested by students, faculty and staff. The companies announced $50,000 in support for student sustainability proposals.
Undergraduate Student Government (USG) and the Student Sustainability Council will use the investment to promote the development of innovative sustainability-related joint projects and programming. “It was overwhelming but exciting that we have this amount of funding to carry out very high level projects within sustainability,” said Vikas Munjal, director of sustainability for USG. “We’ll be able to do something different that has never been done by students before.” One of the key goals of the energy management partnership is to improve energy efficiency on the Columbus campus by at least 25 percent in the first 10 years.
Read more


Energy partnership to support Ohio State’s sustainability and academic mission

On April 7, 2017, the Ohio State Board of Trustees approved a public-private partnership to become an international leader in sustainability and provide new resources to advance teaching, learning and research. The Comprehensive Energy Management Project promises to modernize the university’s 485-building Columbus campus, create substantial academic benefits and establish a major center for energy research and technology commercialization.

The total value of $1.165 billion includes a $1.015 billion upfront payment to the university and a $150 million commitment to support academics in specific areas requested by students, faculty and staff during the bidding process. This would be the largest single investment in Ohio State’s academic mission.

ENGIE North America and Axium Infrastructure (ENGIE-Axium) are world leaders in energy services and sustainability. The two companies formed a new consortium to combine their expertise for this project and provided the strongest proposal. Detailed reviews and scoring of the finalists were conducted by groups composed of students, faculty and staff from the university.   Read more.


Ohio State Again Receives National Recognition for Tree Program

To obtain the Tree Campus USA recognition, Ohio State had to meet five core standards for sustainable campus forestry including having a tree advisory committee, maintaining a tree-care plan, observing Arbor Day, sponsoring student learning projects and having dedicated funds that support a campus tree program. 

February 16, 2017

Ohio State Sustainability Fund Available for Campus Projects   

Oct. 5, 2016--The Ohio State University is committed to developing durable solutions to the challenges of sustainability and in evolving a culture of sustainability through collaborative teaching, pioneering research, comprehensive outreach, and innovative operations, practices, and policies.

To support this commitment, the Ohio State Sustainability Fund is available to faculty and staff members to provide funding for sustainability projects that will positively impact any Ohio State campus. Sustainability Fund projects must promote sustainability by advancing current programs, creating campus cultural change, and/or directing sustainable campus policy or project development. Projects that create sustainability awareness, encourage behavioral changes, and promote outreach to the campus community and beyond are also desirable.

Projects eligible for Sustainability Fund awards must be led by a faculty or staff member and must contribute to sustainability; provide campus impact; not be covered by an existing university operating budget; and be used to seed, catalyze, or gap-fill funding on projects, rather than be the sole funding source.

Details and application forms are found on the President and Provost’s Council on Sustainability webpage, under “Involvement.” To apply for funding, complete the Sustainability Fund Application and send it to

 Earth Day and Every Day, Buckeyes Act Sustainably

On Earth Day and every day, the Ohio State community is dedicated to promoting and practicing sustainability across campus and beyond.

In addition, we're proud of our university sustainability goals, designed to develop solutions to the challenges of sustainability and in evolving  a culture of sustainability through collaborative teaching, pioneering research, comprehensive outreach, and innovative operations, practices and policies. These goals are currently featured on banners across campus, on signs in campus buses, and on social media. 

Teams of faculty, staff and students developed the goals to help make Ohio State a global model of sustainable operations and practices. Among the goals are plans to:

  • Ensure that Ohio State has a carbon-neutral impact on the environment
  • Create knowledge to solve real-world sustainability problems
  • Expand learning opportunities for our students
  • Double our tree canopy on campus

Learn more about Ohio State's sustainability goals and the goals development process below.

University Sustainability Goals Project

Ohio State is a recognized leader in developing durable solutions to the pressing challenges of sustainability and in evolving a culture of sustainability through collaborative teaching, pioneering research, comprehensive outreach, and innovative operations, practices, and policies. The university has developed strategic sustainability goals to support Ohio State's core of teaching and learning, research and innovation, outreach and engagement, and resource stewardship.

Sustainability Goals (pdf)

Project Background

In March 2015, Provost Joseph E. Steinmetz charged the President and Provost’s Council on Sustainability to develop strategic sustainability goals to move Ohio State towards becoming a global model of sustainable operations and practices.

Between March and August, work groups made up of PPCS members as well as a diverse group of faculty, students and staff members, and with university community input, worked together to recommend sustainability goals in all four of the university’s overarching core goals:

  • teaching and learning
  • research and innovation
  • outreach and engagement
  • resource stewardship

The proposed Sustainability Goals were submitted to Provost Steinmetz in September, and were presented to various leadership and academic committees across campus in October. In November, the goals were accepted by the Provost, establishing a concrete set of goals from which the university will use going forward.

More project history


Our Sustainable University logo

University Sustainability Goals (pdf)

Sustainability in Action Interactive Map

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.

Sustainability news


Ohio State chosen to lead U.S. transportation solutions over next three decades

2016-2017 Energy, Environment and Sustainability Student Funding Announced

Ohio State MBA Students Test Sustainable Business Model in Tanzania

Progress Continues on Ohio State Sustainability Goals

The Other Football Competition: Zero Waste at Ohio Stadium

Panel responds to 40 percent local and sustainable challenge for campus food system

Department of Energy Funding to Accelerate Vehicle Efficiency, Optimization Research

2016 AASHE Sustainable Campus Index Announced

 Sustainability at Ohio State

The Ohio State University named Big Ten Diversion Rate Champion

Ohio State tops Big Ten Conference in GameDay Recycling Challenge
COLUMBUS, Ohio – For the fifth year in a row, The Ohio State University topped the Big Ten Conference in the annual GameDay Recycling Challenge by diverting more waste than any other Big Ten university.
The GameDay Recycling challenge is a national competition among colleges and universities, to promote waste reduction and sustainability at home football games.
Ohio State achieved an average diversion rate of 95.4 percent at Ohio Stadium during the 2016 home football season. Ohio State’s most successful single-game total came November 26 against the University of Michigan, when it recorded a 96.23 percent diversion rate. That total was more than 20 percent higher than any single-game diversion rate totals achieved by conference competitors.
These efforts have also extended outside the stadium, with a renewed focus on diverting waste from tailgate lots. For additional information about Ohio State’s zero waste and sustainability efforts, please visit:

Read more.


  Progress Continues on Ohio State Sustainability Goals

In November 2015, The Ohio State University announced university-wide sustainability goals to guide the university as it develops durable solutions to the challenges of sustainability and in evolving a culture of sustainability. The goals, developed by students, faculty and staff, were designed to impact all aspects of the university mission: collaborative teaching, pioneering research, comprehensive outreach, and innovative operations, practices, and policies.

As we celebrate the one-year anniversary of our sustainability goals, students, faculty and staff – as well as the Central Ohio community – are seeing the payoff.

Efforts over the past 12 months have resulted in a wide-range of progress toward developing global citizens with knowledge of energy, environment and sustainability issues; creating discoveries to enhance sustainability research; conserving energy; reducing waste; protecting the environment; and obtaining food from local and sustainable sources.

See our list of recent sustainability successes here.

Food Sustainability Panel Submits Local and Sustainable Food Report

Ohio State's Food Sustainability Panel was created to develop a strategic plan for our dining halls and other places on campus that serve food as the university seeks to move toward our goal of 40% local and sustainably sourced food by 2025. The panel’s role is to propose action items and guidelines as appropriate as the university works to achieve the sustainable food goal.

Read the September 2016 Local and Sustainable Food by 2025 Report

Have an idea? Question?
Let us know at:

Prince of Monaco visit highlights Ohio State's sustainability successes

Prince Albert of Monaco

HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco came to Ohio State on August 31, 2016 with a message for students: It's up to you to embrace the alternative energy that he believes will steer the world away from global disaster.

"We are talking about a fundamental change in our habits and our mentalities," the prince told the audience gathered at the Mershon Auditorium. "We are currently at the very beginning of this adventure and it will be up to your generation to lead it to its conclusion." The prince has a global reputation as an steward of the environment: In 2006, he created the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, focused on environmental, climate and sustainability projects and research.

He lauded Ohio State's "green" efforts during his remarks and a roundtable discussion with Ohio State President Michael V. Drake and Provost Bruce McPheron. During the discussion, the leaders touched on the varied ways Ohio State is addressing the societal challenge, from research to programs to ensuring student success in the realm.

Read more.

Sustainability and stewardship powered by teaching and research.

Buckeye Footprint

Ohio State’s Discovery Theme Initiatives programs are advancing sustainability in teaching, research, outreach and engagement, and resource stewardship, by facilitating interdisciplinary collaboration of experts spanning the university. Through the work being conducted in the Food and AgriCultural Transformation, Materials and Manufacturing for Sustainability, and the Sustainable and Resilient Economy programs, Ohio State faculty are leading the way in developing scientific and policy responses to our most critical global challenges.