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OHIO hosts first Sustainability Summit


Ohio University hosted an innovative two-day Sustainability Summit on the Athens Campus on Sept. 16 and 17 that allowed 13 different colleges and universities across Ohio to collaborate and learn about each other’s sustainability efforts and challenges.

Leading a group of sustainability professionals on a tour of the Compost Facility along Dairy Lane is Director of Sustainability Annie Laurie Cadmus, who explains how the cart and shoot system works. (Olivia Wallace/Ohio University)

(Photo by Olivia Wallace/Ohio University)

Sustainability professionals toured OHIO’s Ecohouse, the Compost Facility (pictured above), and participated in discussions with the Office of Sustainability, Culinary Services, and Recycling to learn what the University is doing to create a more sustainable campus and educate students.

Leading a group of sustainability professionals on a tour of the Compost Facility along Dairy Lane is OHIO Director of Sustainability Annie Laurie Cadmus (above, right). She is explaining how the cart and shoot system works.

"It was refreshing to be able to spend some time with peers in the field,” said Cadmus. “We were able to share all of our successes with each other and dive deep into topics impacting our campuses. Everyone attending the summit seemed really appreciative to Ohio University for hosting the event and we were appreciative to them for their participation. I hope another campus chooses to host a similar event next year."

A group of sustainability professionals examine the machinery within a composter machine under the guide of Tess Phinney (right), a student majoring in environmental studies. From left are Bowling Green State University Sustainability Coordinator Nick Hennessy, Miami University Director of Sustainability Yvette Kline, and Oberlin College Sustainability Coordinator Bridget Flynn. (Olivia Wallace/Ohio University)

(Olivia Wallace/Ohio University)

A group of sustainability professionals examine a composter machine under the guide of Tess Phinney (right), a student majoring in environmental studies. From left are Bowling Green State University Sustainability Coordinator Nick Hennessy, Miami University Director of Sustainability Yvette Kline, and Oberlin College Sustainability Coordinator Bridget Flynn.

According to Kline, the Sustainability Summit was important because it allowed everyone to see what other colleges and universities across the state are doing.

“Sustainability practitioners come from a variety of backgrounds and work with widely different constraints and opportunities, but we are all working on similar problems,” Kline said. “The summit was sized and structured such that we had the time to explore topics of mutual interest and understand how others were approaching them. I came away with new ideas and an appreciation of the people behind them. Annie Laurie Cadmus and the rest of Ohio University’s sustainability team did a great job organizing and running the summit.”

The group tours the compost facility, which contains two composters, including a two-ton and four-ton machine. (Olivia Wallace/Ohio University)

(Olivia Wallace/Ohio University)

The group tours the compost facility, which contains two composters, including a two-ton and four-ton machine.

In 2013, the total amount of food waste collected from the campus community was 824,391 pounds. Once the wood chip aggregate — made from landscape waste — was added to the mix, the amount of processed food and landscape waste totaled more than 1 million pounds.

Culinary Service’s use of compostable flatware and containers in dining areas and cafes are taken to the facility to help eliminate tons of waste from the landfill each year.  

“We educate students about food waste across campus, encouraging students to take only what they know they’re going to eat,” said Dan Pittman, assistant director of auxiliary sales and marketing.

As a result of OHIO’s sustainability efforts, which have included the expansion of the centralized production model utilized within Culinary Services’ Central Food Facility, zero waste catered options available through Catering Services, water bottles that contain 20 percent less plastic than the average bottle, the growing ability to track the origin of every food item served, and a widespread effort to collect recyclables and compostable items, the University is currently 41 percent below the national average for food waste.

 

Phinney, a former Ecohouse resident, gives the group a tour of the exterior of the most sustainable house on campus. The house features technologies and resources such as solar PV, solar thermal, an organic garden, energy efficient appliances and a wood pellet furnace. Students learn about food preservation, composting, energy conservation, permaculture, home weatherization, and more. (Olivia Wallace/Ohio University)

(Olivia Wallace/Ohio University)

Phinney, a former Ecohouse resident, gives the group a tour of the exterior of the most sustainable house on campus. The house features technologies and resources such as solar PV, solar thermal, an organic garden, energy efficient appliances and a wood pellet furnace. Students living in the Ecohouse learn about food preservation, composting, energy conservation, permaculture, home weatherization, and more.

University of Cincinnati Sustainability Coordinator Clair Sweegait (left) speaks with OHIO Sustainability Specialist Elaine Goetz outside the EcoHouse. (Olivia Wallace/Ohio University)

(Olivia Wallace/Ohio University)

University of Cincinnati Sustainability Coordinator Clair Sweigart (left) speaks with OHIO Sustainability Specialist Elaine Goetz outside the Ecohouse.

Geoff Dabelko, professor and director of environmental studies at OHIO, speaks to the sustainability group in Ridges Building 21 about OHIO’s master’s degree program in environmental studies, including summer internships available. (Jasmine Beaubien/Ohio University)

(Jasmine Beaubien/Ohio University)

Geoff Dabelko, professor and director of environmental studies at OHIO, speaks to the sustainability group in Ridges Building 21 about OHIO’s master’s degree program in environmental studies, including summer internships available.

"We at the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs have a terrific relationship with the Sustainability Office on campus,” said Dabelko. “Our region has always had a resource-extracted economy — forest, coal, gas — marginal from the capital, economically challenged. In that vein, the school has more than 50 professional staff and 100 externally funded projects, which gives us terrific opportunity to have a faculty/staff integrated model. So the approach of the school is to put folks to work in teams so they don't just have the book learning part, but plenty of classroom experience with bright folks and learning opportunities to work in a practical context and make a difference and have a running start into the workforce."

Dabelko’s work has been published in major publications, and he serves as a member of the United Nations Environment Programme’s Expert Advisory Group on Environment, Conflict, and Peacebuilding and as an advisory board member of Screenscope’s “Journey to Planet Earth” PBS documentary initiative. He also is an editorial board member of “Global Environmental Change” and a contributing editor of “Environment.”

Sustainability professionals break into peer discussion groups to learn what other colleges and universities do to create sustainable environments and learn how best to evaluate and overcome obstacles. (Jasmine Beaubien/Ohio University)

(Jasmine Beaubien/Ohio University)

Sustainability professionals break into peer discussion groups to learn what other colleges and universities do to create sustainable environments and learn how best to evaluate and overcome obstacles.

Topics discussed in the groups included institutional sustainability reporting, carbon neutrality, investment and divestment efforts, compost, recycling, student affairs, energy management, design and construction, alternative transportation, and professional development.

Universities participating in the Sustainability Summit included Lorain County Community College, the University of Cincinnati, University of Dayton, University of Toledo, Bowling Green State University, Xavier University, Kent State University, the University of Mount Union, The Ohio State University, Oberlin College, and Hocking College.

Hocking College Director of Sustainability Kathy Temple-Miller (center) discusses Hocking's new course of action for composting at the Sustainability Summit with Miami University Director of Sustainability Yvette Kline. (Jasmine Beaubien/Ohio University)

(Jasmine Beaubien/Ohio University)

Hocking College Director of Sustainability Kathy Temple-Miller (center) discusses Hocking's new course of action for composting at the Sustainability Summit with Miami University Director of Sustainability Yvette Kline.