March 2014 eNewsletter

“Oberlin is known for its commitment to sustainability. When we go to conferences and interact with people in the field, Oberlin is consistently recognized as a leader. It’s hard to pinpoint where, when, and how Oberlin became such a prominent force in sustainability — of course there were many milestones along the way, like the creation of the AJLC or signing of the ACUPCC — the momentum continues to this day as we strive for an even more resilient, healthier, happier campus and population.

There are many people in Oberlin’s past and present endeavoring to create a more sustainable future for all. I want to recognize a few people that might not get enough credit for the incredible work that they do and help support. These people work tirelessly to support students on campus and keep operations in order; these champions facilitate important programming, advise initiatives, and guide projects to successful outcomes. These folks really underpin a whole host of groups and initiatives:

  • Keith WatkinsDirector of Facilities Operations: Keith advises the Resource Conservation Team (RCT), oversees many efficiency and maintenance projects, and knows campus unlike many others. He is able to identify barriers, but goes above and beyond to offer solutions to overcome challenges.
  • Michele GrossDirector of Dining Services:Michele has been at the college longer than current students have been alive. She is always open to student project ideas and allows students to pursue their sustainability projects through paid work in the CDS Recyclers. With Michele’s leadership bottled water was banned, the College committed to the Real Food Challenge, and — among other things — trayless dining, composting, and mug discounts were initiated.
  • Rebecca MoselyAssociate Director of Residential Education: Becky oversees a variety of aspects of residence life at the College. She supports the SEED House, the sustainability-themed floor, sustainability-dorm Kahn Hall, Ecolympics, and many other programs. The support of Becky and ResEd has propelled sustainability initiatives in the residence halls and beyond.
The Office of Environmental Sustainability is super thankful for all wonderful people at and around Oberlin supporting sustainability initiatives. We work on difficult, hard to tackle, overwhelming problems; we need to remember to celebrate successes and the people have contribute to them. Next year OES hopes to institutionalize this thankfulness and the dedication and hard-work of so many through sustainability awards.Lastly, I am excited to announce that Ecolympics 2014 kicks off this Friday, April 4! In addition to the water and electricity conservation competition, we will be hosting 30+ events in the 3 weeks of the competition (from April 4 to 25). For the first time, we are involving the local K-12 schools in the competition, too. We hope to see you this month! In the meantime, enjoy the sunshine and keep conserving.”

– Bridget Flynn, Sustainability Coordinator

News & Announcements:

  • New AVP for Energy Management and Sustainability: The Source wrote an article about Meghan and the OES. You can read it here.
  • Investment Decisions: To kick off March, the Administration sponsored a symposium on investment. Following this symposium, the Responsible Investing Organization held a two-day workshop on College investing practices.
  • Ecolympics 2014: Ecolympics 2014 runs from April 4 to 25 this year! All dorms are participating in water and electricity reduction. We have over 30 events confirmed for this time, too! More on the exciting competition, events, and prizes can be found here: and you can view current dorm energy use
  • International Visitors: Paul Allen, Rebecca Sullivan, and Joanna Wright from Zero Carbon Britain ( along with Hans Lehmann and Elisabeth Ibing Holm with Project ZERO ( will be in Oberlin April 1 to 4 in conjunction with the Oberlin Project to collectively make progress towards our climate positive goals.

Upcoming Events:
For all environmental-related events on campus – check out the Environmental Events Calendar! If you would like it to be shared with you, email Bridget. If you would like one of your events to be added to eNewsletter, please email us.

April 3: Transition to a Carbon-free Future @ 4:30PM Hallock Auditorium: This panel discussion will address ways global leaders (Britain, Denmark, and Oberlin) are working to create a climate positive future. Discussion followed by reception with light refreshments. [facebook] [calendar]
April 3: Beehive Collective on “Mesamérica Resiste” @ 7:00PM AJLC 102: The Beehive Design Collective is a wildly motivated, all-volunteer, activist arts collective that work as word-to-image translators of complex global stories. [facebook] [calendar]
April 4: OES Hangout: Ecolympics Edition @ 12:00PM Wilder 110: Join OES and friends for some food, drinks, and treats to kick off Ecolympics 2014! Per usual, bring a dish to share if you wish. [facebook]
April 15Slow Train Sustainability Trivia @ 8:30PM Slow Train: Your favorite local trivia just got better – it’ll have sustainability themes during Ecolympics. Come to flex your brain, for the prizes, or for the wine.
April 23: Changing Hearts and Minds about Animals and Food @ 7PM Hallock Auditorium: Gene Baur from Farm Sanctuary will give a talk about animals, farming, food, and the sanctuary. [facebook]

There are A LOT of events this month in conjunction with Ecolympics — over 40!!! A full list of Ecolympics events are being added here and will be available very soon:

For more info and to see a full list of events, please the Events tab on the OES website:

As we gear up for Ecolympics 2014, here’s a reminder of our successes from last year, and some tips for an awesome conservation competition this year, in numbers.

Last year, the dorms saved 10,070 kWh of electricity—the average amount of electricity an American home uses in an entire 1 year (or 3 homes a year in Europe!). The college also saved 54,537 gallons of water, which is equivalent to about 1,500 10-minute showers! The average shower time in the USA is 8 minutes. If everyone at Oberlin reduced their shower time to 5 minutes, it would save about 10 gallons of water per person per day. All of that savings adds up to about 29,000 gallons per day, enough water to fill 2 average sized Oberlin open double dorm rooms per day.

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