April 2015 eNewsletter

From the desk of OES:

A great picture from the DIY Hair Recycling event, put on by the RCT as part of Ecolympics.

*Phew* Ecolympics 2015 might be over, but the semester isn’t yet! During the month of April, a lot has occurred: the annual Ecolympics event series featuring 35+ events, great savings in the electricity and water competition between the dorms and city schools, OES speaking engagements at conferences and schools, Oberlin being recognized on national lists, and tremendous progress on various programs by the OES Interns.

Over 300 people attended Ecolympics events and even more were engaged through the energy competition in the college dorms and the city schools. The top participants win incredible prizes — a new bicycle, anyone? Congratuations to Kaia Austin and Sam Horne for each attending 8 events during the competition! Ecolympics brought guest speakers to talk about food issues, transportation in Cleveland, and medieval environmentalethics; it featured eye-opening documentaries about food and water issues; we participated in DIY projects like toothpaste making, hair cutting, and postcard creating. Overall, Ecolympics 2015 was a success! People thought about energy use and the implications of it, joined together for educational and engaging events, and celebrated the beauty that comes with the springtime. See the Numbers section below for the calculated savings from the competition.In addition to Ecolympics, Oberlin was able to share our sustainability successes with various entities during April. Sean Hayes, the Executive Director of the Oberlin Project, and I presented at a pre-conference workshop with cities and colleges across the Midwest at GreenTown Kent. I also had the chance to speak at Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) on Earth Day to encourage and challenge them. Meghan Riesterer, AVP of Energy Management and Sustainability, spoke in Pennsylvania at an architectural firm interested in sustainability. Sam Hartman, Sustainable Energy Technology Research Fellow, traveled to Toledo to provide technical assistance to a group interested in rolling out Environmental Dashboards into all of the city schools in the city! As I emphasized in last month’s eNewsletter, although Oberlin is a small place and OES only has a staff of 2.5, we influence individuals and organizations across the globe; now that’s pretty exciting!

Some of the OES team traded the Service Building for Wilder Bowl to enjoy the springtime weather.

As we enter May and Commencement season, we will soon begin to reflect on the year that has past and celebrate all that has been accomplished. The OES interns have accomplished many feats this year. The From Coal to Carbon Neutrality (FC2CN) website is close to being launched. The Green Office Program has made great progress and the pilot phase has finally begun! We led an incredible Ecolympics competition. We organized and advanced the sustainability map and app, which was released last year at Commencement.Speaking of Commencement, I want to congratulate all the graduating seniors for their incredible efforts and wish them the best of luck as they venture into their next arenas. I encourage graduating seniors to sign the Graduation Pledge (GPA), which states “I pledge to explore and take into account the social and environmental consequences of any job I consider and will try to improve these aspects of any organizations for which I work.” No matter your career path, you can make the world a better place. I would also like to welcome parents, alumni, and those traveling to Oberlin for Commencement/Reunion Weekend or to exciting summer destinations to consider offsetting emissions from your travel. Offsets can be purchased online or at the table set up Saturday and Sunday during the weekend (see more in the weekend schedule). I hope you all enjoy a beautiful summer season; bask in the great outdoors and rejuvenate with those you love. This summer, OES be here laying the groundwork for another impactful, innovative, and incredible year in Oberlin.

– Bridget Flynn, Sustainability Coordinator

News & Announcements:

  • Schools Ecolympics: Congratulations to Prospect Elementary for another win in this year’s Ecolympics competition in both water and electricity! Langston Middle School created a gorgeous mural for Ecolympics using recycled materials (see below). There was also an awesome float in the Big Parade celebrating Ecolympics!
  • Earth Day: Earth Day was on April 22 this year. On this day, Bridget Flynn, SustainabilityCoordinator, was the keynote speaker for Earth Day at Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) where she shared Oberlin’s sustainability successes and challenged NEOMED to take action on sustainability. In the evening, Kim Foreman from EnvironmentalHealth Watch in Cleveland joined us at Oberlin to discuss Environmental Racism, Health, and Justice: Working on the Ground in Cleveland.
  • IDEA Publishes Article: Meghan Riesterer, AVP of Energy Management and Sustainability, wrote an article about Oberlin’s sustainability story, transformation, and collaboration for the International District Energy Association (IDEA)’s District Energy Magazine. It can be accessed online.
  • Oberlin’s Story at Greentown Kent: Oberlin was featured as a case study panelist in GreenTown hosted at Kent State University April 13th and 14th. Bridget Flynn and Sean Hayes, Executive Director of the Oberlin Project presented at a workshop for city administrators and university staff about town/gown collaboration alongside Case Western/University Circle and Kent.
  • Princeton Review Guide to Green Colleges: Oberlin College was ranked highly on the Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges at #35.

Langston Middle School created a beautiful mosaic for Ecolympics 2015.

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.May 12: OES Hangout: End of the Year Edition @ 5:30 in Wilder 211: Come take a study break with the OES and celebrate all that’s been accomplished this year! We’ll be hanging out in Wilder with plenty of delicious vegan snacks, so come on by! OES Hangouts are monthly potlucks that welcome anyone & everyone to hang out with the Office of Environmental Sustainability and others interested in sustainability. Bring a vegan dish to share, or simply enjoy provided food and community.

May 23: 2.27 MW Solar Array Tour @ 11:30AM Meeting in front of Philips: As part of Commencement/Reunion Weekend, Bridget Flynn will led a walking tour out to Oberlin’s large solar array. On the walk to the array, participants will have a chance to ask any questions about sustainability at Oberlin.

For more info and to see a full list of events, please the Events tab on the OES website: http://new.oberlin.edu/office/environmentalsustainability/events/

The Ecolympics Float in the Big Parade made quite a splash, featuring many Oberlin kids!

Here are the results of the #OCEcolympics2015 competition, in numbers. 

We had a great time during #OCEcolympics2015! Over 200students came to at least one of our 38 Ecolympics events. This year, the dorms saved 9,744 kilowatt-hours of electricity, enough to power 135 laptop computers for a full year. Harkness topped the charts in dorm electricity conservation, with a 30.4% reduction in electricity use. Fairchild won the co-op kitchen electricity conservation competition, with a 10.1% reduction. Together, the dining co-ops conserved 1,354 kWh.
The water conservation competition was a wild success! The dorms reduced their consumption by over 56,000 gallons, enough water to fill about 2,300 bathtubs. Johnson House was the clear frontrunner, managing an impressive 56.9% reduction in their water usage!
This year was the 2nd year that the Oberlin Public Schools participated in the Ecolympics competition, and Prospect Elementary upheld their title and once again took home the prize for greatest reduction in electricity usage, with a 31.3% reduction. The two elementary schools, middle school, and high school together conserved 14,752 kWh, over 5,000 kWh more than the college dorms. Oberlin College students, take note!
Did you know?
  • The Office of Environmental Sustainability was founded in 2006 — which is the same time the Committee on Environmental Sustainability was created.
  • The City of Oberlin is considering a Complete Streets Resolution! Complete Streets means designing streets with all users of all abilities and modalities in mind. During the first reading of the resolution on Monday night, all City Council members were in favor. We hope to see this resolution pass (two more readings are required).

Green Tips

  • The Big Swap: As the end of the semester draws near, and you’re packing your things up, don’t throw things you don’t want anymore in the trash! Just because you don’t want or need something anymore doesn’t mean someone else can’t put it to use. In the coming weeks, the RCT will be placing boxes in each dorm and co-op where you can place unwanted clothes, school supplies, and dorm furnishings. The RCT will collect these boxes and make everything available (for free!) in Wilder Main during finals week! All unclaimed items will be sorted and donated or taken to the Free Store.
  • Eat Local: The Oberlin Farmers Market opened for the season on May 2nd! The Farmers Market takes place every Saturday from 9am to 1pm in front of the Public Library, and features fresh, local food, and live music. Check out their website here for more information.

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