August 2015 eNewsletter

OES Staff is ready to take on the school year!

After a long summer hiatus from this eNewsletter, we’re back! The first thing we want to do is welcome all the new students to Oberlin! You made it. Welcome! For all the returning students, welcome back to another year. It’s going to be great!This summer was fairly typical in many ways for OES. We hosted groups of folks who wanted to learn more about campus sustainability at Oberlin (from green building professionals to students from across the country), we collaborated with other schools in the Great Lakes region to expand our sustainability programs and equip them with Environmental Dashboards, and we got ready for another school year. In addition, we updated our Greenhouse Gas Inventory and began work on institutionalizing a rebate program for efficiency projects. We brainstormed about composting solutions in conjunction with Dining Services and the City of Oberlin and Lorain County Solid Waste Management District. OES staff also traveled and took personal time with our families and friends outside of Oberlin. Meghan participated in the IDEA Board Meeting and Conference and traveled with her family in Boston. Bridget had her first retreat with the Environmental Leadership Program and then flew to Austin, TX to help and hang out with the PlantBuilt team. Sam went to the Bay Area to visit our partners at Lucid and to Portland, Oregon for a wedding and time with friends. This summer was a nice respite from the hustle and bustle of the school year, while still being a productive time to further our mission and wrap up projects.

There’s a lot big stuff happening in Oberlin right now that we hope to influence in a positive way — and by doing so influence the world outside of Oberlin. The College’s Strategic Planning process is one such opportunity. The Peter B. Lewis Gateway Hotel and Conference Center is another project we hope will do wonders for Oberlin and beyond.

This year we will be working on updating our Climate Action Plan, submitting an updated and expanded STARS Report, coordinating Ecolympics, expanding transportation options for Oberlinians, launching our Green Office Program, and much more! Stay tuned for a very exciting year.

Bridget giving a tour of the solar array to visitors during Commencement Reunion Weekend.

– Bridget Flynn, Sustainability Coordinator

News & Announcements:

  • We Are Hiring: OES is hiring four interns for the 2015-2016 academic year. Position descriptions and instructions on how to apply can be found here. Interns are paid and positions include professional development and social opportunities, as well as challenging and meaningful work.
  • Updated Greenhouse Gas Inventory: During the spring semester and into the summer months, OES and student researchers worked to collect all the necessary data to update our greenhouse gas inventory. This inventory includes emissions from heating and cooling our buildings, as well as our electricity use, transportation, and more. It is publicly available on the ACUPCC website here.
  • Cool Schools: Oberlin College was included in the Sierra Club’s Coolest Schools list at the #5 slot. We are thrilled to be acknowledged for all the wonderful things happening here. The full list is available at
  • Oberlin and the GLCA: This summer the Environmental Dashboard Project hosted a workshop on Dashboard integration into other Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA) schools: Hope, Albion, DePauw, and Antioch. This grant-funded project will equip these select schools with Dashboard monitoring and community integration. A few days later, a team from Oberlin traveled to Albion to meet with even more sustainability and facilities colleagues from GLCA schools for our annual conference. This rich collaboration allows us all to learn and grow and share best practices.
  • Senior Fellow Status: This week in Central California, Bridget became a senior Fellow in the Environmental Leadership Program (ELP). She joins a network of 750+ fellows representing diverse perspectives, talents, and industries all with the aim of making the world a healthier and more equitable place.

Here Ecolympics Interns, Peter and Katie, demonstrate how to make your own DIY natural toothpaste.

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.September 1Bonner Center for Service and Learning Open House @ 1:30pm at the Daub House: Meet the Bonner team and learn how to integrate community engagement into your Oberlin journey, meet local community leaders and partners, and get ideas for winter term, research, and courses. [Facebook] [Calendar]

September 8Seeds of Peace and Cooperation @ 11:45 at the Cox Administration Building (meet out front): Join Oberlin College and Oberlin Shansi as they accept accept ginkgo seeds from trees that survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan. Tour the future planting site on Tappan Square with Tomoko Watanabe, executive director of Asian Network of Trust and Cofounder of Green Legacy Hiroshima. [Calendar]

September 26Oberlin Community and Culture Festival 2015 from 1:00-4:00pm in Tappan Square: Oberlin’s annual Community and Culture Festival is a celebration of diversity with activities for all ages, featuring food from around the world, local restaurants, and live performances. Come to Tappan Square for an afternoon of fun, food, dance, music, culture, and activities! [Facebook] [Calendar]

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

Bridget and the other Environmental Leadership Program fellows at their meeting in Central California

Oberlin College, as a charter signatory of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, has made a commitment to be carbon neutral by 2025. As part of this commitment, the Office of Environmental Sustainability conducts a Greenhouse Gas inventory each year. We’re making great strides, check out the reduction between 2012 to 2014!Over the 2011-2012 school year, Oberlin College’s gross emissions amounted to 40,290 metric tons of CO2e. That number breaks down to 13.8 metric tons of CO2e per student, or 15.5 metric tons of CO2e per 1000 feet of building space. During this time, the College purchased 7996000 kWh of Renewable Energy Credits, offsetting 30% of the greenhouse gases produced due to electricity use and 17% of its total emissions, leaving our institution with a net emissions of 33,560 metric tons of CO2e.

Between 2013 and 2014, Oberlin College reduced its gross emissions to 32,790 metric tons of CO2e7,500 metric tons fewer than the previous assessment. That reduction represents an equivalent amount of greenhouse gas savings that would come from taking 6,903 passenger cars off the road for one year, burning 35,220,193 fewer pounds of coal, or sending 11,753 fewer tons of waste to landfills. Oberlin’s reduction in greenhouse gas emissions between these audits was due to a variety of factors, including the installation of a 2.27 MW solar array, efficiency upgrades, and programs like the Community-Based Social Marketing project, which seeks to facilitate energy-saving behavior change habits in students and staff alike. Over this time, the College also offset 445 metric tons of CO2through a reforestation project, and purchased 9073000 kWh of Renewable Energy Credits, leading to a net emissions of 24,635 metric tons of CO2e.

Did you know?
  • Shuttle Services: The Student Transportation Coordinator works in the OES office to coordinate student shuttle services. This includes travel to the airport on Sunday, Monday, Thursday and Fridays. The CLE shuttle can be used for travel into the city of Cleveland simply by connecting with the RTA (link) at the airport. There is also a local shopping shuttle service that runs Saturdays to DrugMart, IGA, and WalMart. learn more about these services by clicking the side links here

Green Tips

  • Be in the Know about Recycling: Whether you’re new to Oberlin or returning for another great year, get yourself (re)acquainted withproper disposal of waste and unwanted items. Recycling at Oberlin is single stream! Cans, glass, paper, paperboard, and plastics labeled #1-#7 can be placed in recycling bins with blue liners. Cardboard should NOT be recycled alongside other recyclable materials and instead must be flattened and placed in designated cardboard dumpsters (located inside most dorms). Gently used articles of clothing, and any unwanted household/school supplies can be donated to the Free Store in the basement of Asia House. Dead batteries can be dropped off at Wilder front desk, Phillips Gym, and Facilities Operations (in the Service Building) for recycling. Computer/cell phone batteries, old electronic devices, and empty ink cartridges, can be recycled by the Technology Store in Mudd Level A. Compact florescent lightbulbs (CFLs) can be dropped off at Oberlin City Hall (85 S. Main St.),  and Watson Hardware (26 S Main St.). If all else fails, trash (landfill material) can be placed in bins with green liners. 
  • Don’t Forget about Reducing and Reusing, Too: Whether you realize that you forgot to pack something you definitely need, or you break/misplace an essential item later on in the school year, check out the Free Store located in the basement of Asia House before you run out and buy something new. Chances are, they’ll have what you need, it’s free, and way less wasteful! They’re open 7-9pm Monday thru Thursday and 1-3pm on Saturdays.

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