January/February 2016 eNewsletter

From the desk of OES:

A group of 3rd and 4th graders from Sandusky visiting the solar array with Bridget

Beware! This is a long one. I am so excited to report on a slew of advancements since our last edition. Because we didn’t send out a January eNewsletter, this contains information and announcements since the beginning of the year. Highlights include 10 year anniversaries, a new commitment, a heck of a lot of renewable electricity, reporting on progress, formations of plans… and so much more. Have I caught your attention yet?

2016 is the 10 year anniversary of Oberlin College’s signing of the ACUPCC – our carbon neutrality commitment, the establishment of the Office of Environmental Sustainability, and the creation Committee on Environmental Sustainability. So much as happened since that time and we continue to excel at an incredible pace these days. A midst the hubbub of daily meetings, emails, reports, and constantly changing information, we don’t always celebrate our accomplishments. This year, however, OES is taking the opportunity to celebrate. We are aiming to celebrate and reflect on progress in order to educate and inspire us into the future. Look out for upcoming programming and articles in this regard. For example: did you know Oberlin’s power supply is nearly 90% renewable?Along the lines of celebration, I am thrilled to announce the President Marvin Krislov has signed the Resilience Commitment administered by Second Nature(the same organization the oversees the carbon commitment). This commitment asks Oberlin to work closely with our local community in our climate and sustainability efforts; to share assets, to plan for and mitigate climate change, to become a resilient community together. This commitment will formalize much of the town-gown collaboration Oberlin is already heavily engaged in; it also lends us structure for this collaboration and recognizes us for these efforts. OES, along with many stakeholders, are still determining how we best want to move forward with this initiative. Once determined, community announcements and press will be released. I want to take a moment to thank President Krislov for taking leadership on this issue and Second Nature for facilitating this initiative.

Many wheels are in motion as OES is working to submit an updated STARS Report this spring, plan for an awesome Ecolympics (April 8 – 22 this year), advise ENVS 101 and CBSM research and intern projects, and collaborate with the CES to move forward the actual implementation of the Environmental Policy Implementation Plan that was adopted in the fall.

Two other highlights from Winter Term include an updated Progress Report submission to Second Nature and an Ohio sustainability officers summit, this year hosted at Case Western Reserve University. This summit allowed OES to connect with a dozen sustainability officers from institutions across higher education. Sharing our work was motivating and inspiring.

There is a lot of work to do and things are constantly bustling, but amidst all the progress I am feeling hopeful. It’s inspiring to see so much good work going on and so many people involved in trying to improve our world. Lots is happening and we’re excited you’re along for the ride.


– Bridget Flynn, Sustainability Coordinator

News & Announcements:

  • President Krislov Signs Resilience Commitment: At the end of the calendar year, Oberlin College President Marvin Krislov signed the Resilience Commitment. This new commitment is complimentary to our carbon neutrality commitment administered by the organization Second Nature. The resilience commitment is focused on climate adaptation and community capacity-building to deal with a changing climate and resulting extremes; more on the commitments can be found here.
  • 10 Year Anniversary: OES is naming 2016 a Celebration Year in commemoration of the 10 Year Anniversary of Oberlin College’s carbon neutrality commitment and the creation of the OES and the CES. Programming is being planned for throughout the year to coincide with this Celebration year.
  • Sustainable Technology Coordinator: We’d like to welcome Darrel Tremaine to the OES team. Darrel is the newly appointed Sustainable Technology Coordinator. While only a few month into the job, Darrel has already gotten his hands dirty expanding metering on campus, attended a summit with other Ohio sustainability officers, and is overseeing student workers making incredible progress to expand the orb technology to other organizations. Learn more about Darrel here. Thank you to Samuel Hartman for all his terrific work during his time at Oberlin. He initiated the Dashboard Expansion Project, grew the Dashboard internship team, standardized processes for metering on campus, and so much more. Thank you, Sam, for all your excellent contributions!
  • CBSM Publishes Book Chapter: The Community-Based Social Marketing Research team was asked to contribute to a book chapter on social sciences contributions to university sustainability. We were published! A link to the book chapter can be found here and more information about CBSM at Oberlin here.
  • AASHE Membership: This month Oberlin College renewed our AASHEmembership. As an institutional member, anyone with an oberlin.edu email address can access member-only resources.
  • EnviroAlums Summer Fellowships: EnviroAlums are offering summer fellowships for current Oberlin College students or recent graduates; learn more here.
  • EPA Green Power Partnership: It’s Oberlin College’s 10th year participation in the EPA’s Green Power Partnership. This is a voluntary program that assists organizations with procuring electricity generated from renewable resources and promoting their green power leadership. Learn more about the program here.
  • Oberlin Dashboard Update: While almost everyone else was resting over winter break, some exciting developments were underway on campus. Phase II of the Dashboard Expansion Project included new meters installed in Mudd, Wilder, Peters, King, and Finney to capture electricity, water, and in some cases steam (for heating). This project will allow us to better track and manage usage in these big buildings. More information will be available as the project progresses.
  • Environmental Studies Program Certifies Highest Level in Green Office Program: The Environmental Studies Program has registered for the Green Office Program pilot and certified at the highest level. Congratulations to the Environmental Studies Program on your excellent work to bring social, environmental, and economic consciousness to your daily operations.
  • Terracycle Colgate Oral Care Brigade: OES rolled out a new Terracycle recycling brigade to collect and recycle old toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes, floss containers, and more. Terracycle is a company that specializes in recycling hard-to-recycle products and repurposing their components for further use. Collection bins are installed in all first year residence halls – Kahn, Barrows, and Dascomb – and in Mudd. You can also drop materials off at OES in the Service Building 209. This program expanded to the city and now you can participate at Oberlin City Hall as well as Oberlin Family Dentistry.

The new TerraCycle Oral Care brigade accepts toothpaste tubes, toothbrushes, floss, and packaging.

Upcoming Events:

March 2Convocation: An Evening with Elizabeth Kolbert, Author of the Sixth Extinction @ 7:30PM in Finney Chapel – Elizabeth Kolbert has been a staff writer for the New Yorker since 1999. Her series on global warming, “The Climate of Man,” won an award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Her environmental writing grew into Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change, which was chosen as one of the 100 Notable Books of the Year by the New York Times Book Review. Her most recent book, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, made the New York Times top 10 in 2014 and won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction.
March 11: OES Hangout @ TBD at the EARRTH House (20 East Lorain Street): This month’s hangout will be hosted the EARRTH House, inhabited mostly by members of the Resource Conservation Team (RCT) aiming to live consciously off-campus. Bring a vegan dish to share or come enjoy provided food and community.

Mark your calendars! Ecolympics 2016 will run from April 8 – 22.

See more events or add yours to the Environmental Events Calendar here: http://new.oberlin.edu/office/environmental-sustainability/events/

In celebration of Office of Environmental Sustainability’s 10 Year Anniversary and the College’s recent signing of the Resilience Commitment, let’s briefly look at our commitment over the past ten years:

In 2006, Oberlin College was 1 of 12 visionary college and university presidents that initiated the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). They were motivated by their conviction that higher education had the capacity and responsibility to lead on climate and sustainability action for the sake of their students and society.

These Founding Signatories worked with Second Nature, ecoAmerica, and AASHE to develop the Commitment, and in early 2007 they invited their peers across the nation to join this historic endeavor. By Earth Day 2008, the ACUPCC was a national initiative with signatories in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Now, in 2016, there are over 600 signatories.

Through the ACUPCC, higher education has become the only sector in the US with a critical mass committed both to the scientifically necessary goal of climate neutrality and to preparing students to develop the solutions for a just, healthy, and sustainable society.

In 2015, Second Nature rebranded their commitments and at added a new level of commitment, Resilience. Right before the close of the calendar year, Oberlin College signed onto the Resilience Commitment – along with our Carbon Commitment – making us a Climate Commitment signatory in this charter period.

Since our baseline greenhouse gas inventory year of 2007, Oberlin College has cut our carbon emissions in 1/2. Progress included installation of the 2.27 MWsolar array covering

11 acres of campus property, energy efficiency projects like like 2,000,000 sq ft lighting upgrade done in 2013,  becoming a coal-free institution by 2015, working with OMLPS to secure renewable electricity such that the entire city of Oberlin is powered by ~86% renewables, and more to come!

Did you know?
  • Oberlin College was one of the founding signatories of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). At the close of 2015, Oberlin College signed a new resilience commitment in this Climate Leadership framework. See more in the Numbers section below.
  • Oberlin’s power supply is ~86% renewable. College electricity is around 100% renewable. Learn more here.

Green Tips

  • DIY Spring Cleaning: Give making your own cleaning supplies a try! Easy combinations of water, vinegar, and lemon juice can work just as well as industrial cleaners without anywhere near the environmental impact – and you can avoid inhaling the harsh chemicals. Try some of these combinations for your home or dorm.
  • Party Harder: Throw an eco-friendly party with your friends by using rigid plastic tumblers instead of solo cups. Even if some cups are dropped, they shouldn’t shatter and the benefit to the environment (and your wallet) from reusing cups will be clear immediately. More here.
  • Wash wise: Washing clothes with no more than the necessary amount of water can lead to 80% energy savings. Many machines let you set the size of the load so that water can be distributed accordingly. Also, using cold water instead of hot can save up to 500 pounds of CO2 per year – and save on your natural gas bill. Set your machine to “cold” or “colors” to use cold water, which can also extend the life of your colors and eliminate colors “bleeding” onto one another.

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