From the desk of OES:
Do you know what sustainability really is? How do you describe it simply, easily, and quickly? It’s a simple idea, but complex and ambiguous in reality. Sustainable development was originally defined as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs,” with a particular emphasis on elevating the poor. It’s setting up our world such that all people have the opportunity to thrive – today and in the future. It’s recognizing our place on Earth and our reliance on natural systems; it’s not squandering our natural resources at a rate faster than they could ever replenish. It’s the 3 E’s: equity, economics, environment. London-based, Forum on the Future, named five key principles of sustainability: “quality of life; fairness and equity; participation and partnership; care for our environment and respect for ecological constraints – recognising there are ‘environmental limits’; and thought for the future and the precautionary principle.”
What would the world look like if we enacted those five principles? OES is reformulating our vision statement. While it’s been a really great exercise, it has also been a challenge to consider what it would look like if we accomplished all of our goals. Have you considered what your world would look like if you reached all of your goals? Wow. Vastly different in many ways, right? We will release our new vision in the upcoming months… and in the meantime, we will continue the work to get us where we want to be. Lately that has included: establishing a resilience stakeholder group, working towards carbon neutrality (see News below), and orienting and engaging employees on campus, among other things.
I have met with various staff this month – some who have been here for quite some time, as well as brand new faculty and staff. Faculty and staff who have been here for awhile come with ideas, interests, and passions; our job is to channel and support them. For new employees, we focus on orienting them to the culture of sustainability at Oberlin, to help them get integrated, and understand their part. This is a continuous process, but I’m excited and thankful to the offices that have reached out wanting to be more involved and to Human Resources for giving me a spot in new hire orientation.
I can hardly believe it’s already the last month of the summer. It’s gone by quickly (as usual). The next time I write, we’ll be gearing up for a new school-year. I will be sharing position openings, events, and wisdom for starting the year right. In the meantime, enjoy the rest of your summer! We’d love to hear from you about your summer and your reactions to the definitions of sustainability posed above.
News & Announcements:
- Oberlin College Carbon Neutrality Update: As part of the Oberlin Carbon Neutrality Master Planning effort, Ever-Green Energy and their engineering partner SSOE completed walk-throughs for the majority of Oberlin College’s campus, along with several nearby community buildings. This effort was supported by Facilities Operations, OES, and student interns, Julia Murphy and Julian Geltman. The purpose of the building walk-through is to identify potential energy conservation measures which can be implemented to reduce the college’s energy consumption, and to evaluate the existing building systems to determine cost effective solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Typically reducing energy consumption is the most cost effective method to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to help bring Oberlin College closer to carbon neutrality. The walks were extremely productive. EverGreen expresses thanks to Dave Pastorius and his team and Julia Murphy and Julia Geltman for their support. Behind the scenes, Ever-Green, with support from Darrel Tremaine and Meghan Reisterer, began the analysis of the existing building energy consumption with data collected from utility bills and the Oberlin Environmental Dashboard. The amount of data is fairly comprehensive and will prove valuable for the analysis of the College’s energy consumption profile. Over the next month, Ever-Green and SSOE will analyze the collected data and begin to develop possible options to reduce GHG emissions.
- Science Center Retro-commissioning: The retro-commissioning project at the Science Center commenced in November of 2015. The field investigation including operational analysis of all HVAC and electrical systems has recently wrapped up and a preliminary list of energy conservation measures has been developed. Cutting edge technologies including indirect evaporative cooling energy recovery systems and cascading levels of laboratory energy savings components are being considered and reviewed by the project team.
- Food Hub: The Oberlin Food Hub is a local food aggregation and distribution center, sourcing local goods from local farms for sale to local wholesale buyers. The Food Hub was a recently launched initiative of the Oberlin Project to support local food and local, sustainable enterprise. Read more in a recent article here or from Cleveland Plus here.
- Bike Parking: Park your bike correctly – and safely. In downtown Oberlin, bikes should only be locked to approved racks. A new ordinance was passed in Oberlin that in the downtown area, officers are allowed to remove bicycles that are locked to sign posts, trees, or otherwise blocking the sidewalk. On campus, it’s always best to lock bikes to approved racks. Bicycles should NOT be locked to themselves.
- Recycling: The City of Oberlin recently released a new graphic to help people understand what goes in their blue recycling bin. See above or learn more on their website: cityofoberlin.com/refuse.
For a full view of events visit the Environmental Events calendar: http://new.oberlin.edu/office/environmental-sustainability/events/August 26 – Green Orientation | 3:30PM @ Hallock Auditorium (Adam Joseph Lewis Center): If you’re new to Oberlin and/or want to get more involved in sustainability, this is the orientation for you. You’ll hear from various groups about their work and how you can channel your passions and get plugged in.See more events or add yours to the Environmental Events Calendar here: http://new.oberlin.edu/office/environmental-sustainability/events/
It’s blazin’. In the summer heat, let’s examine the effects of our energy intensive, air-conditioners.
According to the US Department of Energy, 2/3 of all homes in the United States have air conditioners. Air conditioners account for an annual cost of more than $11 billion to homeowners. In New York City, it is estimated that poorly fitted air conditioners cost buildings $130 million to $180 million a year in extra energy consumption. The energy intensity of air-conditioners running in the summertime also contributes to power outrages and stresses on the grid. Luckily, the power grid in the U.S. is relatively stable, about 99.9% if you don’t factor in weather-related outages, per the Electric Power Research Institute.
- The first air conditioner wasn’t intended for human comfort. The modern air conditioner was invented by Willis Carrier in 1902 for a Brooklyn-based publishing company. The machine was invented to keep temperature and humidity low so that paper didn’t expand and contract. Carrier never intended for his invention to be solely used for people’s comfort!
- Party Politics: Cleveland was the host of the Republican National Convention (RNC) last week. Politics are a hot topic right now. As you are deciding who might get your vote, consider candidates’ stances on important issues, like energy policy, reproductive health, food subsidies, labor laws, health care, military spending, and taxes. On the state and local level, see where your representatives stand on issues that are important to you. If you aren’t seeing the change you want at a local level, get involved! In the City of Oberlin, over the past year we adopted a Complete Streets Resolution and Zero-Waste Plan!
- Cool Smart: When the temperatures soar, sometimes using our air-conditioners is the best way to keep cool. To save electricity and money, use your thermostat to control temperatures wisely; or turn your A/C off when you leave your home for a few hours (work, errands, day trips).