Archive for June, 2011

Cool Roofing at The Ohio State University: Shining Brighter than the Rest

The sheer size and power of The Ohio State University is certainly something to brag about. However, one thing people are not bragging about is the amount of money spent on the energy used to maintain temperatures throughout campus buildings. As everyone scrambles to find ways to reach carbon neutrality, they may be forgetting to simply look up. By using the U.S. Department of Energy Roof Calculator, converting our university’s roofing to "cool roofing" when cost effective would not only save $60,000 annually, but also over 1.5 million pounds of carbon each year. What exactly is cool roofing? It is a type of roofing that increases the amount of sunlight reflected (the albedo), allowing the roof and building to stay cooler. It comes ...    Read More »

For the Birds: Regenerating the Campus Forest Could Improve the Bird Community

It’s no secret that the stretch of Olentangy River running through campus is an eyesore.  With 10 feet of Honeysuckle-dominated forest on the west side, grass and stone on the east side, and nameless debris flowing downstream, it hardly ranks as an "Ohio Scenic River."  The OSU Framework Plan outlines the regeneration of a forest strip on both sides of the river throughout campus.  While the purpose of this forest is to reduce runoff going into the river, it could also greatly benefit the local bird community. Bikers and joggers on the bike path might notice that the only birds found on the east bank of the river are Canada geese, blackbirds and robins. A properly managed forest could potentially invite over a hundred species of for...    Read More »

Algae: Using Pond Scum to Fuel Change at OSU

With increasing gas prices, dependence on imported oil, and depleting resources worldwide, finding alternatives to petroleum-based fuel is considered an urgent priority. One alternative, biofuel, is a controversial issue because the sources that are most commonly used to produce biofuel are soybeans (for biodiesel) and corn (for ethanol). These crops require large amounts of land and energy for both growth and refinement. In contrast, algae are easy to grow and can be manipulated to produce huge amounts without disturbing any natural habitats or food sources. As far as the food-versus-fuel debate is concerned, algae are the clear winners for biofuel. Algae also fit into Ohio State’s One Framework Plan for sustainability because t...    Read More »

Permeable Pavement to help save the Olentangy River

The Olentangy River has seen better days, especially after storm events. This is due to the combined sewer system around campus that can cause sanitary sewer waste to spill into the river during these strong rain events. The sewer system can’t store all the rainwater and discharges into the river. Impervious surfaces like parking spaces and streets cause water to run off quickly and unhindered. The water absorbs the pollution accumulated on these surfaces and brings it into the Olentangy as well. This damages the ecosystem and water quality of the Olentangy River. The Ohio State University recognizes that it contributes to the problem, because the Olentangy runs through the campus, and thus the university designed the Framework Plan...    Read More »

More than Shade: Urban Forest at OSU Provides Nearly $1 Million in Benefits

Ohio State’s urban forest is already providing us with nearly $1 million in annual benefits. The new i-Tree software suite from the USDA Forest Service provides planners with a peer-reviewed, professional means of calculating the annual ecological benefits of trees. These benefits can be calculated for storm water savings, pollution removal, carbon sequestration and more. This includes documented energy and water treatment savings. Currently, Ohio State is incorporating this information into a sustainable urban forestry initiative. Through a careful understanding of these ecological processes, Ohio State can maximize its environmental benefits through improved campus tree management. By conducting a census of trees on campus, Ohio State...    Read More »

Student sustainability projects a ‘win-win’ for OSU

For the past two quarters, my students in ENR 567, "Communicating Environment and Natural Resources Information," have focused their group research projects on sustainability at Ohio State, in connection with OSU's One Framework Plan and the university's sustainability plans. Projects in this pilot effort have ranged from examining options for renewable energy at OSU and infrastructure and ecosystem services planning, to sociological strategies and educational opportunities to help implement sustainable projects around campus. Topics have included green roofs, reflective roofing, campus composting, solar power, bus commuting, algae fuels for OSU CABS buses, Olentangy River corridor restoration, avian diversity, permeable pavement, seque...    Read More »