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Sustainability Initiative

Professor Terry Keiser
Director of University Sustainability
Office of the President


Ohio Northern has made several significant strides in sustainability, and currently is making considerable efforts to realize the full benefits of a comprehensive approach to sustainability at the University. Powered by what the University has already accomplished, ONU is poised for future growth in several areas of sustainability, alternative energy and environmental stewardship. As ONU approaches its 150th anniversary in 2021, sustainable practices are being explored and implemented to be better stewards of our environmental, energy, and financial resources.

Recent developments

FOR THE BEES — The grassy area surrounding the retention basin on the south side of campus between the president’s home and Stadium View Apartments will soon see a bee-friendly makeover. This section of land will be transformed into a wetland area featuring natural vegetation (i.e., wildflowers and small flowering trees) with a focus on providing a perfect habitat for bees. Seeding this former grassy space will eliminate the need for mowing, thereby reducing the University’s use of gasoline and polluting lawn mowers. Funded by a federal grant, the work is scheduled to be completed by the first week in May.

AFFINITY GARDENS IS UP AND GROWING — The Affinity Gardens project has transformed the green space of ONU’s Affinity Village residence community into a modern-day victory garden where student organization-adopted raised garden beds are growing fresh organic produce for the Ada community. Vegetables harvested from the garden are donated to the Ada Food Pantry and the ReStore Community Center, complementing and supplementing the nonperishable food items these agencies provide to the community members they serve.

SUSTAINABILITY WORKSHOP — Terry Keiser, BSEd ’64, ACIT ’98, director of University sustainability, attended a weeklong sustainability workshop at the University of Vermont. The event’s focus was on sustainability leadership.

TREE CAMPUS USA — Since 2009, Ohio Northern University has been recognized as a Tree Campus USA by the nonprofit Arbor Day Foundation. Tree Campus USA, a national program launched in 2008 by the Arbor Day Foundation and Toyota, honors colleges and universities and their leaders for promoting healthy trees and engaging students and staff in the spirit of conservation. To obtain this distinction, Ohio Northern University met the five core standards for effective campus forest management: a tree advisory committee, a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance, and student service-learning projects.

THANK YOU FOR NOT SMOKING — Beginning in August 2015, to coincide with the start of the new academic year, Ohio Northern University became a 100 percent tobacco-free campus. This is inline with what’s happening on other campuses in the nation. With this action, ONU joined the more than 1,500 campuses across the country that have already declared themselves to be tobacco-free. Other local tobacco-free campuses include Miami University, the University of Toledo and Ohio State University.

EV CHARGING STATIONS — Thanks to donations from two alumni, two electric vehicle charging stations have been installed on campus. One is already located near in the parking lot to the east of the Mathile Center, and a second has been installed in the parking lot of The Inn. At this point in time, owners of electric vehicles can use this service free of charge.

RECYCLING SPREADS TO ADA SCHOOLS — In conjunction with Allied Waste Haulers, Ohio Northern is funding a recycling program at Ada Schools. A recycling dumpster has been placed on the Ada Schools campus.

LET THEM DRINK PEPSI — Last fall, Ohio Northern University advanced its recycling efforts by partnering with PepsiCo Recycling to bring a PepsiCo Dream Machine kiosk to campus. This kiosk introduces a reward program that provides students with an easy and convenient way to make a difference by recycling their bottles and cans on the go. The kiosk is located in the lobby of the mail center in the McIntosh Student Center. This is only the second such machine to be installed in Ohio.

RECYCLING UPDATE — The past few years have seen the reduction of “landfill” dumpsters and an increase of recyclable dumpsters on campus. In fact, the University’s landfill waste has been cut in half. Although these efforts have not led to any cost savings, they have reduced the number of trash hauls and we’re doing something that we know is good.