When building the Mathile Center for the Natural Sciences and The Inn at Ohio Northern University, energy conservation was an important part of the design and construction process. High-efficiency water heaters, HVAC systems and lighting were installed in both buildings in addition to increased insulation, low-flow fixtures, and dual or automatic flushing toilets. This can reduce water usage by up to 67 percent compared to traditional toilets.
Sustainable living is not only good for the planet, but also for budgets. Living in on-campus housing provides students with the opportunity to take individual responsibility for their carbon footprint. In addition to educational and practical programming providing by RAs in the halls, students also will see stickers on every light switch that say "Do your part... Conserve Energy. Turn lights OFF when leaving." Individuals can conserve energy by taking shorter showers, turning off the faucet while brushing their teeth, and maintaining reasonable temperatures in their apartments or residence hall rooms.
ONU’s fleet of hybrid and electric campus vehicles reduces the University’s dependence on fossil fuels.
World Energy conducted an energy auction to identify the University’s energy provider for the next two years. The auction itself cost the University nothing. In a sense, it was a reverse auction in that the winning bid was less than the rest. The auction locked in electricity prices for two years, resulting in an overall savings of approximately $200,000 for the University.
A joint investigative effort (as a corollary to the Master Plan) by Plugsmart, MetroCD Engineering and Bodie Electric has revealed the 10 “worst” buildings on campus in terms of energy use and cost. This in-depth analysis identified the major buildings with notable problems – everything from outside lighting, the type of lighting used internally, windows, outmoded motors, etc. At the bottom of the list? The Freed Center, Presser Hall, Meyer Hall of Science, Dicke Hall, Mathile Center for the Natural Sciences, and McIntosh Center. Results from this initial survey showed sufficient promise that the scope of the investigation was significantly expanded. That report was recently provided to the University and is being analyzed. Although an initial investment would be required, the energy savings could add up to millions of dollars and paybacks should be promising.
In 2016, Ohio Northern and AEP Energy have formally signed a 25-year contract to construct, operate and maintain a 2-megawatt solar array on 11 acres of University property located southwest of campus on Klinger Road. The agreement allows for 10 acres of panels, a surrounding chain link fence covered in greenery and a perimeter tree line. Ohio Northern is providing the property and AEP is providing the funding of the entire project. AEP Energy will provide all mechanical and ground maintenance of the property. The 18,000 panels that make up the field are low profile with no blinking lights, and will stand about six feet tall. The solar field is proposed to generate 10 percent of the University’s annual usage, equal to 215 average households. Solar energy is very predictable and the panels have fewer moving parts that could break down over time. ONU also will use the project as part of teaching the next generation of student how to get into renewables and how to do solar developments. Two programs currently exist for students to select from: advanced energy concentration, and environmental and field biology. The solar array began generating electricity in December 2016.
During summer 2009, Founders Complex and Affinity Village Complex were updated to use a geothermal heating and cooling system. It is expected to reduce energy use in those areas by 30 to 40 percent and reduce water consumption in Affinity Village by 30 percent. In all, 30 percent of ONU’s housing features geothermal, earth-friendly technology.
Ohio Northern University formed the wind turbine research team in 2007 to determine the feasibility of installing wind turbines to supplement the campus’s energy usage. During summer 2008, the University purchased and installed data collectors on the campus radio tower to monitor wind direction and speeds. After over a year of research, the team determined that wind turbines are an economically viable option for the University. In 2010, three wind turbines were installed on the ONU campus. Each three-blade wind turbine is 220 feet tall and generates 400 kilowatts of power. The University will use the collective 1.2 megawatts of power generated by the three wind turbines on the ONU campus. The three turbines will meet eight to nine percent of the University’s electricity needs.