Sustainability Hubs hold a wide variety of initiatives to challenge students to focus on being renewable.

Emily Mullins, the graduate assistant to the sustainable living hub, works on aspects like food insecurity, sustainable transportation, campus grounds and student life. 

“We are currently working hard to build a better student farm, contribute to the culinary dining experience, and to take care of trees on campus,” Mullins said in an email. “Other Hubs focus on issues such as sustainable infrastructure and energy, and better work and classroom environments.” 

While the specific duties of the hubs are different, all of them prioritize the issues in the Ohio University Sustainability and Climate Action Plan, Mullins said in an email.

Some of the goals detailed in this plan include reducing landfill waste, making to-go containers in dining halls compostable and consuming 5% less food per person, some of which have already been met.

Mullins said in an email that all hub coordinators communicate closely with each other to meet these goals.

“Collaboration among all community actors is the key to becoming more sustainable,” she said in an email. “Hubs allow people from different backgrounds to share ideas to build on and accomplish initiatives, which everyone can benefit from.”

Mullins said in an email that while some hubs are more project-based, events that are held by hubs are also open to community members, and there are also monthly seminars for hub events along with opportunities for students.

“Students can become a Climate and Sustainability Ambassador, which is a group that encourages, promotes, supports and leads sustainability initiatives,” she said in an email. “Students, faculty, staff or community members can also propose or request to complete sustainability projects for the Sustainability Project Laboratory.”

Mullins said in an email her hub works with the Athens Tree Advisory Committee to meet a few times per semester and hosts a scavenger hunt for the Child Development Center.

“Since this is only the second semester where the Hub structure has taken place and university priorities are starting to change, it is difficult to say whether the university will keep this structure in the future,” she said in an email. “But so far, I think the Hubs are working well and it would be sad to see them disappear.” 

Elaine Goetz, OU’s director of sustainability, said many successful programs had already been initiated on campus. Despite changes happening in the university, Goetz said she still expects the hub’s to be aiding in meeting the university's sustainability goals.

The range of environmental issues that is covered is broad, but the projects are all part of something larger, she said.

“The focus of the hubs is not just environmental issues but the triple bottom line of sustainability: how we make decisions that simultaneously benefit social systems, economic systems and natural systems,” she said in an email.

The hubs also holds events and celebrates holidays like Earth Day. For Pollution Prevention week In September, activities like a tap versus bottled water taste test and storm drain marking were happening during the week.

The Eco-Challenge program, which is one of their initiatives, works with the College of Business and Russ College of Engineering and Technology to create and market sustainable solutions. 

David Bayless, the sustainable infrastructure hub coordinator, said he’s most excited about what the university is doing to reduce its carbon footprint and energy usage. He said his hub is project-based to get students active and educated about sustainability.

He said his hub is working to implement composting efforts at West 82. The previous attempt had problems and a “really horrible stream of waste” that went out of the compost facility.

“My personal vision is to try to have these projects available for faculty who want to have experiential learning in their classroom and love to have a sustainability theme involved in the projects,” he said.