Oberlin College began a community-wide effort to develop a carbon neutrality plan for its campus. The first step of this effort was a study that assessed the campus and nearby energy assets, current and future energy demand, potential for renewable and efficient technology integration, smart grid opportunities, and the financial profiles for high potential solutions. The study was completed in 2016 and included recommendations for the optimal energy solutions that will achieve carbon neutrality. Recommendations included an assessment of campus energy resilience and a proposed operations structure to optimize the investments, phasing, and utilization of any new systems.
About Oberlin College
Oberlin is a four-year liberal arts college and conservatory of music, founded in 1833, and located in Oberlin, OH. The Oberlin College community is known for its exemplary academic and musical pedagogy and its commitment to social justice, sustainability, and creative entrepreneurship. The campus buildings are served by a district heating and cooling system. Oberlin recently completed the conversion of its coal heating plant to natural gas as part of its coal to carbon neutral efforts. The college has launched an environmental dashboard as part of its effort to educate and affect end user behavior and the overall campus sustainability profile.
Ever-Green Energy’s Role: Ever-Green was hired to lead the energy and water master planning effort. Ever-Green oversaw data collection from production, distribution, and energy end use. Once data was collected for the campus buildings included in the study, as well as the goal of being financeable, implementable, and socially equitable. The system is currently under design with a focus on reducing campus energy consumption as well as recovering waste heat from a local landfill generator station and transmitting it via hot water to the Oberlin campus.
Energy and Water Master Plan Vision Statement
Oberlin College will achieve carbon neutrality for the energy profile of its campus by 2025 in a meaningful manner, while providing equitable solutions and supporting a culture of learning and engagement for the campus and community.
Guiding Principles for the Energy and Water Master Planning Effort
- Establish a national model for carbon-neutral energy solutions serving a college campus.
- Develop an energy program that can efficiently integrate with the neighboring community.
- Create a campus energy program that upholds the sustainability priorities of the campus, and is adaptable to changing energy needs, market fluctuations, evolution of regulatory and policy frameworks, and technology advancements.
- Establish a phased implementation plan that carries the work toward the long-term vision and goals.
- Develop a carbon neutrality program that is financeable within the private markets.
- Educate and assist the campus and community on opportunities for behavioral changes that can lead to greater energy and water conservation, waste reduction, and more efficient energy systems.
The Oberlin team worked closely with Ever-Green to solicit input from students, faculty, staff, and community partners, including the City of Oberlin, and local civic, business, and community groups. It was a priority of the project team to interact with a broad group of perspectives and to learn from the local experts who understand and have a significant stake in the outcomes of this effort.