At Oberlin, environmental sustainability is fundamental to campus life. To create an enduring ecological and human community, we shape our college to be responsive and responsible to the local, regional and global environment. We conserve energy, eat foods grown locally, reuse and recycle materials, and pursue a carbon neutral future. We match our concern over the physical environment with our desire to build socially just and sustainable communities.
Students, professors, staff, alumni, and administrators work with one another. We form communities for learning, conserving, growing, and sharing. Partnership is key to our process: administrators ask for student feedback on projects—from building designs to meal plans. In turn, students challenge faculty, administrators, and each other to find new ways of thinking and acting that protect and preserve resources for future generations. Together, we make sustainability integral to the way we learn and live.
Student and Faculty Engagement
During the academic year, students volunteer across Lorain County, including at the Lorain Metro Parks. Many students work at the George Jones Farm, a small farm that grows a third of the produce served on campus. For campus jobs, students work as recyclers, or staff the Living Machine, a wetland-based wastewater treatment system that treats and then recycles 70 percent of the water used in the Adam J. Lewis Center for Environmental Studies.
The College at Work
In 2005, the college signed an innovative agreement with the local utility that ensures that approximately half of the college’s electricity comes from environmentally favorable sources. Oberlin requires that all new buildings constructed on campus achieve a minimum of a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEED silver rating from the U.S. Green Building Council. The new Bertram and Judith Kohl Building for jazz studies achieved a gold rating.
Read other examples of our collaborations on campus:
Read student and alumni submissions about sustainability in the Oberlin Stories project:
- On Starting the Free Store
- On Owning a Climate Neutral Home in Oberlin
- On Starting an Agency to Help Inner City Children in Milwaukee