Diverse, first-generation students welcome at UC
Tue, May 21, 2019
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In its second century of global academic impact, the University of Cincinnati celebrates gold level sustainability among its many international accolades.
Recognized as one of the world’s most beautiful campuses — maintaining a gold-star rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) since 2017 — UC’s picturesque charm goes beyond skin deep.
Because of ongoing efforts to conserve energy, create a more sustainable campus and develop award-winning Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings, UC’s campus will earn another “gold” LEED certification with the new Carl H. Lindner College of Business (LCOB) opening this fall. Previously UC College of Medicine’s CARE/Crawley Center for Academic Research had earned gold in 2008.
Currently the university has 11 buildings that are LEED certified and three more that are working toward certification.
“The University of Cincinnati has been recognized as a leader in sustainable practice, research and education,” says Daniel Hart, sustainability coordinator in UC's Department of Planning + Design + Construction. “Having published its first climate action plan in 2009, the university is currently in the process of finalizing its new climate action and sustainability plan, which will serve as a guiding framework for how the university can enhance its culture of sustainability and work towards climate action."
The plan is anticipated to be published in May of 2019.
In honor of Earth Day on April 22 and the university’s eco-friendly achievements, UC’s Office of Sustainability will host events across campus during Earth Week, April 15-20, to highlight the university’s renewed commitment to increase campus sustainability and build a healthier, safer and cleaner world.
Campuswide events will include healthy outdoor activities from gardening and tree planting to bicycle trail rides and end-of-semester waste and recycling efforts. There will also be an Earth Day greenhouse plant sale in the sixth floor hallway of Rieveschl Hall April 23-25.
And on Friday, June 14, the UC is sponsoring the Midwest Regional Sustainability Summit, the region’s premiere conference.
“We continually look for ways to make the campus more of a living laboratory of sustainability by building new infrastructure as efficient and ecologically conscious as possible while getting the students and community involved,” Hart adds.
While awarded for cutting-edge design and construction of its buildings and residence halls, UC continues to undertake ambitious sustainable transportation efforts including: bike and walkway infrastructure, multi-modal transportation options such as Zipcar, Zimride and other ride-sharing car rental services, electric vehicle charging stations, the Bearcat shuttle system and the university’s subsidized bus passes with Cincinnati Metro.
And as a result of UC’s bike-friendly campus infrastructure and unique features such as the Bike Kitchen where students can repair their bikes and UC’s Bike Share free bike rental system, the League of American Bicycles presented UC with a bronze-level award in 2018 for its commitment to cycling and dedication to bicycle safety and accessibility.
If you spy a flock of students traveling around campus on “birds” you’re not seeing things. The latest sustainable craze to hit the streets are battery-powered two-wheeled scooters from the Bird company that can be rented for $1 flat rate and 28 cents per minute.
Third-year UC marketing and finance student, Umaize Savani, saw the wingless Bird in Washington, D.C., last summer and quickly reached out to have them bring a fleet of more than 100 scooters to UC’s Uptown campus area.
“There are many advantages to using a scooter to go across campus instead of driving a car,” says Savani. “They save on parking, gas, wear and tear on your car and Bird produces zero carbon emissions. [They] can be accessed easily through an app and provide income for students who are hired to go around and collect the scooters to recharge them each day.”
And instead of walking and working up a sweat before class or a meeting, he points out how you can ride quietly on nice days and leave the scooter right there for another renter or save it there to use for the trip back.
Currently Savani is in meetings with UC’s facilities management to partner with Bird in yearly contracts that will pay the university $1 a day per Bird nested on campus.
The income can generate new revenue to improve the infrastructure of roads and walkways on campus and potentially create student scholarships. “And a contract would allow us to monitor and control the speed of the scooters through heavy pedestrian areas via geofencing GPS technology,” he adds.
While leading in LEED building certification and carbon-free campus transportation options, UC also continues to cut energy costs and carbon emissions through the newly purchased green energy contract with AEP Energy until 2021.
In lieu of natural gas or fossil fuels, the green energy contract sources 100 percent power from a more sustainable wind energy for the Clermont, UC Blue Ash, Victory Parkway and Reading campuses and the 1819 Innovation Hub.
“Because all the buildings together result in a sizable amount, we were able to get a good deal on the cost, making it a more cost-efficient and eco-friendly usage of power,” says Mike Hofmann, director of UC’s Finance-Utilities Services and negotiator of the green energy contract.
“With the advent of wind energy growing all over the country it is becoming more economical to purchase wind for certain programs like our outlying buildings.”
Main campus still operates its own power plant, which feeds the East and West campuses at a better rate than wind energy right now — maintaining a 40-percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions resulting in more than $900,000 in rebates from Duke Energy over the last three years, adds Hofmann.
The university recently signed on as a member of the Cincinnati 2030 District, which is a collective commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings' energy use, water use and associated transportation emissions by 50 percent by the year 2030, says Hart.
UC’s utilities serve the needs of 3.6 million square feet of building space, so whenever possible, the ongoing green/energy efforts are integrated into the curriculum, enriching the lives of students.
“None of our sustainable efforts would be as strong without our student groups,” says Hofmann. “Our engineering students started the Society of Environmental Engineers group and hope to play a part in the design and layout of the solar application of the outlying buildings.”
Hofmann’s plan also includes increasing the tree population on campus to help combat carbon dioxide. While addressing the CO2 output he knows that tree foliage helps absorb the CO2 in the air while releasing oxygen back into the environment.
With the expertise of John Martini, UC landscape architect, a tree master plan called a "geographic information system" is in the works. His design will map out where all the buildings, trees and vegetation are and what kind.
“Certain trees and vegetation are best suited to help shade sun or block wind when strategically placed around buildings,” says Martini. “And we are working at enhancing the environmental benefits of tree groves across campus like the grove on Sigma Sigma Commons.”
While those trees were not intentionally spaced for the purpose of attaching hammocks, Martini says students found out serendipitously that the grove is perfect for relaxing among the trees on a sunny day.
Recycling events to help facilitate the end-of-year move provides three separate initiatives to try to alleviate waste — diverting material from the landfill and encouraging students to donate materials.
Featured image at the top: UC’s Zimmer rooftop garden is a green walkway to surrounding buildings and a great place for students to study, interact and enjoy good weather in the center of campus. photo/Lisa Ventre/UC Creative Services photo/Lisa Ventre/UC Creative Services