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Thursday, July 8,2010

OU enables more than $ 28K in local efficiency upgrades

Landlords in Athens have extra money in their pockets thanks to the Green House Project (GHP), an Ohio University venture that completed its pilot phase this spring.



Coordinated by the Office of Sustainability in collaboration with the Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development (COAD), the GHP was an effort to address the university’s carbon footprint by investing in the local community. Through the GHP, participating units in the Athens area received whole-house energy audits performed by COAD weatherization experts and up to $500 in cash reimbursements toward efficiency upgrades, such as insulation and high-efficiency appliances.

Landlords and tenants also received six compact fluorescent light bulbs, a high-efficiency showerhead, and student-to-student peer education sessions on energy conservation and cutting utilities costs at home.

“Nothing quite like this had been done at any college or university previously,” Sonia Marcus, director of the Office of Sustainability, said in a news release. “We saw it as an opportunity to give back to Athens while doing our part to educate Ohio University students on climate and energy issues.”

A grant from the Sugar Bush Foundation funded the audits, materials and staff required for the project, which was designed to accommodate up to 40 local rental units. The Green House Project was the first gift made by the foundation, a supporting organization of the OU Foundation, whose mission is to support sustainable development in the communities that OU serves through collaboration between the university and local community organizations.

“We felt that the Green House Project strongly promoted our mission through addressing climate and energy issues,” Mary Anne Flournoy, president of the Sugar Bush Foundation, said in the release. “The project provided an opportunity to educate both local landlords and student tenants about energy efficiency as well as call upon the expertise of COAD in performing energy audits. We also liked the fact that the Green House Project could become a model for other universities and contribute to Ohio University’s leadership in sustainability initiatives.”

At its conclusion, the Green House Project achieved annual reductions of more than 67,000 kilowatt hours of electricity and more than 74 tons of avoided carbon emissions, according to the release. Twenty off-campus student rental properties owned by 19 different landlords participated.


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