Our Commitment: A Climate Positive Community

As signers of the Clinton Foundation Climate Positive Development Program, the City of Oberlin and Oberlin College are committed to reducing Oberlin's greenhouse gas emissions below zero.

To achieve our climate positive commitment, we must as a community shift to renewable energy sources, radically improve efficiency, sharply reduce our carbon emissions, and improve our economy in the process. We will specifically work towards this goal by coordinating an Energy Planning Committee, supporting the City and College in achieving energy commitments, partnering with businesses and non-profits working in the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors, and launching pilot projects that create tangible economic, environmental, and community benefit. In addition, in collaboration with the City's Resource Conservation and Recovery Commission, we are assisting in the development of a roadmap to become a zero waste community.

Energy Planning

To lead Oberlin's rapid transition to a climate positive energy system, we will:

  • Guide the development and implementation of a comprehensive energy plan that is affordable, efficient, sustainable, and coordinated between the City of Oberlin and Oberlin College.
  • Facilitate the integration of policies, decision-making mechanisms, and energy infrastructure so as to maximize the environmental and economic benefits of the energy plan for all members of the community.
  • Gather information on existing and planned energy policy and use and share the findings with all stakeholders in the community.
  • Set collaborative short- and long-term objectives for emissions reductions and advocate for policies to achieve these targets.
  • Connect with and enhance existing projects on the Oberlin College campus and in the Oberlin community. Identify and address gaps, synergies, and potential conflicts.
  • Collect, research, and review best practices and energy-related proposals on behalf of stakeholders in the Oberlin community. Commit resources to and champion new energy-related projects that meet approval of stakeholders on the Committee.

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City & College Committments

The City of Oberlin and Oberlin College are leading by example in their commitments to reduce carbon emissions. As a member of ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, the City of Oberlin has committed to completing a five-milestone process leading to carbon neutrality. As of 2011, the City has completed the first three milestones by conducting a baseline greenhouse gas emissions inventory, setting carbon emissions reductions targets, and adopting a climate action plan. The first of its peer institutions to sign the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment, Oberlin College has led the way in establishing comprehensive sustainability planning and practice and adopted the goal of carbon neutrality by 2025.

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Renewable Energy

In Ohio, half of all carbon emissions come from the electric power sector. One of Oberlin's greatest assets, however, is its community-owned electric utility that operates in the best interest of its citizenry rather than for profit maximization. Oberlin Municipal Light & Power System is on track to secure roughly 90 percent of its energy from local renewable energy resources by 2015.

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Energy Efficiency

In the Oberlin community, we presently spend roughly $15 million each year on electricity and natural gas - this number could be cut in half with the economically feasible technical solutions available today. Reducing energy use through efficiency has the added benefit of increasing the comfort of your home for you and your family, reducing monthly utility bills, building a local energy economy that creates jobs and ownership, and making our community more resilient in the face of rising energy prices and sudden cost spikes.

We are working with partners such as Providing Oberlin With Efficiency Responsibly (POWER), a non-profit, 501(c)(3) grassroots environmental justice organization whose purpose is to increase the energy efficiency of housing in Oberlin. Founded in 2008, POWER has created a local carbon offset mechanism and leveraged grants to fund the insulation and weatherization of 22 homes for low-income residents in Oberlin With the support of Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy, the City of Oberlin, and the Oberlin Project, POWER will be launching an Energy Advocate service to assist all Oberlin residents in improving the efficiency of their homes.

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Zero Waste

The Oberlin Project, working together with the City of Oberlin and Oberlin College, is exploring zero waste as a foundational component to meet our carbon neutral goals through the College and City's Climate Action Plans.  There is a growing movement across the US of entities achieving savings from the implementation of zero waste programs.  A commitment to zero waste will not only reduce greenhouse gases but could save money through avoided disposal fees at the landfill, capture value that would otherwise be lost by reusing and reselling materials, create jobs through the development of recycling-based businesses, and serve as a powerful marketing tool to retain and attract green businesses and jobs to Oberlin.  

A commitment to zero waste provides a unique opportunity to educate both the public and decision-makers, as well as to establish a meaningful dialogue within the community about the value of reusing, repairing, reselling, recycling, and composting materials rather than throwing them away.  A commitment to zero waste provides guiding principles and goals regarding waste management and a continued platform for staff and leaders from which to act.

Zero waste is generally defined as diverting at least 90% of the waste stream from landfills and incinerators.


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