The work of the Sustainability Office spans many disciplines, types and time scales. Below, get a sense of what we are working on, and what's on the horizon. This page isn't all inclusive since some work comes and goes quickly, but it's meant to provide a sense of the broad scope of work we cover.

For ways OSU students can engage and utilize the campus as a living sustainability laboratory, please see our list of potential student projects.

Policy and Infrastructure

We advance projects that reduce OSU’s carbon emissions and improve efficiency. We are OSU’s internal green building consultants, helping make construction projects as sustainable as possible while using the campus as a teaching tool. We review, recommend and implement policies like the Energy Rule and Carbon Commitment.

  • Heating/cooling
    • Work with Facilities Services to implement heating and cooling tune-ups (retrocommissioning) for university buildings.
    • Work with Capital Planning and Development, Facilities Services and others as needed to replace or upgrade inefficient building systems like heating/cooling, lighting, water use, etc.
    • Supervise interns who work with our office and the OSU Building Controls shop to refine building heating and cooling controls systems. 
  • Lighting
    • Coordinate between Facilities Services and building occupants to ensure lighting control systems are configured to safely maximize savings.
    • Advocate for and at times fund lighting upgrade projects
  • Fund and manage efficiency “micro projects” such as small scale steam pipe insulation, lighting upgrades, etc.
  • Manage and allocate funding from OSU Utility Savings Reinvestment fund, a revolving fund to support decarbonization of energy systems. Track and process annual payback for fund from successful projects.
  • Facilitate conversations with Pacific Power and others about options to purchase renewable electricity from the grid, and reduce reliance on coal-generated electricity.
  • Explore and analyze options to purchase renewable natural gas from retail and/or wholesale suppliers.
  • Manage contracts for power purchase agreements and site license agreements to install solar electric panels on OSU buildings and land holdings, in partnership with Oregon Clean Power Coop and others.
  • Create and maintain a solar development plan for university properties, and manage solar feasibility studies and other activities that inform the plan
  • Schedule, transport, deploy, maintain and upgrade the OSU Solar Trailer
  • Maximize Energy Trust of Oregon financial incentives for OSU’s energy projects. At any given time, OSU has between 10 and 25 active projects enrolled for incentives.
  • Assist contractors and consultants with brokering tax credits under section 179D of the US tax code, which in turn provides financial benefit to OSU.
  • Pursue donations and grant funding, when appropriate.
  • Act as the internal green building consultant for all OSU major and minor capital projects, aiming to maximize project performance under OSU’s Requirements for Sustainable Development and exceed required building codes for energy efficiency.
    • Liaise with Energy Trust of Oregon for all projects
    • Support project managers and construction managers in their work and to address their questions around new and emerging technologies.
    • Recommend specific project pathways, solutions and equipment, when necessary.
  • Create and periodically update carbon planning documentation and strategies that support OSU's ambitious 2025 carbon neutrality goal. Advise senior leadership on pathways for reducing and eliminating carbon emissions.
  • Actively engage with and support the Faculty Senate Carbon Commitment Committee in their efforts to expand campus stakeholder actions to reduce carbon emissions.
  • Update and maintain Energy Rule, serving as the university’s energy policy
  • Advise senior leadership and Board of Trustees on high level policy changes and frameworks, including OSU Strategic Plan, unit plans and policies, etc.
    • Provide quarterly updates to track progress toward Action 14 in Strategic Plan 4.0.
  • Create and pilot policies and programs that address carbon emissions, such as Travel Carbon Offset program.
  • Advise university leadership and others regarding campus electrical distribution system and implications of changes to that system.  
  • Offer streamlined and centralized purchasing pathways for carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates.
  • Work with existing vendors on tools like green product automated prioritization to improve and streamline more sustainable purchasing university wide.
  • Explore life cycle cost assessment tools to inform purchase of materials, goods and services.
  • Work with OSU Transportation Services to support and advocate for more sustainable transportation options like biking, transit, telecommuting and carpooling.
  • Manage, maintain and expand, as needed, OSU's electric vehicle charging infrastructure and networks, in cooperation with Transportation Services.
  • Engage with (and currently chair) the OSU Transportation Committee to advance more sustainable transportation policies and practices.
Outreach and Networking

The OSU Sustainability Office serves as a single point of contact for information requests, often routing inquiries to other campus experts. We communicate with and maintain networks that support a diverse array of on and off campus stakeholders. We are in the business of social change, and our outreach and networking programs serve to advance that change, and OSU’s mission.  We can’t do this work alone, so we have created strong partnerships across campus to empower others to take actions that advance sustainability, both on campus and beyond.

  • Provide a simple and effective Green Certification process for offices, labs, and Greek houses to further their sustainability efforts and get recognition for their work.
  • Mentor Eco-Reps, a group of student employees who work towards creating a culture of sustainability in the residence halls in which they live.
  • Offer accessible pathways for basic sustainability literacy through our Sustainability Involvement Program.
  • Administer the Sustainability Advocates program, including planning and leading quarterly meetings and expanding membership to include more university units.
  • Serve as advisor for multiple student organizations, currently scientists for a Sustainable Future and Greeks Go Green.
  • Support and collaborate with ASOSU Sustainability Coordinator as well as Oregon State Environmental Council student group.
  • Offer periodic opportunities for volunteers from the university community and beyond to get hands on experience such as invasive species removal, accessibility surveys, etc.
  • Work with university units and OSU Foundation to obtain external funding for sustainability work.
  • Share sustainability news and opportunities through online networks, such as bi-monthly newsletters, social media, website updates and blog posts.
  • Maintain relationships and peer learning with external entities, including other higher education institutions, Corvallis Sustainability Coalition, City of Corvallis, Benton County, Corvallis School District and others.
  • Support the work of other units whose work touches on aspects of sustainability, such as Transportation Services, Campus Recycling and Community Engagement and Leadership. Participate in committee meetings as needed.
  • Maintain and update a Carbon Calculator in order to help people understand the connection between their everyday actions and their carbon emissions.
  • Provide content for and maintain interactive touchscreens in high-traffic locations Corvallis campus locations to educate OSU community members about sustainability.
  • Create and maintain innovative engagement systems, including gaming systems like Sustainability Jeopardy, to engage and educate participants about sustainability during in-person tabling events and through our interactive touchscreens.
  • Provide graphic design support for OSU departments to enhance their brand through virtual tours, videos, social media and other outlets.
  • Create and maintain a online interactive map of sustainability features on and around the Corvallis campus.
  • Provide information to visitors through informational brochures and online virtual tours.
  • Provide in-person tours of the built environment for courses, donors, visitors and others.
  • Collaborate with Campus Recycling to create a framework for prioritizing environmental and social justice within our work.
  • Share resources, such as training opportunities, with various groups including the Sustainability Advocates and through our outreach networks.
  • Collaborate with other departments to organize and promote the annual Beyond Earth Day celebration.
  • Serve on the planning committee for the annual Washington & Oregon Higher Education Sustainability Conference (WOHESC) as a University Sponsor, and pay for this sponsorship. Promote the conference through our networks and increase access and affordability by providing tickets, transportation and coordination for students, faculty and staff.
  • Conduct outreach at club fairs and other university events such as University Day, the Beaver Community Fair and many others, to promote our work and initiatives.
  • Serve as institutional liaison for the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, and fund institutional annual membership.
Academic Engagement

The Sustainability Office offers a variety of ways for individual students, student groups and campus departments to increase their contributions to sustainable systems, including education in and outside the classroom and connections to additional resources. We promote behavior change and use the campus as a living sustainability laboratory.

  • Work with instructional faculty to offer group or course sustainability projects that are tailored to each course’s needs
    • We offer multiple experiential learning opportunities each year such as natural areas cleanups, energy audits or analysis, and campaigns.
  • Provide guest lectures, focusing on sustainability topics as requested by instructors and/or students.
  • Provide in-person and virtual tours of the built environment for courses, donors, visitors and others.
  • Work with at least one group of mechanical engineering students each year for their senior capstone project.
  • Provide a list of potential student projects using the campus as a living laboratory, such as:
    • Impacts of invasive species removal on campus landscaping features
    • Protection of the Oak Creek Riparian Corridor
    • Analysis of water quality and quantity in and from Corvallis campus civil infrastructure
    • Energy savings analysis, including impacts from behavior change campaigns.
  • Provide information and resources for students looking to incorporate sustainability into their degrees.
  • Offer unparalleled access to advance sustainability at OSU through student employment.
  • Host paid and unpaid internships that provide credit from academic departments.
  • As capacity allows, mentor and consult with individual students at their request.
Sustainability Assessment

As an old saying says, you can’t manage what you can’t measure. To improve progress toward a more sustainable university, we must know how sustainable we currently are. Each year we collect over 1,000 points of data from all across Oregon to measure the sustainability of OSU’s programs. Our assessment results are used by outside organizations like the Sierra Club and Princeton Review to rate and rank OSU’s sustainability performance against our peers, and against ourselves over time. Acting as the internal utility for the university, we aquire, manage and provide access for various stakeholders to utility meter data and other assessment information.

  • Develop analytical models and spreadsheets to monitor utility data and utility costs, and provide summary analysis and metrics to OSU leadership and other stakeholders.
  • Utilize utility data sets from different units on and off campus to forecast utility cost and consumption, and to support decision making in capital projects.
  • Maintain and expand campus electricity and steam meters.
  • Review utility bills and meter readings, and collect data used to accurately bill utility costs to billable OSU units, and for energy conservation analyses using field inspections and sub-metering.
  • Monitor utilities contracts to ensure accuracy, compliance and effective performance.
  • Fulfill utility meter data requests for designers, students, etc.
  • Analyze building controls changes for Facilities Services.
  • Provide real-time utility data through an Energy Dashboard to analyze efficiency improvements, diagnose building mechanical systems, inform conservation awareness campaigns, justify continuing investments in energy efficiency projects, and improve transparency for billing and financial purposes.
  • Prepare and review performance reports for the cogeneration systems at the OSU Energy Center
    • Submit annual reports to the Climate Trust
    • Submit monthly reports to Energy Trust of Oregon.
  • Measure comprehensive and complete greenhouse gas emissions resulting from OSU activities throughout the state and at sea, including all emissions from any entity over which OSU has financial and/or operational control, plus any global air travel paid by OSU.
  • Perform university-wide STARS assessments each year. The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System is a set of peer reviewed, standardized indicators that measure and help manage OSU’s sustainability efforts.
  • Write and issue annual sustainability reports based on key performance indicators, activity highlights plus other key aspects of OSU’s sustainability work.