Oberlin Case Study

This is a project that started as a senior seminar group project examining successful sustainability efforts on college campuses and turning them into recommendations for the University of Puget Sound community to possibly implement. After the group project was over I decided to continue the project on my own and in the process decided to do a more in depth study of everything that Oberlin in particular has done. Conveniently I already had plans to visit a friend at Oberlin over spring break so I took that opportunity to meet with the campus sustainability coordinator, Nathan Engstrom, to get the inside scoop about Oberlin’s success. What I have found is summarized in the following Web pages.

Oberlin College is a national, maybe even international, leader in the area of sustainability. With a fully functioning carbon neutral environmental studies building, this campus strives to put forth a sustainable message with everything that they do. But how have they managed to become so successful? What are some of the most successful projects that they have accomplished, and how do our actions and efforts here at Puget Sound compare, if at all? These are all questions that I pondered as I dove into this Mecca of campus sustainability.

Oberlin College has been a socially progressive institution since it was founded in 1833. It is known for its generally liberal attitude and Birkenstock wearing students. As issues surrounding the environment gained more of a spotlight culturally, the Oberlin students followed suite. One big testament to this attitude is the Lewis Center, a completely carbon neutral building equipped with solar panels and a green machine that opened in January 2000.

A big thanks goes to Nathan Engstrom, Oberlin's sustainability coordinator for all of his help with this project.