Clear the AirGAMBIER, Ohio (September 12, 2012)
The Five Colleges of Ohio, including Kenyon, have joined forces to improve campus pollution prevention and environmental management systems, drawing praise from the Ohio Environmental Education Fund (OEEF).
The Five Colleges, a consortium that also includes the College of Wooster, Denison University, Oberlin College, and Ohio Wesleyan University, won two $50,000 grants in recent years from the environmental education fund, which is a wing of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA). The successful completion of the projects earned an "outstanding" ranking, which means they met the OEEF's highest standards for excellence and effectiveness.
"This opened our eyes to anything we may have been missing on a day-to-day basis," Sustainability Director Ed Neal said. "It gave us a fresh view. I think we're all doing a much better job of maintaining our waste stream. All the colleges are doing a better job."
The first grant, "Pollution Prevention on the College Campus," prompted the colleges to update policies and procedures and offered training sessions for more than 200 faculty and staff at the colleges. Training covered environmental management, chemical hygiene, emergency-spill response, and hazardous-materials management.
The second grant, "A Collaborative College Environmental Management System Initiative," led to advanced training in environmental auditing and a foundation for comprehensive environmental management systems. The program included inspection visits to other campuses, with a Kenyon team touring Wooster and the Oberlin team visiting Kenyon. Much of the focus was on chemistry laboratories and custodial practices. "At all the colleges, the most common needs were for improvements in labeling, storing, tracking, and disposing of chemicals," Neal said. "The EPA treats any liquid without a label as a hazardous waste, so it's important to correctly identify all materials."
Kenyon and the other colleges are implementing a joint digital chemical inventory and have subscribed to an online system that will allow college employees to access chemical safety data.