Thursday, August 20, 2009

Blue Goes Green: The Greening of ODU

Posted Thursday, August 20th, 2009 at 1:22 pm on
by Amelia Baker

As I sat across from Doug Alexander in ODU’s Spong Hall, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

I had set up this meeting to learn everything there was to know about the greening of ODU. Frankly, I knew ODU was participating in a few stewardship activities and that summed up my knowledge on the subject. By meeting’s end, I was overwhelmed with six pages of scrawling notes and to be completely honest, I have no idea where to start.

What I do know is…I’m a proud alum and am swelling with pride because Old Dominion University is one of the greenest universities in the State of Virginia. For me to list everything they’re doing would be entirely too windy to share with the group so I’ll touch on a few of my favs that fit in with the ever-so-catchy Reduce, Reuse, Recycle alliteration.


Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that ODU now has a football team and imagine what the water bill will be to keep that gridiron green and groomed. Worry not because under Foreman Field is a cistern collecting rainwater to be used for sprinkler systems. And that’s not the only rainwater harvest system on campus. Two other systems collect water used for university gardening.


It's going to take a lot of (recycled) blue to keep this field green.
I’m a reuser of everything. I hate throwing things away so it was awesome to hear that at the end of the school year, ODU hosts Donate It, Don’t Dump It. Students bring dumpster-bound items, take what they need from the pile, and anything not claimed is trucked off to a local charity thrift store.

What about reusing algae (aka seaweed) to perhaps replace that dirty, foreign oil we Americans can’t get enough of? A group of smarties on campus have successfully transformed algae into biodiesel and this small prototype is producing 200 gallons a day.


The foundation of all things green is recycling and in a measly two years, ODU more than doubled recycling rates from 500 thousand pounds to well over 1 million pounds diverted from landfills.

This fun fact is most definitely worth noting. Many of the tree trimmings from campus are taken over to the Norfolk Zoo to feed a select few herbivorous animals like hippos and elephants. Oh, for crying out loud!

So when I say ODU is one of the greenest institutions in all the land (in Virginia, at least), I can absolutely say this with confidence. They were sole recipients of the Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award in 2008 and constructed the first state university LEED certified building, among others.

I sit here writing about ODU’s accomplishments in the green arena like I’m a cheerleader encouraging them to go-fight-win. As much as it pains me to say this, I am kind of being a cheerleader. I’m in their corner and can’t wait to hear more.

If you’re interested in reading all of my meeting notes, check out A full menu of ODU green goodies is there for the reading. Special thanks to Doug Alexander, Associate Director of Environmental Health & Science for taking 90 minutes out of his very busy schedule to meet with me and for keeping it green.

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