College Reflects on Phase One of Sustainable Infrastructure Project


Mads Olsen

Construction workers implement the first phase of the Sustainable Infrastructure Project in summer 2021.

The first phase of the Sustainable Infrastructure Program drew to a close last semester, encouraging members of the project to reflect on the precedent it set for sustainability on college campuses. With the goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2025, the project will continue during the summer months for the next three years. Additionally, as the project continues, various internship opportunities for students will be provided through the Office of Environmental Sustainability.

The SIP is a large-scale program to implement a geothermal energy system which will require the removal and replanting of more than 100 trees across campus. The first phase of the project replaced the College’s deteriorating steampipe system and rehauled it with a more efficient heating system. In the future, geothermal heating and cooling system will make buildings over 30 percent more efficient through fiber networks, cooling systems, and improved electrical and mechanical systems. A clean energy system is guaranteed for future Oberlin students and will serve as an example to campuses across the nation.

“For the energy system work, we will continue to engage students and faculty for this great learning opportunity,” Chief Facilities Officer Kevin Brown wrote in an email to the Review. “We will also be extending this to the community with community upcoming engagement sessions and campus tours. We are also extending our knowledge- sharing to other institutions that would like to learn from Oberlin’s experience.”

College fourth-year Milo Hume had the opportunity to meet SIP construction workers when he filmed an informational documentary on SIP over the summer semester.

“I really enjoyed being able to work and connect with the construction workers who were laying the actual pipes,” Hume said. “Getting to know them was a privilege as they often go anonymous.”

The next phase of the SIP, which will occur over summer 2022, will focus on the construction of geothermal wells below North Fields.