Everyone knows that Oberlin is a leader for environmental sustainability. The Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies is the epitome of an ecologically sound structure. The genius idea of reusing the wastewater from my pre-11 o’clock class pit stop to water plants is an incredible feature of a building that also features photovoltaic panels on the roof, reused and recycled wood and chair materials and motion-sensitive lights.
But large brick, mundane, energy-consuming buildings overwhelm campus and people are crying out for new, energy efficient additions. Where to begin? According to Athletic Director Joe Karlgaard, future buildings of the maroon and gold could have a tint of green.
Last week, I met with Karlgaard to talk about possible ideas for the Review’s sports section. Before I knew it, we were in an intriguing conversation regarding his plans for Oberlin Athletics. One of the ideas that caught my attention was creating sustainable, green energy buildings in the sports complex. Yes, this would cost a decent amount of money, and yes, this might be a long way away, but the thought of working out in a state-of-the-art green building excited the environmentalist side in me.
Karlgaard revealed his desire to build a new fitness center, additional offices for coaches, lounges for students to do work in while they wait and new buildings to replace those on their last legs, like Jones Field House. But what made me smile was that he planned to man it better than Kenyon College’s money-sucking — albeit rather attractive — $75 million dollar sports complex.
By making buildings sustainable, Karlgaard explained that they could be near Kenyon’s quality but at half the cost. I would be in support of anything that would stick it to Kenyon. But my dislike of our Ohio neighbors to the south is beside the point.
Looking at sustainability on a larger scale than Oberlin, it is clear people are starting to understand the necessity of improving the environment and reducing our carbon footprint. Buildings such as the AJLC are becoming more of the norm. Houses, schools and company buildings are becoming greener by the day. But Karlgaard’s desire to have Oberlin become a model for colleges and universities in terms of having sustainable athletic buildings reveals a more glaring issue: a lack of environmentally-friendly practices on the professional sports stage.
I love sports (minus NASCAR), and I am not suggesting we completely alter how athletic events are presented, but just think about going to a baseball, football or basketball game. Thousands of people drive to the stadium; buy tons and tons of concessions that are left in the stands next to spilled beer and vast amounts of litter, which is all in a building constantly powered by electricity. The energy bills must be enormous.
This is just the tip of the quickly melting iceberg. It is a shame people do not normally associate sustainability with athletics. Why should people be opposed? Going green, especially in athletics, would truly affect the way people work out in fitness centers or watch the trio of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett dominate the NBA. For those in charge of these buildings, there are numerous incentives, particularly saving money. This should excite Oberlin.
While tuitions and fees come to over $43,000 at Oberlin, this college is keen on saving money. But who isn’t? Spending the money now to develop sustainable structures that will pay off in the future is the way to go. There are so many changes that could be made to Oberlin’s Athletic complex (such as a new weight room), and the College could save money while Oberlin Athletics could attract recruits and please its students by offering state of the art facilities.
If there is going to be change, you might as well make it green. It is just a shame these ideas will be implemented way past my time. Oh, well, it is better late than never.