What is Environmental Sustainability?

Sustainability is a way to reduce our ecological footprint on the Earth by reducing consumption of natural resources and using only what is needed. This can be through reducing or eliminating waste that is damaging to our environment, or reducing or eliminating dependence on a commercial power grid, or numerous other possibilities. Sustainability strives to meet “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs…” (From the Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development).

How is the OP implementing sustainability?

There are many ways to work toward a sustainable lifestyle. Here are a number of ways we work toward sustainability here at the OP:

Solar energy harvesting (Photovoltaic)

The Solar project is a collaboration between Outdoor program, Lane Community College's Energy management program and Advance Energy System to reduce the gear facility's energy consumption. Photovoltaics (PV) is a method of generating electrical power by converting solar radiation into direct current electricity using semiconductors that exhibit the photovoltaic effect. The $26,000 system is being funded by the Associated Students of The University of Oregon and the Student Sustainability Center. The design estimates a power generation of 6,268 kWh annually, at 5.88 kWatts, however the system is currently performing at 8.4 kWatts. To look at real-time data from where you can see the system’s performance data please go to:

Enphase Energy - University of Oregon Outdoor Program Barn

Rainwater Catchment

A rainwater catchment system is installed at the OP Barn to collect water for washing the vans and equipment. This helps to reduce dependence on the city water supply. The rainwater catchment system was funded in part by a grant from the Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB).

Water Heating

The water heater at the Barn is a hot water on-demand system to save energy. The system conserves energy by only heating water when the facility needs hot water, rather than maintaining the water on the tank at temperature, the tank heats water as it passes through the unit.

“Leave No Trace” Ethics

The OP promotes leaving a small ecological footprint outdoors with the “Leave No Trace” philosophy of outdoor recreation. More information on Leave No Trace can be found at their website.

Environmental Action Projects

Each year, the OP organizes or participates in local projects such as cleanups, trailbuilding, and more. The OP has a long history of advocating for preserving the integrity of local, wild places.

Interpretive Trips/Clinics

The OP offers a variety of trips and clinics on nature education and preservation of the outdoors such as hikes at Mt. Pisgah Arboretum and clinics on edible mushrooms and flower identification.

Great Willamette River Clean Up

Each year, university students join us to clean up the river right on our backyard. We collaborate with local partners to cover 187 miles of the river extending from Springfield to Portland. On 2012, our river team pulled out approximately 1,000 lbs of garbage from the river.

Rogue River Clean Up

Each year, hundreds of pounds of garbage and debris are removed and recycled from the wild and scenic Rogue River by volunteers. Over 1200 tires have been removed from the river in the seven years of the annual clean up.

Smith Rock Clean Up

Each year, volunteers help to clean up and preserve Smith Rock State Park.

Recycling and Composting

The OP promotes recycling in the office and Barn facility, as well as on OP trips. There are composting containers at the OP Barn for food scraps to take on OP trips.

Energy efficient lighting at the OP Barn

The OP Barn now has switched from T12 light fixtures to more energy-efficient T8 fixtures that are activated by motion sensors, occupancy sensors, and timers. This upgrade was funded by a grant from the U of O ECAFF program.

Biodiesel in OP vans

The OP 12-person van “Eddy Azul” runs on a mixture of 20% biodiesel to regular diesel.

CRT-free office computers

The OP Office uses flat screen LCD monitors that are more energy efficient.


Use water from the rainwater catchment system to plumb the toilet at the Barn.
Check out these websites for more information:

Sustainability page at the EPA Leave No Trace Sustainability at the U of O