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Ohio State brings together energy utility, environmental professionals to address climate change

Natural gas energy utility Columbia Gas of Ohio offers three energy efficiency audit programs as solutions to climate change. Credit: Courtesy of Derek Jensen

Often times, environmental groups and energy companies find themselves at odds when it comes to policy issues.

But Ohio State’s Environmental Professionals Network brought together not only its usual crowd of environmental professionals and students, but also utility company Columbia Gas of Ohio, which sponsored the event.

Megan Melby, new buildings program manager for the energy utility, detailed the importance of home-energy efficiency audits to reduce natural-gas use.

“Columbia Gas of Ohio is proud to be a part of the energy efficiency solution to climate change,” Melby said.

Lonnie G. Thompson, a professor in the School of Earth Sciences, presented his current research on climate change and ice cores.

Audience members viewed before-and-after images of melting glaciers from 1977 and 2002 in Quelccaya Ice Cap in Peru, where Thompson did research as a graduate student.Thompson said humanity’s biggest challenges are learning how to get along with each other and the planet, arguing both are based on human behavior.

“If there is no accountability, if there’s no consequence, then as humans, there is no change in our behavior,” Thompson said.

Some of those consequences, said Neocles Leontis, a Bowling Green State University chemistry professor, include melting glacial ice, rising sea levels and increased carbon emissions.

But all presenters made sure to focus on solutions to those consequences, a major reason for partnering with Columbia Gas of Ohio.

“Consumers are motivated by economics,” said Eric Romich, field specialist for energy education with OSU Extension.

Those economic motivations are what prompted Columbia Gas of Ohio to provide its affordable energy audit solutions, Melby said.

“We really see the value in helping our customers who are earning less so that they can have more to spend on the things that they need,” she said.

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