Green Umbrella in the News

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  • March 13, 2018 4:27 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Soapbox Media, Emily Dillingham

    The third update to the Green Cincinnati Plan, first initiated in 2008, pairs field experts with Cincinnatians to formulate a strategy based on sustainability, resilience, and equity. In the hopes of creating an inclusive plan that will work for the City as a whole, the Green Cincinnati Plan seeks solutions to combat severe flooding, extreme heat, increased storm events, flash flooding, landslides, sewer-backups, and changes in precipitation, as well as creating efficient and more sustainable practices for the City.

    The plan evaluates resilience to climate change, equitable solutions, and sustainable improvements through eight categories: energy, transportation, waste minimization, food, natural systems, education and outreach, and resilience and built environment.

    Task teams for each category are led by industry experts chosen by the City’s Office of Sustainability, who host community recommendation meetings.

    Public events inviting Cincinnatians from all neighborhoods to share their ideas and participate in task team meetings allowed the City to hear the residents directly. And, for those unable to make the meetings, an online portal, in both Spanish and English, on the City’s website provided an alternative opportunity for input.

    “We wanted to hear from the community and what is needed here,” says executive director of Green Umbrella Kristin Weiss. She explains that this time around the Green Cincinnati Plan is “Looking to be more inclusive, more equitable.”

    A facilitator of sustainable efforts in the Cincinnati Area, Green Umbrella has been involved in the Green Cincinnati Plan since the second updates. Weiss stresses that the think tank doesn’t need to be limited. One doesn’t need to be a professional to be in the space. This round of the plan allows more participation.

    Between the meetings, held intermittently since September 2017, and the online portals, hundreds of recommendations have been collected.

    This update of the plan is more “Inclusive and collaborative,” says Charlie Gonzalez sustainability consultant and head of the resilience task team. He emphasizes the importance of empowering residents and examining their strengths and weaknesses to formulate solutions that will work for everyone.

    While the plan focuses on the city as a whole, part of the updates include a neighborhood vulnerability assessment to predict climate change impacts. As storms increase, the city desires to strengthen resilience — water management has been a major issue, and some neighborhoods remain more vulnerable than others.

    Ensuring equitable solutions is a strong concern for this update. Certain areas are more vulnerable to storm water flooding, but extreme heat events, power outages, and sewer back-ups also hit some areas harder than others.

    As major heat events increase in severity and frequency, neighborhoods with less access to air conditioning remain at higher risk.

    “Extreme heat events, especially in neighborhoods less well off,” Gonzalez explains need attention and immediate solutions.  Urban heat island effect, tree canopy coverage and impermeable surfaces can be manipulated to decrease the risks associated with heat emergencies.

    One proposed plan is to ensure an air conditioning unit in at least one room per rental dwelling.

    Yet, those solutions can be challenging to enforce. Sustainability incentives most often only pertain to property owners rather than renters, thus leaving out a major percentage of the City’s population. Ways to encourage and enforce renters and landlords can solve those issues, along with “Mandates or incentives on newer developments,” says Gonzalez.

    Multi-lingual alerts and alternative ways to reach those without access to smart phones can help bridge the equity gap as more severe weather events increase in the area.

    “The steep increase in intense storms” Gonzalez says, is a major concern for the City. The question his resilience task team asks: “How resilient is our power grid?” In the event of power outages, back-up power systems for hospitals, recreation centers, and other emergency centers need to be ready and reliable.

     Pictured: Ollie Kroner, City of Cincinnati Sustainability Coordinator (courtesy of Soapbox)

    Tremaine Philipps, head of the Built Environment Task Team and Director of Strategic Initiatives at Empower Saves, a company dedicated to connecting small businesses and homes to energy saving products, explains that the past year gave great insight into the nation’s consequences from unpreparedness to the changing climate, with the tumultuous hurricane season and the major effects on cities like Houston. It’s causing Cincinnati to question its preparedness and resilience to changing climate threats.

    In 2017, waste water flooding and especially high temperatures gave insight to the changes and places that Cincinnati needs to adapt. Storm damage cost the City over $46 million in damages; the most costly year, yet.

    So far, 2018 has presented several major storm events including flooding, severe thunderstorms, severe wind, landslides, and even a recorded tornado. The concept of resilience offers ways to better prepare for these increasing severe weather events which also includes extreme heat, flooding and sewer back-ups.

    In February of this year, the Ohio River reached almost ten feet above the flood stage at 60.5 feet, the highest in 20 years, impacting over 1,000 structures.

    Resilience to climate change also pertains to securing energy. Ensuring the City is running on renewable energy is crucial to keeping up with climate change. Sustainability means not only saving the City and residents funds on energy, but also ensuring the city can remain strong and minimize our carbon foot print. Improving infrastructure is crucial here. “Buildings in Cincinnati result in 65% of greenhouse gases,” explains Phillips.

    Cincinnati’s sustainability coordinator, Oliver Kroner explains that the City is “Analyzing [its] carbon footprint.” In September 2017, Mayor Cranley proposed the construction of solar panels on city-owned properties which could produce 25 mega-watts of energy—the equivalent of 33 million kilowatt hours per year: enough to power 3,400 homes and cover 20 percent of the city’s total energy.

    The city hopes to convert to 100 percent renewable energy, by 2035.

    It’s important to strive for “Regenerative, not just sustainable,” Gonzalez says and stresses the importance of “Mitigating urban metabolism.”

    “Cincy is ahead, some partner regions haven’t created their first plan and we’re already on our third”, Weiss says.

    One of Green Umbrella’s initial tasks was to examine baseline metrics and ways to track and measure progress over time, progress on these initiatives can be tracked immediately.

                                      Pictured: Solar Panels in Eden Park   

    Gonzalez emphasizes the importance of “Hearing each other. That’s why it’s important to have these collaborative events.”  He discusses how we are polarized as a City. The issue of climate change can become politically driven. In order to move forward, people need to feel like they’re being heard. Most people think the problems are too big. Gonzalez says, it’s all about “Changing the narrative.”

    At this stage, those behind the Green Cincinnati Plan are focusing on prioritizing recommendations based on community support and impact and examining feasibility and potential repercussions.

    From several hundred, the plan recommendations are down to about 80 that will be presented to the steering committee in April before making it to City Council.

  • March 12, 2018 4:34 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: The River City News, Staff Report

    A new initiative identifies "Greenspace Gems" in the Greater Cincinnati region and Big Bone Lick State Historic Site in Boone County is among the first five selected.

    Pictured: Big Bone Lick State Historic Site

    Greenspace Gems was launched by Green Umbrella, an organization devoted to environmental sustainability, and recognizes and celebrates natural areas for their outstanding scenic value, biological diversity, scientific importance, or historic interest. The goal, an announcement said, is to grow public support for greenspace conservation and the organizations who are leading this work in our region.

    Greenspace Gems are selected by a team of conservation experts from Green Umbrella’s Greenspace Action Team.

    “These acres of conserved greenspace help preserve the quality of our air, water and soil. Embedded within the protected landscape are geologic, topographic and historic places that often support species with declining populations. These sites not only provide valuable field study opportunities for scientists and students, but also allow visitors to observe the natural, pre-settlement communities that once covered the Tri-State region,” said Stan Hedeen, Emeritus Professor of Biology at Xavier University.

    The first five Greenspace Gems were just released:

    20 years ago, Green Umbrella was originally organized to conserve greenspace and unite citizens and groups concerned about preserving and restoring the abundant diversity of wildlife and plants that thrive in the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana area. Launching this initiative now, two decades later, highlights the region’s great achievement in having protected over 116,000 acres of greenspace to date, a news release said.

    “Greenspace protection is another way our region is staying on the leading edge of sustainability,” said Ryan Mooney-Bullock, communications and program manager for Green Umbrella.

    Last year, Greater Cincinnati was recognized as being the nation’s #1 metro area for sustainability by Site Selection magazine, an important resource for economic development professionals and corporate leaders looking for where to expand and locate their businesses. 

    Green Umbrella finds inspiration in the work of other cities. For example, Vancouver, which seeks to be the world’s greenest city, has a goal that every resident lives within a 5-minute walk of a park, greenway, or other greenspace by 2020. Vancouver’s latest progress report indicates that 92.7 percent of its city land area is within a 5-minute walk to greenspace. 

    “Cincinnati can tout its greenspace stats too," said Margaret Minzner, member of Green Umbrella's Greenspace Action Team and senior environmental planner for OKI Regional Council of Governments. "In the City of Cincinnati, 94 percent of the land area is within a half mile or about 10-minute walk to greenspace.

    "And 96 percent of our Tri-State population lives within 2 miles of protected greenspace."

  • March 07, 2018 2:11 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Cincinnati Enquirer, Carrie Blackmore Smith

    Attention residents of Butler and Warren counties: A trail system plan near you is moving forward.

    Don't you want to know where?

    Tri-State Trails, a regional trails advocacy group under Green Umbrella, has reinvigorated the idea of connecting the region's two longest existing trails, the Great Miami Trail to the west and Little Miami Scenic Trail to the east. 

    Called the Miami 2 Miami Connection, the idea was first proposed in 2002, but Tri-State Trails has rejiggered the plan and gained support from all of the communities it would traverse. 

    The original plan was not all off-road and the route changed based on shifts in population and economic development. 

    The new vision for the Miami 2 Miami Connection is a paved off-road trail for walkers, runners and cyclists that would travel through the communities of Hamilton, Fairfield Township, Fairfield, West Chester Township, Liberty Township, Mason and Deerfield Township.

    The prioritized routes for the Miami 2 Miami Connection.

    The prioritized routes for the Miami 2 Miami Connection. (Photo: Provided by Tri-State Trails)

    When fully complete it would link downtown Hamilton, Miami University Hamilton, Union Centre, Olde West Chester, downtown Mason, Voice of America MetroPark, Liberty Center and Countryside YMCA Trail.

    The short-term priority route is the most feasible and cost-effective connection, said Wade Johnston, Tri-State Trails director. Money still needs to be raised for build-out of the trail system, however.

    The light green portion in the map above follows the old Miami and Erie Canal route. That's an attractive option because much of that route is publicly owned by the community or county, Johnston said, and owning the land is one of the biggest challenges in trail construction.

    An open house is planned for those who want to see more detailed maps and provide feedback.

    It will be held from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, March 8 in Council Chambers at the City of Hamilton, 345 High St.  

    Here are some detail shots of the map. 

    Miami 2 Miami Connection, west of Interstate 75.

    Miami 2 Miami Connection, west of Interstate 75. (Photo: Provided by Tri-State Trails)

    Miami 2 Miami Connection, east of Interstate 75.

    Miami 2 Miami Connection, east of Interstate 75. (Photo: Provided by Tri-State Trails)

    For more information, contact Tri-State Trails at

  • February 15, 2018 5:51 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: WCPO Cincinnati, Kevin Eigelbach

    Revised Green Cincinnati Plan is in the works

    In national news, there hasn't been much lately for those concerned about the environment to cheer about. The Trump administration appears determined to roll back regulations on coal-fired power plants, offshore oil drilling and coal mining.

    Locally, however, the city of Cincinnati and Hamilton County government are treating global warming as a real thing -- a thing they can do something about.

    With input from Hamilton County government, Cincinnati is updating the Green Cincinnati Plan, a set of recommendations for addressing global climate change and for powering the city with 100 percent renewable energy. 

    The city is paying local nonprofit Green Umbrellaa regional sustainability alliance, $25,000 from the mayor's budget to help update the plan, Green Umbrella executive director Kristin Weiss said. That money will pay for benchmarking research of peer cities and their sustainability plans, technical writing and research for Cincinnati's plan update, a facilitator to lead public input meetings, as well as graphic design and a small print run of the plan.

    The eight teams updating the plan have so far held three public input meetings apiece, she said, and in February, there will be another round of presentations to groups typically under-represented in the plan revision process, Weiss said. 

    In addition to recommendations from the public, Green Umbrella has pulled together some of its own from a 2017 study it did of similar sustainability efforts in 15 of Cincinnati's peer cities. From that study, Green Umbrella created an "idea bank" of 1,300 ideas from those cities, including one that seems timely this time of year, using less harmful treatments for winter road conditions. 

    The update steering committee hopes to bring the revised Green Cincinnati Plan to city council for approval in April, according to the city's Office of Environment and Sustainability.

    Planting trees offers triple benefits

    According to the Office, the revised plan will likely see more than 70 recommendations, grouped into eight topic areas. Among the areas with the biggest impact would be:

    • Renewable energy from sources such as solar power, prices for which have dropped by 75 percent over the past 10 years;
    • Electric vehicles, which can be powered by cleaner sources of energy;
    • Trees, which soak up carbon emissions, improve air quality and reduce stormwater runoff;
    • Food, because what we eat and where it comes from can have significant environmental impacts;
    • Energy efficiency, through use of LED lights, high-efficiency heat pumps and better home insulation.

    The revised plan is also expected to renew Mayor John Cranley's call for creation of a 25-megawatt solar array, a first step to fulfill his vision of having the city use 100 percent renewable energy by 2035

    The solar array would cover 125-150 acres of land, and would be the largest solar array in Ohio or any adjacent state. 

    Inventory of May 2015 showed city meeting goal

    As with many of the initiatives recommended in the Green Cincinnati Plan, the solar array would help the city reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, those chemicals created by burning fossil fuels that trap sunlight and cause the air to heat up.

    When it was created in 2008, the plan called for the city to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by about 2 percent every year, a goal that was reaffirmed when the council readopted the plan in 2013.

    The city government did its part by making streetlights more energy-efficient, by installing solar panels on some city facilities, and other energy-saving measures. But its biggest reduction by far came from improvements at its wastewater and water-treatment facilities, which dropped emissions from 300,000 tons to 179,000 tons, a cut of about 41 percent.

    Residents and businesses did their part by using less energy, spurred by incentives for commercial energy upgrades offered by Duke Energy, as well as the de-carbonization of electric power. Burning coal produced 86 percent of the region's energy in 2006, but by 2015 that had fallen to 59 percent. Cleaner-burning natural gas, on the other hand, created 2 percent of the region's energy in 2006 and 23 percent in 2015.

    In spite of improvements in fuel efficiency, emissions from vehicles went up from 2.25 million in 2006 to 2.4 million in 2015, an increase of 6 percent. 

    And while this is probably not the ideal way to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions, there's no question that all other things being equal, having fewer residents equals less energy use and a smaller carbon footprint. The city's population fell by about 10 percent from 2006 to 2015.

    Hamilton County government also working on plan

    Some of those residents probably moved to Hamilton County, taking their carbon footprint with them. So it's hard to see how the region as a whole gained.

    Hamilton County government set the same 2 percent annual reduction goal as the city did in 2006, said Holly Christmann, director of the Department of Environmental Services. But it has not done an inventory of greenhouse gases since then, she said, so the department doesn't know if it's attaining that goal.

    County government has done an amazing job improving energy efficiency in its buildings, she said, through things like installing solar panels on the roofs of the Hamilton County Courthouse and the Hamilton County Justice Center.

    "We've done a lot of things that we're very proud of," she said.

    Her department plans to create a sustainability plan for county government that it hopes to present to the county commissioners for approval in late April or May.

  • January 30, 2018 8:47 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Cincinnati Enquirer, Polly Campbell

    Two years ago, Alice Chalmers, newly moved to Cincinnati from Maryland, bought a 20-foot refrigerated van and a software program and set out to save a way of life. 

    Her new venture was called Ohio Valley Food Connection, with an overarching goal of supporting a local food system. That means helping farmers make a full-time living raising tomatoes and greens or pastured pork or eggs. It also means keeping them on their farmland, contributing to the local economy. 

    Her small part of that multi-faceted system was to create a better way to get local farmers' crops to local restaurant chefs. There was supply, and there was demand, but the mechanism between was difficult and inefficient.

    So she offered a website where farmers listed what they had available, and chefs could order what they wanted for delivery. It's one form of what's called a food hub. When we wrote about her first, in 2015, she was in "proof of concept" phase, hoping to show that what she intended was possible, even if she didn't make any profit from the venture. 

    Patsy Carter, of Ohio Valley Food Connection, receives

    Patsy Carter, of Ohio Valley Food Connection, receives food from suppliers, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, in Newport, Ky. In the warehouse, farmers drop off their produce, which they packages and then supply to restaurants. (Photo: Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer)

    As predicted, she's still not making a profit, but she has met with enough success to show the concept is viable. In its third year, Ohio Valley Food Connection has broken even. That's a win, considering the razor-thin margins she is operating within. 

    A lot has happened in the last year or so. There are now three full-time and one part-time employees. In October of 2015, she had 25 restaurant customers, and 30 farmers signed up. Now she's added Lexington and Louisville customers with over 100 accounts registered, with 50-75 of whom shop regularly, plus a household and workplace program.

    She works with 42 suppliers, mostly farmers, plus a few food artisans. She has customers small and large, including local chain Currito. Owner Joe Lanni said they signed up as part of the burrito chain menu's makeover to include a wider variety of healthy options, like salads and bowls. All nine of the local stores use some produce from the food connection. 

    Now, she's set to make another huge step forward. Green Umbrella, a local environmental non-profit, is partnering with her and another food hub, Our Harvest, to reach a goal they have of doubling local food production and consumption by 2020. They won a highly competitive grant from the USDA that they'll use to make it easier for potential customers like hospitals, school systems and retirement homes to buy produce locally. 

    Patsy Carter, of Ohio Valley Food Connection, receives

    Patsy Carter, of Ohio Valley Food Connection, receives food from suppliers, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, in Newport, Ky. In the warehouse, farmers drop off their produce, which they packages and then supply to restaurants. (Photo: Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer)

    "With the thin margins we have, we need volume," said Chalmers. "But big institutions aren't as nimble as a small restaurant. We need to make it easier."  

    The grant provides a salary for a consultant who will sign up more institutional clients, and work with them and farmers to plan the crops they'll need. It will help farmers get training to meet new, stringent food safety rules. And it provides funds to help Ohio Valley Food Connection and Our Harvest create efficiencies by working together on refrigeration, vehicles, and ordering. 

    The goal is to increase sales through these two food hubs by 65% by 2020.

    "It can be done," said Kristin Weiss, executive director of The Green Umbrella. "They've had an impressive growth story already." 

    Carmelle Wasch, of Ohio Valley Food Connection, receives

    Carmelle Wasch, of Ohio Valley Food Connection, receives food from suppliers, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, in Newport, Ky. In the warehouse, farmers drop off their produce, which they packages and then supply to restaurants. (Photo: Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer)

    Even at a larger scale, OVFC is still about a truck and a web page. Chefs can order exactly what they want for the week from one or a dozen farms, and make one payment. That means more fresh, local and colorful food for their customers.

    It also means easier sales for farmers. Annie Wood is the owner of Dark Wood Farm in Petersburg.  She started selling her produce by going to farmers markets. She added a an arrangement for customers to pay ahead for a whole season of produce and signed up with OVFC. Now, she doesn't go to farmers markets at all. 

    That may be a disappointment for customers of farmers markets. But each market takes a whole day. It's only Wood and her friend Chris Pyper running the farm, so that's a lot of time for them to be away from actual farming. 

    "If we made a shift to getting just 10% of our food locally here," said Weiss,"That's a 56 million dollar local food economy."

  • January 18, 2018 3:43 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Cincinnati Business Courier, Chris Wetterich

    Design of the final segment of the Little Miami Scenic Trail needed to connect it to the Ohio River Trail – and eventually downtown Cincinnati – will be completed by 2019, with construction set to be finished by 2021.

    The Great Parks of Hamilton County has secured a $4.3 million grant to build a bridge across the river that is needed to connect the trail to the Otto Armleder Park and Lunken Airport trails. According to trail group Green Umbrella, another $730,000 in funding is needed to complete the project’s $5.4 million cost. 

    Design is underway and will be completed by next year. Construction is expected to start in 2020, but would not be completed until 2021. 

    The Little Miami Scenic Trail runs for 78 miles and is a part of the Ohio River to Lake Erie Trail. The overall vision is for bicyclists and pedestrians eventually to be able to travel along the trail from downtown Cincinnati to Xenia, Columbus and Cleveland. 

    Great Parks received a federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality grant to build a separated bike and pedestrian bridge over the Little Miami River at Beechmont Avenue. The grant also will pay for a retaining wall underneath the bridge and a tunnel under the Ohio 32 westbound ramp to Beechmont Avenue. 

    The city of Cincinnati has yet to work out a deal to use the Oasis rail line right-of-way to complete the Ohio River Trail to downtown. It needs an agreement with Indiana & Ohio Railway Company and its parent company, Genesee & Wyoming Inc., to run a bike trail along the route. 

  • January 09, 2018 4:21 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Soapbox Media, Erin Pierce

    In a continuance of their efforts to advance environmental sustainability goals in the region, Green Umbrella recently announced two new funding opportunities designed to advance sustainability goals related to local food, food waste reduction, fresh food access, and energy-efficiency.

    Through these grants, Green Umbrella seeks to serve as a steward of environmental funding and accelerate progress on the Greater Cincinnati region’s 2020 sustainability goals.

    The EPA and USDA have set joint national goals for 50% food waste reduction by 2030. The Greater Cincinnati Food Waste Action Plan was finalized in 2017, and the campaign was officially launched for Cincinnati to assist in the reduction of food waste on a local, regional, and national level.

    Totaling $125,000, two funding opportunities are available to Green Umbrella members that are part of the local food system: the Cincy Save the Food Fundand the Energy-Efficient Refrigeration for Local Food System.

    Cincy Save the Food Fund, totaling $50,000, is designed as an incentive for local food organizations and businesses to develop innovative and realistic food recovery efforts. The EPA estimates that more food reaches landfills each day than any other trash item. According to the 2016 ReFED Roadmap to Reduce U.S. Food Waste, 40% of all food is wasted, which translates to the U.S. spending “over $218 billion … growing, processing, transporting, and disposing of food that is never eaten … totaling roughly 63 million tons of annual waste.” At least four groups will be funded in this effort. One of the key solutions, according to the Food Waste Action Plan, in reducing food waste in the area is to track it and determine how to minimize when and how food is being wasted and the dollar value behind it. In finding ways to scale down on the amount of food waste in the area, groups can also combat what Green Umbrella refers to as food insecurity, or local hunger. This fund targets members of the local food systems between Southwest Ohio, Southeast Indiana, and Northern Kentucky.  

    Energy-Efficient Refrigeration for Local Food System, totaling $75,000, will be distributed to at least five groups. This funding opportunity is designed with refrigeration infrastructure in mind. Being able to distribute locally grown food/product on a wider scale, reducing the food waste from improper refrigeration infrastructure, and reducing operating costs all contribute to the eco—friendly nature behind reduction in food waste and conserving energy. This funding advances Green Umbrella goals for 2020 including doubling production of food and vegetables grown locally, reducing waste in landfills by 33 percent, and reducing energy consumption by 15 percent. With this particular fund, Green Umbrella is targeting Southwest Ohio companies that were Duke Energy rate payers between 2005 and 2008.

    Several funders have entrusted Green Umbrella in this effort to reduce food waste and conserve energy in the local food system, including the Duke Class Benefit Fund and Partners for Places – a project of the Funders Network for Smart and Livable Communities, with local matching grants provided by Interact for Health, The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation, and the Greater Cincinnati Foundation.

    Applications are due January 26, 2018 and more information can be found at

  • November 11, 2017 5:06 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Northern Kentucky Tribune

    Eleven cities across the United States will receive nearly a million dollars for sustainability efforts that benefit low-income neighborhoods.

    Greater Cincinnati was awarded the largest grant, which will fund strategic, collaborative activities to prevent, recover, and recycle food waste. The initiative is led by the City of Cincinnati and Green Umbrella.

    Several Northern Kentucky organizations are members of Green Umbrella, including the Cities of Bellevue, Covington, Ludlow and Florence, the Kenton County Conservation District, Friends of Big Bone and the Northern Kentucky Health Department.

    The funding is through the Partners for Places matching grants program, which pairs city governments with philanthropy to support sustainability projects that promote a healthy environment, a strong economy, and well-being for residents.

    Partners for Places, led by the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities in partnership with the Urban Sustainability Directors Network, will provide $484,000 in funding to 11 cities, which will be matched by local funders. Cincinnati matching funders are Interact for Health, Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation and The Greater Cincinnati Foundation.

    Cincinnati’s funded project will help the region meet the EPA and USDA’s joint national goals for 50 percent food waste reduction by 2030, while improving the sustainability of our local food system.

    Green Umbrella member La Soupe has rescued over 300,000 lbs of food from the landfill (photo credit: La Soupe).

    According to the 2016 ReFED Roadmap to Reduce U.S. Food Waste, the U.S. spends “over $218 billion…growing, processing, transporting, and disposing of food that is never eaten…totaling roughly 63 million tons of annual waste.” The EPA estimates that “more food reaches landfills and incinerators than any other single material in our everyday trash” where it produces methane gas, a greenhouse gas that is 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.

    In the Cincinnati region, Hamilton County Recycling and Solid Waste District estimates that 20 percent of landfilled material is food waste. This contributes greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 57,817 cars on the road for a year.

    An average family of four wastes $1,500 a year in food they do not eat. Amidst this waste, a quarter of tri-State adults experienced food insecurity this year, according to Interact for Health’s 2017 Community Health Status Survey.

    This project will complement other efforts occurring in the region, including the City of Cincinnati’s 2018 Green Cincinnati Plan update, current conversations about how to return commercial scale food waste processing infrastructure to our region, All-In Cincinnati, the Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Waste Action Plan, and Green Umbrella’s Waste Reduction Action Team’s campaign to reduce food waste.

    Lauren Campbell-Kong, co-chair of Green Umbrella’s Waste Reduction Action Team said the amount of waste going to the landfill averages more than 5 lbs. per day.

    “With food waste making up 20% of our waste stream and with 1 in 4 local residents being food insecure, this grant is a huge opportunity to increase healthy food access while making a dent in the amount of waste going to the landfill,” said Campbell Kong.

    With grant funds, says Kristin Weiss, executive director, “Green Umbrella will also announce a $50,000 Save our Food Cincy Fund later this month to incentivize local food organizations and businesses to develop innovative and scalable food recovery efforts.”

    Other grant activities will include expanding sharing tables in schools, working with institutional kitchens to reduce food waste and recover surplus food, fostering neighborhood composting through policy advocacy, and educating the public on best practices related to food waste issues.

    Green Umbrella works to maximize the environmental sustainability of Greater Cincinnati, driving collaboration on measurable improvements in key areas of sustainability. For more information or to become a member, please visit

  • October 19, 2017 11:52 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Cincinnati Business Courier, Erin Caproni

    Cincinnati is the most sustainable metropolitan area in the U.S., according to a new ranking from Site Selection magazine. 

    The Queen City is followed by previous top contender Boston, Seattle, Cleveland and Chicago on the list, which was created based on data related to LEED buildings, Energy Star buildings, green industry projects, Corporate Social Responsibility rankings, Measurable metro scores, brownfield grants, brownfield cleanups and Gallup/Healthways Well-Being rankings.

    Site Selection focused on Procter & Gamble Co.’s green efforts as a contributing factor to the city’s placement on the list.

    “Procter & Gamble is synonymous with its hometown and continues to pursue its own aggressive sustainability agenda,” the story states. “Among the recent steps it’s taken are investments in recycling and beneficial reuse that will eliminate all manufacturing waste from its global network of more than 100 production sites by 2020.

    The University of Cincinnati’s green efforts were also highly praised in the piece as it has built six LEED-certified buildings since 2004 and has another in the works with its new facility for the business college.

    Kristin Weiss, executive director of Cincinnati environmental organization Green Umbrella, said more sustainability efforts are in the works for the region.

    “We can look forward to more regional sustainability achievements in the future, such as improved walkable and bike-friendly communities, thanks to OKI’s inclusion of $191 million in prioritized bike and pedestrian-related infrastructure projects in the region’s 2040 transportation plan,” she said in a statement. “We also expect to see a surge in sales of locally grown food, thanks to a USDA Local Food Promotion Program grant awarded to increase sales for local producers through our region’s largest food hubs by 65 percent by 2020.”

    Overall, Ohio was No. 3 among the nation’s most sustainable states behind North Carolina and Illinois in the new ranking, while the U.S. was ranked second among countries behind Canada.

    To see the full report, click here. 

  • October 11, 2017 4:20 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Cincinnati Business Courier, Bill Cieslewicz

    Fifteen organizations in Butler and Warren counties have partnered to re-energize a 2002 plan to connect Greater Cincinnati’s two longest trails.

    Spearheaded by Green Umbrella’s Tri-State Trails initiative, the goal of the Miami 2 Miami Action Plan is to outline a path forward to complete the multi-use trail network that will connect Hamilton to Mason via the Little Miami Scenic Trail and Great Miami River Trail.

    The Miami 2 Miami Connection Feasibility Study was originally conducted 15 years ago, led by OKI Regional Council of Governments. The study recommended a 125-mile network of multi-use trails, bike lanes and shared roads with 84 of those miles identified as priority corridors. Since 2002, 36 miles of the network have been constructed and an additional 37 miles outside of the original project scope now exist.

    “Liberty Township and neighboring communities have experienced significant growth over the past 15 years, and our residents are demanding more facilities for walking and biking,” Liberty Township trustee Christine Matacic, who helped organize and lead the 2002 plan, said in a press release.

    “Communities and developers around Butler County are building trails to improve quality of life, increase property values, and spur economic development. If we all collaborate to complete the Miami 2 Miami Connection, the benefits will increase exponentially for our region.”

    Seven communities that the network plans to traverse through – Hamilton, Fairfield, Mason, and the townships of Fairfield, West Chester, Liberty and Deerfield – have passed a memorandum of understanding solidifying their commitment to collaborate to plan, construct and maintain the trail system.

    Five additional stakeholders (Monroe, MetroParks of Butler County, Butler County Transportation Improvement District, Butler County Visitors Bureau,and Butler Tech) and three community foundations (Community Foundation of West Chester-Liberty, Hamilton Community Foundation and Fairfield Community Foundation) have contributed to the Miami 2 Miami Action Plan.

    Led by Tri-State Trails, the project design team includes Human Nature and AECOM.

    “Hamilton’s investment in the Great Miami River Trail is increasing economic activity and improving the vibrancy of our downtown,” said Hamilton City Council member Rob Wile, an avid cyclist. “The Miami 2 Miami Connection presents a tremendous opportunity to connect to other destinations and the Little Miami Scenic Trail.”

    “Mason has been steadily investing in trail connectivity in the city for more than a decade. With nearly 30 miles of existing trails, we look forward to completing our eastern segment of the Miami 2 Miami Connection by 2022, linking the Little Miami Scenic Trail to our network,” said Mason Mayor Victor Kidd. “Our business community values the trail network as an amenity to attract and retain a talented workforce.”

    The Little Miami Scenic Trail is the longest connected trail in Tri-State Trails’ 10-county service area, spanning more than 75 miles from Cincinnati to Springfield. It is also the southern leg of the 320-mile Ohio to Erie Trail connecting Cincinnati to Cleveland.

    The Great Miami River Trail is the second-longest trail with plans to span more than 95 miles to connect Fairfield to Piqua, of which 83 miles exist and 12 miles are currently being planned.

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