Green Umbrella in the News

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  • December 11, 2019 12:41 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Last night, Green Umbrella hosted its Annual Meeting. Over 170 members gathered to share stories, connect on ideas and hear what Green Umbrella has planned for the coming year. We talked about the fruits of our strategic planning process, the highlights of which are a new mission and vision and a new set of Impact Areas and Impact Teams to help us get there. If you weren’t able to be there, here is what you missed.

    Mission: We lead collaboration, incubate ideas and catalyze solutions that create a resilient, sustainable region for all.  

    Vision: A vibrant community where sustainability is woven into our ways of life.

    Audience: Organizations and individuals interested in convening around sustainability; Community influencers and decision makers capable of driving impact.

    This year our community thought a lot about what impact we want to have. With our combined efforts we are inspired to improve the health of our region’s people, climate, and landscape through the work of our collective impact teams. 

    In 2020 and beyond, our passion and expertise will be focused in four Impact Areas. 

    • People: We want residents of our region to thrive because they have access to nature, healthy environments, fresh food and transportation options. 

    • Policy: We want local governments across our 10 county region to reduce their climate footprint and use natural systems and smart development to improve their livability and resiliency. 

    • Built Environment: We want property managers to improve the sustainability of their campuses and the health of people who work and play in them. 

    • Landscape: We want our vibrant landscape to provide quality habitat, ecosystem services (including carbon sequestration and stormwater management) and connect people to place and each other.

    Impact Teams within each of the Impact Areas will pull together key stakeholders to focus on a specific, strategic goal that contributes to the vision of the Impact Area. We announced a set of teams that have been proposed by our Action Teams, initiatives and partners. Some of these are already up and running, some will be forming in early 2020 and others will begin exploratory work to determine if the time is right for collective impact on this issue, and if Green Umbrella is the right entity to convene it. Your feedback will help us start that process.


    Proposed Impact Teams by Area

    • People: Tri-State Trails, the Food Policy Council and the Outdoor Action Team have long focused on the human-health side of sustainability by improving access to healthy food, active transportation options and time in nature. We’ll continue their work.

      • With Schools:

        • CPS Outside is working to create equitable opportunities for Cincinnati Public Schools’ students to get outside and experience environmental education.

        • The Farm to School team is coordinating planning with 4 school districts to increase purchasing of locally-grown food by schools and educate students about where food comes from.

      • With Health care providers:

        • The Healthy Eating and Health Care team is developing partnerships with healthcare institutions to solve the issues of food as a social determinant of health in our communities. 

        • Outdoors Rx will partner with health care and insurance providers to encourage prescriptions for time outside to improve health outcomes for patients.

      • The Zero Food to Landfill’  impact team will work on best practices to prevent wasted food and recover surplus food to feed hungry people, while organizing wide-spread adoption and implementation in our region. 

      • Exploring new territory for us, the Environmental Health and Housing team is interested in responding to growing concerns that conditions in and air quality around low-income multi-family housing are bad for residents’ health. We will look to connect various efforts regarding energy efficiency, landlord accountability and environmental contaminants in low-income multi-family housing.

    • Policy: Green Umbrella is pursuing funding for a new staff member to lead a set of teams designed to support local governments in adopting carbon-reduction targets, smart development and transportation planning and land management practices that mitigate against an unpredictable future. Not all governments have the staff capacity to pursue these on their own. Our members can use their expertise to develop model policy, ordinances and other tools that will be valuable to governments across the region and accomplish our shared goals. The specific teams would be Energy, Transportation and Land Use and Ecosystem Services.

    • Built Environment

      • The Cincinnati 2030 District is working towards four major targets with the buildings committed to being part of the District. Each goal will have a team of experts and “users” designing and vetting solutions in that area.

        • The 2030 Water team focuses on rolling out strategies that reduce water use 50% by 2030, to include water harvesting and reuse technology.

        • The 2030 Transportation team works on employer-driven solutions to cut in half emissions related to commuting. Their work is going to be a lot easier if the Reinventing Metro plan gets funded in the March election.

        • The 2030 Energy team guides members in reducing their energy use 50% by 2030 and increase purchasing of renewable energy.

        • The 2030 Health team is working to improve the health of building occupants by implementing key WELL building recommendations.

      • We envision our work in the built environment stretching beyond the 2030 District and local government. Two opportunities are emerging thanks to partnerships, which we look forward to exploring. 

        • Commercial Waste Reduction: through the Beyond 34 collaboration we hope to forge the silver bullet that will improve recycling in the commercial sector.

        • Faith Communities Go Green: religious congregations own and manage properties in every corner of our region. We will explore how we could support congregations from all faiths to decrease their climate footprint through their campuses, educational programming and household commitments to going green. 

    • Landscape conservation depends on collaboration across geographies, sectors, and cultures to protect and restore our landscapes and the ecological, cultural, and economic benefits they provide. 

      • The Priority Land Protection team will develop a regional greenspace prioritization tool designed to coordinate local entities in their land management and preservation strategies. 

      • The Healthy Soils team is building a coalition of farmers and policy makers to champion Healthy Soils state legislation so that land managers adopt regenerative practices that are good for climate, crops and communities.

      • The Riparian Restoration team will start by supporting local agencies in crafting the Nine Element Plans that will allow them to access large pots of state and federal funding to restore local waterways.

    In order to get anywhere close to this vision, we need to step up our game. We need to engage all of the organizations who have a stake in this work. We need to continuously improve our process for convening collective impact. Based on the feedback you provided in our strategic planning process, and our experience over the last 9 years, we have developed a framework for taking our impact to the next level. Each Impact Team should be populated with the full range of perspectives needed to make progress towards a goal. Team members will be engaged in work that directly aligns with the work of the team, either through their job, community involvement or lived experience. The collaborative work should help everyone do what they do better. A Green Umbrella staff member, including our initiative staff, will support the teams to plan and facilitate productive meetings, keep members accountable, lead evaluation processes and connect the dots between teams. Overall, we want to create high quality, consistent, engaging experiences that make participants excited to come to meetings and amazed by how much they accomplish together. Our staff will be skilling up for this task and we invite you to join us. We will bring in experts for quarterly professional development so we can all advance our practice in collaborative change. 

    Now that you have a sense of our potential scope of work for 2020, you’ll see why we need more support from our members than ever to move from concept to action. We want you to let us know which of these teams directly connect to your work, or the work of someone else at your organization. To do that, just complete this survey. If you give us your feedback by Monday, December 16, we will be able to include your interest in our first round of communications around the teams.  

    If you are not already a member of Green Umbrella (either as an organization or an individual), we encourage you to join today so you can get the inside scoop on the roll out of our new Impact Teams. If you are a member, we ask you to consider taking your commitment to the next level. We want people to see Green Umbrella as more than a membership organization. We want people across Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana to see us the same way funders from across the country see us: as a best-in-class investment opportunity delivering efficient and effective environmental change across a multitude of impact areas. Donate today to fuel our progress towards this ambitious scope of work.

    Thank you for your continued, and hopefully expanding support of Green Umbrella with your time and resources in 2020.

    Ryan Mooney-Bullock
    Executive Director
    Green Umbrella

  • December 05, 2019 2:04 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: NKY Thrives

    By: David Holthaus

    Making Newport Safer and Friendlier for Bicyclists

    With its relatively flat topography, dense urban layout, and popular destinations near residential areas, Newport has the potential to become a bike-centric community.

    Over the last few months, the community experimented with ways to make bicycling safer and more enjoyable, employing a technique called “tactical urbanism” to create pilot projects around safe urban bicycling.

    Tactical urbanism has been used around the world to quickly and inexpensively prototype new street configurations to serve the needs of pedestrians and bicyclists. The process can guide and inform permanent investment later.

    “By piloting an infrastructure idea, we get an opportunity to inexpensively see how it works in the real world before investing precious taxpayer dollars to make it permanent,” says Wade Johnston, director of Tri-State Trails.

    The Newport project is called ConnectNKY and included a series of community slow rides and meet-ups with residents guided by Tri-State Trails and urban consulting firm YARD and Company.

    Earlier this year, three Newport organizations were awarded a competitive grant to create the project that aims to improve bike and pedestrian connections.

    ReNewport, Southbank Partners, and the City of Newport were awarded a technical assistance grant to explore options for safe on-street bicycle routes in Newport to connect to everyday locations like grocery stores, schools and the library.

    In October, a weeklong demonstration project was held. “We were able to show off a number of different bicycle facilities on the road,” Johnston says. “People could interact with them and see what they were comfortable with.”

    “The purpose was to show residents and decision makers that bike lanes can help Newport thrive as an urban community.”

    The project tested three bike facilities: a two-way protected bike lane; a one-way protected bike lane; and shared lane marking, or sharrows, pavement markings to indicate that bicyclists may ride with traffic.

    The project was focused around Saratoga Street, as that thoroughfare connects with a popular bike route, the Purple People Bridge.

    “The Purple People Bridge is the most highly used trail in our entire region,” Johnston says. “An average of 1,900 people a day cross the bridge.”

    Tri-State Trails also conducted a survey and will publish a report soon on the project and its findings.

    “People wanted to make the bike lanes permanent,” he says. “They felt safe and comfortable.”

    Tri-State Trails will work with Newport city administration in the coming months to advocate for creating lasting bike facilities in the city.

    “We hope that this will result in permanent infrastructure that we can then use to build out a large network in Northern Kentucky,” Johnston says.

    Tri-State Trails organized a series of slow rides as part of its ConnectNKY program.

  • December 03, 2019 11:10 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Press Release                                                                                               

    For Immediate Release

    For more information contact: 

    Elizabeth Rojas, Elizabeth@greenumbrella.org, 513.403-3680

    Director, Cincinnati 2030 District


    CINCINNATI--
    Greater Cincinnati’s three largest universities – University of Cincinnati, Xavier University and Northern Kentucky University – have officially joined the Cincinnati 2030 District as regional members. The collective commitment of the universities – 152 buildings with approximately 17.1 million square feet – increases the District’s total footprint to over 24 million square feet across the region.

    “These institutions symbolize the benefits of setting goals that help achieve higher levels of innovation,” says Elizabeth Rojas, new 2030 District Director, “The relationship between our universities and the 2030 District is mutually reinforcing: ensuring our largest institutions continue to uphold their role in the community as they simultaneously foster our future innovators.”

    By joining the District, each university commits to the 2030 member goals of 50% reductions in energy and water consumption and transportation emissions. For all three universities, the commitment is part of larger long-term sustainability efforts. “Joining the 2030 District shows NKU’s support for sustainability and that we are dedicated to our commitment to being carbon neutral by 2050,” says Tiffany Budd, NKU’s Sustainability Operations Coordinator. “Being a member of the District will provide NKU with external partnerships and resources that will allow us to more readily advance our sustainability goals while in turn contributing back to the group with our own resources.”

    Beyond working with each university’s building portfolios, the 2030 District will gain valuable access to a robust research base for collaboration across district members and partners. “The 2030 District is a flexible, long-term framework for addressing the environmental impact of the built environment in our community,” says Dr. Amanda Webb, Assistant Professor at UC’s Department of Civil & Architectural Engineering & Construction Management whose research informed the District’s initial phase focused on benchmarking energy and water consumption data in downtown Cincinnati’s commercial buildings.


    All three institutions agree that the greatest opportunity of membership is the educational engagement opportunities for students. “It is a particularly important statement to our students and the greater Cincinnati community that all three major institutions of higher education have joined the District initiative,” says Dr. James Buchanan, XU Professor and Executive Director of The Brueggeman Center for Dialogue.


    In its inaugural year, the Cincinnati 2030 District has accepted twenty-six members including developers, commercial building owners and tenants working to advance the bold sustainability goals of the 2030 Network. There are also opportunities to become financial sponsors and professional and community partners. “We have a variety of professional partners who provide a wide range of expertise,” says Rojas. “They work collectively across the community, demonstrating why Greater Cincinnati is a destination where talented professionals and innovative businesses can thrive.”

    To learn more about becoming part of the solution to decrease our region’s carbon emissions and secure a sustainable future for all our community members, visit 2030districts.org/cincinnati or email Elizabeth Rojas.

    ###

    Celebrating 20 years as Greater Cincinnati’s hub for environmental sustainability. Act locally with Green Umbrella and make a difference. Learn more or become a member at www.greenumbrella.org.

  • December 02, 2019 1:58 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: NKY Tribune

    NKU Joins in the Carbon Neutrality Effort, Becomes First KY Organization to Join Cincinnati's 2030 District

    Northern Kentucky University underscores its commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by joining the Cincinnati 2030 District, which is part of an international network of cities developing a new model for urban sustainability. NKU is the first organization in Kentucky to join this collective.
     
    The 2030 District cities collaborate on common goals to reduce building energy use, water consumption, and transportation emissions by 50% by 2030. Facilitated locally by Green Umbrella, the Cincinnati 2030 District provides private-public partnerships and resources to help advance sustainability goals. The Cincinnati 2030 District is also focused on increasing occupant health by 50%, in addition to the overarching district goals. The organization’s commitment to sustainability aligns with NKU’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

    "Our sustainability strategy has six main goals, one of which is to ‘expand external partnerships that inform NKU sustainability efforts and strengthen our regional impact.’ This partnership shows our support for sustainability and that we remain dedicated to our 2050 commitment,” said Tiffany Budd, sustainability operations coordinator at NKU. “It’s an honor to be a member of an exceptional cohort of like-minded organizations with a collective goal of creating a more efficient and healthier environment for all generations to live and work in our community.”
     
    NKU has implemented many sustainability efforts across campus, including establishing an on-campus community garden, providing alternative transportation methods and creating ‘no mow’ zones to return areas of the campus back to its natural state. NKU also partnered with CMTA on an energy performance contract that will reduce energy use and save the university over $386,000. For more information about sustainability initiatives at NKU, visit here.
     
    About NKU:  Founded in 1968, we are a growing metropolitan university of more than 14,000 students served by more than 2,000 faculty and staff on a thriving suburban campus near Cincinnati. Located in the quiet suburb of Highland Heights, Kentucky—just seven miles southeast of Cincinnati—we have become a leader in Greater Cincinnati and Kentucky by providing a private school education for a fraction of the cost. While we are one of the fastest growing universities in Kentucky, our professors still know our students’ names. For more information, visit nku.edu.
  • November 05, 2019 10:18 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Soapbox Media

    By: Jennifer Mooney

    Groundwork Ohio River Valley diversifies Cincinnati’s Environmental Movement

    Kids can help with things like preparing and stacking of invasive species.

    A conversation with Tanner Yess makes one want to grab a shovel and roll up their sleeves, or whatever it takes to improve the planet. He is a combination of unbridled enthusiasm and serious data about improving future odds. Yess and the other executive director, Alan Edwards, believe that this emanates from the ground up and can involve people of all ages, races, and backgrounds.

    To talk with Tanner leaves no question: We are all in this together. The environment impacts each of us.

    Hence the birth of Tanner and Alan’s organization. In September 2019 Groundwork Ohio River Valley, one of 20 national organizations committed to sustainability, diversity, equity, social justice, and the environment, became a reality.

    This young organization already has seven paid employees and has rapidly deployed programming, with the help of overwhelming support from partners and funders, including Green Umbrella and the City of Cincinnati.

    “For too long, communities of color have been disconnected from the mainstream environmental movement in our region, despite being the most plagued by the health effects of poor environmental quality and climate change,” says Ryan Mooney-Bullock, executive director of Green Umbrella.

    “Groundwork Ohio River Valley’s mission to perform much-needed restoration work and train youth into quality jobs and build a generation of environmental stewards is some of the most important work I can imagine,” she continues. “Every time I interact with members of the Groundwork ORV staff, Green Team, or Green Corps I am blown away by the transformational approach they are taking … for people and our corner of the planet.”

    There are Groundwork trusts across the UK, and Groundwork USA is built on their model.

    “The national park service and the EPA realized that more than 80 percent of the world’s population was going to live in cities,” says Yess. “It may not matter whether you have all of the national parks out west and protections if people and where they live (in urban areas) are not connected to these things.”

    Importantly this is very much about bringing nontraditional people into this movement.

    “The environmental movement, back to Teddy Roosevelt, has generally looked pretty homogenous,” says Yess. “For me, as a person of color and a scientist, I never saw anyone who looked like me. We pride ourselves on working with communities that have not traditionally been engaged. There is no appreciation for a place like Yellowstone if you do not start at your local nature center.”

    Groundwork’s programs include hiring young people, starting at age 14, to take on programs that improve areas in their own communities.

    Yess explains that they will work with more than 300 youth employees.

    This includes the Green Team (ages 14–18) and Green CORP (ages 18–26). Green CORP includes people interested in the outdoors who may not be college bound. They make a higher hourly wage (than Green Team) and operate like an environmental contractor.

    “We are young, and we are not scared of the problems that we have,” he says. “For me it is not just Cincinnati, but what is represents, being in this place in Middle America. The vision has to incorporate people who have been disinvested.”

    Each summer standout workers have an opportunity to visit our national parks — something that may not otherwise be available to these teenagers.

    Their funding model is straightforward: “Number one is about methods and streams such as social enterprise. We are really lucky to have an individual donor base. We have a great needed and problem-solving story,” explains Yess. “Our programming is about leveling the playing field.”

    To get involved, learn more, and contribute, www.groundworkorv.org

  • October 28, 2019 10:26 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Cincinnati Business Courier

    By: ArtWorks


    Public art has been popping up all over Reading Road in Avondale over the past few years.

    Beautiful florals. A phoenix rising. Kente patterns. A vanguard of multigenerational citizens.

    The Avondale community has been the driving force behind these works of art, with ArtWorks as a long-time partner.

    The newest work is a mural designed by the Detroit-based artist Tylonn Sawyer, honoring the late gospel composer Louise Shropshire, outside the fully renovated Hirsch Recreation Center. A series of new murals by local artist Cedric Michael Cox were installed in September at the recently rebuilt Avondale Town Center. Last year, ArtWorks completed a project spotlighting the professions of everyday neighborhood heroes by Dayton artist James Pate.

    Like most ArtWorks projects, youth apprentices, ages 14-21, were employed to create these installations under the guidance of professional artists.


    As the neighborhood’s quality of life plan puts it, Avondale’s vision is when “families and individuals—young and old—are recognized as the backbone of the community, finding strength together. They are vested in Avondale’s bright future.”

    “Creating a more robust public art plan for Avondale has been one of the many goals for the neighborhood for a long time,” said April Gallelli, Avondale Development Corporation (ADC) community organizer. “At ADC, we’re all about fostering a community of neighbors, and public art is a great way to do that. We can’t wait to engage the community in this project throughout this coming year.”

    To support this work, ArtWorks has opened a request for proposals (RFP) for concepts ranging up to $15,000 for light-based interactive public art installations along the new walking and bike trail behind the Hirsch Recreation Center. The installations are planned to be fabricated next spring and installed by June 2020.

    “ArtWorks is inspired to do this work in Avondale because of the residents’ desire for more public art that is reflective of this wonderful community with its rich culture and history of African American change-makers,” said Tamara Harkavy, ArtWorks founder & artistic director. “Avondale residents have said this was a priority, so we are excited to partner with them to bring this vision to life.”

    A project steering committee will select the four winning concepts and will include representatives from Avondale Community Council, ADC, Cincinnati Recreation Commission and Green Umbrella.

    ArtWorks will hire four professional artists to execute the work. Artists may request support from ArtWorks youth apprentices from Avondale in their proposals.

    “The goal for the installations will be to enhance safety and celebrate the neighborhood’s cultural heritage,” Harkavy said. “We want to channel the community’s creative force into these activations.”

    This opportunity for Avondale came from a National Endowment for the Arts Our Town grant for creative placemaking that supports partnerships of artists, arts organizations, and municipal government that work to revitalize neighborhoods. ArtWorks is one of the 57 organizations in the nation to receive an Our Town grant in 2019.


  • October 24, 2019 10:22 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: NRDC

    By: Sarah Stankorb

    If asked, most Amercians likely wouldn’t guess that Cincinnati is one of the country’s top climate champions. At the intersection of Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana, Cincinnati sits squarely in coal country. But the midsize metropolis has also been reducing its greenhouse gas emissions 2 percent each year since 2008, matching the decarbonizing rates of international climate leaders like Oslo and Paris.

    “For generations, coal has been a primary source of energy and a primary economic driver here,” says Bill Scheyer, former city administrator for Erlanger, Kentucky, and current trustee of the nonprofit Green Umbrella, which works to maximize the environmental sustainability of Greater Cincinnati. “People in general were slow to let go of that, because it’s just been such a given part of their lives.”

    But Green Umbrella has made incredible progress on that front since its founding in 1998. What began as a collection of volunteers who would meet in a local library to discuss ways to preserve green space has grown into a regional alliance that spans 10 counties in three states. Green Umbrella’s 200 member organizations and governments collaborate on everything from watershed preservation and reducing food waste to energy and transportation policies. Paired with ambitious climate planning at the city level, the group’s efforts have resulted in a cleaner, greener Cincinnati—from its grocery stores and banks to its police stations and zoo. And the Queen City is just getting started.


    Minutes after President Donald Trump announced in 2017 that he would withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley took to the steps of City Hall. There he told a crowd of reporters that Cincy would join the Compact of Mayors (now called the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy), a coalition of now more than 10,000 cities and local governments aiming to collectively lower their carbon emissions by 1.3 billion tons per year by 2030. Days later, Cranley drove down Kellogg Avenue, “and I looked at Lunken Airport, and I looked at the Water Works,” and said to himself, “You know, why don’t we put up a bunch of solar panels—here, on this land we own?”

    Within weeks, the mayor had committed the city to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035 and laid out a plan for a 25-megawatt photovoltaic array. With contracts currently under negotiation, the solar farm will power the Greater Cincinnati Water Works and the entire municipal government in what would be the country’s largest solar project owned and run by a city.

    Last year the city also updated its Green Cincinnati Plan. Launched in 2008, the plan now includes 80 strategies for cutting carbon pollution to 80 percent below 2006 levels by 2050. And as one of 25 cities chosen for the American Cities Climate Challenge (ACCC)—a partnership between Bloomberg Philanthropies, NRDC, Delivery Associates, and several other organizations to reduce emissions in the buildings, energy, and transportation sectors—Cincinnati is furthering its commitments to renewable power generation and energy efficiency.

    Carla Walker, the city’s climate advisor, who has been busy working to get more (and more affordable) electric vehicles on Cincy streets, says Cincinnati’s climate measures have made it a model for peer cities, such as Indianapolis and Columbus. With a population of 300,000, Cincinnati may be the second-smallest ACCC city, but when it comes to ambitious emissions cuts, it makes the top five. “We’re punching above our weight,” says Walker.

    In fighting climate change, renewable power and energy efficiency work hand in hand. Cincinnati is among 22 American cities developing 2030 Districts, which are urban areas committed to slashing transportation emissions, energy use, and water consumption in half by 2030. So far, 25 Cincy property owners, developers, and commercial tenants have signed on, committing more than 20 million square feet—roughly the size of 25 Madison Square Gardens—to the 2030 goal.

    One of Cincinnati’s crown jewels of efficiency is a police station on its west side. The District 3 Police Station, which reopened in 2015 on the site of a former car dealership, is the city’s first LEED Platinum building. Replete with a 329-kilowatt solar array, a geothermal heating system, and a rain garden, the $16 million building runs on its own energy—and it’s open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. This may be the most sustainable police station the country has ever seen. And in a city dealing with severe flooding issues and stormwater overflows, the native vegetation planted in the station’s new retention basin helps keep the site’s water in place. This makes Mary Jo Bazely, a volunteer who gardens and plants trees for the Cincinnati Parks Foundation, very proud. “There’s more green now. The water’s staying on site. It’s been remediated,” says Bazely before listing off several of the station’s energy conservation features that community members like herself made sure were included—right down to the outlets in the police lockers where officers can charge their cell phones and walkie-talkies with power from the sun shining outside.

    But the net-zero police station is far from being the lone green jewel in this city. Tremaine Phillips, former director of Cincinnati 2030 District, can easily rattle off the achievements of several of the group’s partners.

    Fifth Third Bank, headquartered in Cincy, is the first Fortune 500 company to purchase 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources—in this case, a solar farm in North Carolina that “couldn’t have been built but for our contract,” says Scott Hassell, the bank’s director of environmental sustainability. The Kroger grocery chain, which is headquartered in Cincinnati and has nearly 2,800 stores across the United States, is committed to a Zero Hunger/Zero Waste program and has pledged to eliminate plastic bags by 2025. The Cincinnati Zoo, considered one of the nation’s most sustainable zoos, boasts the largest publicly accessible urban solar array in the country. And the headquarters of Procter & Gamble met its 2020 greenhouse emissions and water use reduction goals two years early (too bad the company remains bent on destroying the Canadian boreal, a forest critical to mitigating climate change) and has already achieved zero manufacturing waste at more than 80 percent of its sites nationwide. The list goes on.

    Since the 1970s, a sizable chunk—about 33 percent—of Cincinnati’s population has moved out, mostly to the suburbs. But Chris Heckman and his wife, Kristen Myers, recently planted themselves firmly in the city proper. “We wanted something different for our kids, something more sustainable,” says Chris, a designer and local environmental volunteer who spent years as a stay-at-home parent. The family of four, whose roots lie elsewhere in the Midwest, bought an 1870 home built in Over-the-Rhine (OTR), a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood just north of the business district. While some OTR streets host entrepreneurs sporting beards and Warby Parkers, other blocks are quiet canyons of vacant buildings.


    The Heckman-Myers home had been one such vacant property. But with upgrades to its insulation, the addition of geothermal wells, rooftop solar panels, a Tesla Powerwall to store electricity, and a variety of other retrofits, the home is shooting for LEED Platinum certification. The family owns a car but usually takes public transit, including the Cincinnati streetcar, which runs in front of their house. (When Chris isn’t schlepping kids, he opts for a bike from the city’s bike-share program.) The Heckmans are eligible for federal tax refunds of 30 percent of what they paid for their solar and geothermal systems, and depending on the LEED level the house achieves, the household could be eligible for up to 15 years of city tax abatements, meaning they’d pay taxes only on the pre-improvement value of their property for those years.


    “I’m proud that Cincinnati is a leader in pushing what’s possible with sustainability goals,” says Chris, “but we all live on the planet, and wherever we live, we’ll need to be improving our climate aspirations.”

    Of course, not everyone can afford to get their home LEED certified. Half of Cincinnati’s children under the age of five live in poverty. In some neighborhoods, like Avondale, the median yearly household income is as low as $18,120. For this segment of the population, the share of their incomes devoted to energy bills is among the highest in the nation. The settlement of a recent lawsuit involving Duke Energy rates includes the utility paying $250,000 per year for the next six years to fund energy efficiency upgrades for low-income tenants.

    Often overlooked in discussions of energy bills is the importance of trees. The shade they provide helps reduce the heat island effect, which lowers the need to crank up the A/C. This is especially important in lower-income neighborhoods, where many residents live without air-conditioning or have health issues that make them more heat-vulnerable. Cincinnati has 40 percent tree coverage, but this varies greatly among neighborhoods, with less-affluent ones having fewer trees. With a priority on tree-deficient areas, the city’s Street Tree Program spends roughly $2 million per year to plant trees along sidewalks, and its ReLeaf program so far has provided nearly 20,000 free trees for planting on private property throughout the city.


    As the trees grow, so does Cincinnati’s resilience. Still, like many cities, Cincy has a long way to go before achieving its sustainability and equity goals. On this front, the Queen City is just getting started, but within the new Green Cincinnati Plan, each proposal includes details about how the sustainability measure will also increase equity. As before, Cincinnati is facing its climate challenges with eyes wide open—and will, one hopes, continue to impress.
  • October 24, 2019 10:18 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: CityBeat

    By: Nick Swartsell

    Cranley2In his 2019 State of the City address at Memorial Hall tonight, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, a Democrat, cast Cincinnati as a city prepared to move on progressive agenda items the Republican-controlled state and federal government are unwilling to take up while painting an expansive, if at times somewhat optimistic, portrait of the city's progress since his first election in 2013. 

    Cranley called the city's progress "the Cincinnati miracle," celebrating successes such as BLINK and big developments while, during a few moments, sidestepping some of the city's bigger challenges and controversies.

    The roughly 50-minute speech touched on the city's growing population — which Census estimates indicate has inched up a few thousand people during Cranley's term to top 300,000 — and efforts to grow jobs, curb gun violence, increase access to public transit and combat poverty and climate change.

    That last issue was the focus of two new initiatives the mayor discussed during his address — a solidified plan to move forward with an array of more than 31,000 solar panel array and a statewide climate summit to be hosted in Cincinnati next year.

    Cranley pinned increased rainfall and resultant landslides the city is seeing — average rainfall jumped from 40 inches in the city up to 1999 to 46.4 inches last year — on climate change and said state and federal governments are moving backward on addressing that global phenomenon. 

    "Donald Trump pulled our country out of the Paris Accord," Cranley said, also blasting state lawmakers for passing legislation called HB6 that bails out nuclear and coal plants at the expense of the state's renewable energy standards. "But in the meantime, we are picking up the slack and leading by example."

    Cranley said the city has locked down a site for 1,000 acres of solar panels, an array he says will generate 100 megawatts of energy. The majority of that array will exist outside the city in Highland County, while some of the panels will be placed on city-owned rooftops. The array will be constructed by local laborers with IBEW, Cranley says, and will create hundreds of jobs. 

    The mayor also announced that the city, along with Green Umbrella, the Ohio Mayors Alliance and the Ohio Climate Council, will host a statewide climate summit in April of next year designed to convince municipalities across the state to adopt the climate standards state lawmakers reduced or eliminated in HB6.

     "We will do what our state will not — take the responsible steps to invest in renewable energy and reduce our carbon footprint before it is too late," Cranley said.

    Cranley also pledged similar pressure when it came to gun restrictions — an area where, despite mass shootings like the tragic 2018 incident at Fountain Square and this year's deadly attacks in Dayton and El Paso, federal and state lawmakers have passed few new laws. 

    The mayor railed against what he called "the NRA-controlled state legislature" for inaction on gun restrictions recommended by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine. He also announced he is endorsing a statewide referendum effort to pass universal background checks.

    Elsewhere in his remarks, Cranley recognized the late civil rights leader Marian Spencer, Pamela Smitherman, the late wife of Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman, city employee of the year Ronetta Engram, public services employee Leroy Garrison, who died while on the job this year, retiring Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune — currently fighting cancer — and Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen for his company's move to stop using plastic bags and the first downtown location for the grocery in half a century.

    The mayor praised a number of community development initiatives in College Hill, Westwood and other neighborhoods as well as continued development of bike paths in the city. He also gave a big plug for Issue 22, the charter amendment that would end the city's portion of its earnings tax going to bus service if county voters approve a sales tax to fund Metro.

    Throughout his remarks, Cranley returned to touchstones that have become constants in his state of the city addresses — encouraging volunteerism, holding up the city's economic and population growth and efforts to reduce poverty and gun violence. Here, the mayor highlighted real progress but also painted a somewhat rosier picture than others might. 

    Spotlighting the city's economic growth, Cranley touted Cincinnati's economy's 3 percent growth rate, a claimed 1,000 businesses added since his first year in office and 2,300 jobs added this year. That 3 percent growth rate is roughly the same as U.S. GDP growth last year, though nationally growth has slowed to about 2.5 percent since then. 

    Cranley also celebrated construction of a $550 million expansion at Cincinnati Children's Hospital and FC Cincinnati's $250 million Major League Soccer stadium in the West End as major economic boosts to the region. However, he didn't mention the bitter wrangling associated with those projects and critiques from community groups upset about the displacement of residents near those facilities. 

    And while the mayor rightly noted that poverty has decreased in the city — falling from 31 percent to roughly 26 percent during his time in office — Cincinnati still has the fifth-highest poverty rate among U.S. cities with more than 250,000 people.

    "As proud as we are of our growth, inequality and poverty remain stubbornly too high and so we are trying to extend the light of the torch of the Cincinnati Miracle into the shadows," Cranley said during his address, but said some private employers' and the city's $15 minimum wage, his own Hand Up Initiative, the Childhood Poverty Collaborative (now renamed Cincinnati LIFT), the United Way and others are working to address the big gaps.

    Sometimes, the mayor's remarks seemed to contradict his previous stances, especially when it came to the city's budget.

    The mayor touted the fact that the city has increased its human services funding from $1.5 million to $7.1 million annually — though Cranley has sometimes fought with Cincinnati City Council as it sought to increase that funding. Cranley also praised Cincinnati Office of Environment and Sustainability Director Larry Falkin, despite keeping cuts in the city manager's budget this year that would have eliminated his position. Council restored that funding.

    Again and again in his address, Cranley — who is term-limited as mayor and has been rumored to have ambitions for a congressional run — returned to his underlying theme that Cincinnati (and he, as the mayor) were picking up where more conservative state and federal lawmakers and administrators had dropped the ball.

    "Given the abdication of state and national leadership, hope is hard to come by," he said. "But we are giving hope at the local level. The torch of hope that was dropped in Washington and Columbus has been picked up here and is lighting the way for the Cincinnati Miracle."

  • October 17, 2019 9:39 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: WCPO

    By: Pat LaFleur

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    NEWPORT, Ky. — Northern Kentucky's first protected bike lane opened along Saratoga Street in Newport this week -- so quickly that some might have missed it.

    City officials and bike safety advocates cut the ceremonial ribbon Wednesday evening on the bright green bike lanes now running along Saratoga, Fifth and Sixth Streets north to the Purple People Bridge. The bike lanes are considered "protected" because they provide cones as a visual barrier to separate bike traffic from other vehicle traffic.


    Despite their bold coloring, the lanes are currently in a temporary pilot phase, said Wade Johnston.

    Johnston heads up Tri-State Trails, a wing of the regional sustainability group Green Umbrella, and spent this past summer developing the Connect NKY program 

    in order to assess Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties' need for improved on-street bicycle infrastructure.

    "There's not a ton of on-road bike infrastructure in Newport or in Northern Kentucky for that matter, but we know there's a huge demand for it," Johnston told WCPO at Wednesday's ribbon cutting. "The Purple People Bridge is a huge artery that people use to get back and forth to Ohio. That's why this project comes off the bridge because it captures that traffic and helps distribute it safely out into the neighborhood."

    By Tri-State Trails' estimate, nearly 2,000 people cross the pedestrian- and bicycle-only bridge every day. On its northern end, the bridge connects to the Ohio River Trail, which currently runs east from Downtown toward Anderson Township. In Newport, the bridge connects to the in-progress Riverfront Commons trail project.

    "The idea is that we can show support for making more investments in on-road bike infrastructure, and hopefully the city will consider making them permanent," Johnston said.

    At least one of Newport's political leaders might already be on-board with the idea: City Commissioner Beth Fennell didn't just attend Wednesday's ribbon cutting, but she also read a proclamation recognizing Johnston's team of volunteers and helped cut the ribbon.

    Johnston said that he hopes small "demonstration projects" like this will help illustrate the region's need for better connections between its already-existing network of bike trails.

    "Right now our region has a lot of biking facilities, but they're not well-connected," Johnston said. "So we hop that through this type of demonstration project we can show that connectivity is really key to getting people to feel safe and making that choice to walk or bike or ride a scooter for that matter to get from point A to point B."

    The bike lanes will remain in place until Sunday, Oct. 20, when volunteers will disassemble them. Johnston said the next step then will be to assess its use over the week pilot and develop a plan to pitch a permanent installation to city officials.


  • October 16, 2019 9:49 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: WLWT 5

    By: Mollie Lair

    Temporary bike lanes are popping up for a few days in downtown Newport.

    The marked lanes along Saratoga, 5th and 6th Streets are only there until the end of the week, but it's a chance to gather data and present a plan to the city.

    Users hope these lanes will become a permanent fixture in Northern Kentucky.

    There's one less lane of vehicle traffic on 5th Street to make way for a different set of wheels.

    "To show that bike lanes are a good idea for communities to invest in to make their downtown's more walk-able and bike-able and improve roadway safety for drivers," said Wade Johnston.

    The project, called ConnectNKY, will last through Sunday.

    Johnston is director of Tri-State Trails.

    He said this project is a trial run and a chance to present the City of Newport with their findings.

    "The city has been very supportive of this idea. It was grant-funded, so it was low stress to them, no cost to the taxpayers," he said

    Volunteers painted the streets to denote the change in traffic flow.

    And the bike lane is not just for bike riders.

    "There's a demand because of the scooter trend to create more biking facilities that accommodate both bikes and scooters," said Johnston.

    Johnston said it's about a need to create a safe environment for riders, walkers and drivers, too.

    "Biking facilities create safer roadway conditions for cars and pedestrians because it's slowing traffic down and it's alerting drivers to get off their phones and pay attention to what's around them," he said.

    A spokeswoman said the city supports the projects and encourages participation.

    They will be waiting for data and community feedback before considering any long-term change.

    "There's a real need to create equity through how we invest in our transportation network, so it doesn't just cater to users who have the means to afford a car," said Johnston.

    Click here to complete a survey on the project.


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