Green Umbrella in the News

  • April 20, 2019 5:54 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Local 12
    By: Christian Hauser

    OVER-THE-RHINE, Ohio (WKRC)- Folks riding the streetcar were treated to some music and a free ride for most of the day.

    It's all part of an Earth Day celebration to try and get people to use more energy efficient modes of transportation in their daily lives.

    Tremaine Phillips is the Director of the Cincinnati 2030 District.

    "We work with commercial building owners and commercial tenants to help them achieve bold, ambitious, sustainability goals in their buildings. So, in particular we're helping them reduce their transportation emissions, as well as, their energy and water usage 50 percent by 2030," Phillips said.

    Phillips rode the streetcar a lot on Saturday. The district sponsored an earth day event and letting everyone ride for free.

    "It's kind of our way to not only encourage low-carbon means of transportation downtown but also to better interact with the public and help them understand these resources are important not only for economic development but also for the environment," Phillips said.

    Phillips talked with many of the folks getting onto the streetcar.

    "It's surprising how many folks turned out to ride the streetcar who had never ridden it before. So, just getting that experience and understanding how long it takes and where the stops occur and that really, here in downtown Cincinnati, you can get anywhere you want to go through the route on that streetcar," Phillips said.

    Meanwhile, at Washington Park, Earth Day OTR was jamming out. There was live music and food and games but also some rainy weather. Organizers were thankful for the free streetcar rides.

    "I think that's brought a lot more people down here. Additionally, we have a one-stop drop where we're inviting people to bring hard to recycle items. So, things you wouldn't be able to bring to your curbside," Kara Luggen, with Keep Cincinnati Beautiful said.

    Great Parks of Hamilton county brought some birds for people to get an up-close look at.

    There were also dozens of booths set up to teach people about using less resources.

    "Whether that's learning how to recycle right and what things we can actually stick in our curbside bins or if it's learning about ways to go zero-waste and have a compost [pile] in your backyard," Luggen said.

    The is the fourth year for the event. It's a collaboration between 3CDC and Keep Cincinnati Beautiful.

  • April 19, 2019 5:53 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: WCPO
    By: Chris Wetterich

    The Cincinnati Bell Connector streetcar will be free to ride on Saturday in commemoration of Earth Day, which is on Monday. 

    The free rides are being paid for by sponsors, making it revenue neutral. The sponsors are Kroger, Green Cincinnati, Xavier University’s Edward B. Bruggeman Center for Dialogue, Green Umbrella and the Cincinnati 2030 District.

    City officials are working on additional sponsors for free days on the streetcar. 

    Nine acts will play on the streetcar between 11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. 

  • April 17, 2019 5:49 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Cincinnati Enquirer
    By: Mark Curnutte and Byron McCauley

    In Cincinnati, 3 in 10 people don't know the source of their next meal.

    That's not because there is a shortage of food. It's because of logistical challenges, getting fresh produce, meat and dairy to people who need them most — or getting the people to sources of food — before it spoils.

    Take Todd Davis and Theresa McCalley of Walnut Hills, for example. They have an apartment on Oak Street, about three blocks from the Kroger grocery that closed in March 2017. The couple lives on a fixed income and in one of the city's most prominent food deserts.

    "I don't drive, she don't drive, and them closing the store made it a lot harder on everybody," said Davis, who walked with McCalley on a recent Friday afternoon to buy vegetables and pasta at the Freestore Foodbank's Healthy Harvest Mobile Market. It pulled into the former Kroger parking lot along McMillan Street.

    "Our building is mostly senior citizens. They can walk from their apartments for this," Davis said.

    'Rescuing' the food

    Improving healthy food options available in food deserts – defined as areas with a predominance of low-income residents who have limited access to affordable and nutritious food – is commanding a lot of attention locally these days.

    The Soup Kitchen Summit formed a year ago and brings together soup kitchen operators, major social service agencies such as the Freestore Foodbank and Cincinnati's St. Vincent de Paul Society, philanthropy organizations and corporate partners, such as the Kroger Co., to find ways to work together to rescue more food and redistribute it more efficiently and quickly to people in need.

    Nonprofit leaders in Walnut Hills and Avondale, another food desert neighborhood, are coming up with creative solutions to fill grocery spaces that are unlikely to ever be filled again by a traditional large store. 

    Community gardens and neighborhood- and school-based cooking and nutrition classes have received renewed focus as part of the solution to food deserts and poor diets and negative health outcomes that often accompany them. No idea or effort, big or small, it seems, is being dismissed or disregarded.

    "It's the dumbest problem we have on the planet," said Jeffrey Miller, chief operating officer of Cincinnati-based Last Mile Food Rescue, which seeks volunteers using apps to get food that would go to waste to big food pantries. The idea is derived from Food Rescue Hero of Pittsburgh, which was founded in 2016 and continues to be refined.

    Volunteers use an app that alerts them to a match between a food donation and a nonprofit who would like to receive it. They then "rescue” the food.

    "Hunger in Cincinnati is solvable. It's just people learning how to not throw out food," Miller said.

    The need is great. So is the opportunity.

    • 290,000 people, 80,000 of them children, are food insecure, the Freestore Foodbank estimates of its 20-county service region.
    • 6.6 million pounds of produce is distributed by the Freestore, enough food to make 27.3 million meals. Forty-two percent of its food is donated.
    • 200,000 pounds of rescued food was recycled by Our Daily Bread in 2017, employing a small staff and volunteers to turn it into 96,000 meals and 21,000 second-helpings. It is a nonprofit soup kitchen and social center founded in 1985 in Over-the-Rhine that serves a free breakfast and lunch to anyone who walks through its doors Monday through Friday.
    • 60 million pounds of food is wasted a year in Hamilton County, which has a population of 814,000. That comes out to almost 74 pounds of food wasted a year per person in the county.

    Food waste happens in many ways and to varying degrees, said Georgine Getty, executive director of Our Daily Bread.

    "It's not eating a crust of bread to forgetting about the strawberries in the back of the refrigerator," she said. "It's the vendors at Findlay Market preparing food for New Year's Eve, which ended up being really cold, and them needing to give it to us. On the largest scale, it's realizing that way too much food is sitting in the factory and is going to go to waste if they don't do something fast."

    Soup Kitchen Summit

    Getty is one of three chairs of the summit, which formed about a year ago to try to fix the problem, Getty said, "that we had all these hungry people."

    In a short time, however, its members realized "we were part of something a lot bigger, an environmental problem, how do we save food that's being wasted and get it quickly to people who need it," she said.

    Its themes are:

    Food rescue.

    Sharing the most relevant information on community resources that lead to solving what summit members see as a "logistics problem."

    Creating a system for distribution that is sustainable.

    Getting healthier food to people in need

    Several organizations in Greater Cincinnati are working to rescue and redistribute food. Among them:

    Last Mile: It recently partnered with United Way of Greater Cincinnati to tap into its volunteers who can serve as drivers, said Last Mile President and CEO Thomas Fernandez. "They have lots of volunteers. We have a shared mission to fight poverty," he said. Last Mile is targeting its first deliveries for July 2019.

    Freshmen: Through a $10,000 People's Liberty Grant from the Haile Foundation, Eban Taylor seeks to fill a need at the grassroots level. Freshmen is a community delivery service that offers grocery pickup to Avondale residents limited by access to healthy food, reliable transportation and technology.

    "Our shopping behavior in the grocery store is now starting to interact with some form of technology," Taylor said. "How do we still continue to create these experiences for people who are on assistance, and how do we make sure that they get the same experience where they are not missing out on the benefit of a convenient service model, service, whether it be online grocery ordering or delivery."

    Produce Perks Midwest: The Sharonville-based organization is a regional nonprofit that helps people in underserved communities get access to healthy fruits and vegetables. Produce Perks provides a dollar for dollar match to those using SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) cards, which are honored by farmer's markets and grocery stores. Recipients can purchase up to $10 per day in grocery stores and $20 a day at farmer's markets.

    Bloc Ministries: In Price Hill, Bloc is working with Cincinnati State Technical and Community College to train chefs who can cook at home and get a job with those skills.

    Gabriel's Place: In Avondale, this food ministry offers a farmer's garden and cooking classes, among its other food-based programs.

    Those are smaller, community-based programs. Then there is a large-scale effort, the $10 million Zero Hunger/Zero Waste Innovation Fund, announced in February by Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. Foundation.

    Innovators sent in letters of intent on proposals to prevent food waste. Grants will be awarded that range from $25,000 to $250,000.

    The goals are ambitious:

    Accelerate donations of nutritious food that provide 3 billion healthy meals by 2025.

    Advocate for public solutions to address hunger and divert food waste from landfills.

    Achieve internally that Kroger will be a zero-waste company by 2020 and prevent all food waste within all of its stores by 2025.

    Food desert, Part I: Avondale

    Avondale has not had a grocery since Aldi closed in November 2008. Its departure left the neighborhood of 12,500 people, the largest predominantly African American community in the region – without a source of fresh, healthful food.

    A major component of the $29.5 million federal Choice Neighborhood grant of December 2012 was a grocery. Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley and city administration have promised a grocery in Avondale.

    Nonprofit developer the Community Builders had a fully negotiated lease with Missouri-based grocery chain Save-A-Lot. But the lease was not signed because of a pending sale of the discount chain to a private equity investor that was finalized in October 2016.

    For many years, corner stores have been the only sources of food in the neighborhood.

    Community Builders and its partners, including the Avondale Community Council, had to adjust on the fly. Development of the Avondale Town Center at the corner of Forest Avenue and Reading Road began in 2017 without a grocery plan.

    Slowly, though, it has taken shape. The vision is for a 15,000-square-foot grocer split into two spaces. Most of the space, about 9,000 square feet, will be a higher-end variety chain that will offer dry goods and benefit from professional on-site management and security. The adjacent 6,000 square feet with be a new concept that focuses solely on fresh produce, meat, baked goods and dairy products.

    "The model is the old neighborhood butcher shop," said Jeff Beam, project manager for Community Builders. "We're interested in customer loyalty, something that will establish the community-grocer relationship."

    The variety store will open first, and Community Builders is close to signing a contract on that space, Beam said. 

    The grocery is part of 80,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floors of two new buildings and 119 units of mixed-income housing – market rate, low-income and workforce rental, Beam said. A model is open. Agents are leasing apartments. Residents are beginning to move in.

    Food desert, Part II: Walnut Hills

    When the Walnut Hills Kroger shut its doors in March 2017, the area became a food desert that was particularly hard on senior citizens and low-income families that did not have a way to access the new Corryville Kroger about a mile and a half away.

    "It crushed the neighborhood," said one resident, Todd Davis, who now gets his vegetables and fruit during a two-hour time slot on Friday afternoons from the Freestore Foodbank's Healthy Harvest Mobile Market.

    Lemuel Israel is the market manager for the Freestore.

    "Warmer weather brings more people out," Israel said as a couple of shoppers moved through the trailer, which offers refrigerated milk, eggs and juice, a full display of produce and even spices, spaghetti and marinara sauce.

    "The people are heartfelt. They tell us thanks for caring and for being here."

    Neighborhood leaders have tried a number of temporary solutions to bridge the gap between the Kroger closing and the expected opening later this year of a smaller grocery tailored to community needs, said Gary Dangel, Healthy Outreach Coordinator for the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation and a Walnut Hills resident.

    The smaller store, expected to be created in a 4,000-square-foot space near the former Kroger store – which was 33,000 square feet – received a major financial boost in June 2018 with receipt of a $100,000 grant from Gannett Co. Inc.'s A Community Thrives program. Gannett is the parent company of The Enquirer. Later in 2018, the neighborhood redevelopment foundation received another $100,000 grant to use toward the grocery project from the Aetna Foundation.

    Besides the mobile market, which visits Walnut Hills and nine other local food desert communities during a week – Walnut Hills is the most frequented stop, Dangel said – the neighborhood has brought in three different farmers' markets.

    "Adaption had to happen," Dangel said. "Besides losing a grocery store, we lost a social meeting place."

    The new Walnut Hills grocery space will be similar to the one planned for the Avondale Town Center. It will focus on fresh food options: produce, meat, dairy and baked goods.

    "We want it to be pedestrian scale," Dangel said. "This is a walkable neighborhood."

    New neighbors moving into Walnut Hills

    The new grocery space also will offer community events, many of them food-related, such as cooking classes. It will benefit from other planned additions to the Peoples Corner area.

    Taste of Belgium will move its corporate headquarters and employee commissary to a space on McMillan Street.

    Nearby will be the expanded headquarters of La Soupe, a nonprofit that will be moving into a 6,000-square-foot space. It will be moving from a 900-square-foot building on Red Bank Road in Anderson Township.

    Cooking classes and food-based events for Walnut Hills residents and those living in neighboring communities are part of the plan for the new space, said La Soupe Board President Mimi Dyer, "events that blur the lines between volunteers and the people who come to see us. We're moving into Walnut Hills purposely because it's a food desert."

    La Soupe's focus is on food access. Beyond its food-rescue efforts that engage chefs, its programs create community cooking events, teach cooking and bring a van into neighborhoods under a "pay-from-your-heart' model. Its food runners get leftovers to agencies such as Our Daily Bread, Anna Louise Inn and others who can use it before it goes bad. Its suppliers include Jungle Jim's, the Crossett Co., Kroger and local farmers. About 1,600 pints of soup are donated each week. It is frozen in donated ice cream containers.

    "There is more than enough food," Dyer said. "We try to make it as easy as possible to get food to the people who need it most."

    Those additions to the neighborhood can't come fast enough for nearby Walnut Hills residents Davis and Theresa McCalley.

    They appreciate the Freestore's mobile market. They walked home north on Gilbert Avenue to their apartment on the recent Friday. They carried vegetable greens, bell peppers and pasta in their bag.

    The plan was to cook up some vegetable pasta for dinner.

    McCalley smiled, looked at Davis and said, "His recipe. He taught me."

  • April 15, 2019 5:47 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Cincinnati Enquirer
    By: Hannah Sparling

    Testing, testing.

    On Saturday – Earth Day OTR, a local celebration two days before the national Earth Day – you can ride the streetcar for free. Take it to Washington Park to hear some reggae music. Even catch a live concert on the streetcar if you ride between 11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.

    It might seem like a one-off promotion, but it’s also a sign the city and new interim streetcar director Travis Jeric are testing the waters to see how the Cincinnati Bell Connector performs when riders don’t have to pay $1.

    Supporters have been asking the city to make rides free since shortly after the streetcar’s debut in 2016. They point to Kansas City, which has a streetcar line similar to ours except it’s free to ride.

    In March, the RideKC Streetcar got 211,456 riders.

    The Cincinnati Bell Connector, by comparison, got 35,481.

    Cincinnati’s streetcar launched on Sept. 9, 2016. There have been good days and bad, but overall, ridership has been a disappointment, far short of projections and dropping year-over-year.

    Before the line was launched, advocates predicted it would get 3,200 riders a day.

    In reality, it gets about half that.

    But, free days have in the past shown good results. There were five free days in November and December this past year, and the streetcar averaged 3,422 riders on those days. That’s more than 2,000 riders above the average for those months.

    Jeric, the new streetcar director, said the free rides on Saturday are one step toward potentially making the system permanently free.  

    He is also finalizing plans for more free rides throughout the summer. Details on that could be released as early as Tuesday.

    “You don’t just go diving into a pool, right?" he said. "You take a step, test the waters, see how it goes.”

    It's not as simple as it might seem. Making the streetcar permanently free would require renegotiating the contracts between the city, which owns the streetcar, Cincinnati Metro, which oversees it, and Transdev, the company Metro hired to run it.

    Plus, if the streetcar is free, that means no revenue from fares. So, as it stands right now, each free day requires a sponsor to make up the cost.

    In March, the streetcar brought in $23,161 from fares – less than 9 percent of the overall revenue for that month and roughly $5,000 short of what was budgeted. 

    Sponsorship cost varies depending on the day, but Saturday’s free rides, for example, sponsored by The Cincinnati 2030 District, cost $3,268. That includes a $714 fee for increased security.

    “Every last dollar helps to provide a very safe, secure system, which we have,” Jeric said. “It’s going to be another very tight budget season, so if you get rid of that revenue, you put yourself in a hole. And you then have to figure out how to make it budget neutral once again.”

  • April 10, 2019 11:22 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: WLWT
    By Andrew Setters

    A tree that may have been standing watch over the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood for more than 200 years is coming down.

    The aging linden tree is being brought down because of concerns that it could fall and injure someone.

    "The technical term for what was wrong with the tree is Ganoderma, and it's actually a root rot issue, so it's a major structural issue underneath the ground," said Zachary Napier, with 3CDC.

    Over the last several years, they've monitored the tree and tried to save it with no luck.

    "We've gone as far as securing some of the limbs because we've known that it's had some minor issues for a few years now, and it's gotten to the point where it's become a very big safety concern," Napier said.

    Safety is a major issue because of the number of people who visit Washington Park and because the tree sits over the Porch, one of the more popular gathering spots.

    While the tree is coming down, it won't be entirely gone. Some of the limbs are being chipped into mulch, which will go back into city parks.

    Several large pieces will be saved and made into furniture, like benches, that will stay in the park.

    That is even more important, because the tree carries a plaque honoring Joanne Burton, who was struck by a police cruiser in the park and killed in 2010.

    Napier said the Parks Department is contacting her family to let them know the tree is coming down and they find another way to honor her.

    "We're going to incorporate it into some of the furniture, as long as the family is on board with that to keep that plaque and memory around inside the park as well," Napier said.

    The beer garden in Washington Park has also created a special drink they're calling "The Giving Tree."

    A dollar from each drink goes to benefit Green Umbrella, which promotes sustainability around Cincinnati.

  • April 09, 2019 3:44 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The US EPA recently proposed a revision to the definition of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) that would remove federal protection from ephemeral streams – temporary streams that form after rainfall – and wetlands that are not connected to other waterways by surface flow. This means that thousands of miles of streams and millions of acres of wetlands would no longer be protected. Visit the Society of Freshwater Science's website to learn more. 

    The Watershed Action Team does not support the proposed revisions to WOTUS. The team finds them to be arbitrary as they are without sound scientific foundation and a gross oversimplification of a very complex issue. Further, the revision has no comparable literature review like that used to inform the previous version, ignores the recommendation of the EPA Scientific Advisory Board and makes it impossible to achieve the objectives of the Clean Water Act. GUWAT recommends retaining the 2015 rule as written. Read the full statement released by the team here.

    You can join WAT and act today to protect our waters by doing one or more of the following:

    1. Write a comment letter to the US EPA

    2. Spread the word on social media and encourage others to take a stand

    3. Contact your elected officials

    Use these key talking points to spread the word:

    • Briefly, the rule change would remove protection from ephemeral streams as well as from wetlands that are not connected to other waterways by surface flow.
    • Headwaters (including ephemeral streams) make up 79% of the total length of rivers in the US and drain more than 70% of our land area (Colvin et al 2019).
    • This rule change is arbitrary and not based on the best available science, such as the EPA’s own review of over 1,200 peer-reviewed studies (USEPA 2015).

    Submitting a Comment

    Visit the EPA website and submit your comment by April 15 at 11:59 PM.  Enter text in the comment box and make sure comments meet the 5000 character limit. You can also attach a PDF file to your comment. Next click the continue button at the bottom of the page and follow the remaining instructions.

    • Include your name and credentials
    • Be clear and specific and use scientifically-sound arguments
    • Provide citations if able
    • Point out that decisions not based on science are arbitrary and unsound
    • Don’t use profanity or personal/political attacks

    You may use the letter submitted by the WAT as a template for your own comments, just be sure to change the introduction and conclusion paragraphs as appropriate for yourself/your organization.

  • April 09, 2019 1:23 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Columbia Daily Tribune
    By:  Philip Joens

    Renewable energy jobs in the Midwest and Missouri grew in 2018, despite the sector shedding 4.5 percent of jobs nationally, a report by a Chicago think-tank found Tuesday.

    Clean-tech think tank the Clean Energy Trust produced its fourth Clean Jobs Midwest report, which tracks the number of clean energy jobs in 12 Midwestern states. Nationwide, renewable energy jobs slipped by 1.5 percent, partly because of a 30-percent tariff on imported solar panels imposed last year. Renewable energy jobs grew by 2.7 percent across the Midwest and 3.5 percent in Missouri, the study’s authors found.

    “With job growth across renewable energy generation, energy efficiency and advanced transportation sectors, this report shows that Midwestern economies are benefiting from the clean energy industry,” said Clean Energy Trust CEO Erik Birkerts Tuesday on a call with reporters.

    Statewide, all clean energy sector jobs added 1,562 employees in 2018, according to the report. Clean tech industries added 28,000 jobs and grew by 4 percent across the 12 states. Nationwide, clean energy jobs grew by 3.6 percent.

    Energy efficiency jobs comprised 74.9 percent of clean energy jobs in Missouri and employed 41,845 people last year. With a growth rate of 4.2 percent, energy efficiency jobs grew faster than any other type of clean energy job statewide. In 2019, energy efficiency jobs will grow by 7.7 percent, according to the report.

    Clean energy jobs employed 1,443 people in Boone County last year, according to the report. Of Boone County employees in the clean energy sector, 1,201 worked in energy efficiency industries.

    “The best kind of energy is energy you don’t have to use,” said James Owen, executive director of Renew Missouri, a Columbia-based group that advocates for clean energy. “Energy efficiency is a big place for jobs.”

    Tremaine Phillips, director of Green Umbrella's Cincinnati 2030 District initiative, works with companies and organizations to make their building energy efficient. Phillips said energy efficient buildings play a critical role in helping communities hit renewable targets and create workforces built around green technologies.

    “Our membership understands that in order to meet and exceed these energy reduction goals, there must be a healthy, vibrant and local clean energy workforce that can deploy these innovative solutions,” Phillips said on the call.

    Micaela Preskill with Environmental Entrepreneurs in Chicago said policies at the state and federal level matter to the clean energy workforce. Illinois leads the Midwest in renewable energy and renewable energy jobs after the state passed its Future Energy Jobs Act in 2017.

    The law mandated two of the state’s largest energy companies, Commonwealth Edison and Ameren Illinois, cut electricity waste by 21.5 percent and 16 percent respectively. The bill also set aside funding to train people for renewable energy jobs. Minnesota also requires utilities to provide 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025, Preskill said.

    In 2008, Missouri voters approved a ballot initiative that required all investor-owned utilities to generate or purchase at least 15 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2021. Last year the General Assembly also passed a bill that Owen expects to boost the number of solar systems in the state.

    The bill mandates that between Jan. 1, 2019, and Dec. 31, 2023, investor-owned utilities provide rebates of 50 cents per watt installed to customers who install solar panel systems. The rebates apply to residential systems of up to 25 kilowatts and non-residential systems of up to 150 kilowatts. Systems installed after the end of 2023 receive a rebate of 25 cents per watt.

    Solar energy jobs employed 3,115 people in 2018, an increase of 47 jobs over 2017, according to the report. Owen acknowledged the rebate program provides just small rebates to residential and non-residential customers.

    Still, he expects the program to buoy solar panel sales in years to come.

    Historically, Iowa, Texas and Illinois became renewable energy leaders in states near Missouri, Owen said. Adding 1,500 jobs in clean energy showed the state is starting to become a serious player in the clean energy sector.

    “If you look at the states that have really succeeded, we’re not talking about coastal states,” Owen said. “These states are not very far from us. To me, that is substantial.”

  • April 06, 2019 4:27 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation
    By: Sebastien Malo

    The lakefront Minnesota city of Duluth has some of the coldest temperatures outside Alaska in the United States, and gets more than seven feet (2 m) of snow each winter on average.

    But Harvard professor Jesse Keenan thinks the frigid city may eventually prove an appealing relocation destination for Florida residents, as climate change brings increasingly unbearable heat to already warm parts of the United States.

    “If you’re Florida ... (the predictions) should be quite unnerving,” the expert in climate adaptation and design said in a telephone interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

    As climate change brings more stifling summers, worse flooding from storms and rising sea level, crueler droughts and ever-longer allergy seasons, what Americans consider a nice place to live may shift, along with Americans themselves.

    Some of the changes won’t be by choice, scientists warn. As many as 13 million Americans could be displaced by rising seas alone by 2100, 6 million of them in Florida, according to estimates published in 2017 in the journal Nature Climate Change.

    That, planners say, presents an opportunity for cities such as Duluth and New York’s Buffalo, which are already launching efforts to rebrand themselves as destinations of the future in a climate-changed world.


    When Duluth’s mayor, Emily Larson, first heard of Keenan’s proposition that her city of 86,000 could be one of the best choices for climate migrants, her reaction was “astonishment”, she said.

    But Keenan sees some northern Rust Belt cities - which stretch from the Midwest to parts of the Northeast - as natural destinations in a hotter world.

    The Rust Belt lost jobs and population starting in the 1950s as industries moved overseas, and some of its cities still have more buildings and infrastructure than they can use.

    Duluth, for instance, was planned for a population of 120,000 people - something it has yet to achieve.

    To show how an underutilized city such as Duluth might be repurposed, Keenan has created computer renderings of what it might look like if it becomes a major draw for climate migrants.

    One rendering shows downtown Duluth with new structures - represented by gray blocks wedged amid historic landmark buildings - that could help accommodate tens of thousands of new residents fleeing climate pressures.

    Zack Filipovich, a Duluth city councilor, worries what that influx would mean for his city’s downtown ensemble of government buildings, designed about a century ago by prominent architect Daniel Burnham and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

    Utilitarian housing for new arrivals could cause the city to “lose some of our charm,” he said in a telephone interview - though he said he still sees benefits from the city having a larger population.

    In Buffalo, another city Keenan considers promising for climate migrants, under-used roads and public transport testify to the city’s more populous heyday as a steel powerhouse.

    It, like Duluth, nestles along the Great Lakes, which contain 20 percent of the world’s surface freshwater, a significant attraction in a potentially hotter world.

    Both cities also are healthcare hubs and have nearby major economic centers - Minneapolis for Duluth and Toronto for Buffalo, Keenan said.


    Buffalo’s mayor began publicly talking about the city’s future potential earlier this year.

    “Based on scientific research, we know that Buffalo will be a climate refuge city for centuries to come,” he said in a February speech.

    Brendan Mehaffy, executive director of the mayor’s office of strategic planning, said top city officials had been briefed to talk positively about the city’s potential appeal in a climate-changed world.

    Buffalo often “takes the shots” for its reputation for heavy snow, he added. A 1977 blizzard saw parts of the city buried under 30 feet of cement-like snow.

    But predictions of more clement weather could change that.

    “Our climate ... will be different in 20 to 30 years’ time and could be very beneficial for certain types of businesses and certain types of lifestyle,” he said.

    Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe, co-author of a government report on the impacts of climate by region in the United States, said the report offered hints about areas that may become climate sweetspots.

    The National Climate Assessment, published last year, warned of growing water scarcity in large swathes of the southwest and the northwest, more people exposed to illnesses such as Lyme disease in the southeast, flooding in the northeast, and declining harvests in the Midwest as temperatures rise.

    Coastal and island communities also could suffer higher storm surges and heavier precipitation, it said.

    “To look for places that are potential climate havens, we have to look for locations where key resources, such as water, will not be short in the future and where extremes are not already overwhelming,” Hayhoe said.


    Cincinnati is another city identified as likely to escape the most extreme climate stresses the National Climate Assessment describes - and it is already looking to promote its unique attributes.

    One sections of the city’s 2018 green plan boasts the title: “Climate Haven” and suggests the city “leverage climate resilience to attract new business and residents”.

    That plan to welcome Americans displaced by extreme weather grew in part from the realization that thousands of victims of Hurricane Katrina, which hit Louisiana and Florida in 2005, had relocated to Ohio, said Oliver Kroner, sustainability coordinator for the city.

    Cincinnati’s green plan notes that Ohio faces fewer climate-related threats than all but a handful of other U.S. states and is therefore “well suited to serve as a climate haven”.

    It speaks of the importance of offering affordable housing and emphasizes the “economic opportunities if Cincinnati is prepared to market itself” to businesses seeking to set up outside disaster-prone areas.

    Like Buffalo, Cincinnati’s metropolitan area was built for more people than its nearly 300,000 residents, Kroner said.

    Its population has declined by about 40 percent from a 1950 peak, largely due to falling demand for manufacturing workers, according to the Cincinnati Museum Center.

    There are up to 40,000 vacant housing units across the wider county, Kroner added.

    “We’re interested in returning to the economic strength that we have had in the past,” he said.


    But not all cities that have looked into becoming climate havens think constructing a tailor-made plan for climate migrants makes sense.

    In Portland, municipal chief sustainability officer Michele Crim said authorities decided to keep tabs on climate migration starting about a decade ago.

    Oregon’s largest city, which has 630,000 residents, has been identified by experts as a likely climate refuge, and has partnered with universities to explore the idea.

    But researchers concluded climate migrants in the fast-growing Pacific Northwest would be “noise lost in other migration”, Crim said.

    The region is already experiencing strong growth, in part because of rising economic opportunities, with Portland projected to add 260,000 new residents between 2010 and 2035.

    Geographer Robert McLeman, who has studied the 1930s Dust Bowl migration, which saw 2.5 million people flee drought-stricken U.S. Plains states, said more urban planners need to begin preparing for waves of climate migrants.

    But potential refuge cities may struggle to build costly infrastructure, such as water treatment plants and gas and electricity supplies, without a large enough tax base ahead of time to pay for them, said the associate professor of environmental migration at Canada’s Wilfrid Laurier University.

    And with researchers predicting that nearly 2 million residents of Florida’s Miami-Dade County could face coastal flooding by 2100, McLeman said the scale of needed preparations is daunting.

    “If a city the size of Miami has to be relocated, heaven help the United States,” he said.

  • April 02, 2019 2:24 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: UC News Record
    By: David Rees

    Green Umbrella, a nonprofit organization that aims to maximize environmental sustainability throughout the city, is working with the nonprofit advocacy group backing the Wasson Way project to extend a mixed-use trail and bike path from Uptown to Cincinnati’s East Side.

    Wasson Way is being built in four main phases. The first, which is already complete, runs from Madison Road to Tamarack Avenue in Hyde Park. Phase two is funded and will continue from Tamarack Avenue to Montgomery Road later this year.

    The third phase will connect the trail to Marburg Avenue, and the fourth phase will connect the trail to Ault Park.

    Tri-State Trails, an initiative of Green Umbrella, is working to prioritize extending Wasson Way from Montgomery Road and Xavier University to Uptown, said Wade Johnston, director of Tri-State Trails.

    Through the Cincinnati Riding or Walking Network (CROWN), Tri-State Trails aims to create a 30-mile trail loop that will link Wasson Way, Ohio River Trail, Mill Creek Greenway and Little Miami Scenic Trail with a network of regional trails and on-road bicycling facilities.

    “We have been leading the effort to connect Wasson Way to Uptown and UC in partnership with the Wasson Way nonprofit,” said Wade Johnston, director of Tri-State Trails. “Our CROWN plan identifies an ideal route that would connect to the shared-use path along MLK Drive near the I-71 interchange.”

    For students without cars, bicycles can provide an affordable alternative to connect students to the amenities that surround the University of Cincinnati’s main campus. Yet many areas around the university — particularly MLK Drive — are car-dependent, said Johnston.

    “Wasson Way will enable students who live east of UC in Hyde Park, Norwood, Oakley and other nearby neighborhoods to have a safe route to ride to school without needing a car,” he said.

    “Many other urban campuses around the country are connected with a robust bicycling and transit system to encourage students and faculty to not drive to campus,” said Johnston. “UC must continue investing in making its campus more accessible to bikes if it wants to remain competitive.”

    Student can experience the route for themselves at 6 p.m. April 18 in a community bike ride jointly hosted by Tri-State Trails and UC Sustainability. The route will span roughly five miles, beginning at UC and ending where Wasson Way will eventually connect to MLK Drive. Students and community members alike are encouraged to attend.

    “Let’s be clear though, one trail along MLK Drive is not going to transform UC into a bicycling hub on its own,” said Johnston. “The trail will be the starting point that encourages more people to ride, and [it] builds momentum for investing in more infrastructure like trails, protected bike lanes, additional bike parking, and more.”

    Click or tap here for a map of the proposed trail.

  • March 15, 2019 9:45 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Cincinnati Magazine
    By John Stowell

    View the original article here.

    Cincinnati’s certification as a 2030 District starts the city on the path to a less polluted future. It might also save downtown building owners a little green along the way.

    They stand like soldiers and define our downtown. The staircase roofline of Atrium Two. Procter & Gamble’s iconic twin towers. The majestic skyward march of Carew Tower. WKRP’s “Central Trust Bank” building. The glowing tiara that adorns Great American Tower. We love them all…but they pollute.

    When Ed Mazria, one of America’s most notable architects, presented data more than a decade ago showing that roughly 50 percent of a city’s greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings, not cars, buses, and trucks, well, the architectural world was turned upside down. “We are trained as architects to make our buildings a better place for the health and the safety of their occupants,” notes Chad Edwards, a principal at emersion DESIGN. “So Ed’s presentation sent shock waves through our industry. We realized we had to fix this.”

    That “fix” is now arriving in Cincinnati. In late December, our downtown was certified as the nation’s 21st urban core committed to become a so-called 2030 District. That means building owners, managers, and tenants who agree to participate pledge to cut their energy use, water consumption, and transportation footprint in half over the next decade-plus. They’ll also develop a plan to promote healthier workplaces with the goal of improving each building’s indoor air quality.

    The 2030 movement began in Seattle a decade ago, when a group of public- and private-sector leaders came together to brainstorm ideas to make their downtown carbon-neutral. Today, cities as small as Grand Rapids, Michigan, and as large as Los Angeles have adopted 2030 plans, targeting more than 455 million square feet of commercial office space.

    Cleveland, the second city to join the 2030 movement, has already reduced its energy, water, and transportation consumption by 20 percent with nearly 60 million square feet participating. Pittsburgh may be the most successful 2030 district in the U.S., with 82 million square feet participating, which represents 75 percent of its downtown buildings.

    The 2030 efforts in Cleveland and Pittsburgh have expanded to other neighborhoods as they’ve matured, but, like them, Cincinnati’s initial focus is downtown. Specific borders haven’t yet been determined but will likely run from Central Parkway to the river and from Jack Casino to I-75. The 2030 pledge is voluntary and the goals are cumulative, meaning buildings falling short won’t be “outed” and, hopefully, their numbers will be covered by structures that reduce more. Cincinnati 2030 is designed to be a team sport, and so, even though downtown developers and commercial real estate managers are cutthroat competitors, the need for collaboration and information sharing will be critical.

    The effort already has financial support. Funds received from a recent class action lawsuit settlement with Duke Energy allowed supporters to hire a professional director and set up an office. Undoubtedly, the $2.5 million grant the city received from Bloomberg Philanthropies in late October to purchase renewable energy technology will help as well. “There’s a lot of momentum,” says Cincinnati 2030 Director Tremaine Phillips. “Our goal was to have 10 members by the end of 2018, and we got 18. We will have 50 members on board by the end of 2019.”

    There’s a lot of momentum. Our goal was to have 10 members by the end of 2018, and we got 18. We will have 50 members on board by the end of 2019.

    The local 2030 District organizers envision a city saving energy and money and transforming into a bustling downtown that leaves only the lightest environmental footprint. Might there be solar panels on every rooftop? Rain barrels catching runoff for use in toilets or for watering plants? Natural light filling offices and abundant gardens catching and storing pollutants? How about electric cars and Metro buses running off of renewable energy, with charging stations everywhere? It’s all possible, but is it possible in 11 years? It sounds like the future, but 2030 really isn’t that far away.

    When you crest the cut in the hill or feel dwarfed by concrete and steel as you descend into the Ft. Washington Way canyon, pollution rarely comes to mind. If you think about it at all, you’ll blame your car’s tailpipe—or the black exhaust pouring out of that 18-wheeler in front of you—and the power plants along the river. After all, you can see that pollution, right?

    There are no smokestacks hovering over Fountain Square, but the electricity running our buildings comes mostly from fossil fuel power plants. So 2030 will focus on encouraging more efficient use of energy and replacing those fossil electrons with renewable ones.Of course, electrons are funny things that follow the path of least resistance through power lines. While you can claim your building or your city operates on 100 percent renewable energy, the reality is that once those green electrons leave the power plant and enter the wires, they travel to your wall plugs along with the brown ones already there. A building becomes “100 percent renewable” only when all its energy needs are met with a combination of self-generated renewable energy, such as rooftop solar, and power purchased from remote zero-emission sources.

    Large-electric-load customers who buy only green energy will, as others join in, decrease the demand for fossil fuels and encourage the development of more clean energy sources. Over time, that party in the wires should get greener and greener, especially as renewable energy becomes cheaper and cheaper.

    The idea to launch Cincinnati 2030 started in late 2017, and the effort scored its first win in September when the 80,000-square-foot Contemporary Arts Center signed up. In early October, the local organizers, led by Edwards and others from Green Umbrella, a collective of local organizations, businesses, and government entities focused on environmental sustainability in our area, held a half-day seminar at Xavier University and invited dozens of downtown building owners to hear the pitch.

    “They asked us to speak and explain why we joined,” says Aly Laughlin, the CAC’s assistant administrative director and environmental sustainability leader. “Then, after we finished, they walked around the room with a paper and pen.” CAC Director Raphaela Platow remembers the not-so-subtle sales job with a laugh, but says joining the 2030 project was a no-brainer. “We are a learning center first and foremost, and so many of our artists think about the planet and how we have impacted it. This fits well with our vision and our mission to open people’s minds.”

    The CAC’s plan is still in the works, but the organization has a real opportunity to showcase its commitment via the $6 million renovation of its top floor, which has housed the UnMuseum education center. Platow says the ceiling will be opened to bring in natural light, meaning plants can be added to help improve indoor air quality. Already one of the newer and more efficient downtown buildings, the CAC is looking to install rooftop solar panels, buy more efficient air handlers, and add water chillers and rainwater collection barrels. The 2030 commitment, Laughlin says, makes you focus on squeezing every drop of waste out of your building.

    “We’re a bit of a wasteful industry,” Platow acknowledges with a sigh. Few museums have focused on environmental sustainability, especially since their first mandate is protection of their art collection, which requires consistency in temperature and humidity. Determined to become a sustainability advocate in the museum world, she’s set her sights on the aggressive packaging that protects traveling art exhibits. “It’s all non-recyclable material, and we need to do better,” Platow says.

    After Rachel Carson’s 1962 book Silent Spring sparked the beginning of the environmental movement, it took another 25 years before the business world began looking seriously at how economic growth and environmental responsibility could be co-managed. The theory was developed at the United Nations, whose economic development arm coined the term “sustainable development” as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Today, you can buy socially responsible mutual fund investments from most Wall Street firms; according to the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment, they accounted for almost $12 trillion of business in 2018.

    Sustainability has also fostered new careers, such as Jeremy Faust’s at Fifth Third Bank. It’s one of the few banks in the country embracing sustainability, hiring Faust three years ago to develop and implement an industry leadership position. Fifth Third has set five corporate environmental goals that he says align well with the 2030 commitment.

    Faust calls himself a bona fide environmentalist, but he emphasizes the importance of “talking the talk” in business terms. While saving the planet is a noble goal, he says you probably won’t get past the first layer of company bureaucracy if you can’t show your efforts make a positive contribution to the bottom line. “Our internal goals are designed to reduce our operating expenditures,” he says.

    Those goals are measurable, but there are also the harder-to-measure intangible benefits that Faust says are important to Fifth Third as well. Environmental leadership, he maintains, fosters active employee engagement and improved morale, leads to positive recognition by investors and customers, and offers an inviting workplace for smart, young millennials. “We’re building a narrative inside and outside the company while creating a culture that connects with the communities we serve,” Faust says.

    That might sound like corporate-speak, except for one thing: Fifth Third has put its money where its sound bite is. In late 2017, the company signed a long-term contract with a developer who’s building an 80-megawatt solar farm in North Carolina. When the farm comes online, Fifth Third’s entire corporate electricity needs will be covered by that power plant.

    “You know, I don’t think people, even in our own community, understand what a leader Cincinnati is in environmental sustainability,” says Andy Holzhauser, a long-time leader in the region’s energy and environmental community. Holzhauser, a partner at Donovan Energy, is the new president of Green Umbrella. “No one tells the story holistically, but I think the 2030 plan can pull the threads together and tell the story of Cincinnati’s leadership.”

    In fact, Cincinnati was recently chosen by Site Selection magazine—for the second straight year—as America’s most sustainable city. The Green Cincinnati Plan, now in its third iteration, maps out a path for the entire city to be served by renewable energy. And since everything in Cincinnati seems to eventually circle back to our most famous resident, Fiona, did you know that the Cincinnati Zoo’s Hippo Cove has attained Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum status, the highest award given by the U.S. Green Building Council? The zoo’s painted dogs exhibit has gone one step further, recognized globally as meeting the standards of the Living Building Challenge. To qualify, the building must create more energy that it uses and collect and treat all of its water on-site. The zoo’s business plan calls for the entire property, from aardvark to zebra, to be “zero waste” by 2025.

    The green wave has splashed Over-the-Rhine, too, where developers such as Daniels Homes are achieving LEED certification in renovations of historic townhomes near Findlay Market and Washington Park. Cincinnati is home to the greenest police station in the country, and solar farms are now operating in Northern Kentucky. So environmental sustainability, it seems, is already in our collective DNA.

    Phillips, director of the Cincinnati 2030 effort, says a key goal is to market this citywide green disposition to the outside world. He marvels at the quick start Cincinnati 2030 has made from the germ of an idea to 18 members, 23 buildings, and national certification in just a year. “It took Detroit three years,” notes the Warren native, who clearly relishes the competition.

    Before marketing, though, he needs to organize. Like all new initiatives, it’s going to require both innovative thinking and mundane cat-herding. There is a lot of work to do: establishing a partnership infrastructure; determining baselines; figuring out how to measure progress; working with building owners, property managers, and tenants on individual action plans; learning what works and doesn’t from some of the more mature 2030 districts; and, of course, signing up more downtown buildings.

    It sounds daunting, but Phillips says he can rely on the full force of the Green Umbrella organization to help. He’s an energetic and convincing advocate whose elevator pitch emphasizes the money-saving attributes of 2030 membership as much as the environmental.

    Has there been some pushback so far? A little, Phillips admits. “Some have been hesitant to come on at this time,” he says. “They may have projects in the pipeline, but they don’t know when they can do them, so they worry about the deadlines. It helps to say this is an aggregate effort, but the fact is that, for older buildings, you won’t do a lot of these things unless you’re doing them as part of a planned renovation. Otherwise, they just don’t make sense from a cost standpoint.”

    Phillips looks at the 2030 goals as the tracks that keep Cincinnati on its green journey—more importantly, on an innovative green path. Cincinnati 2030 isn’t just about sealing a leaky window, adding LED lighting, or buying green power, and it certainly isn’t about energy deprivation. The movement is largely about electrifying your life at home and on the road while ensuring those electrons are green.

    Tim Donovan, founder and partner at Donovan Energy, sees a city bathed in quick-charging electric charging stations in public garages, shopping center parking lots, hospitals, libraries, and even on the street. He sees the electric vehicle market on the cusp of rapid growth, particularly as the major car manufacturers race to produce more affordable cars and SUVs. “The one millionth electric vehicle was sold last July,” Donovan says, “and the growth rate is running at 40 percent. Tesla sold 33 percent more electric cars in the fourth quarter of 2018 than Toyota sold Corollas. Our problem now is that the cars have superseded the infrastructure we have to charge them.”

    Donovan, whose company installed eight two-port charging stations in the new downtown Kroger garage in January as construction workers hammered above, looks forward to the day when gawkers will no longer see these stations as novelties but instead wonder if the owner of that Nissan Leaf is buying power or selling it.

    Yes, your car could become a mini power plant, because that port can work both ways. Let’s imagine your car is fully charged but you need only a quarter of a tank of electrons to run all of your errands. You check your phone and discover Duke is buying power right now at 14 cents per kilowatt hour. You know electricity will be cheaper after 10 p.m., so, while you’re inside the Kroger store, you hook up to the charging station and sell half your tank; you then recharge at home that night when the price is down to 9 cents. You made a profit, and maybe paid for that impulse grocery buy.

    Donovan thinks school districts could be a great beneficiary of this strategy. “School buses run, what, five hours a day? When they’re not running, they could be a giant battery system that takes or receives power and, if it’s done right, make a profit for the school district.”

    One day, might you see a driverless car pull up to an electric vehicle charging station near Fountain Square and watch its automated arm snake out the back and plug in for a quick charge? Donovan thinks so, and says Cincinnati 2030 can accelerate the deployment of these developing technologies.

    With the federal government either denying climate change science or sitting silently by, the business community has carried the innovation fight forward as much for economic and brand-enhancement reasons as environmental. Cincinnati 2030 is a private-public partnership, not the other way around. But Mayor John Cranley is on board and isn’t shy about saying he’s focused on the environment.

    Cranley, who personally recruited Kroger to the 2030 cause during a stroll down the under-development Wasson Way bike path with CEO Rodney McMullen, says the city will meet a quarter of its 100 percent renewable energy commitment by the time he leaves office in 2021, “but my successors will have to figure out the other 75 percent.” It’s important to do, he claims, because the planet is at stake. “Science is science, and the threat is real,” Cranley says. “This is a moral issue, an existential threat to our existence.”

    Venerable but woefully energy-inefficient City Hall is committed to 2030, as is the 75,000-square-foot Duke Energy Convention Center. Cranley says the city will also investigate electrifying its fleet of vehicles and that modernization of the Metro bus system, already a priority for other reasons, fits perfectly into the Cincinnati 2030 goals.

    Funding could come from the Bloomberg grant. The mayor already has said the 2030 plan will receive some of the dollars from this award, but there are no specifics yet. “When President Trump pulled out of the Paris climate treaty, we realized we need to act locally and be accountable,” he says.

    Melting glaciers in Greenland aside, Cincinnati 2030 is really about business. If done correctly, the effort will improve efficiency, reduce waste, lower operating costs, improve work productivity, attract the next generation of talented employees, create a climate for new technologies, burnish the brand and—just as important—beat Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Columbus to the punch. Everyone I interviewed for this story agreed: Being recognized as an environmental leader is good for Cincinnati’s national brand and can be the launching pad for new growth opportunities.

    Businesses will start up and grow where their employees want to live, Phillips maintains, and younger generations want to live and work in a place that embraces sustainability. Cincinnati 2030 is another chapter in the marketing plan the city is writing to attract their attention and their brainpower.

    Donovan, who grew up in Chicago but honed his energy expertise in England and on the west coast, points to the city’s multi-generational family make-up that makes us unique. “You raised your kids here and you want them to come back after college to jobs that are here in Cincinnati, right?” he says. “Well, this is what they want, and they’ll go to where they can get it.”

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