Green Umbrella in the News

  • November 10, 2021 11:22 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: NKY Tribune

    Northern Kentucky University has partnered with Electrada, a Cincinnati-based EV charging solution company, to install electric vehicle charging stations across campus and meet a growing need for more charging capacity.

    The expanded charging station infrastructure contributes toward NKU’s campus sustainability goals and commitment to the Cincinnati 2030 District, which is part of an international network of cities developing a new model for urban sustainability. NKU was the first organization in Kentucky to join this collective.

    “These charging stations are another step in making NKU a more sustainable campus,” said Tiffany Budd, Sustainability Operations Coordinator. “With electric vehicles becoming more mainstream, this will allow us to adapt our campus infrastructure to meet a growing need for EV charging and also help us in becoming more environmentally friendly by supporting the use of electric vehicles which emit no tailpipe emissions.”

    Two dual-port charging stations are already operating in Lot F near the new residence hall and another dual-port station is located in Lot C. Planning is underway to install up to 30 EV charging stations across NKU’s parking lots and garages.

    Electrada will own, operate and maintain the EV charging equipment installed.

    Kevin Kushman, CEO of Electrada, spoke to this partnership: “Electrada is so grateful to work with NKU to provide EV charging. If we are to hit the electric vehicle targets outlined by the car manufacturers and the US government then we need more organizations like NKU to provide access even in these early stages.”

    The agreement with Electrada lasts for five years with a five-year renewal option. To learn more about NKU’s commitment to the Cincinnati 2030 District, visit the NKU Sustainability webpage.

  • October 27, 2021 3:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Spectrum News

    By Casey Weldon

    CINCINNATI — As global temperatures rise, cities and countries are working to enact policies to stave off the potentially devastating effects of climate change. But governments alone won't be able to address this complex problem.

    What You Need To Know

    • 2030 Districts are regional businesses, organizations committed to cutting carbon emissions by 50% by 2030

    • Cincinnati has one of about two-dozen 2030 Districts in North America

    • Participants agree to cut down on energy use, water consumption and transportation emissions through a mixture of tech innovations and building design elements

    • The 43 members of the Cincinnati 2030 District have committed 319 buildings, equaling about 28.1 million square feet of space

    Local businesses, corporations and other agencies all have a key role to play in addressing this issue they helped create.

    “We are at a critical time right now, and while the window of opportunity to change the course has never been so narrow, we have also never had this much innovation, momentum and focus from small and large leaders,” said Elizabeth Rojas, with Green Umbrella, a Cincinnati-based environmental organization.

    One way businesses in cities across North America are helping to slow climate change is through their participation in 2030 Districts.

    These districts aren't a physical area so much as a collection of property owners and managers, developers and commercial tenants who have committed to reducing their carbon footprint by 50% by the year 2030. They’ll do so by cutting down on energy use, water consumption and transportation emissions.

    Cincinnati is one of about two-dozen big cities that have committed to creating a 2030 District. Cleveland is the only other Ohio city with one.

    P&G headquarters in downtown Cincinnati. The company is a founding member of the Cincinnati 2030 District.

    P&G headquarters in downtown Cincinnati. The company is a founding member of the Cincinnati 2030 District.

    "Cities are responsible for over 70% of the world's carbon emissions, so the people who live and work there have to be a catalyst for carbon reductions," said Rojas, who is the director of the Cincinnati 2030 District. “It is imperative that each individual and organization act with their dollars, their voice and their influence. How we rise in this moment will define our children’s future.”

    The district is organized by Green Umbrella, a nonprofit that brings together a regional cohort of governments, corporations and nonprofits to tackle environmental and sustainability issues.

    Some of Cincinnati's biggest corporations and employers have signed on to take part — P&G, the Kroger Co., Fifth Third Bank, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, MadTree Brewing and the city of Cincinnati, to name a few.

    In total, the 43 members of the Cincinnati 2030 District have committed 319 buildings, equaling about 28.1 million square feet of space.

    “P&G wants to see the communities where our employees work and live continue to be vibrant and thrive,” said Jack McAneny, vice president of sustainability, P&G. “We believe the objectives of the 2030 District align with that objective and ultimately serve to make the Greater Cincinnati area a more attractive location for businesses and employees while delivering meaningful benefits for the environment.”

    Researchers from the World Health Organization (WHO) found that "global warming is [responsible] for some 150,000 deaths each year around the world" and they feared that number would double by the year 2030, according to a 2009 article in Scientific American.

    Rojas believes corporations are a key part of the "sea change" on environmental efforts.

    Beyond access to new technology and innovative approaches to sustainability, corporations also have the finances and media tools to influence public opinion and consumer behavior.

    "Corporate members of this community play a very important part in advancing us towards the district carbon reduction goals," Rojas said. "They can do this by setting policy, changing their business operations and encouraging behavior change among businesses and residents.”

    More than interior design

    Rojas spent 25 years working in building and design. Directing the 2030 District is similar, just on a much larger scale.

    "My primary focus was often the interior of a building, but I always looked for ways to integrate engineering, architecture and landscape practices to support the sustainability of the building and wellbeing of its occupants," she said.

    The Cincinnati 2030 District recently released a new guide on the topic of occupant health — covering air quality, lighting, materials, mental health, movement, nourishment and water. It aims to emphasize not only carbon emissions, but also improving the health of staff and customers.

    That could mean anything from installing low-flow toilets and adding aerators to faucets to changing the way they do business. One remote day per week reduces that employee’s emissions by 20%, Rojas said.

    A working group meeting for Cincinnati's 2030 District (Provided: Green Umbrella)

    A working group meeting for Cincinnati's 2030 District (Provided: Green Umbrella)

    "We’ve also seen that since the pandemic, most companies have become more comfortable with remote working both in terms of meetings and work from home,” she said. “This, along with subsidized public transit passes, employee assistance for EV purchases, and alternative transportation promotional days, such as bike to work, are all strategies that our members are using to meet the goals."

    Rojas works hand-in-hand with sustainability coordinators, architects and facility managers at various district partners to enact plans that not only help them meet the district goals, but also make business sense for the companies they work for.

    The 2030 District offers a free building walk-through program for property members. This helps owners and managers quickly prioritize their capital and operational improvement strategies for making reductions in energy and water. They’ve had three buildings analyzed since the program launched in June.

    "This is the opportune time to look at things like lighting replacement, access to daylight, safety protocols, air quality, work from home strategies, and even reimagine their (human resource) policies for commuting benefits," Rojas added.

    How businesses are involved

    One of the people Rojas works with is Jeremy Faust, who is a vice president at Fifth Third Bank, a founding member of the Cincinnati 2030 District.

    “Our partnership in the 2030 District offers a great opportunity to learn about the way modern building design strategies can support the health and wellness of employees,” he said.

    Faust is responsible for the bank's internal sustainability goals and works to "infuse sustainability into the bank’s internal culture."

    "Fifth Third recognizes that reducing our environmental impact and supporting the transition to a low-carbon, sustainable future is part of what it means to be a leader in our industry,” he said. "This focus on environmental sustainability has continued to grow in recent years among many of our stakeholders."

    Faust said customers, employees and shareholders are asking more questions about sustainability issues.

    The company's "most ambitious goal" was to purchase 100% renewable power, which they did in 2019, through a large (80 MW) solar project in North Carolina, he added.

    84.51 is a member of the Cincinnati 2030 District. They've committed to reducing carbon emissions company-wide by 50% by the year 2030. (Provided: Green Umbrella)

    84.51 is a member of the Cincinnati 2030 District. They've committed to reducing carbon emissions company-wide by 50% by the year 2030. (Provided: Green Umbrella)

    Faust said Fifth Third adopted its own sustainability goals in 2017 and they have already reduced their operational energy use by 23% and GHG emissions by 41%.

    “They all have growing expectations around what we do to reduce our environmental footprint and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions," he said. "We now have leaders across our organization focused on different aspects of sustainability, but all of which recognize the value this creates for the communities in which we work."

    Faust said the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the way we operate, but Fifth Third’s commitment to reducing its environmental impact “remains constant.”

    “In many ways, the national and global focus on sustainability has grown through the pandemic, a reminder of the need for collective action to solve the largest global challenges," he said. "This experience has reinforced our focus on wellness and creating work environments that support the long-term health needs of our customers and employees."

    Attempting to improve sustainability efforts may seem like a daunting task for a business, but Rhiannon Hoeweler, Chief Impact Officer for Cincinnati-based MadTree Brewing, said it's an important one.

    "It's like the saying, 'How do you eat an elephant?' We all need to start somewhere and the first step doesn't have to be elephant-size,” she said.

    Hoeweler said the brewery is taking "active steps" to reduce its carbon footprint. That includes things like composting 100% of their waste in the taproom and diverting 100% of their spent grain from the landfill.

    They're also a member of "1% for the Planet," an international nonprofit organization whose members commit to contributing at least 1% of their annual sales to environmental causes, such as Cincinnati Parks' ReLeaf Program.

    MadTree aims to achieve LEED Gold certification at its new bar and restaurant being developed on Vine Street in Over-the-Rhine, she said.

    "MadTree feels like it's our responsibility to build a company that our kids would be proud of,” Hoeweler said. She added that they plan to grow by as much as three times over the next 10 years, but plan to continue sustainable investments moving forward.

    In 2020, Green Umbrella released its first progress report for the year 2019. The data showed Cincinnati was ahead of schedule toward reaching the 50% reduction goals in energy, Rojas said.

    "Our district showed a 21% reduction. This was quite an accomplishment for our first year of reporting," she said. They plan to release a report for 2020 in a few months.

    Work with the city of Cincinnati

    Collaboration with city staff and coordination with elected official champions have been key ingredients to the success of these initiatives, Rojas said.

    Green Umbrella was involved with the creation of the Green Cincinnati Plan, the city's playbook for sustainability and environmental initiatives. The 2030 District was one of 80 recommendations they worked together to implement. Topics range from food production to housing to transportation.

    The nearly 170-page document contains a list of goals and recommendations believed to be the "highest-impact, most feasible strategies for reducing the risks of climate change," per the plan.

    Rojas said Green Umbrella has been “fortunate” to have a good working relationship with leadership of the city of Cincinnati and has had the chance to work closely with the city’s Office of Environment and Sustainability.

    “Mayor Cranley has been a vocal advocate for the district, especially in getting commitments from Cincinnati's largest companies to become members,” she said. “We hope our city's next leaders will continue the focus on deep reductions in Cincinnati's carbon footprint and find new ways to help us get there.”

    Historically, the plan is updated every five years, meaning the next iteration should take place in 2023. Based on that timeline, they'll collect public input throughout 2022. If that's the case, candidates elected to office will have a role in helping to shape, and possibly vote on the next iteration of the plan.

    Rojas said she’s hopeful the incoming mayor and City Council will support the city's continued participation in the Cincinnati 2030 District as one of its founding members.

  • October 26, 2021 11:08 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Resources, Well Certified

    By Angela Loder, Ph.D.

    We’re in the midst of a pivotal moment in transforming the way we interact with our shared spaces. And we can do that better, together.

    The Occupant Health Guide, released in collaboration with IWBI by the Cincinnati 2030 District, an organization with a mission to create a network of healthy, high-performing buildings in Cincinnati, OH, helps organizations prioritize healthy building design and operation strategies based on local health data–and is a step toward transforming our interactions in physical and social environments.

    The Guide represents nearly two years of cross-sector collaboration and is intended to serve as a model for other cities and districts around the world aiming to bring attention to building practices that can most directly address local health concerns.

    Angela Loder, IWBI’s Vice President of Research, sat down with Elizabeth Rojas, Director of the Cincinnati 2030 District, to discuss our work and shared goals.

    Can you tell us a bit about the Cincinnati 2030 District and its initiatives?
    The Cincinnati 2030 District is a membership organization that seeks to create a network of healthy, high-performing buildings in the city of Cincinnati. Our members are property owners and managers, developers, and commercial tenants who make a collective commitment to reduce their buildings’ energy use, water consumption, and transportation emissions by 50% by the year 2030. Our 42 members have committed 318 buildings and 27.7 million square feet to the Cincinnati 2030 District. We belong to the 2030 District Network, which covers 23 cities in North America all working toward the same goal.

    The Occupant Health Guide launched in August 2021 as a locally customized resource to enable Cincinnati employers, real estate owners, facility managers and policymakers to make evidenced-based decisions for their own community. What were the key considerations as it was developed and some of the key takeaways since launch?
    We wanted to avoid a cookie-cutter approach to increasing occupant health so we really focused on the biggest health concerns in our region. We used a local Community Health Needs Assessment and analyzed local spending from a major health insurance company to determine the most pressing health challenges and how to shape our model to respond to them. For instance, the Cincinnati region has one of the highest rates of particle pollution in the U.S., so strategies to improve indoor air quality, like installing high-performing air filters, are especially important in our region. The Community Health Needs Assessment found that mental health was the second-highest concern in the region, so providing restorative spaces indoors as well as access to outdoor spaces and views can help combat stress and mental fatigue.

    What are the biggest opportunities with the Health Occupant Guide?
    We spend approximately 90% of our time indoors, so any improvements in the health of the buildings we occupy will help lead to better health outcomes. Many of the diseases and conditions that surfaced in our research are chronic, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, obesity and high cholesterol. These are generally complex conditions that don’t trace easily back to one source, so a multi-pronged approach of improving air quality and water quality, increasing exposure to natural light and nature, promoting opportunities to move and eat better, and improving the quality of building materials will attack many of the sources of chronic disease and poor health. One water fountain may not seem like a big deal, but combining access to good water with a host of other improvements creates a culture of health that will lead to better outcomes.

    Do you see this model being replicated in other cities or 2030 Districts?
    Absolutely! I think every city should embrace this general approach and tailor it for their specific needs and circumstances. We are always happy to share our experience and lessons learned.

    How can property managers and tenants learn more? Anything else you’d like to share?
    A good starting point is to watch this webinar on our Occupant Health Guide, and then review the Cincinnati 2030 District Occupant Health Guide itself, which contains much more information. This work is definitely not one-size-fits-all, though. Property managers and tenants are the best people to look closely at the buildings they occupy, dig deeper into local health concerns, and start developing strategies to make our workspaces healthier places to be. And it’s easier done in collaboration with others who understand the local context. Pooling resources and sharing ideas have helped make this work more robust than any of us could have done on our own.

  • October 25, 2021 11:18 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: & The Enquirer

    By Ryan Mooney-Bullock

    A Great Blue Heron takes flight from the lake at Miami Whitewater Forest in western Hamilton County. Great Parks of Hamilton County is expected to expand the park by 273 acres purchasing adjacent properties. The Enquirer/Patrick Reddy

    As Greater Cincinnati’s regional sustainability alliance, Green Umbrella exists to create a resilient and vibrant community where sustainability is woven into our way of life. Preserving greenspace, providing inclusive opportunities for outdoor experiences and increasing access to our regional trails network are three of our core priorities. Because of this commitment, our organization is endorsing the Great Parks of Hamilton County property tax levy on the ballot this November. 

    As Hamilton County’s largest land holder, Great Parks plays a critical role in protecting the environmental quality and biological diversity of our entire region. Its forests, wetlands and other ecological features serve as the lungs and sponges for all of us: absorbing carbon and stormwater and sharing clean air and water with all of us. The park system serves as a biological reserve that protects 17,742 acres of land in the county, including 9,800 acres of forest, 2,000 acres of grassland, and 600 acres of wetland. While residents may be most familiar with the "developed" harbors, shelters, playgrounds and other outdoor recreation facilities, more than 80% of the land is kept as natural area and managed for biological diversity and benefits of wildlife.

    Great Parks of Hamilton County will have public listening sessions throughout March and April. The sessions will provide information on county parks including Withrow Nature Preserve, shown in photo, as well as provide visitors with an opportunity to offer feedback on the parks.

    In addition to conserving critical greenspace, Great Parks’ Master Plan is committed to educating the public about the natural environment and what they can do to protect it, increasing the sustainability of the park district’s operations, and increasing access to quality greenspace for all people in our county. All of these goals align directly with the work we at Green Umbrella do every day. (In the interest of full disclosure, Green Umbrella works with Great Parks on a number of projects and Great Parks CEO Todd Palmeter serves on Green Umbrella’s Board of Trustees. He was not involved in the board’s discussion or decision to endorse the levy.)

  • October 22, 2021 10:52 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: NKY Tribune

    The Duke Energy Foundation recently awarded $170,000 in grants to 14 organizations in Northern Kentucky and southwest Ohio to fund local wildlife conservation, healthy habitats, environmental projects and environmental programs to help communities protect their natural resources and mitigate the effects of climate change.

    This funding is a long-standing investment for the Duke Energy Foundation. Over the past five years, the Foundation has supported over 40 nonprofit organizations with more than $480,000 in grants to propel their environmental resiliency projects.

    Thomas More University’s Biology Field Station

    “We are committed to investing resources with our community partners to ensure future generations enjoy the benefits of nature and its beauty around us,” said Amy Spiller, president, Duke Energy Ohio and Kentucky. “By supporting the organizations that do this important work, we can help protect and restore our natural resources as well as ensure quality environmental programs in our region.”

    Thomas More University’s Biology Field Station is one of this year’s recipients that will use the funding to continue its biological and water quality research located in California, Ky.

    “Since 1967, students and faculty have been conducting critical water quality research on the Ohio River as a means to preserve the ecological health of the ecosystem and to safeguard human health for those utilizing the river’s resources,” said Dr. Chris Lorentz, Professor, Biological Sciences and Director, Biology Field Station. “Long-term studies such as these are invaluable to advancing the fields of science and improving the quality of life in our region. With the gracious support from Duke Energy, Thomas More is able to keep this valuable research going and protect this important natural resource.”

    Another recipient which will partner with Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) this year is the Green Umbrella organization, which will use the funds to ensure schools have resources for nature-based play and learning on their grounds.
    “Green Umbrella is committed to environmental health and vitality of our region. In doing so, we’re pleased to receive a grant from Duke Energy where we can support the development of natural spaces at high-priority Cincinnati Public Schools so that all students have access to time outside in nature,” said Ryan Mooney-Bullock, executive director, Green Umbrella.

    2021 Nature Grant Recipients


    • The Boone Conservancy. Funds will be used for the Conservancy Park Habitat Restoration and Wildlife Education Program. The program’s goals are to create healthier habitats for native plants and animals, remove invasive species, and create a viewing platform to promote education.

    • Thomas More University Biology Field Station. The primary goal of this project is to address the number of threats to our aquatic resources like water pollution, harmful algal blooms and habitat destruction. Ultimately this work will lead to insights and solutions that reduce the adverse impacts of stormwater runoff and other environmental issues.

    Boone County Conservancy Park


    •Cardinal Land Conservancy. Funds will be used to install a live webcam on the bald eagle nest at the Little Miami Nature Preserve and utilize the opportunity for local K-12 teachers to develop curriculum to bring students to visit and learn at the site.

    • Cincinnati Reds Community Fund will help create a one-of-a-kind outdoor learning center in partnership with the Cincinnati Zoo to sustainably co-manage a 1-acre, biodiverse, living landscape alongside Rockdale Elementary, creating science and horticulture curriculum for students.

    • Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati. Grant funds will allow the Walnut Hills Restoration Board to develop a wetland restoration plan for low-lying areas. Walnut Hills students and volunteers will help with this ongoing project. The addition of a healthy wetland habitat will increase the plant and wildlife biodiversity on-site.

    • Dan Beard Council, Boy Scouts. Camp Friedlander and Camp Michaels (in Northern Kentucky) will be using funds for the Ecology, Conservation & Erosion Abatement programs. The plan will have scouts and their families participate in hands-on activities to learn about conservation and ecology, including removal of invasive species in the habitat.

    • Gorman Heritage Farm Foundation. Funds will be dedicated to the stream restoration project to improve water quality, reduce erosion, protect habitat, and support biodiversity. The farm strives to educate about agriculture, nutrition, sustainability and the environment on the grounds.

    • Great Parks Forever. Plans are for the funds to be used to reforest Mustang Fields with an experimental tree planting of a 9-acre land parcel to create new wildlife habitats along the Whitewater River corridor. Results will be used to help guide future reforestation projects in Hamilton County.

    Dan Beard Council’s Camp Michaels in Union

    • Green Umbrella. Funds will be used in the Growing Nature at Schools program, focused this year in Bond Hill (Bond Hill Elementary and AMIS) and Walnut Hills (Frederick Douglass Elementary) to create natural outdoor spaces for students.

    • Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District. Grant dollars will be used for the Cooper Creek Demonstration Urban Reforestation Initiative, focused on restoring the ecological integrity to the Cooper Creek. Funds will be used to help plant 250 trees to increase the tree canopy for the long-term improvement of stormwater management.

    • MetroParks of Butler County. Funds will be used for the Line Hill Meadow Restoration Project at Rentschler Forest MetroPark. The project will take the 8.5-acre field that has been overrun with exotic invasive plants and return it to a native prairie and meadow landscape. Signage will be added to help educate park visitors about the impacts of exotic invasive plant species on ecology and wildlife in the area.

    • Mill Creek Alliance. Funds will be used for the Mill Creek Restoration, Public Access, and Water Quality Monitoring programs. Mitigation of a low-head dam on West Fork Mill Creek will help to restore fish access to 35-square miles of habitat and improve water quality. Adding additional access points at other locations on the Mill Creek as well as water quality studies will also be part of the overall plan.

    • Taking Root. Grant money will be used for the Tree For Me Neighborhood Distribution program that helps to inform participants of the specific environmental and health benefits of trees and encourage better stewardship of our tree canopy. Residents can use the new interactive educational tool to see all of the benefits of a new tree on their property and to properly size and reserve their tree for pickup.

    • University of Cincinnati Foundation. Funds will be used for a real-time water quality monitoring system for the Great Miami River. Equipment will be installed to monitor water samples for contaminants. Data will provide managers and researchers means to study water quality changes to various hydrological events like storms and other environmental (contaminant release) events.
    Duke Energy Ohio/Kentucky, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, provides electric service to about 870,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in a 3,000-square-mile service area, and natural gas service to approximately 542,000 customers.

    The Duke Energy Foundation provides philanthropic support to meet the needs of communities where Duke Energy customers live and work. The Foundation contributes more than $30 million annually in charitable gifts and is funded by Duke Energy shareholder dollars.

  • October 20, 2021 2:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: WVXU

    By Ann Thompson

    Green Umbrella and five other groups were part of the Regional Collaboration for Equitable Climate Solutions pilot.

    The communities hit hardest by climate change events are often ones full of minorities. What can be frustrating is they probably don’t have a seat at the table to set policy to prevent and deal with weather disasters.

    The Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC) is leading a pilot program to change that. It’s called Regional Collaboration for Equitable Climate Solutions (RCECS).

    Cincinnati’s Green Umbrella took part in one with Tampa, Florida, and Southeast Louisiana in August and it looks forward to continuing to collaborate with:

    Urban League

    OKI Regional Council of Governments

    Hamilton County Public Health


    Village of Silverton

    “Systemic injustices really permeate everything and so this pilot is really about how to make sure that understanding of history and more inclusive procedure for the creation of these regional efforts is part of the next generation of these collaboratives,” says Green Umbrella’s Climate Policy Lead Savannah Sullivan.

    This Greater Cincinnati collaborative wants to set policy and establish aid.

    “Providing different types of services that folks need post-disaster, whether they be sort of an energy crisis and need support with energy bills, as we experience more flooding or land sliding, those types of services provided from local governments or nonprofits," she says.

    Sullivan says racism is a magnifier of the deadly impact of climate change.

  • October 13, 2021 2:34 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: National League of Cities

    By Abygail C. Mangar

    The City of Cincinnati continues to showcase its leadership in both emissions reductions and climate adaptation through a variety of efforts. It committed to achieving 100 percent renewable energy by 2035 and recently passed legislation to fund new transit measures. Cincinnati residents face growing challenges, however, from both extreme heat and increased precipitation. These health, economic and climate consequences are unfortunately far more pronounced for Black, Indigenous and other people of color. As we have seen in other cities across the country, it is often the municipal sustainability teams that lead the charge to address inequities both within communities and even internally, among city departments. Cincinnati’s sustainability team understood that in order to mitigate climate impacts, especially for residents who are most at risk, it must integrate equity into its practices and policies.

    The sustainability team outlined a citywide goal to operationalize sustainability and resilience strategies that foster more equitable and inclusive programs and practices. The team wove these ideals into a 2018 Green Cincinnati Plan that aimed to establish Cincinnati as a national leader in sustainability, as well as an attractive destination for businesses and individuals. NLC selected Cincinnati to participate in the 2020 Leadership in Community Resilience (LCR) cohort for its outstanding progress and four proposed goals:

    Deepen existing relationships and form new partnerships with environmental groups to create a sustainability-focused equity playbook and implement the Green Cincinnati Plan.

    Operationalize the equity playbook to incorporate equity into sustainability and resilience programs.

    Expand sustainability and equitable resilience city- and department-wide.

    Advocate for sustainability and resilience overall among staff, elected leaders, community leaders, and other stakeholders.

    The sustainability team prioritized community collaboration to realize these goals and entered a partnership with Groundwork Ohio River Valley (Groundwork ORV), a Cincinnati-based environmental justice non-profit, and Green Umbrella, a regional sustainability alliance with hundreds of member organizations based in the Greater Cincinnati area.

    The COVID-19 pandemic presented numerous challenges that tested the city’s resilience and underscored the fact that some communities are well-prepared for crisis, while some are more vulnerable. The team focused its efforts on improving its understanding of those vulnerabilities in Cincinnati.

    The momentum of the work benefited from three additional grants:

    Climate Safe Neighborhoods

    Groundwork ORV received a Climate Safe Neighborhoods (CSN) grant to work with at-risk communities to develop mitigation measures for extreme heat, flooding and air pollution. Recognizing the lasting environmental and socio-economic impacts of historic segregation policies like redlining and urban renewal, the team did a deep dive with community members of the Lower Price Hill neighborhood to understand what environmental and climate disruptions looked like from residents’ perspective. A series of six meetings were held with a team of residents who were paid for their expertise as community members. Throughout the meetings, the team produced the region’s first neighborhood-level resiliency plan.

    Heat Risk Mapping

    With the support of NLC’s LCR program, Cincinnati was selected to participate in the NOAA/NIHHIS heat island mapping program. This grant provided the team with equipment to measure the urban heat island effect across town. Recruited resident volunteers collected over 10,000 data points that were aggregated and synthesized into a heat map. The data showed a 9°F temperature difference when comparing locations across the city. The map highlighted heat burden and critical evidence to emphasize the need for cooling strategies, such as tree planting, public pools and cooling stations.

    Climate Equity Indicators

    Cities have limited funding and resources, and the climate crisis has an ever-growing price tag. Cities need data to help target resources where they are needed most. This makes it possible to design better policies and programs that address the needs of vulnerable community members. Data, nonetheless, often comes aggregated at the city level, creating challenges to strategically deploy programs. With a grant from Kapwa Consulting, the city’s sustainability team engaged the University of Cincinnati in synthesizing its community engagement work into the city’s first Climate Equity Indicators Report. This collection of neighborhood-level climate vulnerability data will be foundational to future climate resilience planning and program development.

    Recommendations for Local Leaders

    The Cincinnati sustainability team’s work exemplified how partnerships between city government, community-based organizations and residents can enhance program development, engagement and outcomes. Learning from Cincinnati’s experience with the LCR program, here are four ways local leaders can prioritize equity in their city plans:

    1. Partner with Local Organizations that have Deep Roots in the Community:

    This effort was a partnership among several organizations, but it all hinged on fostering relationships with organizations that had deep relationships in the community. These organizations served in diplomatic roles to connect residents with partner organizations and government agencies. These bridge-builders were essential for establishing rapport and trust, but also critical for managing the logistics of sharing meeting information with residents and assisting community members to participate in virtual meetings.

    2. Community Members are Experts:

    City leaders often seek climate professionals as subject matter experts for climate resiliency planning. For community resilience planning, however, residents serve as the experts on life in their neighborhoods and should receive compensation accordingly. This practice helps rebuild trust between local governments and under-resourced communities that have been historically left out of planning processes.

    3. Establish Equitable Processes Instead of Only Equitable Outcomes:

    City governments often measure distributional equity, or how resources are spread across communities. They often focus on “the deliverable” of a project. The process is the product in this example. The team learned to critically think about procedural equity, particularly for co-creating programs and policies with the community. The Climate Safe Neighborhoods is a deep dive into procedural equity that other city departments can now use as a model.

    4. Strategic Scaling:

    Cincinnati contains 52 neighborhoods. The sustainability team spent a lot of time embedded in one neighborhood. The city’s time commitment helped ensure that there was adequate engagement across the city.

    NLC would like to acknowledge Oliver Kroner, Sustainability Manager at the City of Cincinnati, for his contributions to this article.

  • October 13, 2021 12:32 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Ryan Mooney-Bullock, Green Umbrella Executive Director

    Dear Friends for Great Parks,

    Green Umbrella’s Board of Trustees has elected to endorse the Great Parks of Hamilton County 0.95 mill property tax levy on the ballot this November. Tri-State Trails’ (an initiative of Green Umbrella) Executive Committee has also voted to endorse the levy.

    Great Parks’ Master Plan is committed to increasing conservation of critical greenspace, educating the public about the natural environment and what they can do to protect it, increasing the sustainability of the park district’s operations and increasing access to quality greenspace for all people in our county. All of these priorities help achieve Green Umbrella’s vision for a resilient, sustainable region for all.

    Great Parks serves as a biological reserve that protects 17,742 acres of land in the county, including 9,800 acres of forest, 2,000 acres of grassland, and 600 acres of wetland. While residents may be most familiar with the “developed” harbors, shelters, playgrounds and other outdoor recreation facilities, more than 80% of the land is kept as natural area and managed for biological diversity and benefits of wildlife. As the County’s largest land holder, Great Parks plays a critical role in protecting the environmental quality and biological diversity of our entire region. These forests, wetlands and other ecological features serve as the lungs and sponges for all of us: absorbing carbon and stormwater and sharing clean air and water with all of us.

    Additionally, Great Parks is a key partner in building out a connected regional trails network. Great Parks has taken the lead to connect the Little Miami Scenic Trail, our region’s longest trail and the southern leg of the Ohio to Erie Trail, to downtown Cincinnati. Through their Master Plan process, Great Parks has heard that expanding trails—and connecting park destinations with a regional trail and greenway network—is a top priority of Hamilton County voters. We know they will continue their track record of building and maintaining high quality trail experiences for generations to come.

    For these reasons, Green Umbrella believes it is critical that Great Parks has access to the financial resources to turn its Master Plan into reality. The 0.95 mill levy before Hamilton County voters this November is a chance for our community to invest in protecting our natural resources, increasing access to outdoor experiences and time in nature, and connecting our trails network… all of which improve health and quality of life in Hamilton County.

    Ryan Mooney-Bullock
    Executive Director, Green Umbrella

  • October 11, 2021 12:29 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Spectrum News

    By Casey Weldon

    When Greater Cincinnati residents fill out their ballot for the 2021 election, one environmental organization wants them to remember a popular adage many learned in grade school.

    Think globally, act locally.

    What You Need To Know

    • Green Umbrella is co-hosting a forum on environmental issues for candidates in Cincinnati's mayoral and city council races
    • Cincinnati has a long history of environmental leadership and Green Umbrella wants to ensure that continues under new elected leadership
    • Some programs Cincinnati has introduced include an all-electrical vehicle parking program, a municipal solar array and a 2030 District, which aims to cut local carbon emissions by 50%
    • The next iteration of the Green Cincinnati Plan is expected to start next year

    Green Umbrella is the regional sustainability alliance for Greater Cincinnati. They bring together organizations across 10 different counties in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky to discuss and create plans for addressing environmental issues.

    Currently, they're focused on Cincinnati, co-hosting a "Local Candidate Climate and Sustainability Forum" on Wednesday, Oct. 13.

    The free virtual event aims to give voters a chance to hear directly from the candidates on their goals and policy proposals related to the environment. It takes place from 6 to 8 p.m.

    Green Umbrella has invited both mayoral candidates, Aftab Pureval and David Mann; both plan to attend. They've also invited all 35 candidates running for city council. So far, 23 have accepted.

    Savannah Sullivan, Green Umbrella's Climate Policy lead, said according to Pew Research Center, two-thirds of Americans believe the government should do more on climate change.

    "This event isn't about a single policy or decision that an elected official or legislative body will make. It's about learning which environmental issues are at the forefront of a candidate's mind," she added. "It's also about showing elected officials that this is a priority subject matter for Cincinnati voters."

    Can local politics impact the environment?

    Global accords, like the Paris Agreement, or national policies related to topics, like fracking and carbon emissions, are often front of mind for voters. Sullivan said they aren't wrong. But it doesn't mean local, county and state strategies aren’t crucial as well.

    "As the climate crisis intensifies globally, local policies to combat climate change are central to an effective and equitable response,” she added.

    In November, Cincinnati voters will choose a new mayor and a complete set of nine city councilors.

    Over the next two years, the winners will make decisions that affect current and future generations of residents of not just the city's 52 neighborhoods, but also the broader region.

    That includes affordable housing, zoning, transportation policies and new infrastructure — all of which have an environmental element, Sullivan said.

    The city government also plays a role in the operation of two public utilities; they operate Greater Cincinnati Water Works and co-mange the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati.

    "Cincinnati is fortunate in that we've had a dedicated sustainability office and action plans for years. That said, we still have a long way to go," Sullivan said. "Extreme heat and precipitation events will become more intense and frequent in the coming decades, as will effects on our land, health and local economy. Preparedness will require all hands on deck."

    Not just trees and energy, but people and places too

    The Cincinnati-Hamilton County Public Library is co-hosting the candidate forum. Other co-hosts include the Cincinnati chapter of the NAACP, Groundwork Ohio River Valley and Action Tank.

    Not all have missions rooted in environmentalism, but each have a vested interest in climate change and sustainability efforts. That's due to their impact on the communities they serve.

    Officials from the library said they aim to be a "cornerstone of democracy." They want to connect members to "resources to help them be informed, engaged and empowered citizens."

    "As a place where all are welcome to both register to vote and cast their vote, the Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library sees co-sponsoring events that build community members’ knowledge and understanding of today’s issues— such as our environment, climate, and sustainability — and candidates as one piece of our broader effort to engage everyone in the democratic process."

    Sullivan said while issues, like sustainability and climate change, affect all residents, they don't affect all residents equally.

    “Some neighborhoods and populations in Cincinnati are more exposed and less prepared to survive and thrive under climate threats due to systemic injustices. In particular, our communities of color and low-income communities have been most acutely impacted, and will continue to be until their voice is centered in climate action goals,” she emphasized.

    A history of environmental leadership

    Sullivan called Cincinnati a longtime "national leader" on sustainability.

    Over the years, it put many environmental initiatives in place.

    The city is constructing the largest municipal solar array in the country. They use green infrastructure and planning to construct and update city facilities, including the first net-zero police station in the country. They introduced a free parking program for owners of all-electric vehicles.

    Many of the the city's buildings and facilities have solar panels as well.

    They won an American Cities Climate Challenge Award in 2018 and worked with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) last year to create a map of the most heat-vulnerable locations in Cincinnati.

    It was also one of the early adopters of a city-run recycling program. Over the last 30-plus years, city residents have made recycling a daily habit, diverting more than 400,000 tons of material from the waste stream.

    It's not just the city of Cincinnati, either. Local agencies, corporate partners and others have played a role, too.

    One of the prime examples is the Cincinnati 2030 District. It's a program facilitated by Green Umbrella, but supported by the current mayor and city council.

    A 2030 District isn't a physical place so much as a collection of property owners and managers, developers and commercial tenants who have committed to reducing their carbon footprint by 50% by the year 2030. They do so by cutting down on energy use, water consumption and transportation emissions.

    Some partners include Procter and Gamble, Kroger, the Cincinnati Zoo, Fifth Third Bank, and the city of Cincinnati itself. The current 42 members have committed 318 buildings to the district, equaling about 27.7 million square feet of space.

    Collaboration with city staff and coordination with elected official champions have been key ingredients to the success of these initiatives, Sullivan said.

    Green Cincinnati Plan

    Green Umbrella partnered with the Ohio Environmental Council this spring to provide candidates with the opportunity to work with their policy experts in developing their platforms. One of the main topics was the Green Cincinnati Plan.

    The Green Cincinnati Plan is a guidebook for reducing the city's climate footprint. It was first created in 2008 and includes focal points of improving resiliency, environmental quality and equity. Topics range from food production to housing to transportation.

    The nearly 170-page document contains a list of goals and recommendations believed to be the "highest-impact, most feasible strategies for reducing the risks of climate change," per the plan.

    An update to include 80 strategies to reduce Cincinnati's carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 was voted on and approved by members of city council in May 2018. As intended, the plan serves as a tool for informing city policy and decision-making on everything from new developments to budget proposals.

    Historically, the plan is updated every five years, meaning the next iteration should take place in 2023. Based on that timeline, they'll collect public input throughout 2022.

    If that's the case, candidates elected to office will have a role in helping to shape, and possibly vote on the next iteration of the plan.

    “This next round of elected leaders will have an important role to play in advancing the city’s green work," Sullivan said. “Whether it's voting to pass the Green Cincinnati Plan, making a decision about specific ordinances or championing key issues, their decisions will impact the future for all of us."

    How the event will work

    The event will be two hours long, and if additional candidates decide to join they will extend the time, Sullivan said.

    The format will work like this:

    Green Umbrella and co-hosts offer a few minutes of opening remarks

    Each mayoral candidate has three minutes to state their position

    After each has spoken, they'll receive a handful of questions and have a chance to respond

    Council candidates each have two minutes to share their platform and will be asked one question

    Those who want to take part in the event can register on Green Umbrella's website.

    The event will air live on Zoom and live-stream on Green Umbrella’s Facebook. Questions are being collected in advance through the event registration process.

  • October 11, 2021 12:27 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: FM Link

    By Brianna Crandall

    The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) and Cincinnati 2030 District recently announced the launch of an Occupant Health Guide that helps organizations prioritize healthy building design and operations strategies based on local health data. A first for IWBI and 2030 Districts, the Guide represents nearly two years of cross-sector collaboration and is intended to serve as a model for other cities and districts around the world aiming to bring attention to building practices that can most directly address local health concerns.

    IWBI president and CEO Rachel Hodgdon stated:

    Today, one thing everyone can agree on is that our physical and social environments have never before played such a critical role in our health and well-being. We’re in the midst of a pivotal moment towards transforming the way we interact with our shared spaces, and the incredible momentum behind the Cincinnati 2030 District and this newly released Occupant Health Guide is a testament to that evolution. We’re so pleased to have found such innovative and forward-thinking partners in Cincinnati.

    According to IWBI, the Occupant Health Guide is the first instance where a building rating system has been tailored to specific local public health needs and outlines expected health and building benefits. This initiative began with an analysis of several local health reports, including the Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) produced by The Health Collaborative and their regional health partners and member hospitals.

    The Health Collaborative used this data to determine the top health priorities for Greater Cincinnati, which were then mapped (among other factors) to IWBI’s WELL Building Standard version 2 (WELL v2) — the premier building certification promoting human health and well-being. The Guide also integrates an analysis of data from one of the country’s largest health insurance companies, which identified the top categories for health insurance claims and spending for major employers in the Cincinnati region.

    By connecting the region’s top health priorities to WELL v2 strategies, the Guide will enable the District’s members and partners to connect building-scale interventions with local health and environmental priorities. This will enable Cincinnati employers, real estate owners, facility managers, and policymakers to make evidenced-based decisions for their own community. The Guide will also help local building owners and managers identify various strategies they can pursue to achieve the goals of the first-ever 2030 District Health Pillar, which the Cincinnati 2030 District pioneered.

    Elizabeth Rojas, director of the Cincinnati 2030 District, remarked:

    The Cincinnati 2030 District, in collaboration with our members, partners, local health organizations, and with the support of IWBI, will establish the greater Cincinnati region as a leader in the area of building occupant health. We will provide an innovative platform for building owners and managers to implement strategies to create healthier buildings which will have a significant impact on the health and well-being of our community.

    The Cincinnati 2030 District boasts more than 27 million committed square feet and has focused efforts with many of the largest properties including Procter and Gamble, Kroger, Cushman and Wakefield’s Columbia Plaza, and Fifth Third Bank.

    Jeremy Faust, environmental sustainability leader, Fifth Third Bank, commented:

    Healthy buildings are becoming a central feature in new office design, and Fifth Third is excited to see the Occupant Health Guide as an emerging framework to prioritize solutions with the greatest impact on occupant health. We support the work of the Cincinnati 2030 District to improve the health and sustainability of the Queen City.” Fifth Third Bank was a founding member of the Cincinnati 2030 District and is part of the District’s Advisory Committee.

    The work of the Cincinnati 2030 District continues Cincinnati’s leadership in urban sustainability while creating a more livable, resilient community that is better able to attract a high caliber workforce and new economic development opportunities. The Cincinnati metro area continues to emerge as one of the country’s leading sustainable cities and has ranked in the top three most sustainable in the nation by Site Selection Magazine for the last 5 years.

    The Cincinnati 2030 District is a membership organization facilitated by Green Umbrella, Greater Cincinnati’s regional sustainability alliance. It is one of 23 established Districts in North America. Participating building members across all districts make a voluntary, collective commitment to reduce their buildings’ energy use, water consumption and transportation emissions 50% by the year 2030. The District now includes a fourth Occupant Health Pillar, a first for 2030 Districts nationally.

    The Occupant Health Guide is available online:

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