Green Umbrella in the News

  • April 30, 2018 2:44 PM | Anonymous member

    Source: Movers & Makers Magazine, Stephanie Fan


    Green Umbrella awarded $125,000 in grants to a variety of organizations. Those who will benefit include small farms, local food entrepreneurs and processors, a neighborhood grocery co-op, schools and regional food pantries.

    Recipients are Incubator Kitchen Collective, Apple Street Market Cooperative, Gabriel’s Place, KHI Foods, Ohio Valley Food Connection, Our Harvest Cooperative, Soup Cycle Cincy, La Soupe, Enright Ridge Urban Eco-Village, Lincoln Heights Outreach, Reach Out Lakota and Wyoming City Schools.

    The funds are intended to advance environmental sustainability goals related to distribution of food, reduction of waste, and access to fresh food, as well as energy efficiency.

    Green Umbrella received funding from Partners for Places (a project of the Funders Network for Smart and Livable Communities) and the Duke Class Benefit Fund. Local matching grants were provided by Interact for Health, the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation and the Greater Cincinnati Foundation.

    “Part of the funding will support innovative, scalable food recovery efforts that rescue good food and distribute it to hungry people, rather than sending it to landfills where it produces a harmful greenhouse gas,” said Kristin Weiss, executive director of Green Umbrella. “These projects are good for our community and our environment.”

    Nationally, the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture are seeking a 50 percent reduction in food waste by 2030.

     


    How the money will be used

    Recipients are:

    Incubator Kitchen Collective – Its grant will fund an energy-efficient cooling system to benefit all tenants, their networks of growers/suppliers and buyers.

    Apple Street Market Cooperative – The grant will fund energy-efficient refrigeration for the worker-owned co-op’s first grocery store, planned to open in 2019 in the Northside neighborhood.

    Gabriel’s Place – The grant will help provide affordable access to the food system through an urban farm, produce marketplace, community meals and nutrition education in the Avondale neighborhood.

    KHI Foods – This food processor turns “ugly” tomatoes or “wrong color” peppers into products for schools and retail grocers. The grant will help KHI expand its processing capacity.

    Ohio Valley Food Connection – The grant will support development of a regional rescued-food “after-market.” The project will provide a revenue model to food hubs and local farmers; a simple ordering process for institutions; and redistribution of unsold but edible products to food  pantries.

    Our Harvest Cooperative – Through this grant, volunteer networks will deliver thousands of pounds of fruits and vegetables from local farms to low-income residents in the Walnut Hills, South Cumminsville, Millvale and North Fairmont neighborhoods.

    Soup Cycle Cincy – This grant will help the organization expand by hiring youth chefs to work with volunteer professional chefs and college mentors. Soup Cycle provides healthy soups and raw vegetables to recreation centers in Price Hill, Avondale, Evanston and Over-the-Rhine.

    La Soupe – The grant will support the organization’s food-rescue efforts and help increase its impact through a new location.

    Enright Ridge Urban Eco-Village – The grant will fund energy-efficient refrigeration to help the organization expand programs in East Price Hill.

    Lincoln Heights Outreach – The funding will help expand fresh-food access through a food pantry; snacks and meals for students and seniors; community meals; block parties; and holiday dinners.

    Reach Out Lakota – The grant will help expand fresh-food access, including mobile outreach to those in need in West Chester, Liberty Township and the Lakota School District.

    Wyoming City Schools – The grant will support parent and student efforts to reduce food waste.


  • April 27, 2018 10:02 AM | Anonymous member

    Source: Modern Restaurant Management, Barbara Castiglia

    This edition of MRM's Daily Bite features First Table, Cintas, Cooper's Meat Market, The P.J.W. Restaurant Group, Whitsons Culinary Group, Don Lee Farms, 110 Grill Restaurant Group, Sodexo, Elavon Becks Prime and Wolverine Packing.

    Send news items to Barbara Castiglia at bcastiglia@modernrestaurantmanagement.com.

    MRM Daily Bite Logo
    Stop Food Waste Day

    Approximately 40 percent of all food produced in the U.S. annually is wasted and ends up in landfills. With Stop Food Waste Day on April 27, Cintas Corporation announced its support for Green Umbrella’s food waste reduction campaign. Green Umbrella, an alliance of for profit, non-profit and government organizations across 10 counties in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, is aiming to cut landfill waste 33 percent by 2020 through awareness building and engaging corporations and households on key sustainability issues.

    “Many organizations and households don’t truly understand the amount of food that they waste,” said Krista Jaeger, Manager of Sustainability, Cintas. “By educating businesses and their employees about the reality of this issue, we can minimize its occurrence in work and home environments. Cintas is excited to tackle food waste, not just in Cincinnati, but in the many communities we serve across the country.”

    At Cintas, the food waste campaign is one part of a larger zero-waste-to-landfill certification process. Numerous Cintas distribution centers have been certified for waste reduction under the TRUE (Total Resource Use and Efficiency) system. By sharing sustainability strategies with its locations nationwide, Cintas aims to improve how waste streams are managed in the workplace and help its employee partners rethink waste generation at home.

    Green Umbrella’s Waste Reduction Action Team (WRAT) is focusing on strategies for food waste prevention, like meal planning to purchase only necessary ingredients; recovery, such as donations of excess food to pantries and soup kitchens; and recycling, like composting or anaerobic digestion. For example, the WRAT is hosting lunch and learns, developing a food waste challenge for households and promoting share tables at schools and donations of leftover pre-packaged food at the end of lunch periods to support food insecure. Additionally, Green Umbrella is partnering with the Save the Food campaign, which provides resources for reducing food waste.

    “In our region, about one in six households is food insecure while the average household of four throws away $1,500 of food annually,” said Lauren Campbell-Kong, Green Umbrella Waste Reduction Action Team Co-Chair. “By leveraging corporate partnerships and educating our region’s households, we have the capability to feed the hungry with the wholesome food that we are currently wasting, and to also greatly reduce costs and strain on our nation’s landfills.”

    Whitson's Launches Meatless Monday in Schools

    Whitsons Culinary Group®, a provider of nutrition services for public schools throughout the Northeast, has announced the launch of the Meatless Monday health initiative in all school districts Whitsons services. Meatless Monday is a global campaign that encourages students to enjoy meat-free meals on Mondays. Studies have shown that increasing plant-based proteins in your diet may reduce the risk of chronic preventable conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. Choosing to go plant-based, even one day a week, can also help reduce our carbon footprint and save precious resources like fossil fuels and fresh water.

    “Whitsons is proud to be a part of the Meatless Monday campaign. It perfectly complements our Simply Rooted™ philosophy of promoting healthy foods, a healthy environment, and balanced diets,” said Kelly Friend, Chief Operating Officer of Whitsons. “We are not taking away the option of meat on Mondays, we are simply making sure we are featuring and promoting a student-friendly vegetarian option. When students are looking for something hearty like a burger, we encourage them to try vegetarian burger options such as our classic garden or black bean burger. We prepare them just like we would a traditional burger and offer a variety of healthy toppings to keep it interesting,” said Friend. 

    In recent customer surveys conducted by Whitsons, students expressed an interest in having more meatless, plant-based menu options such as vegetarian and vegan which has been a growing trend with Generation Z. More students prefer replacing animal products with plant-based alternatives. "Our collaboration with Whitsons School Nutrition will provide students and staff in over 95 school districts in the Northeast with delicious meatless options every Monday throughout the school year. We hope the implementation of Meatless Monday in schools with Whitsons dining services will inspire students to start each week taking small steps that can instill healthy habits for life," said Cherry Dumaual, Partnerships Director at The Monday Campaigns.  

    Popular Plant-Based Product

    Don Lee Farms has sold more than a million Organic Plant-Based Burgers in less than sixty days, becoming the fastest growing product in its category.

    “Interest in our Organic Plant-Based Burger has just exploded,” said Donald Goodman, President, Don Lee Farms. “We are just keeping up with demand and are implementing plans to expand distribution every week.”

    “The fact that our Organic Plant-Based Burger is made with plants and not with science has resonated with people. No one wants to eat a burger hidden with artificial or modified ingredients if they have the choice,” said Danny Goodman, Don Lee Farms. “They want natural. They want organic. They want real.”

    The Don Lee Farms’ burger “bleeds” organic beet juice and sizzles on the grill from organic vegetable-based fats just like raw beef. It is the only burger in its category to qualify for the Organic Seal certified by USDA. The new burger launched to rave reviews. CookingLight Magazine proclaimed, “This burger was really delicious. I’d buy these again,” after tasting the top three leading brands.

    “Having sold a million burgers this quickly has exceeded everyone’s expectations,” continued Donald. “The excitement around this burger has been overwhelming. We are now expanding availability in club stores and will be introducing the burger in restaurants and other retail markets in the upcoming months.”

    Read more of the Daily Bite at ModernRestaurantManagement.com.

  • April 23, 2018 9:54 AM | Anonymous member

    Source: NYTimes Markets, Jess Messenger

    CINCINNATI--(BUSINESS WIRE--Approximately 40 percent of all food produced in the U.S. annually is wasted and ends up in landfills. With Stop Food Waste Day approaching on April 27, Cintas Corporation (NASDAQ: CTAS) has announced its support for Green Umbrella’s food waste reduction campaign. Green Umbrella, an alliance of for profit, non-profit and government organizations across 10 counties in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, is aiming to cut landfill waste 33 percent by 2020 through awareness building and engaging corporations and households on key sustainability issues.

    “Many organizations and households don’t truly understand the amount of food that they waste,” said Krista Jaeger, Manager of Sustainability, Cintas. “By educating businesses and their employees about the reality of this issue, we can minimize its occurrence in work and home environments. Cintas is excited to tackle food waste, not just in Cincinnati, but in the many communities we serve across the country.”

    At Cintas, the food waste campaign is one part of a larger zero-waste-to-landfill certification process. Numerous Cintas distribution centers have been certified for waste reduction under the TRUE (Total Resource Use and Efficiency) system. By sharing sustainability strategies with its locations nationwide, Cintas aims to improve how waste streams are managed in the workplace and help its employee partners rethink waste generation at home.

    Green Umbrella’s Waste Reduction Action Team (WRAT) is focusing on strategies for food waste prevention, like meal planning to purchase only necessary ingredients; recovery, such as donations of excess food to pantries and soup kitchens; and recycling, like composting or anaerobic digestion. For example, the WRAT is hosting lunch and learns, developing a food waste challenge for households and promoting share tables at schools and donations of leftover pre-packaged food at the end of lunch periods to support food insecure. Additionally, Green Umbrella is partnering with the Save the Food campaign, which provides resources for reducing food waste.

    “In our region, about one in six households is food insecure while the average household of four throws away $1,500 of food annually,” said Lauren Campbell-Kong, Green Umbrella Waste Reduction Action Team Co-Chair. “By leveraging corporate partnerships and educating our region’s households, we have the capability to feed the hungry with the wholesome food that we are currently wasting, and to also greatly reduce costs and strain on our nation’s landfills.”

    For more information, visit https://greenumbrella.org/Waste-Reduction-Action-Team and www.savethefood.com.

    .@CintasCorp joins @GreenUmbrella's fight against #foodwaste. #sustainability #SavetheFoodCincy

    Tweet this 

    About Cintas Corporation:

    Cintas Corporation helps over one million businesses of all types and sizes get READY™ to open their doors with confidence every day by providing a wide range of products and services that enhance our customers’ image and help keep their facilities and employees clean, safe and looking their best. With products and services including uniforms, mats, mops, restroom supplies, first aid and safety products, fire extinguishers and testing, and safety and compliance training, Cintas helps customers get Ready for the Workday®. Headquartered in Cincinnati, Cintas is a publicly held company traded over the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol CTAS and is a component of both the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and Nasdaq-100 Index.

  • April 16, 2018 12:11 PM | Anonymous member

    Source: Cincinnati Enquirer, Community Press guest columnist Kristin Gangwer

    This year, as Green Umbrella celebrates 20 years as Greater Cincinnati’s hub for environmental sustainability, we are excited to reflect on the sustainability successes our region has achieved.

    Notably, in 2017, Greater Cincinnati was named the nation’s No. 1 metro area for sustainability by Site Selection Magazine. Additionally, we now have 116,000 acres of protected green space in the region, points of purchase for local fruits and vegetables have quadrupled since 2010, and we saw over 2 million visits to outdoor venues in 2017 alone.

    Even with all of our success, as we move towards 2020 and the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, this is not a time to rest. Through Green Umbrella’s seven Action Teams, individuals, organizations, corporations, and government agencies throughout the region continue to make progress on a range of sustainability priorities.

    For example, the Greenspace Action Team’s Greenspace Gems campaign recognizes and celebrates natural areas with outstanding scenic value, biological diversity, scientific importance or historic interest. Likewise, the Waste Reduction Action Team’s Save the Food Cincy campaign strives to reduce wasted food in schools, businesses and households.

    This Earth Day, we hope you will act locally with Green Umbrella and make a difference in the places where you live, work, and play.

    At home

    • Support local farmers, your health, and the local economy by shifting 10 percent of your food budget to local food. Find a farmers’ market or sign up for a CSA.

    • 40 percent of food (about $1,500 per household) is wasted each year. Shop with a plan, and store your food well so it doesn’t go to waste. Compost plant-based food scraps. Find great tips on how to reduce food waste and save on grocery bills.

    • Green your home! Switch to LED lightbulbs, explore solar energy, replace aging appliances with energy-efficient ones, and prevent air leaks around doors and windows. Looking to purchase or sell a home? Search for, or list, a home’s green features using the new Green MLS tool.

    • Plant native trees and plants, which require less water and maintenance to grow and help absorb excess rainfall. Join our region’s effort to plant 2 million trees by 2020.

    At work

    • Bike, walk, or ride the bus to work – even if it’s just one day a week. Download a free transit app (CincyEZRide, Bus Detective, Transit) to purchase fares and plan your route. Ask your employer to become a Transit-Friendly Destination.

    • Advocate for healthy, local food options in your cafeteria, and for practices that minimize wasted food. See if you can start on-site composting at work.

    • Advocate for low-mow landscaping at your work site, which helps reduce stormwater runoff.

    At play

    • Get outside! Visit one of the region’s Greenspace Gems to see the best of what our region has to offer.

    • Take part in May Bike Month. Attend movie screenings and join in on rides to get the whole family excited about cycling.

    • Get involved in your community and learn something new at the same time. Check out the hundreds of events hosted by our members on our Events Calendar.

    Together we can improve the quality of life and the environment in Greater Cincinnati. To learn more and become a member of Green Umbrella, visit greenumbrella.org.

    Kristin Gangwer is Green Umbrella interim executive director.

  • April 10, 2018 2:46 PM | Anonymous member

    Source: Soapbox Media, Jerry Jackson

    Earth Day is a celebration of the natural community we share and one regional group is leading the efforts to educate the families of Greater Cincinnati on Earth Day.

    The Greater Cincinnati Earth Coalition is a community of not-for-profit organizations, businesses, government agencies, and individuals from the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana tri-state region who work cooperatively and actively to promote the beauty and environmental quality of the tri-state area.


    Greater Cincinnati Earth Coalition’s sole activity is to produce the Cincinnati Earth Day event at Summit Park in Blue Ash on Saturday, April 21 from 12-5pm. That includes helping more than 125 exhibitors with hands-on displays representing environmental groups, government agencies and businesses. You'll also find local music, local foods, and regional craft beer on display.

    The theme for 2018 will be “Food Waste” and promote activities with Green Umbrella’s Waste Action Team and its plan to reduce food waste, which makes up more than a fifth of our landfill volume.

    This year, the Earth Day event will kick off with a Scavenger Hunt at noon along with a Kids Zone including inflatables, games, face painting and animals. Families can learn tips and tricks to reduce grocery bills, learn more about recycling, and find out how to setup your own composting at home thanks to lessons from Gorman Heritage Farm.


    Live music starts at 2pm and includes performances by Room For Zero, the Brandon Coleman Quartet, and Hickory Robot.

    Although there will be plenty to see, hear and do at the event, the Greater Cincinnati Earth Coalition is still in need of individuals to help with the Greater Cincinnati Earth Day celebration.

    "We need individuals to help set up vendor booths before the event starts, individuals to help run specific booths during the event, and to help tear down the event after 5pm," says Lauren Campbell, the volunteer coordinator. 

    The Coalition will provide water bottle filling stations during the event so volunteers and attendees can bring refillable water bottles instead of the disposable variety. The event runs from 12-5 pm this year and the Coalition needs volunteers from 8 am-7 pm.


    "There are a myriad of tasks that we need volunteers for, from crafts and face painting, to heavy lifting and logistics," says Campbell. "It is my goal to leverage individuals’ strengths and passions for this day, please let me know if you consider yourself crafty or enjoy painting or if you can lift heavy objects (up to 75 lbs) as I need those specific, hard-to-fill tasks, filled." 

    The Greater Cincinnati Earth Coalition will provide volunteers with free t-shirts and free food as a thank you for their hard work. Anyone interested in volunteering for the Earth Day celebration should contact Lauren Campbell at volunteer@cincinnatiearthday.org now.

  • April 10, 2018 2:32 PM | Anonymous member

    Source: Green Cincinnati News, Chuck Lohre

    Sustainability in Cincinnati has come a long way since 2002 when they received the results of an urban renewal report: 1. Establish a bridge fund to renovate OTR buildings for families, 2. Renovate Washington Park, and 3. Build a streetcar. 

    16 years later we are reaping the benefits of the implementation of those suggestions.

    Thanks to the Fortune 500 companies in downtown Cincinnati for contributing to the "Bank" that would lend money to those that wanted to rebuild in OTR but couldn't get a loan. Traditional banks could find no comparables so no loan. Even in 2014 one homeowner at the corner of 14th and Elm Streets went to 46 banks seeking a loan to renovate a 1800s building into three units. It got LEED Platinum in 2017.

    Holzhauer-Residence

    Sadly in 2011, I witnessed a police car run over and kill a homeless person that lived in Washington Park. I saw it from my second floor window looking south over the park from 14th Street. The park was a wonderful place for the homeless although it also it had the highest crime rate in the city. Since the homeless shelter moved to Central Parkway and all the other improvements, the park really has become a center piece for the neighborhood and a magnet for dogs, kids and moms. 

    You would think that they paved the streetcar route with gold based on all the development at every building. I have never seen such growth. Others might poo, poo the cost but the streetcar saved one of the most incredible architectural treasures in the world. The city of Cincinnati was built in 1850s as a walkable neighborhood with cisterns under the sidewalks and ideal three brick thick thermal masses.

    LEED-Gold-Store-1

    The start of the sustainable growth in Cincinnati really took off with the administrations of Roxanne Qualls and Mark Mallory. They re-established the office of Environmental Quality and the tax abatement for building LEED in the city. 

    At the same time the new USGBC Chapter joined with Ginny Fraizer to make the new Cincinnati Schools LEED. Ginny has a severe allergy to chemicals and could;t work in the first new schools. Contrary to popular belief "New Car Smell" is carsenigenic as well as stinky carpet. All the school building taught the local architects and contractors how to build LEED. But besides the new "Net Zero" Police Station on the west side, designed by Emersion Design, there are few other advancements in commercial sustainable construction. One big exception is the Cincinnati Zoo's Living Building Challenge African painted Dog House. We are very fortunate to have such an example of the future right here in the mid-west. You would have to go to Seattle, Pittsburg or Napa Valley to see another. Living Building Challenge buildings don't have a foot print. It's like they are a spaceship that landed on another planet, improving the environment. No combustion, no waste, no water use, no nothing. 

    IMG_8449_HDR_400

    My 800 square foot LEED Platinum office on 14th St. is an example of doing sustainability on a shoe string. Total cost was $9500: $3000 for USGBC fees, $3000 for materials and $3500 for a fun but unnecessary settle stove to demonstrate a renewable energy source. In contract to the Living Building Challenge, the USGBC considers pellets made from sawdust or agricultural waste renewable.

    And that brings me to what I want to have you take away from this presenation. It's not expensive to be sustainable. In fact, it always saves money and is more healthy. The city's leading clearing house for sustainability is the Green Umbrella. Started in 2004 by Brewster Rhoades, it now has over 200 member organizations and hundreds of individuals that get together every first Thursday at a local watering hole. I encourage you to join one of their Action Teams: Energy, Water, Waste, Outdoor Spaces, Food, Transportation and the Built Environment. Their success is based on "Measurable Environmental Improvement" just like LEED. It a language that just about everyone can agree on and foundations can contribute to.

    And sustainability can pay you in the city of Cincinnati. For a $500,000 home the tax abatement offered will garner you about $40,000. That's more than enough to cover the LEED fees and minor upgrades required. Plus you'll get a third party inspected home that proves it's built to premium standards. The local chapter o the USGBC has a very successful series of Green Home tours every year since 2014. There you will learn from the homeowners how they did it and how they love it all the way to the bank.

    Sustainability-in-Cincinnati

    One of the largest Action Teams of the Green Umbrella is the Food Team. Partnering with the Civic Garden Center which has over 50 neighborhood gardens, and local farmer markets; there are hundreds of volunteers and grass root organizations working to eliminate "Food Deserts;' and "Food Waste." The theme of the Greater Cincinnati Earth Day April 21, 2018, at Summit Park in Blue Ash will have four presentations on Food Waste, what it means and what you can do about it. The next day in Washington Park, another Earth Day event will allow you to recycle many hard-to-recycle items like electronic waste, fluorescent light bulbs, cell phones, and batteries.

    So get involved, share your accomplishments and ideas at the next Green Drinks.

    Read more in Green Cincinnati News.

  • March 23, 2018 10:55 AM | Anonymous member

    Source: Yale Climate Connections, Sarah Wesseler

    With extreme weather events becoming more common, the city is ramping up its investments in solar and its mitigation efforts.

    Cincinnati may seem an unlikely location for the nation’s largest city-owned solar array. But when Mayor John Cranley announced last year that he intended to create just that, the plan was in many ways a natural fit. Over the past decade, the Ohio city has taken increasingly aggressive steps to decarbonize its energy supply – and it’s seeing impressive results.

    Unusual weather patterns have added new urgency to these efforts.

    “Over the last few years we’ve seen a surge in major storm events that’s triggered a rash of stormwater related issues – sewer backups, flash flooding, landslides,” said Oliver Kroner, who works in the city’s Office of Environment and Sustainability. “We’ve even had some river flooding just over the last couple of weeks for the first time since 1997.”

    Flooding in downtown area

    February 2018 flooding in downtown Cincinnati. Credit: Johanna Liming.

    Last year, the city spent $50 million responding to storm-related issues.

    As climate impacts become more visible in southern Ohio, government officials and citizens alike increasingly support bold action, Kroner said.

    “As we see these changes, they suddenly feel pressing. Where for a long time people may have said they really need to do something about climate change, the narrative has shifted, and the question now is, ‘What can I do?'”

    Cincinnati’s renewable energy push

    The city’s renewable energy efforts have grown out of its climate change action program, known as the Green Cincinnati Plan.

    The plan was first adopted in 2008, after the city council voted unanimously to act on climate change. A second version was passed in 2013, and a third is being finalized.

    Each iteration has added new layers, but the plan’s core objectives have remained consistent throughout: reducing greenhouse gas emissions while supporting broader municipal goals of saving money, creating jobs, and improving the local environment.

    The 2008 version established emission reduction targets of 8 percent below 2006 levels by 2012, 40 percent by 2028, and 84 percent by 2050. The city’s official statistics indicate it is on track to meet these goals: By 2015, emissions stemming from government operations had fallen by 36 percent, and those generated by the community at large were down by 18 percent.

    Cincinnati emissions and targetsCincinnati’s greenhouse gas emissions and future targets. Source: City of Cincinnati.

    Renewable aggregation program

    Some of the decline in emissions can be attributed to population loss, but municipal actions have played a key role. In particular, a renewable electricity aggregation program launched in 2011 has proven to be an effective tool for reducing carbon emissions. By pooling local residents and small businesses to create a critical mass of consumers, the government says it has been able to negotiate with energy suppliers to secure lower prices on renewables.

    As a result, Cincinnati is now the nation’s fourth-largest buyer of residential green energy, and more than 80 percent of its homes run on renewable electricity. Last year, it became the first U.S. city to add green natural gas to its aggregation offering.

    The program has been a win-win for customers and the environment, saving households millions on their collective energy bills and cutting annual emissions by approximately 250,000 tons.

    As the first of its kind in a major U.S. city, the aggregation initiative has drawn attention from across the nation. On its strengths, Cincinnati was designated a 2013 Green Power Community of the Year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and, in the same year, named a finalist in the World Wildlife Fund’s Earth Hour City Challenge.

    Bulk buying leads to growth in residential solar

    Another city-led renewables program, Solarize Cincy, has led to significant growth in residential photovoltaic arrays since it launched in 2015. It uses a bulk buying program to help households reduce the cost of solar installations.

    Reaching the public with the message that solar panels are cheaper and more effective than ever has been crucial to the effort. Marketing materials emphasize the program’s potential to substantially reduce household utility bills, and a simple online formoffers free personalized assessments that describe financial incentives and estimate monthly savings.

    The result: Residential solar installations in Hamilton County, home to Cincinnati, shot up by 81 percent during the program’s first year.

    ‘Do what we can in our corner of the world …’

    Building on these successes, Mayor Cranley, a Democrat elected to a second term in November 2017, in recent months has announced a round of ambitious new initiatives. “I believe that we have to do what we can, in our corner of the world, to live up to our moral responsibility to care for this Earth,” Cranley said in a September speech.

    On the same day that President Trump announced his intention that the U.S. would pull out of the 2015 Paris climate agreement, Cranley committed to powering all municipal operations with renewable energy by 2035. To make headway on this goal, he proposed building a 25-megawatt solar installation on city land. When complete, it is projected to produce enough energy to power the equivalent of 3,000 homes. Construction is expected to begin in 2019.

    “Those are obviously big investments that the city does not have to do, by any means,” said Ryan Mooney-Bullock, the communications and program manager at local environmental nonprofit Green Umbrella. “[Local officials] have been really committed to decreasing the city’s contribution to climate change.”

    To reduce the government’s carbon footprint in the short term, Cranley recently signed a deal with a local energy supplier to provide 100 percent green power to most municipal buildings through 2021. This initiative is expected to lead to a 9.1 percent cut in emissions stemming from city operations, and to reduce annual expenses by more than $100,000.

    City’s new focus on fairness and equity

    For the latest iteration of the Green Cincinnati plan, the authors added a new lens of evaluation for each of the proposed actions: equity.

    Reflecting this new focus, the plan’s revised energy section proposes to build on current programs; the plan is to promote renewable generation and energy efficiency by targeting low- and moderate-income residents with tailored financing options and communications strategies.

    Because these households often spend a disproportionate amount of their income on utilities, they are expected to benefit significantly from cost savings associated with these programs.

    Kroner says he and his colleagues hope this and similar efforts can help struggling communities today while lessening their climate-related challenges in the future.

    “We’re realizing that when you look at climate change and who it will impact, in a lot of ways it’s a risk amplifier and will make existing problems worse,” he said. “We need to do better to prepare our low-income communities.”

    AUTHOR Sarah Wesseler is a Brooklyn-based writer focusing on cities, culture, and climate change.

  • March 15, 2018 4:20 PM | Anonymous member

    Source: Cincinnati Business Courier, Bill Cieslewicz

    Cincinnati’s parks already rank in the top 10 among the largest 100 U.S. cities by the Trust for Public Land’s Parkscore index. Now, the region is being recognized for 116,000 acres of protected greenspace.

    A new initiative called “Greenspace Gems” celebrates five natural areas in the Tri-State for their outstanding scenic value, biological diversity, scientific importance or historic interest. They are:

    Greenspace Gems were selected by a team of conservation experts from Green Umbrella’s Greenspace Action Team. By telling the stories of these protected places, Green Umbrella – Greater Cincinnati’s hub for environmental sustainability – seeks to grow public support for greenspace conservation and the organizations that are leading this work in the region.

    “These sites not only provide valuable field study opportunities for scientists and students, but also allow visitors to observe the natural, pre-settlement communities that once covered the Tri-State region,” Stan Hedeen, emeritus professor of biology at Xavier University, said in a statement.

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

    In 2017, Greater Cincinnati was recognized as being the nation’s No. 1 metro area for sustainability by Site Selection magazine, an important resource for economic development professionals and corporate leaders looking for where to expand and locate their businesses. 

    For more information, click here To recommend a site as a Greenspace Gem, send a description of what makes the site unique, who manages it and how it was protected to communications@greenumbrella.org.

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

    Source: Soapbox Media, Emily Dillingham

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                      Pictured: Solar Panels in Eden Park   

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

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

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

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

    Source: The River City News, Staff Report

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

     
    Pictured: Big Bone Lick State Historic Site

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

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

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

    The first five Greenspace Gems were just released:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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