A LOT has happened since we met last fall to celebrate 10 years of sustainability progress. Over the last few months we’ve been hard at work supporting sustainability and climate action in Cleveland. Here are some of the highlights:
- We welcomed a new Chief of Sustainability. On January 22nd, Jason A. Wood was sworn in as the new City of Cleveland Chief of Sustainability by Mayor Frank G. Jackson. Chief Wood comes into this position after serving as Chief of Public Affairs for the Department of Public Utilities where he was responsible for community engagement, legislation, communications, and government affairs for Cleveland Water, Cleveland Public Power, and Cleveland Water Pollution Control. He also provided direct policy support to all areas of the department.
We’re pursuing LEED for Cities and Communities certification. Over the last few years we’ve heard from many of you about the importance of using metrics to measure our sustainability progress as a city and region. In the past, we’ve reported under the STAR Communities rating system to benchmark our overall sustainability progress. Starting in 2019 the STAR rating system transitioned to LEED for Cities and Communities.
This certification will help local leaders, planners, and developers create cities and communities with responsible, sustainable, and specific plans for natural systems, energy, water, waste, transportation, and quality of life. In February the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability was awarded a grant from the US Green Building Council to support the City of Cleveland in pursuing LEED for Cities and Communities certification. We have begun collecting data and engaging partners, and anticipate certifying in early 2021.
We celebrated our first-ever virtual Earth Day and Arbor Day! Like many of our partners, we were bummed we couldn’t celebrate Earth Day or Arbor Day 2020 in person this year. HOWEVER, in true Cleveland fashion, we got creative and partnered with Drink Local. Drink Tap., West Creek Conservancy, Cuyahoga Soil & Water District, Cuyahoga Recycles, Cleveland Metroparks, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, Surfrider Foundation, and the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day locally in socially distant action and learning. Also, our partners at the Cleveland Tree Coalition found many unique ways to celebrate Arbor Day 2020.
Throughout April Ohio also celebrated its first Ohio Native Plant Month. We partnered with members of the Lake Erie Allegheny Partnership (LEAP) to feature a different native plant each day throughout the month on social media. The plants highlighted represented the 30 plants recommended by the LEAP Native Plant Promotion Committee since 2011. To see all 30 native plants recommended by the Committee and for more information about native plants, visit LEAP’s Native Plants webpages.
We’re continuing to advance projects which support Cleveland’s Climate Action Plan goals, including:
10 Minute Walk & Community Engagement for Parks- In 2017 Mayor Jackson joined the NRPA 10 Minute Walk Campaign, ensuring all residents live within a 10-minute walk of a clean, safe park by 2050. To support this goal, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability is working with City Planning, the Mayor’s Office of Capital Projects, and the Trust for Public Land to identify community engagement strategies around our investments in public parks and green space. With funding support from the National Recreation and Parks Association, we will be hiring a consultant to help us.
100% Renewable Energy Project- To support our Climate Action Plan goal of 100% renewable electricity by 2050, we have partnered with Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, Cleveland Foundation, Gund Foundation, United Black Fund of Greater Cleveland, and Third Space Action Lab to develop a feasibility study to meet this goal, while addressing energy burdens and workforce development.
Urban Drawdown Initiative- Through the Urban Sustainability Directors Network, we are partnering with other urban communities across the country to rethink our carbon drawdown and sequestration models and identify ways to capture and reuse this valuable resource. For example, using locally sourced soil and compost for tree plantings can help support tree growth and survivability. This can help cities like Cleveland with their tree canopy goals, while also creating a market for yard waste and other organic materials.
Reporting Progress: The Global Covenant of Mayors (GCoM) is a global alliance over 10,000 cities and local governments from six continents committed to city climate leadership. The City of Cleveland has committed to GCoM and in 2020, successfully received all compliance badges for reporting progress on targets and plans for mitigation, adaption, and access to clean energy. Cleveland was also one of the few cities to be named in the ‘A’ list of reporting cities for the Carbon Disclosure Project for the 2019 reporting period.
Cleveland Climate Action Fund- In November 2019, the Cleveland Climate Action Fund provided funding to Cleveland residents in support of five projects for a total of over $18,000. The Climate Action Fund grants are administered through Neighborhood Connections’ Neighbor UP Action Grants program and meet neighborhood needs while also meeting goals as outlined in the Cleveland Climate Action Plan.
- Cleveland Spaces Vital Places Workshops- The Sustainable Cleveland Vital Neighborhoods Working Group continued to host workshops in their series called Cleveland Spaces Vital Places. These workshops are designed to inform residents about resources and practices needed to revitalize vacant lots in their community. Due to COVID-19, the dates and format of the remaining Cleveland Spaces Vital Places workshops are being held virtually on the ZOOM platform. Information shared during these workshops may be found on the Sustainable Cleveland blog.
- 10 Minute Walk & Community Engagement for Parks- In 2017 Mayor Jackson joined the NRPA 10 Minute Walk Campaign, ensuring all residents live within a 10-minute walk of a clean, safe park by 2050. To support this goal, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability is working with City Planning, the Mayor’s Office of Capital Projects, and the Trust for Public Land to identify community engagement strategies around our investments in public parks and green space. With funding support from the National Recreation and Parks Association, we will be hiring a consultant to help us.
We’re helping the City maintain its commitment to waste reduction and recycling. While residential recycling is a challenge in Cleveland and across the country, Sustainable Cleveland remains committed to working with City and community leaders to reduce our waste and move Cleveland towards a more circular economy. In the coming weeks, we will be sharing information and resources on how residents can reduce their waste at home and how they can stay involved in the conversation throughout 2020.
- We’re adding electric vehicles to our fleet. In February 2020 the City of Cleveland completed the purchase of three new Chevy Bolts to add to our fleet. These all-electric vehicles set the stage for further electrification of our fleet, plus they look really sharp!
- We moved! In November 2019 the Office of Sustainability relocated to 75 Erieview Plaza. While we will miss the Sustainable Cleveland Center at Tower City, we are excited to join the Departments of Public Health and Aging in the building and look forward to finding ways to better align our work.
Sustainable Cleveland invites you to join us for our first VIRTUAL Quarterly Meeting on Wednesday, June 17th. Even though we can’t be together in person, we want to stay connected and share what’s on the horizon for 2020. At the meeting you will have the opportunity to meet Chief of Sustainability Jason Wood, learn more about the future of Sustainable Cleveland, and get updates on current projects and initiatives. Register today!