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Cuyahoga County creates office of sustainability

David Beach  |  03/06/07 @ 5:39pm

Sustainability is catching on!

Cuyahoga County announced yesterday that it is creating a new office of sustainability to review the environmental impact of current operations and coordinate green development across the region. Veteran county planner Joyce Burke-Jones has been named to lead the office.

This follows the example of City of Cleveland, which hired a sustainability program manager in 2005 (with the assistance of EcoCity Cleveland and other local sustainability groups). The Cleveland program has already identified several million dollars of savings, while making the city greener and healthier.

Following is the text of the county's announcement:

COMMISSIONERS ESTABLISH OFFICE OF SUSTAINABILITY

Amid the growing concern regarding how public and private facilities and operations affect the environment, the Cuyahoga County Board of Commissioners (BOCC) has created an Office of Sustainability to review the environmental impact of current operations and coordinate “green” development across the entire region.

The Commissioners selected Joyce Burke-Jones, a veteran planner, as the county’s first Sustainability Officer and charged her with the responsibility of establishing a regional approach to making public and private buildings, construction projects and operations both “greener,” and more efficient, while maximizing the cost savings such efficiencies will engender. Her primary duties include analyzing and coordinating issues of energy usage and efficiency, identifying opportunities for development of alternative energy sources, adoption of “green” building practices and operations throughout the county, and waste reduction and recycling.

“Northeast Ohio has the potential to take the lead in developing alternative energy sources, more efficient, environmentally friendly transportation, and conservation and preservation of the natural resources we have,” said Commissioner Timothy F. Hagan, President of the Board of Commissioners. “We are establishing the Office of Sustainability to coordinate that development and to maximize the benefit for all communities.”

As an example of what the Sustainability Office might be able to do, Commissioners cited a similar City of Cleveland program, begun in 2005, which has already yielded $500,000 in savings and identified an additional $2-3 million in potential future savings.

“It is well established that sustainability is both an ethical mandate, and fiscal imperative,” said Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones. “ ‘Going Green’ creates a win/win scenario for those we serve and future generations as well.”

The Commissioners have already taken the lead in embracing environmental-friendliness, green technology and sustainability. Many county buildings have recently won awards for energy efficiency, and the BOCC has required that the new County Administrative complex that will rise at East Ninth Street and Euclid Avenue be designed to be as efficient and “green” as possible.

“In recent years, advances in building methods, materials and alternative forms of energy, have made it possible to assure the safety of the environment.” said Commissioner Jimmy Dimora. “It is no longer more expensive to be “green,” and we are ensuring that we can sustain the environment cost effectively.”

Earlier this year the Commissioners also established the Cuyahoga County Alternative Energy Task Force, which recommended both the development of wind-generating turbines on Lake Erie and the removal of legal and regulatory barriers that discourage for private companies from developing other alternative energy sources in the region.

Burke-Jones, who was formerly the project director for the new County Administrative complex, worked for 25 years with R. Buckminster Fuller, a world-renowned architect, inventor and one of the fathers of the “green” movement in building construction and operations.

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