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Sustainability summit creates a buzz

Marc Lefkowitz  |  08/19/09 @ 5:13pm

Last week's Cleveland Sustainability Summit generated thousands of ideas and connections, with some groups meeting independently to figure out how to make their visions into concrete plans.

For example, Mike Dungan immediately after the summit shared that the Waste Reduction group had already formed an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) to pursue their deconstruction center or "Wastipedia" (name still pending) idea. This would be a physical space where materials from deconstructed buildings get sorted and products made in upper-level workshops are sold.

The Wastipedia founding board was formed on day three of the summit and is set to hold their formal organizational meeting this week. The board is made up of founding stakeholders Chris Kious (A Piece of Cleveland), Emily Baunach (Brown Flynn), Nicole McGee (For the Second Time Design), Mike Dungan (BeeDance), Robert Stockham (Great Lakes Design Collaborative), and Willis Barker (LR Realty). "The emergence of the Wastipedia Resource Center and the mission of the organization reflects the needs of the community and the desire to take on meaningful action NOW in a transparent and effective manner," Dungan writes here.

We also heard that the idea from the Advanced Energy group, which included industrial giants like Alcoa, to build a 400-megawatt combined heat and power facility caught the attention of Mayor Jackson. And the sustainable Cleveland micro-loan group passed the hat and collected nearly $300 which the Gund Foundation will help them invest.

MIT professor Peter Senge's story about European laws that require automakers to recycle and reuse every piece and part from every car they produce set off a lot of conversation at the summit. "Imagine this reverse supply chain to the Big Three here," Jeffrey Bowen, head of the local Habitat for Humanity, commented. "It would be a big boon to Cleveland since they would have to bring the cars back here for the disassembly and recycling. We are a center of supply chain for the cars. And whatever didn't get put back in to cars could go back to a mountain in Kentucky."

These and many other grass-roots level connections came out of the summit. The official follow up is still to come, and will include sorting through the thousands of ideas that were hatched at the summit. A report will follow with recommendations and at that point the city of Cleveland can adopt the top ideas into its funding strategies and leverage that to raise private or foundation support for sustainable projects.

And next week's Entrepreneurs for Sustainability monthly meeting will keep the buzz going by focusing on post-summit activity.

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