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Sustainability Summit: A new beginning

Marc Lefkowitz  |  11/13/09 @ 11:04am

What will a sustainable Cleveland look like in 2019, and how will we get there? The final day of the Cleveland Sustainability Summit promised to answer those questions with 600 people from a cross-section of business, social and cultural perspectives winnowing three days of diving deep into the issues that help or hinder progress in Northeast Ohio into specific plans and a vision for change. What we'll come away with is not only an action plan, but, in the words of Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, "the greatest opportunity to impact the future in a substantive way as we've had in many years.

"This is about how can we create a green and sustainable economy in 2019," the mayor added. "Not just products that are green, but how does that economy function in a green and sustainable way. If we do that and demonstrate profitability and practical use of natural resources, Cleveland will lead the way."

This day was about coming back to the surface from what Case Fowler Center for Sustainable Value director and summit facilitator David Cooperrider called the deep dive into the action areas identified in day two of the summit. "We want you to go from design to destiny."

The morning session featured groups presenting their first cut at prototype projects that will address the needs of future Clevelanders without sacrificing this generation's need for bold and decisive action. To that point, Case Weatherhead's Dean insisted "When we leave here, take this excitement and move into action in short order. We need a series of small successes. You want to have a specific measurement of outcomes by the middle of next year. I don't care how small. Even if outcomes are modest they need to be identifiable and measurable and communicate-able."

One group is working on a sustainability to pledge which reads in part: "I pledge to be aware of the consequences of my choices, to be aware of what materials are in my purchases, to support a strong local economy by buying from socially and environmentally responsible businesses, to do my part by composting and recycling, to use public transportation and ride my bike."

Some other ideas brewing from the Sustainability Summit small group brainstorming:

  • "Growohio" a local food from farm to plate campaign
  • Sustainability metrics ? such as how much renewable energy are we using ? on a dashboard that flashes on the Jumbotron at Progressive Field and the Q.
  • A "Power Mart" (like the Medical Mart) a place to demonstrate renewable energy in the megawatt scale, i.e. a solar roof install on a Wal-Mart, and train utilities.
  • Model energy codes that are adopted by the state and cities who can work with residents and businesses on reduction strategies.
  • Sustainable Design Manufacturing Center-a global center for design and manufacturing, including biomimicry and advanced materials and manufacturing.
  • A "I'm helping to make Cleveland sustainable ask me how" campaign
  • Doing energy efficiency retrofits on 100% of our existing buildings-or 140,000 buildings-by 2019.
  • A physical resource center where you can go to find out what it means to be green.
  • Adopt stringent building codes for energy and water-educate the public
  • Green infrastructure training for high school students to build rain barrels, rain gardens and green streets as part of Cleveland Municipal School District and Tri-C's Green Academy (This last idea is mine, but it does jibe with the plans of the Regional Sewer District and with the goals of the summit group focusing on Social Capital, which called for experiential learning with business and govt. receiving incentives for people to participate.)
  • A sustainable Cleveland micro-loan program modeled after Kiva, the African microloan and fastest growing nonprofit in the world.
  • Roads can go on a diet to provide more room for bikes and pedestrians. Complete the 3-C rail line, build a new Amtrak station as part of the Convention Center plans.Integrate bike-rail system. Outfit buses and bus stops with GPS so we know when the next bus is coming.
  • A new legislative approach to manufacturing like the European model 'you make it, you own it forever.'
  • Wastepedia-a site where we all can redefine 'waste.' It starts with sort and sell, and includes workshops for artisans and deconstruction materials and Learning center.
  • Maintain post summit momentum by establishing a hub of information, monitoring, tracking and implementation.

The final report out is still to come, so stay tuned for more post-summit coverage and reporting on the plans next week. And don't forget to celebrate the sustainability summit at Saturday's Burning River Fest at the U.S. Coast Guard Station at Whiskey Island featuring all local and organic food and beer.

Read more GCBL coverage of the summit:

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