Marc Lefkowitz | 02/12/10 @ 3:15pm
Six months after Cleveland's first sustainability summit, the city and a core group of volunteers continue working to convert excitement into action, 700 individual visions into a strategy for empowering green economic development, and to direct the newfound 2019 community into answering the question: What next?
Efforts ramped up this week.
First, Cleveland Sustainability Office director Fran DiDonato and the 2019 Council ? an advisory body that includes CEOs from Key Bank, The Federal Reserve, Case and CSU ? released an RFP for the city to hire a firm that will develop a strategic plan. The plan will "chart the course for where Cleveland should be after ten years of working towards transforming our economy into a sustainable economy."
Yesterday, the 2019 Steering Committee ? a group of volunteer professionals who have been the lifeblood of the follow up work to the summit? held an all-day planning session for the next summit, which will be held on Sept. 22-24, 2010.
Mayor Jackson kicked off the day by noting the city's focus for the summit is on creating green jobs. "I look at sustainability not as something green, but as something that lasts," he said. "My regional development chief, Chris Warren, and I visited Parker-Hannifin, which makes gears. They recently won a bid for wind turbines. This is part of the equation of how we transform our economy. That we have the jobs and investment opportunity."
A quick aside: Later that evening at a 2019 Green Building Work Group meeting, Jackson's Sustainability Chief, Andrew Watterson, invited the group to participate in the city's $10 million Energy Efficiency Block Grant (from the Stimulus bill) proposal, which also has a green jobs component. The plan is to establish a revolving loan fund with The Evergreen Cooperative Development Fund at Shorebank. It will let Clevelanders pay back loans for home weatherization retrofits from their energy savings. The city plans to employ Clevelanders in the energy retrofit work, and invited the 2019 group to merge its goal to retrofit every Cleveland home by 2019 with the planning of the pilot phase (100 homes), and a targeted 2,100 properties of the EEBG.
"It's an on-bill financing program to do about $5,000 of improvements per home, and no out of pocket for homeowners," Watterson said. "The bill (for Cleveland Public Power) is delivered in a way showing energy consumption both with and without the improvements. There's also a pilot that adds solar into this. We'll do solar panels and energy efficiency retrofits on multifamily housing through the city's new Special Energy District, or a voluntary assessment on the property."
Back to the Steering Committee, whose big task ahead is to devise a plan for the 2010 summit. Some of the conversations during the day pointed to a desire to make the next summit's focus about moving ideas into action, and tying them to existing efforts in the local sustainability community. The committee broke into groups and discussed success factors for the next summit, including:
- Identify solutions for those work group initiatives that have hit roadblocks. Before the next summit, does a framework need to be developed that helps each group refine its vision, develop a set of metrics and clearly defined goals? A Metrics of Success group did form at the 2009 summit-is that where the common framework gets rolled out?
- Recognize that there are synergies between the Work Groups and move toward collaboration.
- Shorten the feedback loops. A summit communications effort, a large part of which will be spearheaded by GreenCityBlueLake, will act as a conduit of information between the city and Work Groups. Communications efforts should strengthen the connections to real projects happening on the ground in Cleveland, and reach out to relevant groups working on these issues already in the region.
- Appreciation of a diversity of opinion. Example, there are members from ODOT and NOACA on the Transportation Work Group-the right parties are at the table, having a conversation.
- How do we emphasize the business development opportunities at the summit? What are the success stories? Do we need a showcase of results, for example, of new business opportunities developing in Cleveland as a result of the summit?
Dave Nash of the Corporate Sustainability Network (CSN) and DiDonato gave an update on the strategic plan RFP, which was sent out to more than 200 prospective bidders and is due back March 5. "To move this forward strategically we need to get professionals involved in building a plan," he said.
Are the consultants directed to assess groups and action plans to date? DiDonato was asked.
"Yes, it was part of the RFP," she answered. "The way we stated it in the RFP was to take into account what the groups are doing. If the consultant doesn't include a group in the plan, it doesn't mean they can't move forward. It's up to the consultant to decide what they include. CSN is doing some outreach, and will interact with the groups. At a minimum the consultant has to include the voices of the 2019 community and reflect what they said."
The 20 action groups represent the energy and direction of the summit, said Mike Neundorfer, CEO of Neundorfer Particulate Knowledge and co-chair of the 2019 Transportation Group. "Is there any concern maintaining the balance between the consultants and the work groups' visions?"
"It is a delicate balance," Nash said, "but I would like to see a close alignment between the consultants and work groups as the plan develops. The document will be a melding of professional expertise with our own talents to move the process forward."
The strategic plan is not meant to be a static document, Watterson added. "It will have to be about aligning with the initiatives and having metrics. For example, part of the RFP is how we're responding to climate change."
Watterson added that the strategic plan for the summit will be the basis for the city of Cleveland's climate action plan.
The Steering Committee rounded out the day in work group sessions to address planning, communication, outreach and fundraising for the 2010 summit.