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Earth hour, Drink Local. Drink Tap, a new national perspective on bikes, saving industrial gems

Marc Lefkowitz  |  03/19/10 @ 11:27am

  • The City of Cleveland has signed on for Earth hour, a global observance for the planet where participants turn off lights for an hour (at 8:30 p.m.) on March 27. Sustainability Chief Andrew Watterson suggests that participants in the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 organize to raise awareness.
  • The 2019 Sustainable Water group is organizing a local celebration for World Water Day on March 22. The "Drink Local. Drink Tap." Campaign kicks off that night with a performance by Waterband and at events throughout April. The goal is to encourage Northeast Ohioans to recognize the abundance of clean drinking water in Lake Erie and to kick the bottled water habit.
  • The Urbanophile blog has a good idea how to save Detroit's crumbling but stunning Michigan Central Depot and other industrial-era gems: "What if instead of spending a huge amount of money to try to save one building, the city found a little bit of money to do basic maintenance to preserve the structural integrity of many buildings ? and create a safe path through parts of them that tourists could walk through similar to how ancient ruins are displayed in Europe."
  • Speaking of preservation, Case Western Reserve University received a gift from a local family foundation to restore and reconfigure a student lounge in the Hitchcock Center-(pictured) on Euclid Avenue since 1897 that is attached via a glass-and-steel atrium to the Thwing Center-as a new Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Center. The restoration includes cleaning the exterior brick and stone surface and restoring gargoyles and sculptural details. Inside, a 'green' renovation features bamboo flooring, non-toxic paints and finishes, LED lighting and recycled furniture.
  • Portland's famous biking Congressman Earl Blumenauer wants to know, "Are you bike-curious?"
  • U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, enthusiastically supported bike/ped projects at the National Bike Summit in Washington, D.C. last week, and appears to be turning up the volume on state departments of transportation to prioritize bike and pedestrian facilities in all of their projects. LaHood called it a "sea-change" in American transit planning: As he writes on his blog, "People across America who value bicycling should have a voice when it comes to transportation planning. This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized."

    LaHood's announcement has been bubbling for some time, Planetizen observes. "The DOT is already funding bike-lane initiatives in Philadelphia and Indianapolis, and LaHood, a darling among green-minded urban planners, has a penchant for dropping by bike conferences and getting everyone all fired up. But this latest news is backed by a set of eight guidelines, which will be sent to state DOT's and communities. They are (and note the mention of snow removal):

    • Treat walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes.
    • Ensure convenient access for people of all ages and abilities.
    • Go beyond minimum design standards.
    • Collect data on walking and biking trips.
    • Set a mode share target for walking and bicycling.
    • Protect sidewalks and shared-use paths the same way roadways are protected (for example, snow removal)
    • Improve nonmotorized facilities during maintenance projects.

    The hope then is that communities adopt similar guidelines, and that these will be baked into new infrastructure proposals. It's a rather circuitous path--and comes far short of a mandate--but this is a crucial start. And when local city planners get with the program, they'll find a wealth of ideas out there--from bicycle highways to solar bike sheds to safer bike lanes.

    [Via Planetizen]

  • Ohio Energy Resources Division is accepting applications for $8 million in funding available through the Making Efficiency Work (Stimulus Act) grant program. Eligible activities include the installation of energy efficiency equipment and measures, including more energy efficient lighting such as LED and day-lighting techniques, HVAC upgrades, weather sealing, more energy-efficient windows and doors, ENERGY STAR appliances, and geothermal heat pumps. Funding is also available for energy audits and commissioning projects that result in energy efficiency upgrades within 12 months and exceed energy code pilot projects within existing (multi-family, commercial, and institutional) buildings. Submit a one-page project summary no later than 3 p.m. on April 23, 2010.

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