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What are proper metrics in Cleveland's energy reduction efforts

Marc Lefkowitz  |  06/20/11 @ 9:43pm

What is the best way for Northeast Ohio to measure its progress and meet its energy and greenhouse gas reduction goals? Cleveland is considering a set of metrics for its sustainability initiatives and, presumably, its energy reduction goals. When it comes time to move on its carbon emission inventory and climate action plan (which have been in discussion mode for two years) it will have some numbers to hang its implementation hat on (by comparison, Youngstown leap-frogged ahead, completing its carbon emissions inventory and action plan and is moving toward an implementation plan).

The discussion of how the city (and region) measures its performance is obviously in its nascent stages. Helping frame the discussion are efforts like the 2019 Green Building group's Building Performance Link, a project to map and provide snapshots of the LEED-certified and EnergyStar buildings in the 14-county Northeast Ohio region. An early cut found 99 companies here have EnergyStar buildings, and around 37 buildings are LEED certified or qualified.

According to Green Building Council Northeast Ohio chapter executive director Michele Kilroy, that equals 3% of all buildings in the region. Further breaking that down, it represents 8 square feet of the total building space for the region's 4 million inhabitants.

"I don't know about you, but I need more than 8 square feet to live in," Kilroy commented during the chapter's midyear meeting last week. "We have to do better than this."

Cleveland's Energy $aver Program, where 100 homes will get a $100 energy audit and 25% rebates on energy efficiency work should provide more data to the metrics effort. The Northeast Ohio Energy Alliance hopes to take that data and bring market rate energy efficiency to scale.

Speaking of demonstration projects, GreenCityBlueLake director David Beach told the green building chapter about the region's first 'passive house' at the Natural History Museum. The idea is to offer proof that building science has advanced to produce a 90% decrease in heating loads. The SmartHome is inspiring a few copycats in the region, Beach said. Detroit-Shoreway CDC wants to build a smaller version of a passive home on an infill lot in the Cleveland EcoVillage, Beach said, and Summit Metroparks plans to build a passive building at its Twinsburg location. And the city of South Euclid want to build a passive house of 1,500 sq. ft. on a vacant lot, Kilroy added.

How do you capture the energy efficiency and green building efforts that aren't full scale LEED and EnergyStar? For example, the bio-based stormwater capture like rain gardens and wetlands that many new projects are at least drawing up? How do you cull the ones that get implemented from the chaff of green washing projects? These questions and more are on the minds of the 2019 and the GBC groups.

·If you lease space in downtown Cleveland, The Green Building Council's office tenant challenge will provide valuable insight on how to influence your landlord around energy efficiency . This Wednesday's noon session is being held at the Observation Deck of the Terminal Tower ? it's free. Email info@neogreenbuilding.org to hold your place.

·FutureHeights' annual meeting features "The New Metropolis," a two-part documentary about the challenges faced by America's first suburbs. The nonprofit community group is hosting the screening, followed by a discussion on Tuesday, June 21, from 7-9 p.m. at the Cedar-Lee Theatre. There are still seats left. Find more info at www.futureheights.org.

·Inspired by the PNC SmartHome, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History (as part of its Climate Change exhibit) is running a series of sustainable home improvement workshops this summer. Home Depot stores will be conducting demonstrations of do-it-yourself home and garden improvements in the Museum lobby. There will also be a Home Depot representative set up by the Little Builders exhibit with kits for Kids.

The planned topics are as follows:

  • June 15 - raised bed gardens
  • June 22 - composting
  • June 29 - rain barrels and rain gardens
  • July 6 - raised bed gardens
  • July 13 - CFL, LED and ECO lighting
  • July 20 - composite decking benefits
  • July 27 - plumbing products
  • August 3 - blown in insulation
  • August 10 - CFL, LED and ECO friendly light fixtures
  • August 17 - vinyl window replacement
  • August 24 - programmable thermostats
  • August 31 - fall planting

For more information, contact clehn@cmnh.org

·Naturehood, the effort to turn vacant land into native plant nurseries, needs volunteers to help weed and clean up two of its lots in the next few weeks.

1) Wednesday 6/22 11 am - 3 pm in the Tremont Naturehood Garden @ 1168 Holmden Avenue /44109 in Tremont (off West 14th Street near Steelyard Commons)

2) Wednesday - 7/13 11am - 3 pm in the Stockyards Naturehood Garden @ 3116 W. 48th Street/44102 (off Clark) in Stockyards neighborhood.

Email ctrepal@earthdaycoalition.org to volunteer.

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