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Reader's choice: Most important sustainability stories

Marc Lefkowitz  |  01/03/12 @ 1:52pm

What captured our readers' attention most in 2011? Based on what they could find covered at GreenCityBlueLake, readers flocked to advocacy issues-from the loss of historic buildings for parking garages to a controversial waste-to-energy incinerator in Cleveland.

Clearly-with the recession slogging on and government more fractured than ever-you crave more control, accountability and a voice on the issues of the day. You want to know, how will our tax dollars and representatives improve our quality of life right here at home?

Your worry over the fate of the planet was balanced by a desire to see visionary ideas for a sustainable redesign of the region-from a massive urban farm on vacant land in one of Cleveland's hardest hit areas to the region's first Passive House. You wanted to know, how can we make this a more livable and exciting place to call home? Here's a run down of the top 25 most read blog posts from last year.

26-acre urban farm zone in Cleveland to get boost from Will Allen

This GCBL exclusive looked at an ambitious plan to reuse a huge swath of vacant land near Kinsman on Cleveland's east side. With a $1 million USDA grant and the help of urban ag gurus, OSU Extension and Will Allen, the Kinsman Farm as we called it sparked a lot of conversation. We're pinning much hope to this project-when it gets off the ground-for it has great ambition and vision.

Weatherhead MBAs build economic case for $20M Circle-Heights bike network

GCBL engaged with Weatherhead MBAs to quantify the economic and health benefits of shifting current transportation dollars into building a robust bike network between University Circle and the Heights. This post generated a lot of buzz, because, the success of a multi-billion dollar investment in the meds and eds campus and Uptown district is riding on access and building a community for these shiny new amenities.

Is waste-to-energy the answer, or does it lure cities away from recycling?

The question is still before Cleveland: Take a big gamble on a $180 million waste-to-energy incinerator or plow that money into reducing the source of the waste issue. As a public hearing nears for an EPA permit, environmental groups are organizing and plan to raise a stink about the cost-benefit analysis of a major new source of air pollution.

Not stuck between Rock Gaming and a hard place

Dan Gilbert's plan to punch through the second floor of the historic Higbee Building with a walkway made PD art and architecture critic, Steven Litt's top stories of 2011. He called it a "big switcheroo." But Litt stopped short of mentioning the other side of the bridge-the demolition of the Columbia Building. It seemed painfully obvious to all but Gilbert and the city that ? with downtown's residential market booming-they missed a golden opportunity to convert prime space for loft apartments right in the heart of the E. 4th District.

Why Cleveland's artist map matters

This study literally put artists on the map. For the first time we could see what kind (visual, performing, etc.) of artist lived where and start to connect the dots: Place matters because it offers attractive, cheap and big live-work spaces and the ability to walk and interact easily. We noted that this will certainly inform policy decisions for places like Cleveland Heights, Lakewood and Cleveland-the region's top arts destinations.

Northeast Ohio's first passive house walks in green pioneers footsteps

The importance of the area's first home built to Passive House standards could not be overstated. We marked the occasion with a retrospective on Cleveland's green building movement-some of its founders are still pushing the region to think deeply about what's possible to produce dramatic energy savings in our buildings.

It took a movement in Cleveland to ensure a complete street

In the past two years, Cleveland has witnessed the rise of a group who's starting to make inroads on the region's efforts to build healthy, low-carbon transportation options. We note how this small group of committed advocates really did (and continue to) change the landscape around transportation and deserve credit for their behind the scenes work on the city of Cleveland's Green and Complete Streets legislation.

Innovative energy cooperatives reach for aggressive energy reduction goals

The city's Office of Sustainability-organized Year of Energy Efficiency culminated in this CSU Forum that invited the heads of two regional energy efficiency initiatives to discuss how they plan to change the game-if and when they break into orbit.

When does Cleveland's vacant land reuse become self sustaining?

Sparks flew at this CSU discussion about whether vacant land and the urban ag movement have enough leverage to build a strong private sector economy for local food.

Cleveland Heights builds on green inherent in pre-war suburbs

We've heard Cleveland's zoning code described as "so old that it's new again." But it's clearly not enough to counter sprawl-fueled development in Northeast Ohio fast enough for its core and inner ring. Cleveland Heights' move to update its entire zoning code to promote green development offered a positive countervailing move.

Here are the rest in order of popularity:

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