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Sustainable Cuyahoga toolkit

Sustainable Cuyahoga is a toolkit of recommended best practices for communities in Cuyahoga County. It was commissioned by the County's Department of Sustainability and compiled and edited by the GreenCityBlueLake Institute. Project funding came from the County and the George Gund Foundation.

Facilitating sustainability<br />The Sustainable Cuyahoga toolkit is designed to help local governments adopt best practices related to air quality, energy, food, green building and historic preservation, land use and development, solid waste, transportation, trees and land management, and watershed management. (Photo by AAT Solar)

Download: Sustainable Cuyahoga: A toolkit of recommended best practices for communities in Cuyahoga County (PDF 3 MB)

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In essence, sustainability is about doing things today to maintain health over the long term — the health of people, the economy, the environment, the whole community.

Local governments are on the front lines of sustainability. They are responding directly to citizen demands for more choices and better performance on issues such as energy, transportation, local food, and solid waste. They are realizing that action on such issues can make their communities healthier, more attractive, and more competitive. They also are realizing that a focus on long-term sustainability can save money and prevent problems in the long run. Moreover, in an age of climate change, they are realizing that the development of more sustainable communities not only helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but also helps communities adapt and become more resilient.

To varying degrees, the 59 communities in Cuyahoga County have already begun their journeys toward greater sustainability. The Sustainable Cuyahoga toolkit is intended to highlight existing best practices and accelerate the transition. It’s a resource from the county to help all communities achieve the highest possible standards of performance.

What’s covered

The toolkit covers nine key issues: air quality, energy, food, green building and historic preservation, land use and development, solid waste, transportation, trees and land management, and watershed management.

Each issue section includes a brief summary of the issue and recommendations for what a local government can do in four areas:

  • Leadership and education — Recommendations for informing residents and leading a civic conversation.
  • Municipal operations — Recommendations for improving the things local governments have under their immediate control and for setting a good example.
  • Ordinances and policies — Recommendations for enabling and/or requiring residents and businesses to do things.
  • Regional collaboration — Recommendations about being engaged in larger initiatives that communities can’t do individually.

How was the toolkit developed?

The toolkit was commissioned by Cuyahoga County’s Department of Sustainability and was compiled by the GreenCityBlueLake Institute (GCBL) of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. To compile the ideas, GCBL consulted with many local experts and organizations. A draft was then circulated for comment to a broader network of people who work on the various issues (including those listed as local experts in each section of the toolkit). The draft was also reviewed by staff members of the Cuyahoga County Department of Sustainability, County Department of Regional Collaboration, County Planning Commission, County Soil and Water Conservation District, and County Solid Waste Management District.

The final document reflects some of the best thinking in Northeast Ohio about the actions communities can take to become more sustainable.

Whom is this for?

The toolkit — with useful recommendations in a concise format — is intended to help busy public officials learn about the issues, get help from local experts, and take action. It’s also intended to be a resource for citizens who want to work with local government officials to improve their communities.

What’s next?

County staff will be reaching out to the cities, villages, and townships in the county to introduce the toolkit and explain the benefits of adopting its recommendations. County staff and affiliated agencies, such as the Planning Commission, will also provide technical support. To request a presentation about what your community can do, call the County Department of Sustainability at 216-443-3055.

Updates

This toolkit will be an online document and will be updated as new information becomes available. Please send your comments and suggestions to the Department of Sustainability at sustainability@cuyahogacounty.us.

To varying degrees, the 59 communities in Cuyahoga County have already begun their journeys toward greater sustainability. The Sustainable Cuyahoga toolkit is intended to highlight existing best practices and accelerate the transition. It's a resource from the county to help all communities achieve the highest possible standards of performance.

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