If you happen to be (or work) in Cincinnati, you will likely notice that the city is setting precedent as one of the “greenest,” most innovative cities in the US. According to an article published on Triple Pundit, the city is one of the fastest growing centers for technology innovation and it is employing that expansion to propel its 60 sustainability initiatives as outlined in the Green Cincinnati Plan, which covers a whole spectrum of topics from renewable energy, to transportation, to food waste.
“In addition to benefiting the environment, our initiatives must make economic sense (save money, create jobs) and improve quality of life for residents (improve public health, mobility, connectedness)” explained Ollie Kroner, the Sustainability Coordinator for the City of Cincinnati.
As a newly appointed, passionate Millennial, Kroner brings a fresh, visionary perspective to the position. “Our office takes on some of the world’s biggest, most challenging problems and we develop strategies that aim to improve quality of life for Cincinnatians as global citizens. It’s an opportunity to think big and be innovative. Honestly, it’s a big, difficult dream job” Kroner [explained].
And the city has already come a long way. It was one of the first major cities to move to 100 percent green energy for its residents and businesses through the city’s Green Electricity Aggregation program. Not only did this reduce city emissions by approximately 247,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year, but also saves nearly $7 million dollars for the city annually.
“There are several big picture issues we are looking at right now” said Kroner. “How can we accelerate the adoption of energy efficiency upgrades and solar energy? How can we divert our organic waste stream from the landfill? How can we prepare our city for electric vehicles? How can we embrace Smart City technologies to improve our environment, economy, and quality of life?”
Solarize Cincinnati has installed solar panels on 20 homes in just the past two months and that pace is expected to accelerate. The Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati is pursuing anaerobic digestion to turn sewage sludge into an asset. This technology would replace incineration with a process similar to composting. Rather than burning the “waste,” sewage sludge can be a source of renewable energy and a fertilizer product. These are just a few of the many ideas the city is cooking up.
The city is exploring issues like how sustainability can be used to combat poverty, crime prevention through environmental design and how we can leverage the power of big data to drive change.
Last year the City of Cincinnati completed building a LEED Platinum Net-Zero district police headquarters. The new solar and geothermal powered building consumes less than 50 percent of the energy used by traditionally designed facilities of the same size, making it a strong contender for the greenest building in Ohio.
Continue reading about Cinci’s sustainable progress here.