Sustainably Cincinnati PDF Print E-mail
Written by Linda Palacios   
Wednesday, 15 April 2009 06:52

Sustainably Cincinnati
Touting Tri-State eco-efforts

Cincinnatians are turning over a new leaf when it comes to eco-friendly initiatives. Shoppers are seeking sustainability, businesses are saving green by going green, and enviornment-loving entrepreneurs are turning pipe dreams into mainstream.


Learn how local businesses and organizations are sowing the seeds toward a greener future and how their initiatives make it easier for you to reduce your personal carbon footprint.


Whether you believe that global warming is a myth or a reality, you can't deny that decreasing the consumption of renewable resources and improving the quality of our environment will help make our future a little easier and a little cleaner. And these local efforts take that idea to heart and help make Cincinnati more sustainable.


Paving the Way for Segways


Local police departments have turned their heads toward the eco-friendly Segway. With each recharge costing only about 10 cents, "it would cost pennies a day to run a Segway," says Sergeant Steve Henderson, director of the Community Oriented Policing section of the Hamilton Police Department.


Hamilton Police officers took part in a Segway trial last May and have been working to acquire the green vehicles ever since. A Segway travels up to 12 miles per hour and allows officers to cover four times the area covered by walking alone, says Officer Jeff Eck with the Hamilton Police Department.


While the Cincinnati Police Department uses Segways in its police force, the Hamilton Police Department has been unable to receive funding for the cost-saving vehicles. "The captain and the chief are sold on it," Henderson says, and Henderson continues to apply for grants and hope for private financing for the Segways so that the Hamilton Police Department can be a bigger part of the green movement with this green vehicle.


Making Sharing the Road Clearer, Safer


Besides using Segways on its police force, the city of Cincinnati promotes green transportation with its Sharrow Pilot Project that has been approved by the Federal Highway Administration. "Sharrows" are pavement markings that remind motorists to be aware of cyclists and indicate where cyclists should ride. "We want to do everything we can to encourage bicycling as a viable means of transportation in Cincinnati," says Michael Moore, interim director of Transportation and Engineering. "That means making our streets as safe as we can for cyclists of all skill levels. Additionally, better accommodating bicycles helps the city become that much greener."


Setting a Plan


Besides its sharrow project, the city of Cincinnati focuses on creating a more sustainable city through its Office of Environmental Quality. Created by Mayor Mark Mallory, this office formulated a plan of action last June to fight against the city's carbon footprint. The Climate Protection Action Plan: The Green Cincinnati Plan outlines the status of the city's carbon emissions at the community and governmental levels and offers specific goals of reduction for both short-term and long-term efforts. The plan provides recommendations for individuals, businesses and the city as a whole to head toward a greener Queen City. "Out of 80 recommendations, more than 60 are in the stage of implementation," says Ginnell Schiller, climate protection coordinator of the Office of Environmental Quality. For example, the Metro's new hybrid buses will be hitting the streets this month.


Shouting "Green" from the Rooftops


The Office of Environmental Quality also strives to make Cincinnati more sustainable through the Green Roof Incentive Program. A green roof essentially is a garden on a roof, complete with soil, vegetation and protective materials below it all to prevent damage to the building. The green roof provides better insulation to decrease heating and cooling bills, and it prevents excessive water runoff that would otherwise go into the sewer system. "It creates this nice green space, and you've got plants, so there you're reducing your green house gas emissions," Schiller says.


Partnered with the Metropolitan Sewer District, the city will be offering program applicants low-interest loans earmarked for setting up a green roof, and the program will get the ball rolling in the next couple weeks, Schiller says.


Expanding Down to Ground Level


One organization doesn't stop at the roof with their goal to make entire buildings eco-friendly. The Cincinnati Regional Chapter of the United States Green Building Council promotes LEED Certified buildings in the area. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certification indicates that a building meets performance criteria in five key areas: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor air quality. Basically, a LEED Certified building is "green" certified, and the LEED Rating System indicates the extent of the "green-ness" of that building.


With the USGBC's Cincinnati Chapter's efforts, LEED Certified buildings are coming up across the Tri-State. From the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens' LEED focus to the development of the Great American Tower at Queen City Square, any style of building can become LEED Certified, "even one with Diana's tiara on top," says Chuck Lohre, board member and PR media chair of USGBC's Cincinnati Chapter. And regional LEED projects are open for public tours so that you can see environmental practices in action. Visit the Web site for more information.


Schooling a Green Generation


Local universities have turned to the USGBC for LEED Certification, among other actions geared toward environmental sustainability. The University of Cincinnati boasts four LEED Certified buildings and has committed to LEED Certification for all future construction projects.


Miami University is working its way to its first LEED Certified building in its new Farmer School of Business building. A task force on sustainability at Miami last year also proposed that all new university construction meet LEED Gold Certification. Miami will also be introducing a course on energy and sustainability as early as next spring, says Dr. Steven Elliott, assistant professor in the School of Business Administration and member of the course's planning committee.


Northern Kentucky University also has committed to meet LEED standards with future construction and has developed an expansion plan that incorporates sustainability. NKU was also one of the first 29 universities in the country to receive the Toyota-sponsored Tree Campus USA award from the Arbor Day Foundation. "Tree Campus USA colleges and universities strive to engage their student body as well as their broader community to establish and sustain healthy community forests for the benefit of current and future residents," according to the award Web site.



Reducing Carbon Footprints through Beauty


Robin Feltner, CEO and founder of Supernatural Botanicals, wanted her beauty products to be all-natural and eco-friendly. She had read a British study that concluded that 18 out of every 20 breast tumors could be linked to parabens (chemical preservatives found in many cosmetics) and didn't want to place herself at risk. In failing to find a local bath and body company to meet her desires, Feltner started her own with Supernatural Botanicals. The company produces all-natural, eco-chic bath and body products and keeps the environment in mind through its operations. "We have very, very little garbage output because we recycle almost everything," Feltner says. Supernatural Botanicals employees also use eco-friendly cleaning supplies and light bulbs, and Feltner hopes to convert to a solar- and wind-powered company in the future. "Of course that's down the road, but it's definitely a goal," Feltner says.


Photographer: Neysa Ruhl Photography
Model: Robin Feltner, CEO and founder of Supernatural Botanicals
Location: The McAlpin

Linda Palacios -

Linda Palacios is the editor of Cincy Chic. Send her an e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .Read More >>

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