Painting the Town Green

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    There are plenty of ways for the eco-chic Cincinnati resident to help out the environment. Check out one of these organizations:

    • Cincinnati Earth Institute. This organizaton was created in 1997 to help people minimize their impact on the earth by living simply. They offer an online discussion board.
    • Cincilocavore. Looking to get the green locally? Look no further! This message board offers users a chance to post information about local farmers markets, restaurants, etc. that use local produce and more!
    • Cincinnati Nature Center. Located at 4949 Tealtown  Rd. in Milford, The Nature Center is one of the top 10 in the country. It offers educational programs that teach students responsible stewardship of land.
    • Civic Garden Center. This eight-acre horticultural hotspot is just two-and-a-half miles from downtown Cincinnati. Civic Garden Center is also working on ways to make itself even more eco-friendly. Some things they are considering are a green roof, rainwater collection and solar energy.
    • Environmental Community Organization. This group of local environmental activists works to hold the government accountable to the community for maintaining the environment. They checked 124 air pollution sources in the county against the EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance History Online database. ECO found that Greater Cincinnati

    Environmental friendliness took a punch in the gut when former mayor Charlie Luken disbanded the Office of Environmental Management in 2001. However, under Mayor Mark Mallory, the department has been reintroduced and renamed the Office of Environmental Quality.

    With the power of this office behind him, Larry Falkin, the director of the program, has big plans for Cincinnati. A few of the things he wants to do is add more walking and bike paths, have a better mass public transportation system and have more local support of renewable energy sources, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.


    All of these plans are laid out in the city of Cincinnati’s preliminary Climate Protection Plan released in March 2008, which can be viewed on the OEQ’s Web site. Cincinnati wants to reduce carbon emissions eight percent by 2012, 40 percent by 2028 and 84 percent by 2050.  

    But there are already places around Cincinnati that are taking steps in the right direction. Great American Ball Park, for example, is one of the most environmentally friendly ballparks in Major League Baseball. The Reds have purchased carbon offsets to counteract the emissions from games and do other things such as recycle cooking oil to use for bio-diesel fuel. They are also considering adding solar panels to the ballpark.


    PNC has 49 “green branches” in the region. More than 50 percent of each green branch is built from recycled materials. According to a news release, as much construction waste as possible is recycled or salvaged. They also have high-efficiency HVAC and water systems, make maximum use of natural light.

    The Joseph Auto Group has exclusive rights to build a Smart Car dealership. They expect it to be a fully-functioning dealership by the end of the summer, but if you don’t mind buying site unseen, you can reserve your smart fortwo online today. The smart fortwo vehicle is designed to achieve 40 city/45 highway mpg according to 2007 EPA standards and 33 city/41 highway mpg according to 2008 EPA standards.

    Kroger is expanding its Fresh Fare food store concept as it taps into the growing “green grocer” market. And announced just last week, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College launched the first Ohio certificate program dedicated to educating local professionals about the United States Green Building Council’s standards for environmentally friendly design and construction practices.

    Termed “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design,” this national program offers the ability to measure energy efficiency, improvements in indoor air quality, water savings and reduction of waste during new and existing construction projects. The Ohio Schools Facilities Commission and city of Cincinnati have mandated that all school and city buildings be constructed according to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards. The city also offers residential developers and builders tax abatements for meeting the requirements.

    Architects and builders can earn a certificate in sustainable design and construction from the Cincinnati State program and will be prepared to pass the LEED accredited professional exam.

    Cincinnati is such a green standard pioneer that other cities are looking to the city’s resources and experts for advice. Cincinnati-based Gilkey Window Co., which manufactures and installs vinyl windows, has begun to find new opportunity in markets outside of Cincinnati, including Columbus, Florida and New Jersey, due to increased interest from builders and residents looking to meet green-building standards.
    For example, Gilkey was contacted last year by the city of Columbus, which is using its windows in its Fire Station 10. That project, which broke ground in May 2007, will replace a historic fire station and meet LEED certification set by the U.S. Green Building Council.

    The nationwide trend toward green building is panning out well for Gilkey. In the past, aluminum windows were popular, but now more architects prefer vinyl because they’re viewed as more sustainable. They’re also desirable because of their energy efficiency. In addition, Gilkey Window Co. is certified to present a one-hour course for architects through the association on structural design of windows.

    Speaking of commercial spaces, CB Richard Ellis Inc., a national commercial real estate firm with a large Tri-State presence, is launching an initiative to reduce and eventually eliminate its dependence on carbon dioxide-producing energy throughout the 1.7 billion square feet of building space it manages worldwide. A spokeswoman for the Cincinnati office says initial efforts involve changing paper and other office supplies to recycled materials, and adding a tagline to corporate e-mails asking recipients to not to print out the communication unless it is absolutely necessary. In addition, the corporate office is developing training programs and other initiatives to educate its local staff on how to implement green programs in their properties.

     And for you to make a difference in your home, Duke Energy Ohio launched the “GoGreen Power” program, which allows consumers to power their residences with energy from wind or solar power. As a GoGreen participant, you can purchase a minimum of two (2) 100 kilowatt-hour (kwh) units of Duke Energy’s GoGreen product for only $5.00 a month, which is about 18 percent of an average residential customer’s electricity usage. Beyond this minimum, you can purchase additional 100 kwh units for $2.50 a month. All you have to do is decide how much you want to buy, and it will be added to your energy bill.

    Under the program, Duke Energy will obtain energy from alternative energy sources located within our service area as they become available. Duke Energy will also purchase alternative energy from third parties in the form of renewable energy certificates.

    With Home-a-Rama right around the corner, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for these and other green trends, such as builders choosing to trade granite for stone, hardwood for bamboo flooring and drywall for full walls of windows.

    Photographer: Neysa Ruhl Photography
    Location: Gateway Quarter
    Model: Jennifer Dunn
    Makeup Artistry: Jocelyn Sparks, Zoë Custom Cosmetics