Green Cincinnati Plan updates focus on water resilience and renewable energy

The City of Cincinnati is updating its Green Cincinnati Plan, which was first adopted in 2008 and then revised and readopted in 2013. City officials met with residents on Sept. 27 at the Cincinnati Zoo, also known as the greenest zoo in America, to present and take new recommendations to help improve Cincinnati’s sustainability.

Mayor John Cranley, who is supporting the plan from his own budget, began his presentation by saying, “I believe that climate change is real.” He continued to stress the importance of adaption, “We owe it to our kids and grandkids to do what we can to combat climate change. We have to do what we can in our corner of the world to live up to our moral responsibility to care for this earth.”

With over 250 people in attendance, the meeting was the largest climate change one yet. Three different task teams examined the main aspects of the plan: sustainability and managing and overcoming greenhouse gasses; equity and determining the costs and benefits of different areas of the plan; and resilience to climate change.

The themes will be used to evaluate sustainable improvements on energy, transportation, waste minimization, built environment, food, natural systems, education and outreach and resilience within the city.

Since its inception, the plan has been successful. Oliver Kroner, Cincinnati’s sustainability coordinator, explains that because of its success so far, the city is hopeful for the next updates.

It’s a high impact plan that focuses on many different areas: energy efficiency, renewable energy, transportation, reducing waste, land management, land use, food, water, outdoor recreation and nature awareness and climate adaptation.

The plan will work for the city as a whole, but part of the updates include a neighborhood vulnerability assessment to predict climate change impacts. As storms increase, the city desires to strengthen resilience — water management has been a major issue, and some neighborhoods are more vulnerable than others.

“The city has already had to pay $50 million in damages from storms just this year,” Kroner explains. “The updated plan focuses on resilience planning, recognizing changes and what we need to do to adapt.”

Another major update to the plan includes a new solar installation. “The goal is to build the largest city-owned solar energy array,” Kroner says.

This initiative will take advantage of city-owned properties at Lunken Airport, Greater Cincinnati Water Works and the Center Hill landfill.

According to Cranley, the proposed solar panels are enough to produce 25 mega watts of energy, which is the equivalent of 33 million kilowatt hours per year. That's enough to power 3,400 homes and could cover 20 percent of the city’s total energy.

By 2035, the city hopes to convert to 100 percent renewable energy.

Now that the event is over, the City is quantifying impacts and evaluating recommendations in preparation for the next climate change meeting, which will be held the week of Nov. 13.

Read more articles by Emily Dillingham.

Emily Dillingham is a Cincinnati native and University of Cincinnati graduate with degrees in English and Geology. She writes full-time for a local material science company and lives in Brighton with her husband and pack of dogs. Follow her on Instagram @keeperoftheplants
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