National sustainability team researching LEED-ND possibilities in Northside


Northside is one of six neighborhoods across the country that received a grant from the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program, which is part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. As part of the grant, each community will receive free sustainable neighborhood planning and design consultation from Global Green USA in order to determine if LEED for Neighborhood Development is feasible.
 
This year’s grant will also help neighborhoods in Memphis, New Orleans, Phoenix, Seattle and St. Louis. Northside is Global Green’s 24th neighborhood in three years.
 
The Global Green team conducted a three-day visit in Northside last week, including a meeting with representatives from the business district and other stakeholders, a community meeting and a walking tour of the neighborhood.
 
In order to be considered for the grant, a community must meet certain criteria, including a project that’s considered a catalytic development for LEED-ND. In Northside, it’s the proposed transit hub behind Django Western Taco on Blue Rock Road in what is today a parking lot controlled by the Northside Business Association.
 
“Sustainability has many angles,” says Walker Wells, member of the Global Green team. “It’s walkability, which is not just using cars or burning fossil fuels but also supporting local businesses.”
 
The transit hub would serve the eight bus lines that converge in Northside. The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) recently purchased two pieces of property behind the parking lot and is working with MSA Architects on the plans.
 
Loosely, the idea is to create a two-way bus street with 6-8 bays for buses. It would be a clean, safe area for bus riders and drivers as well as pedestrians.
 
After each visit, the team makes recommendations for infrastructure and policy changes aimed at helping build a future that’s more resource-efficient, livable, healthy, equitable and environmentally responsible.
 
“We will identify the assets, challenges and opportunities in Northside and make suggestions to make those assets better and how to address the challenges and opportunities as well as who would help achieve them,” Wells says.

Global Green will present their findings in a month, and from there Northside will decide the next steps to take. LEED-ND certification is an expensive and lengthy process, and to date Global Green has only certified proposed plans or parts of projects, not entire projects.
 

Read more articles by Caitlin Koenig.

Caitlin Koenig is a Cincinnati transplant and 2012 grad of the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri. She's the department editor for Soapbox Media and currently lives in Northside with her husband, Andrew, and their three furry children. Follow Caitlin on Twitter at @caite_13.