Green Umbrella in the News

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  • November 05, 2019 10:18 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Soapbox Media

    By: Jennifer Mooney

    Groundwork Ohio River Valley diversifies Cincinnati’s Environmental Movement

    Kids can help with things like preparing and stacking of invasive species.

    A conversation with Tanner Yess makes one want to grab a shovel and roll up their sleeves, or whatever it takes to improve the planet. He is a combination of unbridled enthusiasm and serious data about improving future odds. Yess and the other executive director, Alan Edwards, believe that this emanates from the ground up and can involve people of all ages, races, and backgrounds.

    To talk with Tanner leaves no question: We are all in this together. The environment impacts each of us.

    Hence the birth of Tanner and Alan’s organization. In September 2019 Groundwork Ohio River Valley, one of 20 national organizations committed to sustainability, diversity, equity, social justice, and the environment, became a reality.

    This young organization already has seven paid employees and has rapidly deployed programming, with the help of overwhelming support from partners and funders, including Green Umbrella and the City of Cincinnati.

    “For too long, communities of color have been disconnected from the mainstream environmental movement in our region, despite being the most plagued by the health effects of poor environmental quality and climate change,” says Ryan Mooney-Bullock, executive director of Green Umbrella.

    “Groundwork Ohio River Valley’s mission to perform much-needed restoration work and train youth into quality jobs and build a generation of environmental stewards is some of the most important work I can imagine,” she continues. “Every time I interact with members of the Groundwork ORV staff, Green Team, or Green Corps I am blown away by the transformational approach they are taking … for people and our corner of the planet.”

    There are Groundwork trusts across the UK, and Groundwork USA is built on their model.

    “The national park service and the EPA realized that more than 80 percent of the world’s population was going to live in cities,” says Yess. “It may not matter whether you have all of the national parks out west and protections if people and where they live (in urban areas) are not connected to these things.”

    Importantly this is very much about bringing nontraditional people into this movement.

    “The environmental movement, back to Teddy Roosevelt, has generally looked pretty homogenous,” says Yess. “For me, as a person of color and a scientist, I never saw anyone who looked like me. We pride ourselves on working with communities that have not traditionally been engaged. There is no appreciation for a place like Yellowstone if you do not start at your local nature center.”

    Groundwork’s programs include hiring young people, starting at age 14, to take on programs that improve areas in their own communities.

    Yess explains that they will work with more than 300 youth employees.

    This includes the Green Team (ages 14–18) and Green CORP (ages 18–26). Green CORP includes people interested in the outdoors who may not be college bound. They make a higher hourly wage (than Green Team) and operate like an environmental contractor.

    “We are young, and we are not scared of the problems that we have,” he says. “For me it is not just Cincinnati, but what is represents, being in this place in Middle America. The vision has to incorporate people who have been disinvested.”

    Each summer standout workers have an opportunity to visit our national parks — something that may not otherwise be available to these teenagers.

    Their funding model is straightforward: “Number one is about methods and streams such as social enterprise. We are really lucky to have an individual donor base. We have a great needed and problem-solving story,” explains Yess. “Our programming is about leveling the playing field.”

    To get involved, learn more, and contribute, www.groundworkorv.org

  • October 28, 2019 10:26 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Cincinnati Business Courier

    By: ArtWorks


    Public art has been popping up all over Reading Road in Avondale over the past few years.

    Beautiful florals. A phoenix rising. Kente patterns. A vanguard of multigenerational citizens.

    The Avondale community has been the driving force behind these works of art, with ArtWorks as a long-time partner.

    The newest work is a mural designed by the Detroit-based artist Tylonn Sawyer, honoring the late gospel composer Louise Shropshire, outside the fully renovated Hirsch Recreation Center. A series of new murals by local artist Cedric Michael Cox were installed in September at the recently rebuilt Avondale Town Center. Last year, ArtWorks completed a project spotlighting the professions of everyday neighborhood heroes by Dayton artist James Pate.

    Like most ArtWorks projects, youth apprentices, ages 14-21, were employed to create these installations under the guidance of professional artists.


    As the neighborhood’s quality of life plan puts it, Avondale’s vision is when “families and individuals—young and old—are recognized as the backbone of the community, finding strength together. They are vested in Avondale’s bright future.”

    “Creating a more robust public art plan for Avondale has been one of the many goals for the neighborhood for a long time,” said April Gallelli, Avondale Development Corporation (ADC) community organizer. “At ADC, we’re all about fostering a community of neighbors, and public art is a great way to do that. We can’t wait to engage the community in this project throughout this coming year.”

    To support this work, ArtWorks has opened a request for proposals (RFP) for concepts ranging up to $15,000 for light-based interactive public art installations along the new walking and bike trail behind the Hirsch Recreation Center. The installations are planned to be fabricated next spring and installed by June 2020.

    “ArtWorks is inspired to do this work in Avondale because of the residents’ desire for more public art that is reflective of this wonderful community with its rich culture and history of African American change-makers,” said Tamara Harkavy, ArtWorks founder & artistic director. “Avondale residents have said this was a priority, so we are excited to partner with them to bring this vision to life.”

    A project steering committee will select the four winning concepts and will include representatives from Avondale Community Council, ADC, Cincinnati Recreation Commission and Green Umbrella.

    ArtWorks will hire four professional artists to execute the work. Artists may request support from ArtWorks youth apprentices from Avondale in their proposals.

    “The goal for the installations will be to enhance safety and celebrate the neighborhood’s cultural heritage,” Harkavy said. “We want to channel the community’s creative force into these activations.”

    This opportunity for Avondale came from a National Endowment for the Arts Our Town grant for creative placemaking that supports partnerships of artists, arts organizations, and municipal government that work to revitalize neighborhoods. ArtWorks is one of the 57 organizations in the nation to receive an Our Town grant in 2019.


  • October 24, 2019 10:22 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: NRDC

    By: Sarah Stankorb

    If asked, most Amercians likely wouldn’t guess that Cincinnati is one of the country’s top climate champions. At the intersection of Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana, Cincinnati sits squarely in coal country. But the midsize metropolis has also been reducing its greenhouse gas emissions 2 percent each year since 2008, matching the decarbonizing rates of international climate leaders like Oslo and Paris.

    “For generations, coal has been a primary source of energy and a primary economic driver here,” says Bill Scheyer, former city administrator for Erlanger, Kentucky, and current trustee of the nonprofit Green Umbrella, which works to maximize the environmental sustainability of Greater Cincinnati. “People in general were slow to let go of that, because it’s just been such a given part of their lives.”

    But Green Umbrella has made incredible progress on that front since its founding in 1998. What began as a collection of volunteers who would meet in a local library to discuss ways to preserve green space has grown into a regional alliance that spans 10 counties in three states. Green Umbrella’s 200 member organizations and governments collaborate on everything from watershed preservation and reducing food waste to energy and transportation policies. Paired with ambitious climate planning at the city level, the group’s efforts have resulted in a cleaner, greener Cincinnati—from its grocery stores and banks to its police stations and zoo. And the Queen City is just getting started.


    Minutes after President Donald Trump announced in 2017 that he would withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley took to the steps of City Hall. There he told a crowd of reporters that Cincy would join the Compact of Mayors (now called the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy), a coalition of now more than 10,000 cities and local governments aiming to collectively lower their carbon emissions by 1.3 billion tons per year by 2030. Days later, Cranley drove down Kellogg Avenue, “and I looked at Lunken Airport, and I looked at the Water Works,” and said to himself, “You know, why don’t we put up a bunch of solar panels—here, on this land we own?”

    Within weeks, the mayor had committed the city to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035 and laid out a plan for a 25-megawatt photovoltaic array. With contracts currently under negotiation, the solar farm will power the Greater Cincinnati Water Works and the entire municipal government in what would be the country’s largest solar project owned and run by a city.

    Last year the city also updated its Green Cincinnati Plan. Launched in 2008, the plan now includes 80 strategies for cutting carbon pollution to 80 percent below 2006 levels by 2050. And as one of 25 cities chosen for the American Cities Climate Challenge (ACCC)—a partnership between Bloomberg Philanthropies, NRDC, Delivery Associates, and several other organizations to reduce emissions in the buildings, energy, and transportation sectors—Cincinnati is furthering its commitments to renewable power generation and energy efficiency.

    Carla Walker, the city’s climate advisor, who has been busy working to get more (and more affordable) electric vehicles on Cincy streets, says Cincinnati’s climate measures have made it a model for peer cities, such as Indianapolis and Columbus. With a population of 300,000, Cincinnati may be the second-smallest ACCC city, but when it comes to ambitious emissions cuts, it makes the top five. “We’re punching above our weight,” says Walker.

    In fighting climate change, renewable power and energy efficiency work hand in hand. Cincinnati is among 22 American cities developing 2030 Districts, which are urban areas committed to slashing transportation emissions, energy use, and water consumption in half by 2030. So far, 25 Cincy property owners, developers, and commercial tenants have signed on, committing more than 20 million square feet—roughly the size of 25 Madison Square Gardens—to the 2030 goal.

    One of Cincinnati’s crown jewels of efficiency is a police station on its west side. The District 3 Police Station, which reopened in 2015 on the site of a former car dealership, is the city’s first LEED Platinum building. Replete with a 329-kilowatt solar array, a geothermal heating system, and a rain garden, the $16 million building runs on its own energy—and it’s open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. This may be the most sustainable police station the country has ever seen. And in a city dealing with severe flooding issues and stormwater overflows, the native vegetation planted in the station’s new retention basin helps keep the site’s water in place. This makes Mary Jo Bazely, a volunteer who gardens and plants trees for the Cincinnati Parks Foundation, very proud. “There’s more green now. The water’s staying on site. It’s been remediated,” says Bazely before listing off several of the station’s energy conservation features that community members like herself made sure were included—right down to the outlets in the police lockers where officers can charge their cell phones and walkie-talkies with power from the sun shining outside.

    But the net-zero police station is far from being the lone green jewel in this city. Tremaine Phillips, former director of Cincinnati 2030 District, can easily rattle off the achievements of several of the group’s partners.

    Fifth Third Bank, headquartered in Cincy, is the first Fortune 500 company to purchase 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources—in this case, a solar farm in North Carolina that “couldn’t have been built but for our contract,” says Scott Hassell, the bank’s director of environmental sustainability. The Kroger grocery chain, which is headquartered in Cincinnati and has nearly 2,800 stores across the United States, is committed to a Zero Hunger/Zero Waste program and has pledged to eliminate plastic bags by 2025. The Cincinnati Zoo, considered one of the nation’s most sustainable zoos, boasts the largest publicly accessible urban solar array in the country. And the headquarters of Procter & Gamble met its 2020 greenhouse emissions and water use reduction goals two years early (too bad the company remains bent on destroying the Canadian boreal, a forest critical to mitigating climate change) and has already achieved zero manufacturing waste at more than 80 percent of its sites nationwide. The list goes on.

    Since the 1970s, a sizable chunk—about 33 percent—of Cincinnati’s population has moved out, mostly to the suburbs. But Chris Heckman and his wife, Kristen Myers, recently planted themselves firmly in the city proper. “We wanted something different for our kids, something more sustainable,” says Chris, a designer and local environmental volunteer who spent years as a stay-at-home parent. The family of four, whose roots lie elsewhere in the Midwest, bought an 1870 home built in Over-the-Rhine (OTR), a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood just north of the business district. While some OTR streets host entrepreneurs sporting beards and Warby Parkers, other blocks are quiet canyons of vacant buildings.


    The Heckman-Myers home had been one such vacant property. But with upgrades to its insulation, the addition of geothermal wells, rooftop solar panels, a Tesla Powerwall to store electricity, and a variety of other retrofits, the home is shooting for LEED Platinum certification. The family owns a car but usually takes public transit, including the Cincinnati streetcar, which runs in front of their house. (When Chris isn’t schlepping kids, he opts for a bike from the city’s bike-share program.) The Heckmans are eligible for federal tax refunds of 30 percent of what they paid for their solar and geothermal systems, and depending on the LEED level the house achieves, the household could be eligible for up to 15 years of city tax abatements, meaning they’d pay taxes only on the pre-improvement value of their property for those years.


    “I’m proud that Cincinnati is a leader in pushing what’s possible with sustainability goals,” says Chris, “but we all live on the planet, and wherever we live, we’ll need to be improving our climate aspirations.”

    Of course, not everyone can afford to get their home LEED certified. Half of Cincinnati’s children under the age of five live in poverty. In some neighborhoods, like Avondale, the median yearly household income is as low as $18,120. For this segment of the population, the share of their incomes devoted to energy bills is among the highest in the nation. The settlement of a recent lawsuit involving Duke Energy rates includes the utility paying $250,000 per year for the next six years to fund energy efficiency upgrades for low-income tenants.

    Often overlooked in discussions of energy bills is the importance of trees. The shade they provide helps reduce the heat island effect, which lowers the need to crank up the A/C. This is especially important in lower-income neighborhoods, where many residents live without air-conditioning or have health issues that make them more heat-vulnerable. Cincinnati has 40 percent tree coverage, but this varies greatly among neighborhoods, with less-affluent ones having fewer trees. With a priority on tree-deficient areas, the city’s Street Tree Program spends roughly $2 million per year to plant trees along sidewalks, and its ReLeaf program so far has provided nearly 20,000 free trees for planting on private property throughout the city.


    As the trees grow, so does Cincinnati’s resilience. Still, like many cities, Cincy has a long way to go before achieving its sustainability and equity goals. On this front, the Queen City is just getting started, but within the new Green Cincinnati Plan, each proposal includes details about how the sustainability measure will also increase equity. As before, Cincinnati is facing its climate challenges with eyes wide open—and will, one hopes, continue to impress.
  • October 24, 2019 10:18 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: CityBeat

    By: Nick Swartsell

    Cranley2In his 2019 State of the City address at Memorial Hall tonight, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, a Democrat, cast Cincinnati as a city prepared to move on progressive agenda items the Republican-controlled state and federal government are unwilling to take up while painting an expansive, if at times somewhat optimistic, portrait of the city's progress since his first election in 2013. 

    Cranley called the city's progress "the Cincinnati miracle," celebrating successes such as BLINK and big developments while, during a few moments, sidestepping some of the city's bigger challenges and controversies.

    The roughly 50-minute speech touched on the city's growing population — which Census estimates indicate has inched up a few thousand people during Cranley's term to top 300,000 — and efforts to grow jobs, curb gun violence, increase access to public transit and combat poverty and climate change.

    That last issue was the focus of two new initiatives the mayor discussed during his address — a solidified plan to move forward with an array of more than 31,000 solar panel array and a statewide climate summit to be hosted in Cincinnati next year.

    Cranley pinned increased rainfall and resultant landslides the city is seeing — average rainfall jumped from 40 inches in the city up to 1999 to 46.4 inches last year — on climate change and said state and federal governments are moving backward on addressing that global phenomenon. 

    "Donald Trump pulled our country out of the Paris Accord," Cranley said, also blasting state lawmakers for passing legislation called HB6 that bails out nuclear and coal plants at the expense of the state's renewable energy standards. "But in the meantime, we are picking up the slack and leading by example."

    Cranley said the city has locked down a site for 1,000 acres of solar panels, an array he says will generate 100 megawatts of energy. The majority of that array will exist outside the city in Highland County, while some of the panels will be placed on city-owned rooftops. The array will be constructed by local laborers with IBEW, Cranley says, and will create hundreds of jobs. 

    The mayor also announced that the city, along with Green Umbrella, the Ohio Mayors Alliance and the Ohio Climate Council, will host a statewide climate summit in April of next year designed to convince municipalities across the state to adopt the climate standards state lawmakers reduced or eliminated in HB6.

     "We will do what our state will not — take the responsible steps to invest in renewable energy and reduce our carbon footprint before it is too late," Cranley said.

    Cranley also pledged similar pressure when it came to gun restrictions — an area where, despite mass shootings like the tragic 2018 incident at Fountain Square and this year's deadly attacks in Dayton and El Paso, federal and state lawmakers have passed few new laws. 

    The mayor railed against what he called "the NRA-controlled state legislature" for inaction on gun restrictions recommended by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine. He also announced he is endorsing a statewide referendum effort to pass universal background checks.

    Elsewhere in his remarks, Cranley recognized the late civil rights leader Marian Spencer, Pamela Smitherman, the late wife of Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman, city employee of the year Ronetta Engram, public services employee Leroy Garrison, who died while on the job this year, retiring Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune — currently fighting cancer — and Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen for his company's move to stop using plastic bags and the first downtown location for the grocery in half a century.

    The mayor praised a number of community development initiatives in College Hill, Westwood and other neighborhoods as well as continued development of bike paths in the city. He also gave a big plug for Issue 22, the charter amendment that would end the city's portion of its earnings tax going to bus service if county voters approve a sales tax to fund Metro.

    Throughout his remarks, Cranley returned to touchstones that have become constants in his state of the city addresses — encouraging volunteerism, holding up the city's economic and population growth and efforts to reduce poverty and gun violence. Here, the mayor highlighted real progress but also painted a somewhat rosier picture than others might. 

    Spotlighting the city's economic growth, Cranley touted Cincinnati's economy's 3 percent growth rate, a claimed 1,000 businesses added since his first year in office and 2,300 jobs added this year. That 3 percent growth rate is roughly the same as U.S. GDP growth last year, though nationally growth has slowed to about 2.5 percent since then. 

    Cranley also celebrated construction of a $550 million expansion at Cincinnati Children's Hospital and FC Cincinnati's $250 million Major League Soccer stadium in the West End as major economic boosts to the region. However, he didn't mention the bitter wrangling associated with those projects and critiques from community groups upset about the displacement of residents near those facilities. 

    And while the mayor rightly noted that poverty has decreased in the city — falling from 31 percent to roughly 26 percent during his time in office — Cincinnati still has the fifth-highest poverty rate among U.S. cities with more than 250,000 people.

    "As proud as we are of our growth, inequality and poverty remain stubbornly too high and so we are trying to extend the light of the torch of the Cincinnati Miracle into the shadows," Cranley said during his address, but said some private employers' and the city's $15 minimum wage, his own Hand Up Initiative, the Childhood Poverty Collaborative (now renamed Cincinnati LIFT), the United Way and others are working to address the big gaps.

    Sometimes, the mayor's remarks seemed to contradict his previous stances, especially when it came to the city's budget.

    The mayor touted the fact that the city has increased its human services funding from $1.5 million to $7.1 million annually — though Cranley has sometimes fought with Cincinnati City Council as it sought to increase that funding. Cranley also praised Cincinnati Office of Environment and Sustainability Director Larry Falkin, despite keeping cuts in the city manager's budget this year that would have eliminated his position. Council restored that funding.

    Again and again in his address, Cranley — who is term-limited as mayor and has been rumored to have ambitions for a congressional run — returned to his underlying theme that Cincinnati (and he, as the mayor) were picking up where more conservative state and federal lawmakers and administrators had dropped the ball.

    "Given the abdication of state and national leadership, hope is hard to come by," he said. "But we are giving hope at the local level. The torch of hope that was dropped in Washington and Columbus has been picked up here and is lighting the way for the Cincinnati Miracle."

  • October 17, 2019 9:39 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: WCPO

    By: Pat LaFleur

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    NEWPORT, Ky. — Northern Kentucky's first protected bike lane opened along Saratoga Street in Newport this week -- so quickly that some might have missed it.

    City officials and bike safety advocates cut the ceremonial ribbon Wednesday evening on the bright green bike lanes now running along Saratoga, Fifth and Sixth Streets north to the Purple People Bridge. The bike lanes are considered "protected" because they provide cones as a visual barrier to separate bike traffic from other vehicle traffic.


    Despite their bold coloring, the lanes are currently in a temporary pilot phase, said Wade Johnston.

    Johnston heads up Tri-State Trails, a wing of the regional sustainability group Green Umbrella, and spent this past summer developing the Connect NKY program 

    in order to assess Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties' need for improved on-street bicycle infrastructure.

    "There's not a ton of on-road bike infrastructure in Newport or in Northern Kentucky for that matter, but we know there's a huge demand for it," Johnston told WCPO at Wednesday's ribbon cutting. "The Purple People Bridge is a huge artery that people use to get back and forth to Ohio. That's why this project comes off the bridge because it captures that traffic and helps distribute it safely out into the neighborhood."

    By Tri-State Trails' estimate, nearly 2,000 people cross the pedestrian- and bicycle-only bridge every day. On its northern end, the bridge connects to the Ohio River Trail, which currently runs east from Downtown toward Anderson Township. In Newport, the bridge connects to the in-progress Riverfront Commons trail project.

    "The idea is that we can show support for making more investments in on-road bike infrastructure, and hopefully the city will consider making them permanent," Johnston said.

    At least one of Newport's political leaders might already be on-board with the idea: City Commissioner Beth Fennell didn't just attend Wednesday's ribbon cutting, but she also read a proclamation recognizing Johnston's team of volunteers and helped cut the ribbon.

    Johnston said that he hopes small "demonstration projects" like this will help illustrate the region's need for better connections between its already-existing network of bike trails.

    "Right now our region has a lot of biking facilities, but they're not well-connected," Johnston said. "So we hop that through this type of demonstration project we can show that connectivity is really key to getting people to feel safe and making that choice to walk or bike or ride a scooter for that matter to get from point A to point B."

    The bike lanes will remain in place until Sunday, Oct. 20, when volunteers will disassemble them. Johnston said the next step then will be to assess its use over the week pilot and develop a plan to pitch a permanent installation to city officials.


  • October 16, 2019 9:49 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: WLWT 5

    By: Mollie Lair

    Temporary bike lanes are popping up for a few days in downtown Newport.

    The marked lanes along Saratoga, 5th and 6th Streets are only there until the end of the week, but it's a chance to gather data and present a plan to the city.

    Users hope these lanes will become a permanent fixture in Northern Kentucky.

    There's one less lane of vehicle traffic on 5th Street to make way for a different set of wheels.

    "To show that bike lanes are a good idea for communities to invest in to make their downtown's more walk-able and bike-able and improve roadway safety for drivers," said Wade Johnston.

    The project, called ConnectNKY, will last through Sunday.

    Johnston is director of Tri-State Trails.

    He said this project is a trial run and a chance to present the City of Newport with their findings.

    "The city has been very supportive of this idea. It was grant-funded, so it was low stress to them, no cost to the taxpayers," he said

    Volunteers painted the streets to denote the change in traffic flow.

    And the bike lane is not just for bike riders.

    "There's a demand because of the scooter trend to create more biking facilities that accommodate both bikes and scooters," said Johnston.

    Johnston said it's about a need to create a safe environment for riders, walkers and drivers, too.

    "Biking facilities create safer roadway conditions for cars and pedestrians because it's slowing traffic down and it's alerting drivers to get off their phones and pay attention to what's around them," he said.

    A spokeswoman said the city supports the projects and encourages participation.

    They will be waiting for data and community feedback before considering any long-term change.

    "There's a real need to create equity through how we invest in our transportation network, so it doesn't just cater to users who have the means to afford a car," said Johnston.

    Click here to complete a survey on the project.


  • October 15, 2019 9:53 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Soapbox Cincinnati

    Green Umbrella works to increase environmental sustainability.After an unseasonably hot October and a very wet spring, 7-in-10 Ohioans believe that climate change is affecting the country.

    “We’ve been having 90-degree weather in September and October this year,” says Ryan Mooney-Bullock, executive director of Green Umbrella in Cincinnati, which works to increase environmental sustainability. “That is not normal for our region … We had a bit of a drought this summer, but this spring and early summer was some of the wettest on record.”

    The results of climate change go beyond extreme weather: Over time, rural areas will see less crop production, and urban areas will see an increase in respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses.

    Mooney-Bullock encourages citizens to get involved in community-level efforts to increase sustainability at home, work, and in places of worship. “[…] Everybody working together, these small solutions, these incremental changes, really do make a difference,” she says.


  • October 14, 2019 9:46 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Hotel Business 

    NATIONAL REPORT—Resiliency, efficiency, and new technologies for energy management are trending topics across industries, but they’re not new. Consider that programs, such as the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s then-touted “Green Lights” program, which encouraged hoteliers to switch to efficient light bulbs, date back more than 30 years.

    Today, green measures are framed in terms of climate and social responsibility, but all along the question of return on investment has been a driver for solutions.

    “Without the economic advantages of energy efficiency and renewables, the greening of our building stock would occur at a much slower pace,” states Mike Moran, executive director of the Florida PACE Funding Agency. “Hotels nationally and particularly in Florida are looking to address energy-saving and critical infrastructure concerns such as wind resiliency while conserving capital.”

    Enter PACE financing. The public program, available in more than 20 states, removes capital constraints for resiliency and energy saving measures by providing long-term non-recourse private financing through special tax assessments. PACE is an option for financing hotel property improvement plans, renovations and brand conversions, and to fulfill obligations under franchise agreements.

    PACE has many advantages for the hospitality industry over other sources of CapEx, new construction or bridge financing. Payments are usually annual or semi-annual with the opportunity to delay repayment by capitalizing interest to allow owner time to stabilize property. Rather than short term bridge loans, PACE provides low cost construction capital for up to 30 years, meaning owners don’t need to seek permanent financing after renovating a new acquisition.

    “PACE financing helps development and redevelopment projects pencil out, particularly in the hotel industry, where the alternative could be a value engineering decision that will ultimately turn off guests,” stated Eric Alini, managing partner of Counterpointe Sustainable Real Estate. “We have been able to help hotels with everything from retrofits and resiliency to renewable energy sources that attract guests and improve the bottom line.”

    The classic model for PACE in hospitality is a retrofit.

    For example, LDI Management Company, owner of a 13-story, 237-key hotel in Cincinnati, OH used $1.79 million in PACE financing from Counterpointe Sustainable Real Estate to support the repositioning of its property into the Delta Hotels Marriott Cincinnati. The 15-year financing covered approximately 25% of their total construction budget, and 100% of the project value attributable to elevator/escalator upgrades, high efficiency lighting fixtures, HVAC, water heater, building automation, commercial appliances and a cool roof.

    Municipalities and states view PACE financing as an economic development and sustainability tool.

    “Cincinnati has a clear economic development plan and we are proud to be a part of it,” stated Sanjay Tibrewal, co-owner of LDI Management Company. “Creating such a unique, sustainable place would not be possible without strong public private partnerships such as the C-PACE program.”

    The program works for new construction and renewable energy projects as well. In California, Alini’s firm recently provided $12 million to the developers of The Tommie Hotel in Los Angeles and $5.4 million to a Hampton Inn & Suites in Rancho Cucamonga. Each project involves both energy efficiency measures such as HVAC and seismic strengthening, which is a unique attribute of the California program. Meanwhile the independent hotel franchise, King’s Inn of Anaheim and San Diego installed solar PV systems atop its facilities with a combined $1.97 million in PACE financing.

    To learn more about incorporating PACE financing into your next project, please visit: https://info.counterpointesre.com/hotelbusiness

  • October 13, 2019 10:02 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Journal-News

    By: Mike Rutledge

    HAMILTON — 

    There are many places along Hamilton’s yet-to-be-built Beltline biking/hiking path through the West Side where, except for the regular distant moans of train horns, it’s easy to believe a person is out in a remote forest.

    Just a tenth of a mile west of North B Street, south of Combs Park and north of the Black Street Bridge, the serenity begins, not far behind houses along Summer Street and Webster Avenue. Further west, near Cleveland Avenue, it’s possible to hear water in Two Mile Creek splashing over rocks.


    The rails from a former train spur that helped the former Champion Paper Mill move products to mainline railroad lines have been removed, but wooden railroad ties, buried to about the top of the ground, remain.

    The 2.96-mile-long Beltline path curves its way westward and southward along or through several West Side neighborhoods from there, including Prospect Hill, Washington, Taft Place, and Highland Park, with the possibility of continuing beyond that someday further south, into the Armondale neighborhood.

    Hamilton officials hoped construction would start this year on Phase I, between Cleveland and Eaton avenues, but that start has been pushed back until next year as the sale from CSX to the city took longer than expected. The sale closed in mid-August.

    That half-mile segment will run between the area near the Flub’s ice cream shop and Neal’s Famous BBQ, past the West Side Little League, and end near Jim Grimm Park.

    A bike path through the West Side was a very attractive idea Wednesday for Ronnie Coy, 47, of Hamilton, who was riding his bike along North B Street, and was harried by impatient drivers following him too close for his comfort.

    “People are idiots, basically,” he said. “They’re reckless, they don’t pay attention. People on phones nowadays. People are on their phones, and they’re texting, and they go off to the right, and you’re riding right there on the curbline. That’s why a lot of accidents happen.”

    He recently started riding on the bicycle path along the eastern shoreline of the Great Miami River.

    “I didn’t realize how good the one that we have now is,” he said. “I didn’t realize it went as far as it did.”

    He would use the Great Miami bike path more if it were better connected to parts of the city, he said. He likes that the proposed Beltline will run through neighborhoods, and the fact riders won’t have to deal with cars and trucks for much of the route.

    On Cleveland Avenue, near where the Phase I segment will start, William Uhl, owner of B&B Auto Service, said he is about to sell the business he has owned 36 years, so the bicycle path will not affect him.

    He is concerned for nearby residents, though.

    “I don’t know,” he said. “I look at things different, I guess. I think it’s going to draw in some shady stuff, shady characters. Because there’s too many woods and stuff down through here.”

    “They used to be a homeless shelter out here,” he said. “They had a big camp down here, and they finally moved them out. And then, every once in a while, I’ll see someone back there.”


    Uhl, 74, who lives in Auburn, said, “There’s a lot of nice people who live out here. It’s a legitimate concern of what it’s going to do to the neighborhood. It’s just a path that could be used for something other than a bike.”

    Residents of Hamilton neighborhoods have complained in recent months about homeless people, often riding bikes, stealing things from their homes.

    Wade Johnston, director of Tri-State Trails, a Cincinnati-based organization that advocates for bike paths, said bike trails make areas safer.

    “I think overall, there’s great precedent and examples for trails increasing safety in communities, because you get more people out, walking and biking, and creating presence where it might not otherwise be,” Johnston said. “And those people, if they see illicit activity happening, they’re likely going to call police. Whereas right now, that is an isolated rail corridor that from what I’ve heard has had litter and illicit activity happening on it that is otherwise unreported.”


    “So we believe building the trail will increase safety and overall quality of life, because it will increase activity on that corridor,” he said.

  • October 11, 2019 12:09 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Newport Tries Out Temporary Bike Lanes 

    By: Ann Thompson

    If you want to help build temporary bike lanes in Newport, Connect NKY and Tri-State Trails could use your help Saturday. They're hoping to show the city permanent ones are needed.

    From left: Project Chair Rachel Comte and Wade Johnston with Green Umbrella stand just off the foot of the Purple People Bridge where a temporary bike lane will be on Saratoga.Urban planner Rachel Comte says Northern Kentucky is behind when it comes to other bike-friendly areas in the U.S. "We want to get the people out and biking, not the 'put your spandex on and ride 100 miles' people. It's more, go down Sixth Street; connect to Bellevue; to the Kroger; the high school. Get everyone out and riding."

    Listng..Urban planner Rachel Comte says Northern Kentucky is behind when it comes to other bike-friendly areas in the U.S. "We want to get the people out and biking, not the 'put your spandex on and ride 100 miles' people. It's more, go down Sixth Street; connect to Bellevue; to the Kroger; the high school. Get everyone out and riding."

    She's the project chair for the temporary bike lanes paid for by The Devou Good Project.

    Comte says there's lots of evidence people want to ride bikes around town. "We're seeing people move into the cities everywhere because people want to get out of their cars. They want to bike. They want to walk. It's healthier."

    This summer she asked Newport residents where they wanted the bike lanes, where they wanted to travel, and what areas they felt most scared when riding.

    "What's so critical to bike infrastructure being successful is having facilities that people feel safe, it feels convenient, it's separated from traffic and we're trying to do it with this project," says Wade Johnston, director of Tri-State Trails at Green Umbrella.

    The temporary lanes will be on Saratoga and Fifth and Sixth Streets. Saratoga is right off the Purple People Bridge, which Johnston says is the most highly traveled trail in a nine-county region - 1,900 people cross on foot and bikes every day.

    "We view this project in Newport as an opportunity to show that bike lanes are not some scary thing that are going to ruin our downtown, but bike lanes are going to make our neighborhoods more livable," Johnston says.

    Bike enthusiasts hope Newport makes the lanes permanent. Counters will determine how many people used them.


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