Sustainable Living in Cleveland

Cleveland, Ohio is one of the United State’s older cities, and with an industrialized focus, the city has also had a lengthy history of pollution and environmental hazards. In 1969, Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River caught fire for the thirteenth time over a period of a hundred years due to extreme levels of toxins and industrial waste in the water. Prior to the fire, the river was covered in a brown oily substance. No animals were able to survive life in the Cuyahoga River.

While the Cuyahoga caught on fire multiple times, it was the 1969 fire that led to the creation of multiple environmental protection bills and agencies. The Clean Water Act was one of the foremost bills signed into law as a result of Cleveland’s pollution issues. The Cuyahoga fire also spurred the creation of the national Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

In 2011, Cleveland was ranked the 20th worst area in the nation for air quality. The Environmental Protection Agency stated that there were 15 days in 2010 where the air quality in Cleveland was below the existing federal regulations due to extreme levels of smog. To counteract this, recently the city reached compliance with the federal standards for smog following a $1.5 million multiple year study on Cleveland’s air quality.

Cleveland’s longstanding pollution problem has lead to the creation of the Cleveland EcoVillage. The EcoVillage is an area of the city that has been redeveloped and regenerated using sustainable eco-friendly building practices and initiatives. The village was developed to easily accessible to pedestrians and those who use bicycles for transportation. The village is also close to Cleveland’s public transportation system. Older homes in the area have been remodeled using green technology, while new homes are built using the latest advances in sustainability. The village also includes community gardens, a mile long community walking path, and a large farmer’s market. Plans have been created for a community recreation center with more than 22 acres of green space.

For those who are unable to relocate to the EcoVillage but still seek to live sustainably in Cleveland, the Cleveland Community Development Department provides a Housing Trust Fund to provide financial incentives for green, Energy Star, and LEED silver building practices. The city of Cleveland is also in the process of developing a citywide bikeway, including connections between neighborhoods and subways and the installation of 500 bike racks at area schools, stores, recreation centers, and downtown businesses.

The city of Cleveland has also developed initiatives to encourage residents to recycle. Starting in late 2011, all trash bins and recycling carts will include identification chips to allow city workers to monitor how often Cleveland’s residents are recycling. For those who aren’t recycling regularly, the city of Cleveland will issue a $100 fine for residents who have trash carts filled more than ten percent with recyclable materials. This initiative encourages residents to recycle frequently and reduce the amount of trash created.

The Green City Blue Lake Institute is one of the most active organizations promoting sustainability in Cleveland, Ohio. This organization was formed by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History after a merger with EcoVillage Cleveland. Green City Blue Lake aims to improve sustainability in water, energy, economy and business, food systems, land, transportation, green building, health, arts, spiritual, and education areas of the city. The organization has developed goals and initiatives in all of these areas in order to help move Cleveland away from a city known for pollution and environmental hazards to a sustainability model for other US cities.

After a lengthy history of industrial and agricultural pollution that lead to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Water Act, the city of Cleveland, Ohio is quickly moving towards sustainability. Using green technology, sustainability initiatives, and eco-friendly redevelopment, the city is now able to give residents a number of options for sustainable living in an urban setting.

Companies considering expanding business operations or opening new offices in Cleveland Ohio will find a plethora of ways in which to support ecologically friendly initiatives, from sustainable building schemes to energy efficient office equipment.