Sustainability + Environment

Hardcore commuters fuel Cleveland's two-wheeled renaissance
Meet Italo Gonzalez. He rides 6.6 miles to work most every day – including those marked by rain, sleet and snow. And he's not alone.
Upcycle Parts Shop engages the community though creative reuse
A conversation with Nicole McGee about the Upcycle Parts Shop and her work as a community organizer, fundraiser, and creative reuse artist.
 
Downtown Hilton glitters with all things Cleveland
Last Friday, a group of visitors gathered in the lobby of the new Hilton Cleveland Downtown as they readied for the 2016 Transplant Games of America at the adjacent Convention Center. They blilnked in awe at the beauty of the 32-story hotel and also marveled over the professionalism of the staff of 350.

The positive reaction is exactly what the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County officials aimed to achieve when construction on the nearly 614,000-square-foot hotel, operated by Hilton Worldwide, began in 2014.
 
The 600-room Hilton was designed by the Atlanta architecture firm Cooper Carry to show off all of Cleveland’s assets while providing a world-class stay, says Carolyn Deming, director of public relations for the hotel.
 
“Nearly 500,000 visitors who have never been to Cleveland are expected in the first year,” she says. “We already have business groups on the books through 2020. There are really exciting things happening here and this is a chance to see what Cleveland has to offer.”
 
A mural composed of 2,800 selfies embodies that assertion. Located at the bottom of the escalators to the connecting Convention Center, the photos were submitted in the #MyClePhoto contest last year and were collected and assembled into a Cleveland skyline mural by North Carolina-based hospitality art curator Kalisher.

Get all the details on the new Hilton and see a host of gorgeous photos here.
Tiger Passage aims to inspire, connect people with animals
Last week, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo opened the highly anticipated Rosebrough Tiger Passage.

First announced last September, the $4.1 million installation occupies a staggering 48,000 square feet, which includes the space designated for the cats as well as their adoring fans. The new habitat includes climbing poles, meadows, shallow streams, soaking pools and outdoor overnight access. Visitors can enjoy highly interactive viewing as the animals have access to overhead catwalks. Large viewing windows and paths that traverse the environment round out the experience, which encourages visitors to explore and seek out the Zoo's two resident Amur tigers, Klechka, a 12-year old male, and Dasha, a 15-year-old female.
 
Per Andi Kornak, the Zoo's director of animal and veterinary programs, the two cats wintered at the Zoo's Sarah Allison Steffee Center for Zoological Medicine while Panzica Construction Company of Mayfield Village completed the build-out of the new habitat. The Cleveland based firm Van Auken Akin Architects and WDM Architects out of Wichita, Kansas; which specializes in creating sustainable, authentic environments that immerse and inspire zoo visitors; designed the sprawling space.
 
The two cats were understandably shy during the grand opening, said Kornak.
 
"It will take them a few weeks to acclimate to their new exhibit," she noted during the event. "It's five times the size of the old one so there's lot of space to explore and become comfortable with."
 
The Zoo's executive director Christopher Kuhar said the space is designed to allow the animals to prowl, climb and saunter around in a way that they've never had the opportunity to do before.
 
"While it seems that we're focusing exclusively on the animals," said Kuhar, "the reality is that the best possible guest experience is to see animals performing their natural behavioral repertoire, to see them moving around and exercising and doing all those really cool things that cats do."
 
Kuhar added that the new exhibit also focuses on education as there are only 500 Amur tigers left in the wild.
 
"We want to connect people with wildlife, to inspire personal responsibility to take conservation action," he said. "What we hope is that people are going to see these great cats and be inspired to do something in their own way to help animals in the wild."
 
Urban Community School designated as a National Green Ribbon School
Urban Community School (UCS), 4909 Lorain Avenue, has been named the only National Green Ribbon School in the state of Ohio by the U.S. Department of Education, which gives this distinction to select schools, districts, and educational institutions across the country for success in reducing environmental impact and utility cost, improving health and wellness, and ensuring effective environmental education. UCS was recognized for its ongoing efforts to reduce its ecological footprint while promoting active, healthy lifestyles for children and their families.
 
“We commend the faculty, staff, students, and parents of Urban Community School for their efforts in creating a green learning environment and providing leadership to other schools,” said Maureen Dowling, director for the Office of Non-Public Education in the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Innovation and Improvement, in a statement.
 
“Urban Community School is honored to receive this distinction from the U.S. Department of Education,” added UCS principal Lisa De Core. “Our school is dedicated to reducing our environmental impact while also incorporating green principles into our pedagogy and teaching our students the importance being green.”
 
De Core cited a number of recent initiatives the school has undertaken that demonstrate its commitment to green, sustainable principals and learning, including:
 
·  Setting up timers on computers and lights to power them down
when not in use
 
·  Installing refillable water bottle stations and water fountains
with filters
 
·  Encouraging students to carry reusable water bottles to avoid
disposal of plastic bottles
 
·  Composting food waste in The Early Childhood wing and recycling
waste throughout the campus
 
·  Using recycled ink cartridges and purchasing 100% recycled
paper products.
 
School representatives will travel to Washington, D.C. in July to receive the award.
 
Tiny Homes Take Shape in EcoVillage
A tiny home project in Detroit Shoreway's EcoVillage sparks controversy, attracts admirers.
Rethinking recycling
Dropping that plastic water bottle into a recycling bin is just the beginning of the story. And far too often, we're all making big recycling mistakes.
Metroparks a-buzz over cicada emergence
Trending: urban wineries
Meet urban winemakers and visit a vineyard in an unlikely corner of the city in this closer look at NEO's fledgling winemaking movement.
Cleveland Neighborhood Progress announces finalists for Vibrant City Awards
Cleveland Neighborhood Progress (CNP) has announced 21 finalists for its 2016 Vibrant City Awards. Winners will be revealed on May 2 at the second annual Vibrant City Awards Lunch, hosted by CNP and presented by Key Bank and Community Blight Solutions.
 
“We are proud to convene community partners and stakeholders to celebrate city neighborhoods. These leading efforts in neighborhood revitalization are what help us all create a vibrant city,” says Joel Ratner, president and CEO of CNP. “The organizations and individuals being honored have displayed tremendous passion, dedication and collaboration. We’re excited to recognize them for their successful efforts in community development.”
 
CNP received more than 70 nominations for this year's awards.

Learn more about all 21 finalists and continue reading.
Rain garden workshop slated for April 2 at Shaker Lakes Nature Center
On Saturday, April 2, from 10 am to noon at the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes, 2600 South Park Blvd., the Doan Brook Watershed Partnership and the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes will present "Rain Garden Workshop: How to Earn Stormwater Credits."
 
The timely workshop comes ahead of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's plan to begin billing for stormwater this summer. Tori Mills from the Doan Brook Watershed Partnership will explain how impervious areas are measured, how fees are calculated, and give examples of stormwater credit opportunities. Garrett Ormiston from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History will explain where, why and how to construct a rain garden and what native plants work best.
 
For more information and to register online, visit The Nature Center at Shaker Lakes, or call 216-321-5935. The workshop fee is $8 for Nature Center members, $10 for non-members.
 
Get more details here.
Registration open for third 4 Miles 4 Water event on May 7 at Edgewater
Drink Local Drink Tap's third 4 Miles 4 Water event will be held on Saturday May 7 from 2 to 10 p.m. at the Cleveland Metroparks' Edgewater Reservation. Activities include a one-mile walk, four-mile run, free "All Things Water" festival with concert, and Guinness World Record Attempt. More than 1,500 participants are expected, including more than 500 registered runners and walkers.

Registration fees vary, but all proceeds will go to Drink Local Drink Tap's mission to preserve our fresh water resources and to have a positive impact on the global water crisis by creating more awareness and reconnecting people with the fresh water resources in their own backyards. Here are links to the participant form and the exhibitor form. There are also sponsorship opportunities.

More information is available here.
Sustainable Cleveland 2019, Great Lakes Brewery, offer up free happy hour apps, networking
Sustainable Cleveland 2019 invites everyone to be a part of "The Year of Sustainable Transportation" and get involved in some of the organization's 2016 projects on Wednesday, March 16, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Great Lakes Brewing Company, 2701 Carroll Avenue. This free public event will feature networking along with free happy hour appetizers and a cash bar.

Attendees are asked to register for the event here.
Hemlock Trail set to make all the right connections
A multi-purpose trail planned for the City of Independence will serve as a connecting point with the Towpath Trail while also catalyzing the region economically, planners say.

Construction of Hemlock Trail is scheduled for the first quarter of 2017 following a $500,000 grant the project received from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Clean Ohio Trails fund. The money will cover a portion of the venture while Independence officials make plans to raise the remaining $1.1 million, says city engineer Donald Ramm.

Partner group West Creek Conservancy, which helped with the grant effort, has been approaching trail advocates for single donations. Meanwhile, the city will call on local foundations to garner additional dollars, says Ramm.

Urgency is the watchword moving forward, as the ODNR grant must be used within 18 months of signing. Engineering for the $3.4 million path began last year and should be completed by the end of 2016. Construction bidding will commence early next year, with work starting in spring 2017. If all goes as planned, the trail will open to the public in 2018.

When complete, the 1.7-mile Hemlock Trail will begin at the intersection of Brecksville Road and Selig Drive, ending  at the Towpath Trail connection on Canal Road in Valley View.  That linkage is significant for a population base that currently has no easy means of accessing the iconic 85-mile track, Ramm says.

"We're excited about it," he says. "Hemlock Trail will be a major link for our residents to get from the center of town to Towpath Trail."

The 10-foot-wide path, designed to cross through private, industrial and national park properties, will have room for both bikers and joggers. Four or five bridges will be built along the trail's snake-like course, along with space for up to 15 parking spots.

Giving Independence residents a new place to walk, run and bike can have a positive impact on local economic development as well, believe supporters.  Officials view Hemlock Trail as one piece of an amenities package that can attract people from outside the region and bolster a downtown redevelopment plan now in the preliminary planning stage.

"As a community asset, the path is going to be significant to the city," says Ramm. 
Lakewood fish shelf coming along swimmingly, officials say
A "fish shelf"  designed to stabilize about 300 feet of riverfront on the Lakewood bank of the Rocky River is on track for completion this fall.

Last June, the City of Lakewood received a $123,000 grant from the Ohio EPA for streambank restoration and construction of the shelf, which will be comprised of former sound barrier walls or other repurposed concrete construction materials, notes city engineer Mark Papke.

The fish shelf will be built near the Rocky River Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks, close to the Lakewood Animal Shelter off Metropark Drive. Bidding will begin in April while construction on the approximately $204,000 venture is scheduled for June. Lakewood will pay $82,000 toward the project cost.

The portion of the riverbank slated for restoration is unstable and eroding rapidly, says Papke. "The trees there have fallen into the river," he says. "There's no vegetation at all now."

While the fish shelf won't replace the 15 feet of land lost to erosion over the last several years, it will protect the bank from further damage, Papke says. In addition, the shelf will prevent the influx of phosphorous-laden sediment into the river. Phosphorous, a primary plant nutrient, is known to play a role in creating potentially damaging algae.

Meanwhile, new trees and shrubs will serve the dual purpose of beautifying and further firming up the space. Gaps in the rubble can provide a habitat for additional greenery as well as animal life.

If planners have their way, the fish shelf will also be site a for sport fishing. The water around the proposed shelf is already known for steelhead trout.

"We met a couple of fishermen last week to show them the plans," says Papke. "They appreciate the chance to have better access to the river."

Partner organization Cleveland Metroparks will conduct a survey prior to and following construction to determine if the enterprise can attract even more fish to the area, Papke says.

City officials estimate the fish shelf to be ready by October. Papke is confident the project will be both an environmental and civic boon for the region.

"It's giving us an opportunity to stabilize the bank and provide a nice place for fishing," he says.