For me, January is not so much a month, but a blur. To prevent the whole year from flying by unchecked, I like to pencil in some dates for important events. I asked my good friend and colleague Michele Kilroy, program coordinator for the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the United States Green Building Council, to give me a hand in charting out some green building and sustainability dates for 2011. This impromptu planning session turned into a great conversation about the "state of sustainability" and how folks can get involved right here in Ohio.
Kilroy got her LEED AP credential around the same time I did, and we have been friends and compatriots in promoting green design ever since. LEED, an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a voluntary standard for built environments recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. The non-profit USGBC is the parent organization that established the LEED rating system in 1998. In Northern Ohio, there are about 62 LEED certified projects with nearly 400 other projects registered to be reviewed for certification.
As we chatted, as I asked Kilroy for her general read on the year ahead for Northeast Ohio in sustainable development. "The increased awareness and implementation of sustainable practices in Northeast Ohio is very encouraging," says Kilroy. "More people have embraced the concept that sustainability positively influences our present and long-term environment, and is an economic driver in terms of generating efficiencies and reducing waste." She also listed several victories for the year just past. The rise of the Evergreen Cooperatives, forward movement of all the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 working groups, the Advanced Energy Special Improvement District, Cleveland Energy Saver Program, Youngstown's Global Green project, the Northeast Collegiate Sustainable Practices Consortium and 20 additional buildings becoming LEED certified.
What follows is a Q&A about sustainable and green practices that are happening now or planned for the remainder of 2011.
Jonathan Sin-Jin Satayathum: You are in the nexus of a lot of green development information, and just sorting through all the dates and projects can be a full time job. What are some major projects underway, and milestones that folks in the green scene should keep an eye on?
Michele Kilroy: Some notable green building groundbreakings include the Cleveland Flats East Bank project [registered to be Certified for LEED for Neighborhood Development], Cleveland Medical Mart & Convention Center, the new home for the Museum of Contemporary Art in the University Circle area, the Collinwood Recreation Center, and The National Polymer Innovation Center in Akron ... locally and nationally, there are events and expos big and small for every interest, like Greenbuild in Toronto this October, the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 Summit this September, the Cleveland Botanical Garden's Sustainability Symposium in February and the EcoWatch Green Gala in April. [Pictured: The National Polymer Innovation Center.]