Thursday, October 7, 2010

10/10/10 World's Largest Day of Practical Action to Fight Climate Change

Sustainability activists and community leaders will meet this Sunday in OTR for what will be a great event to support environmental initiatives throughout the world. The "Nati Work Party" will be one of thousands of events going on around the world initiated by 350.0rg. Starting at 10am, the event will include speeches by local leaders, an ecofair, and a volunteer work project for our city's urban farms!

Ecofair participants will include Central Ohio River Valley Local Food , Civic Garden Center, Home Energy Check-up, Park + Vine, MoBo Bicycle Coop, Keep Cincinnati Beautiful, Ohio Citizen Action, and Pick Up America. Scheduled speakers include Ken Stern (Findlay Market Urban Farm Manager), Larry Falkin (City of Cincinnati Office of Environmental Quality Director), State Representative Denise Driehaus, and United States Congressman Steve Driehaus.

The event will be held at Findlay Market's urban farm at the corner of Elm and Liberty. At 4pm, an after party will begin at Neons on 12th and Main that will feature live music and great spirits!

Hope to see you all there!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Buy Green: timed power strips

Electronics and appliances can use valuable electricity even when they're turned off.  Timed power strips eliminate this problem by shutting off the power to electronics and appliances when they aren't being used.  Timed power strips are inexpensive and offer a quick return on investment through energy savings.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cincinnati State provides training for a green workforce

Cincinnati State Technical and Community College has quickly become the region's leader in sustainability education. As the number of green jobs in the U.S. continues to increase, access to quality instruction for professionals is becoming important. Many times, those looking for sustainable education opportunities are forced to commute long distances to receive training. Hopefully the availability of these classes will make Cincinnati a hot spot for green education and job growth in the future.

Cincinnati State currently offers a range of different sustainable education opportunities. Students can major in areas of study like renewable energy/energy efficiency, or they can choose to take certification courses at the Workforce Development Center. Certifications can be received in energy auditing, sustainable building (LEED), and solar panel installation.

Picture by

Monday, September 20, 2010

References: Green Home Improvement

In Green Home Improvement: 65 Projects That Will Cut Utility Bills, Protect Your Health and Save the Environment, Daniel Chiras gives clear, succinct instruction on how to make your home more sustainable.  Chiras is well known for his many published works on creating healthy, green homes.  

Monday, September 13, 2010

Xavier University lecture series focuses on green urbanism

In a couple of weeks, Xavier University will be kicking off its 2010-2011 lecture series, Ecology and Sustainability: Green Urbanism. Lasting until April 2011, the lecture series will focus on the strategies and challenges of creating a sustainable urban environment.

Will Allen, an urban farming expert, will be speaking on September 26 at 7:00PM. Allen is well known for his Milwaukee non-profit, Growing Power. Because of his efforts Allen received the 2008 Macarthur Genius Award.

Check out the entire lecture series schedule. Admission is free and open to the public.

Photo by: Travis Estell

Buy Green: Envi Home Energy Monitor

The Envi Home Energy Monitor ($120) makes tracking home energy use fun and easy.  Attaching the monitor to your electrical box allows you to receive real time information about how much energy your home is consuming.

The monitor has some really great features.  The monitor itself is wireless and can typically be taken anywhere around the house.  The monitor updates energy usage every six seconds, making it easy to tell which appliances are using the most energy in your home.  These features alone make this a great buy, but the coolest thing  about this monitor is that it can connect to Google Power Meter, an application that allows you to track your home's energy usage on the internet.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Village Green Foundation

Though the outdoor growing season is coming to a close, now is still a great time to learn about gardening.  The Village Green Foundation, located in Northside, is a blossoming coop where people of all skill levels can come together and garden in an urban environment.  For $40 and 5 volunteer hours annually, anyone can gain access to a plot of land behind the foundation's green house.  Green house space is also available upon request.  The Village Green Foundation is a great place to meet new people and share knowledge about sustainable food growth.

1415 Knowlton St. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Resources: The Urban Homestead

Learn how to grow your own food and live sustainably in an urban environment.

The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City
Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen

Buy green: kilowatt meter

Have you ever wandered how much electricity that old refrigerator in your basement uses? You may be surprised that many of your old appliances can be costing you up to $75 a month! Buying an inexpensive, portable kilowatt meter can help you save a ton of cash in the long run by showing you how much energy each of your appliances is using.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cincinnati Habitat's first green build progressing

Cincinnati Habitat's first green rated home is progressing nicely and should be ready for shingles and siding within the next couple weeks. The house is located in College Hill on 1141 Homeside and is slated to receive green building certifications from the National Association of Home Builders and Energy Star.

The design for the home came from a contest held by Habitat affiliates in Ohio and the Ohio American Institute of Architects Committee on the Environment. Architects around Ohio entered hoping to have their green designs built by Habitat. Allison Beer and Jessica Farmer of SHP Leading Design won the contest and their design is the one currently being built in Cincinnati.

Check out Cincinnati Habitat's Green Building Blog for progress updates and green building info!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

UC Re*use market

UC will be holding another Re*use market from Aug.30-Sept. 1.  The Re*use market occurs at the end of each term when students and teachers are typically getting rid of extra stuff.  Anyone can go to the market and donate or pick up items for free!  All extra stuff is donated to charity.  It's a great way to prevent perfectly good items from taking up space in our landfills! 12:00pm-6:00pm daily at Old St. George on Calhoun.

DIY: Installing a low-flow shower head

 Installing a low flow shower head is easy and can save up to 2/3 of your water during showering.  Take a look at these easy installation instructions.  Make sure to also pay attention to the instructions provided with your new shower head.   

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Green directory addition: Cincinnati Maintenance

Looking for an eco-friendly cleaning service? Cincinnati Maintenance offers a variety of green, healthy cleaning services for homes and businesses.

Cincinnati Maintenance

Green buy of the week: GCEA energy audit

Request a $50 home energy audit from the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance. Comprehensive energy audits usually cost $300-$500. Take advantage of this great subsidy provided by GCEA. Once your audit is complete, energy experts can determine if any energy upgrades are needed. GCEA also provides financial incentives for these upgrades.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Healthy Cleaning Seminar

Learn about green, healthy cleaning strategies with Cincinnati Maintenance and Greener Stock on September 16th at 6:30pm.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cincinnati becoming more bicycle friendly

Over the past year, Cincinnati has been making steady improvements in infrastructure and initiatives aimed at making the city more bicycle friendly. In 2009, neighborhoods like Clifton, Northside, OTR, and East Walnut Hills made improvements to bicycle infrastructure. In June 2010, City Council approved Cincinnati's first comprehensive bike plan. The plan includes legislation that protects cyclists and adds 329 miles of bike friendly street infrastructure over the next 15 years. Some of the legislation has already been implemented throughout the city. Take a look at the progress!

Northside bike Corral (pictured above)
Located on Hamilton and Lingo, this recently installed bike corral can hold up to 12 bikes in one automobile parking spot. More of these should be coming to commercial areas around Cincinnati in the future. Northside has also added 28 other bike racks to the business district.

Parking garage ordinance
All new or expanded parking garages in Cincinnati will now have to provide 1 space of bicycle parking for every 20 spaces of automobile parking. Bicycle spaces max out at 24.

Safe distance law
Passed in late June, this legislation requires all drivers to give cyclists at least 3 feet of space when passing. The law also prohibites people from driving and parking in bike lanes. I can tell you from personal experience that this legislation was much needed. Hopefully the city has an advocacy or signage plan so everyone actually knows about the law.

Clifton bike parking
29 bike racks were installed on Ludlow Avenue during the sidewalk renovation. Every parking meter has a metal ring for locking bicycles.

Dana bike lanes
Two automobile lanes were removed from Dana Avenue between Madison and Griggs to make room for the addition of bike lanes.

Ohio River Trail
Construction has been moving along on what will be 23 miles of trail from Coney Island to Sayler Park. The trail will eventually connect to the Little Miami Scenic Trail, which will connect all the way to Lake Erie when completed.

Yes, those arrows with the bikes on them do have a name. Sharrows were painted on areas of Clifton Ave., Ludlow Ave., and Madison Ave. as a pilot project by The City to test their effectiveness. The pilot project showed that bike ridership went up when sharrows were put in place.

Queen City-South Mill Creek Greenway Trail
Construction has already begun on this biking/hiking trail along the Mill Creek. When the first three phases are complete (around 2012), it will stretch from Mitchell Ave. to the Mill Creek Rd. Bridge. Over the next five years, plans involve connecting the trail to the Ohio River Trail at US 50.

Bicycle Maps!

Food for thought...
Does Cincinnati have inherent qualities that make it more or less bicycle friendly?

Green directory addition: MOBO Bicycle Coop

MOBO bicycle coop has been added to the green directory!  Located in Northside (1415 Knowlton), the coop's mission is too make cycling more practical and accessible for those in Cincinnati.  For an annual fee of $20.00, you can use the shops tools and resources to work on your own bike.  You can even adopt a donated bike. 

MOBO Bicycle Coop

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thursday, August 5, 2010

OTR Homegrown

On Tuesday, I stumbled across some of the Over-the-Rhine Homegrown gardens while taking photos for the blog. I spoke with Mark, who told me a little about the program and how it works.

OTR Homegrown is a group dedicated to providing organically grown, healthy produce for the community. Through community involvement, the organization spreads the word about healthy eating and sustainable living. In 2010 OTR Homegrown has teamed up with Findlay Market, the Civic Garden Center, the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission, and the City to increase production and distribution of healthy food.

Both gardens are on Pleasant st. just south of Findlay Market. OTR Homegrown is at Findlay Market Sundays 10AM-3PM and Tuesdays 3PM to 6PM. For information about volunteering and other initiatives , please visit the OTR Homegrown website.

Thanks to Mark for letting me in to take pics!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Do it yourself: Seal your outlets!

Electrical outlets can cause problems for a home's thermal envelope. Air moves freely through wall and ceiling outlets, potentially ruining a homes insulation value. Check out this great DIY fix for those pesky outlets.

Planet Green: Insulate your outlets

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Buy Green

Bali Exterior Solar Shades

Place these shades on the exterior of windows to block UV rays and keep your home cool.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Cincinnati and New Urbanism

When looking at a map of Cincinnati, the first thing one notices is the amount of distinguishable neighborhoods. The division of Cincinnati into manageable, dense neighborhoods is one of its greatest attributes. These types of communities are the core of an idea called New Urbanism.
New Urbanism uses the disciplines of community planning, architecture, and sustainable design to reduce the negative environmental and social effects of urban sprawl. Central to New Urbanism is the idea of returning the city to the pedestrian. Since the rise of the automobile, people have become less friendly toward the environment and less friendly toward each other. New Urbanism aims to end this trend through the use of community connectivity. This typically means that amenities and transportation needs should always be within a 5-10 minute walk of one's residence. But it also means connecting communities socially through the use of shared spaces like plazas, squares, and even sidewalks. To achieve the goal of new Urbanism, communities must, first and foremost, be mixed use and high density.

This is where Cincinnati has such an advantage. Like many cities, Cincinnati has been plagued by separate use zoning codes that have caused sprawl and slumming within the urban core. But most Cincinnati communities are still high in density and contain central commercial areas that are walkable and pedestrian friendly.

Clifton, where I grew up, is a prime example of a neighborhood that follows the principles of New Urbanism. Ludlow Avenue is home to a library, grocery store, pharmacy, movie theater, restaurants, shops, and most recently a hardware store. A few blocks away from this street are hospitals, schools, and parks. All of these amenities are within a ten minute walk of most homes and connected with a grid system that is pedestrian and bicycle friendly. Many of Cincinnati's neighborhoods (ie Northside, College Hill, Mt. Lookout, Mt. Washington, and O'bryanville, Mt. Adams) mimic this same community design. If we take advantage of the neighborhoods and infrastructure that we already have, Cincinnati could be a hub for New Urbanism in the future.

Map provided by the City of Cincinnati and

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Local universities promote sustainability

Local universities are going green by implementing comprehensive sustainability plans. The plans include initiatives involving transportation, building, energy, and waste management. Also included are helpful tips about being more environmentally conscious. Take a look!

University of Cincinnati
Xavier University
Miami University
Northern Kentucky University

Monday, July 19, 2010

Healthy Building Materials: Flooring

With the goal of sustainability in mind, one must think about both the earth and its inhabitants. Often times, building materials save resources but are unhealthy for humans. Finding the perfect material that is sustainable for humans and nature is sometimes difficult. Flooring is no exception. Because it is mass produced and in constant contact with humans, it is of the utmost importance that flooring be sustainable. Here are some examples of healthy flooring.

Formaldehyde-free OSB

Oriented strand board (OSB) is the chip board that you often see on the outside of homes before siding goes up. It is used for a variety of building purposes, including wall sheathing and floor decking. Unfortunately most OSB contains formaldehyde, a volatile organic compound that evaporates at room temperature and can cause a host of health issues. Purchasing low/no formaldehyde OSB improves a building's indoor air quality.

Stained/painted Concrete
If a building is on a concrete slab, you don't have to worry about OSB on the floors. Stained concrete eliminates the need to use any extra natural resources. When done correctly, stained concrete costs very little and can be as attractive as tile or hardwood.

Natural Carpet

Choose carpet that is made from natural materials like wool or biobased-plastic (sustainably grown). Avoid PVC and other petrochemical based products. Natural carpet is recyclable, renewable, and takes less energy to produce. Carpet pads are also produced using petrochemicals. Buy carpet pads made from wool, recycled nylon, rubber, or newsprint.
Earth Weave
Nature's Carpet

From mining to production, tile usually has a high embodied energy. Make sure that any tile that you purchase is locally produced (Within 500 miles), so there is less energy wasted on transportation. Tile made from recycled glass and mine material also saves energy and reduces waste.
Tiles made from recyclables

Hardwood Alternatives
Cork, bamboo, and reclaimed lumber are attractive alternatives to wood flooring. Typically these alternatives are more renewable and have a smaller embodied energy than virgin timber. One of the cons of bamboo is that it is usually grown and shipped from areas in East Asia. This adds to the embodied energy of the product and also causes concern for human rights. If you must choose hardwood flooring, make sure that it is FSC certified for sustainable growth.
APC Cork
Olde Wood Ltd.

Natural Linoleum
PVC is considered the most dangerous plastic when it comes to its affect on human health. During production, it releases chemicals that have been known to cause certain types of cancer. Furthermore, throughout its consumer lifespan, it slowly releases phthalates that have been linked to respiratory, reproductive, and endocrine disorders. PVC is present in all vinyl flooring. The best alternative to vinyl flooring is natural linoleum which is usually made from cork, sawdust, and natural resins.

(Many of these flooring products can be purchased in Cincinnati at Greener Stock.)

(Disclaimer: Some of these products are manufactured and shipped from more than 500 miles away. Make sure to weigh the costs and benefits of using a non-local product.)

Photo by: Kepanok

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Home Star

Learn about the Home Star legislation that has already been passed in the House.

The Home Star Coalition

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

City Hall's new green roof

City Hall is now home to a wide variety of vegetation thanks to a new green roof. Completed in May, the roof top garden was designed and planted by Lisa Yunker of City Roots.

Roof gardens and green roofs aren't just for looks; they can add a significant amount of insulation value to a building, while also reducing the heat island effect that is caused by city roofs and streets. Furthermore, they return a part of the built environment back to the nature, reducing CO2 emissions.

The installation of City Hall's green roof is part of a greater effort by Honeywell to make the 100 year old building more energy efficient. Funding for the project came from Duke Energy rebates and a number of government grants.

The garden sits atop the old boiler room which, according to Lisa Yunker, presented many obstacles. She said that most of the challenges were caused by the fact that the only access to the roof is through a window, which made transporting materials quite difficult. Structures, such as vents and pipes, could not be removed from the roof, so they had to be used in the design. "Working around this stuff and incorporating into the design was kind of fun," said Lisa.

Lisa also explained that the types of plants used for the green roof had to be diverse because of different shading areas. She said, "We have a perennial bed in almost complete shade behind the smoke stack, but on the opposite side we have sun and heat loving plants." The plant selection and irrigation additions, including a rain barrel, make it possible for the garden to flourish on rain water alone.

Lisa was very happy with the results saying, "The best part about this project is that it was completed by three small, local companies: City Roots, Urban Innovations, and Green Streets. We Finished on budget and ahead of schedule."

Unfortunately, City Hall's green roof is not open to the public because of safety concerns involving the location. More photos, taken by Kevin LeMaster, can be found on his site, Building Cincinnati.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Park + Vine relocation

Park + Vine will be moving from its current location on Vine Street to the Belmain building on Main St. at the end of September this year. Since 2007, Park + Vine has been selling a wide variety sustainable food, merchandise, paints, and cleaning supplies in its Over-the-Rhine store. Though the store is moving, it will still be located in the heart of Over-the-Rhine.

The new store will have room for a vegan grocery, juice/coffee bar, and a book wall. There will also be space for seating, bicycle parking, and a classroom for workshops.

The Belmain building received a LEED Silver rating by the United States Green Building Council.

Photo By: Joanne Maly

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Local farmers' markets

Neighborhoods around Cincinnati are taking produce into their own hands by starting farmers' markets. Community markets are becoming popular as the demand for organic, locally grown food increases. There are a number of benefits to shopping at a farmers' market instead of the grocery chain. Local produce and meats taste better and have a lower embodied energy than most of the food found at the grocery store, which is often harvested thousands of miles away. Farmers' markets are a great place to socialize as well. You can organize a trip with friends, plan a meal with your family, or simply chit chat with the local vendors and farmers. Here's a list of some of the markets popping up around town. For more information about these farmers' markets, you can visit their websites or go to .

Findlay Market
Location: 1801 Race St.
Hours: Mondays: (Contact Vendors), Tuesday through Friday: 9 AM to 6 PM, Saturday: 8AM to 6 PM, Sunday: 10 AM to 4 PM.
(Only a farmers' market on Sat, Sun, and Tues)
Location: Wyoming Ave. and Van Roberts Place
Hours: 3PM-7PM Tuesdays

Ridge Road
Location: Nativity Church, 5935 Pandora Ave
Hours: Mondays 3:30PM to 6:15 PM

Location: 7850 Five Mile Road
Hours: Saturdays 9AM – 1PM

Location: Milford Shopping Center, 1025 Lila Avenue
Hours: Wednesdays 2 PM to 6 PM, Saturdays 10 AM to 6 PM

Location: Hoffner Park
Hours: Wednesdays 4 to 7:30 PM

Hyde Park
Location: US Bank parking lot 3424 Edwards Rd, Cincinnati
Hours: Sundays 10 AM to 2 PM

Mt. Washington
Thursdays 2:30-6:30pm
Stanbery Park – 2221 Oxford Ave

Location: Northminster United Presbyterian Church, 703 Compton Road
Hours: Fridays 3:30 PM to 6 PM

College Hill
Location: 5742 Hamilton Avenue
Hours: Thursdays 3 PM to 7 PM

If anyone knows of any other local markets that they would like to add to this list, feel free to comment!

Photo By: McKay Savage

Monday, July 5, 2010

Harvesting rainwater

Learn about rainwater harvesting, graywater reclamation, and native planting from Brad Lancaster, an expert in permaculture consulting and design.

Natural Awakenings: Water efficiently this summer

I've started posting as a co-author for the Natural Awakenings Green Living Blog. My first post addresses the issue of water consumption in gardens. Enjoy!

Natural Awakenings: Water efficiently this summer

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Green update: The Moerlein Lager House

Beer and sustainability! Two of my favorite things! Scheduled to open in Spring 2011, The Christian Moerlein Lager house is poised to be one of Cincinnati's greenest restaurants. Part of the 45 acre Riverfront Park project, the building will be LEED Certified and include some exciting green features. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the United States Green Building Council's system for rating green buildings.

The project will be designed and built by Tisley and Associated Architects and Schumacher-Dugan construction. The majority of the infrastructure that is already in place for the Lager House has been planned and constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers. Because the developers of the project were chosen so recently, there aren't too many specifics about what kind of LEED certification the project will be attempting or what kind of LEED credits it will incorporate. According to Joyce Kamen, Public information Officer for the park, the Lager House will most likely receive LEED points for development density, proximity to alternative transportation, optimizing energy performance, and construction waste management. Furthermore, the restaurant will use a ground source heat pump for heating and cooling needs (Learn how it works).

That's all of the information that is currently available about the LEED aspects of the project. Hopefully this construction update video will tide everyone over until I get more specifics.

Photo by:
Eira Tansey

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Natural Awakenings

Starting next week, I'll also be blogging for Natural Awakenings Magazine. Here's the link!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cincinnati Habitat's first green rated home

On June 12th Cincinnati Habitat for Humanity launched the build of its first green rated home. The house, located on 1141 Homeside Ave in College Hill, will receive a green certification from the National Association of Home Builders. The home will also be Energy Star rated along with meeting EPA Indoor Air Plus requirements. Some of the homes features include a 95% efficient furnace, raised heal trusses (which allows for more insulation in the attic), prefabricated floor joists (saves on lumber), and low VOC carpet (better for indoor air quality). The home will also achieve a 52 on the Home Energy Rating System index. This means that the home will be about 50% more energy efficient than a standard, code built home.

The design for the home came from a contest held by Habitat affiliates in Ohio and the Ohio American Institute of Architects Committee on the Environment. Architects around Ohio entered hoping to have their green designs built by Habitat. Allison Beer and Jessica Farmer of SHP Leading Design won the contest and their design is the one currently being built in Cincinnati.

Cincinnati Habitat for Humanity hopes that this project will be the prototype of how they will build in the future. The CHFH Green Building Blog will be posting updates about the build at 1141 Homeside and all of Cincinnati Habitat's green initiatives.

Photo by: Adam Nelson

Monday, June 28, 2010

Directory addition: The Hillside Trust

I've added the Hillside Trust to the green directory. Since 1976, this non-profit has been advocating for the conservation and responsible use of Cincinnati's hillsides.

Follow this link to learn more!

The Hillside Trust

Sunday, June 27, 2010

City pushes urban agriculture

Earlier this year, City Council changed zoning requirement in order to stimulate urban agriculture. Prior to this change, zoning codes would not allow gardening to be a primary use of land. Gardening could only be done on land used for residences or businesses. The new zoning code will make it easier for community gardens to develop throughout the city.

Furthermore, the city has made the 2009 Urban Agriculture Pilot Project into a permanent initiative. Under the project, 15 parcels of unused, city owned land were rented out for $1 to a variety of community groups and garden clubs. City Council has made more undeveloped land available for community gardening this year.

Contact Robin Henderson for more information about the Urban Agriculture Project.

Photo by: Manjith Kainickara

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

UC's bike plan

Many don't know this, but the University of Cincinnati is quietly becoming one of the greenest schools in the U.S. This year's Princeton review named UC to its list of national leaders in environmental practices. It is the only public school in Ohio to receive the honor. UC's commitment to sustainability took shape in 2007 when President Zimpher signed The American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). Since then, the president's advisory council on environment and sustainability has created a comprehensive sustainability plan for the university. Much of this plan involves the built environment, but one of its most unique aspects is a commitment to alternative transportation, especially bicycles.

In December of 2009, UC drafted the first version of its comprehensive bike plan. The plan outlines a number of initiatives that are meant to increase bicycle use throughout the campus and surrounding areas. The University of Cincinnati Bike Share Program, which began on April 22, 2010, is one of the first steps in the bike plan. The bike share program allows both students and faculty to rent bikes in a similar manner to checking out books at the library. The bikes are free and come with all required safety equipment. All that is needed is a student or faculty/staff ID. Bicycle and monetary donations are being accepted by the program.

Another part of the bicycle plan involves awareness. This means adding bike routes to campus maps and increasing the amount of signage that marks routes. The plan also includes the provision of safety courses and bike related literature for students and faculty. Rights of way outside of school jurisdiction are also addressed. The City of Cincinnati, which also has a new bike plan, has been coordinating efforts with the university in order to add bike lanes and "sharrows" to surrounding streets (e.g. Clifton Avenue).

Adding bicycle related infrastructure is integral to the plan. Showers and changing facilities throughout campus will be added to support the increase in ridership. New bikes racks will also be installed in both covered and open areas. These infrastructure items help support bikers and also add important LEED credits to any building attempting certification through the USGBC.

UC hopes that this plan will not only help lower the school's carbon footprint but will also serve as a social link between the university and the surrounding uptown neighborhoods.

In the coming weeks, I will continue to provide updates on all of UC's sustainability efforts.

Photo By: Joe Dunckley

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Energy Rebates in Ohio Part II: Renewable Energy

The Federal Government is offering a tax credit to homeowners who are willing to install renewable energy technologies in their homes. The credit has been around since 2006 and isn't set to expire until 2016, so there's plenty of time to take advantage of this great incentive.

The Renewable Energy Tax Credit only applies to the installation of the following systems:

- Solar electric
- Solar hot water
- Fuel cell
- Wind energy
- Geothermal heat pumps

The credit is equal to 30% of the cost of the renewable energy system installed. The credit not only includes the cost of the physical system but also the cost of installation and piping/wiring to connect it to the home. If your tax liability is less than the credit in a given year, the difference will be carried forward to the next tax year.

Most of the systems do not have a credit limit, as long as they have been installed after 2008. If your system was installed before 2008, a $2,000.00 limit may apply. The only current exception is the fuel cell technology. The government has set the limit on these systems to $500.00 per half kW.

There are many installation and equipment requirements that must be followed in order to receive the tax credit. All information is available at

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Habitat Restore open for business

Cincinnati Habitat for Humanity has opened its first Restore! Located in Bond Hill, the store sells gently used appliances, building materials, and furniture for pennies on the dollar. All proceeds go toward building more houses for families in need. Cincinnati Habitat for Humanity is doubling their home production, so they can use the funding!

Reusing old items is one of the best things that we can do to save energy and resources. The embodied energy involved in manufacturing new products is huge! Harvesting materials, manufacturing, and transportation all use energy. When buying a used item, the only additional embodied energy is driving to the store to pick it up. Why buy an expensive, boring door at Home Depot, when you can buy a used door with character for less?

Buying used appliances requires more caution. Though you may save money in the short term in buying a used appliance, you may be shooting yourself in the foot if you buy an inefficient product. This not only hurts your wallet in the long run, it also hurts the environment. Make sure to do your homework before buying a used appliance.

Here's a link to pictures of some of the great items that the restore is selling!

Restore Location: 4910 Para Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45237

Saving money on air conditioning

Summer time is quickly approaching and many homeowners are already racing to their thermostats to crank up the AC. This, in turn, causes a sky rocket in electricity use during the hot months of the year. Though Cincinnati is located in a humid climate, there are still many strategies that can be used to soften the blow of summertime electricity bills, while still keeping a house at a comfortable temperature.

Simple, low cost ideas

- Get rid of all incandescent light bulbs and replace with compact fluorescent bulbs.
  • Not only are CFLs more efficients, they also produce 90% less heat than an incandescent.
-Use heat generating appliances in the morning and evening
  • Dryers, dishwashers, ovens, and washing machines all produce heat when used.
  • Close the door to rooms where these appliances are being used to avoid the spread of heat!
- Cover your skylights
  • Skylights may be a trendy addition to a home, but they turn a room into an oven!
  • Covers can be easily purchased at a relatively low price, or if you are feeling crafty, you can make one.
- Window Shading
  • If a house is insulated well, most of the heat gain is from sunshine coming through windows.
  • Awnings, especially on the south side of the house are great at blocking the sun's rays.
  • Thick curtains and interiors shades also help block sun.
  • If you aren't home during the day or don't need sunlight in your house, cover the windows during hours of peak sunlight.
- Open windows at night

- Trees and small shrubs that gain leaves in the summer can also block the sun's rays if placed in the proper locations.

- Ceiling fans
  • Turning on a ceiling fan has the same effect as lowering the air temperature four degrees. ( Daniel Chiras)

Thinking bigger

- Light colors
  • Both roof shingles and siding can be lightly colored to avoid heat absorption.
- Low-e Windows.
  • Quality low-e coated windows when properly placed and installed can block the sun's rays.
-Insulation/air sealing
  • Keep warm air out by adding insulation and sealing air gaps. (especially in the attic!)
  • Energy auditors can tell you if you need more insulation and air sealing.
- Whole House Fans
  • An inexpensive way to pull hot air out of the house and draw cold air in.
  • Open windows at night and let the fan do the work.
- Geothermal Cooling
  • If you want to go all out, this is the system of choice.
  • Similar to a refrigerator, geothermal technology removes heat from the house and releases it into the ground
  • Geothermal technology is expensive, but over time it saves on energy because of it can be up to 400% efficient.
Many of these ideas can be used in tandem with AC. Turning AC off at night and using some of these techniques can save a lot of energy and money. For most in Cincinnati, air conditioners are a must have. If you are one of these people, make sure to maintain your system by regularly removing any dust or debris that accumulates on the unit. If you are buying a new air conditioner, make sure that it is energy efficient and the correct size for your home.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Affordable, green homes in Northside

Northwind and Rockford Woods are two of Cincinnati's newest green communities. Located in Northside, these communities showcase homes that are both afforable and energy efficient. Potterhill, a Milford based builder, will be showing some of the homes in this year's Citirama, taking place June 3-14.

These Energy Star rated homes feature high efficiency furnaces, geothermal pumps, cellulose insulation and Low-e windows. The location and lot size also play a huge role in the green appeal of these homes. Not only are the lots smaller than average, they are also located near many amenities and public transit options. This "new urbanist" approach to building helps conserve both energy and existing natural areas.

Another great aspect of the homes is the LEED incentive that Potterhill is offering. If a homeowner chooses to have their new home LEED certified, they will receive an extra five years of property tax abatement on their homes. This is on top of the ten years of abatement that Potterhill already offers. All of this is available in homes that are all priced under $200,000

For info and pictures of these communities, you can visit

Monday, May 31, 2010

What does LEED Gold mean for the Great American Tower?

With the Great American Tower rising higher and higher everyday, many are touting it for its LEED Gold precertification. But what does LEED Gold mean for the tower? LEED has four certification levels: LEED Certified, LEED Silver, LEED Gold, and LEED Platinum. A LEED Gold building must attain 60-79 of the possible 110 points in the LEED rating system. It must also be understood that the LEED core and Shell certifcation that the tower is receiving does not cover the interior spaces used by individual tenants. The USGBC has a separate rating system for commercial interiors that each tenant can implement in their rented spaces. The Core and shell certification encompasses only the building elements that the developer has control over such as construction practices, HVAC, common spaces, plumbing, structural components, and windows. Here is a list of some of the LEED attributes of the Great American Tower.

- Use of locally manufactured construction material.
- 90% of pre-exisiting Western-Southern parking garage was recycled.
-Bike racks and showers provided for those who want to ride to work.
-Location: The buildings location is close to both public transit and common amenities. (This reduces automobile usage)
- High efficiency plumbling fixtures reduce water consumption.
-High efficiency facade design and curtain walls reduce energy consumption by 14%
-Individual energy metering of tenants leads to more thoughtful use of energy.
-Solar reflective roofing material
-All building materials emit low amounts of chemicals such as volatile organic compounds, which can trigger allergies and other respiratory problems.
-All maintenance staff will be trained to use eco-friendly cleaning products.

For more information about the tower, you can visit their site.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Energy Rebates Available in Ohio: Part 1

Duke Energy Smart Saver Rebates

This is the first part in what I hope to be a long series of updates on residential energy rebates available in Cincinnati. Duke Energy is currently offering a number of rebates on high efficiency heating and cooling systems. Though the rebates only top out at around $600.00, if you are interested in updating your HVAC system, it's something that you must take advantage of.

The program includes rebates for systems in new homes and also retrofits in older homes. In order to qualify for the rebates, you must receive both your gas and electric services from Duke Energy, even if you are only seeking a rebate for a gas powered system. All information about Smart Saver rebates is available at this site:

Before purchasing any new HVAC equipment, it would be smart to consider an energy audit. Basic audits are usually $60.00-$100.00, while more rigorous audits involving blower door tests and other technologies can cost over $200.00. Using audit information ensures that you won't buy a HVAC system that is too big or too small for your home.