CINCINNATI -- For the past nine years, Cincinnati has met or exceeded the environmental goals put forth in the 2008 environmental initiative now known as the Green Cincinnati Plan.
Those moves make the region a sustainability leader in the Midwest and beyond.
"I'm proud to say that 13 years ago I wrote the city's Clean Air Law, which we've enforced," Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley said at a June 28 news conference. "I worked with Councilman (David) Crowley at the time to write it and put it in place. When Mayor (Mark) Mallory was elected, we put together the Office of Environment & Sustainability. The city has been a leader on these issues ever since."
Cranley surprised attendees of the conference by announcing that Cincinnati will commit to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035. He laid out a vision that starts with ending the use of coal energy to pump water to local households and building the largest city-owned solar array in Ohio.
As details for those plans continue to emerge, the city is reiterating its commitment to existing residential programs that include:
- Solarize Cincinnati discounted solar pricing: For many years, the cost of solar technology and sunpower-gathering equipment was too high for most residents and businesses to scale. But that's changed in recent years, and the city is putting solar power in reach for households through programs like Solarize Cincinnati, which combines federal residential energy tax credits with group discounts to drive cost per household down further.
- 100 percent green electricity for residents: According to the city's Office of Environment & Sustainability, last year Cincinnati residents saved $1.5 million on electricity and $2 million in natural gas costs (when compared to Duke Energy) through the Cincinnati Aggregation Program introduced in 2012. The city shops for competitively priced electricity service on behalf of eligible residents and small-business owners. By combining these customers, the city is able to deliver better utility prices than Duke.
- Curbside textile recycling: Through a partnership with the Simple Recycling company, the city collects and recycles clothing and housewares (in addition to glass, plastic and aluminum), which is expected to divert tons of material from local landfills each year. Cincinnatians are encouraged to request the program's special orange bags and stickers to dispose of clothing and housewares that they don't plan to donate to charity. Eligible items include blankets, hairdryers, shoes, mirrors, radios, small furniture and toys.
- Tax abatement for LEED-certified projects: In addition to residential tax-abatement programs for families or individuals building or renovating their homes, the city offers longer abatement terms or higher maximum abatements for projects that meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. LEED certification ranges from silver to gold and platinum with regard to a project's impact on carbon-footprint reduction.
- Free meter parking for electric cars: Cincinnati's All-Electric Vehicle Incentive Program extends free parking to vehicles that run entirely on electricity at all city parking meters and one designated city-owned garage at 13 W. Ninth St. downtown. Applications are available for download here, or people can apply in person at the Office of Environment & Sustainability at City Hall, 801 Plum St., Room 130. In-person applications and inspections are accepted by appointment only. To schedule an appointment, contact Michael Forrester at (513) 352-6911 or Robin Henderson at (513) 352-5340.
In addition to these programs, the city offers traditional recycling programs and various grants for residential practices such as urban agriculture. Visit the Office of Environment & Sustainability to learn more and sign up for the "Greening Cincinnati" newsletter, which features monthly tips for the household and workplace.