Cleveland Sustainability Program

If the new mayor of Cleveland took sustainability to heart and hired a sustainability advisor, what would that person do? Here are some ideas for a program.


  • Infuse the concept of sustainabilitylong-term thinking that considers the multiple impacts of actions on the environment, social equity, and the economyinto all city policies and activities.
  • Develop innovative, inter-departmental programs that save money, support local businesses and create jobs, improve quality of life in the city, and protect the environment and public health.
  • Improve Cleveland's image as a forward-thinking city that cares about its impacts on the larger ecosystem.

Organizational options

  • Special advisor to the mayor working within City Hall with a mandate to work across departmental lines and with nonprofit organizations in the city.
  • Start-up funding for full-time staff position from foundations. (Nonprofit organizations, such as EcoCity Cleveland and the Cleveland Green Building Coalition, can assist with fundraising and technical assistance.) After first year, staff will identify cost savings and other grant funding to maintain the program.
  • Mayoral leadership and advocacy necessary for the program to be effective (a "special initiative" of the mayor).

Possible activities

  • Energy audit of city buildings to identify conservation potential and cost savings.
  • Cleveland Public Power financing of energy conservation retrofits of homes to help residents save money and keep energy dollars circulating in the local economy.
  • Recruitment of local companies to provide energy services and produce energy conservation materials and devices (lighting, windows, insulation, etc.).
  • Partnership with the state and business groups on the promotion of a local industry to manufacture fuel cells.
  • High-performance building standards for city buildings to reduce operating costs and improve employee productivity.Air pollution compliance assistance program to help local companies comply with regulations by preventing pollution, reducing waste, and saving money.
  • Green building codes to encourage ecological design in new construction and rehab. Work with the school district to include green features in the rebuilding program.
  • Traffic-calming guidelines to improve quality of life in residential neighborhoods.
  • Bicycle plan for routes and facilities to make Cleveland a leading bike-friendly city.
  • Transit-oriented development study to identify neighborhood sites where high-density development can complement high-quality transit service.
  • Promotion of passenger rail projects to link Cleveland with other cities in the Midwest.
  • Urban greening program to identify sites for ecological restoration.
  • Enhanced community gardening program and regional food supply linkages to develop a local food system.
  • Enhanced recycling programs and resource recovery.
  • Alliances with other Ohio cities to promote smart growth policies at the state level.


  • First 90 days - Announce city's commitment to sustainability and intention to develop a comprehensive sustainability plan. Hire special advisor. Name sustainability task force.
  • First year - Complete sustainability plan. Start several projects from above list of activities. Obtain funding for projects and to continue staffing.
  • Second year - Initiate additional projects and partnerships. Develop set of sustainability indicators to track progress. Institutionalize a city Office of Sustainability.

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EcoCity Cleveland
3500 Lorain Avenue, Suite 301, Cleveland OH 44113
Cuyahoga Bioregion
(216) 961-5020
Copyright 2002-2003



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