Topic: green in government

10 Ways to Go Green

The Hamilton County Waste Management department has been working hard to help increase environmental awareness around the area.  Earlier this year they shared 10 Ways to Go Green, which are very much worth re-sharing.

From the Hamilton County Interchange Newsletter:

Top 10 Ways for Your Business to Go Green
Michelle Balz, Program Specialist, Hamilton County Solid Waste Management District

So, your business has decided to reduce its environmental footprint and become a good corporate citizen by going green. Generously, upper management has given you free reign to implement environmental policies…but where do you begin? Here are 10 simple ideas that can increase worker productivity, improve your company’s public image, and save your company money.

1. Start Recycling

Today recycling is a no-brainer. More than 40% of what we throw into the landfill is paper, yet over a dozen local companies crave paper as feedstock for their operation. Not wasting this valuable resource can also reduce your waste bill since the cost to haul recycling is lower than trash. Add in the environmental benefits of reduced pollution and conserved energy and it is easy to understand why recycling is often one of the first environmental policies a company adopts. For help with recycling, call the Hamilton County Solid Waste Management District at (513) 946-7734 or visit www.hamiltoncountyrecycles.org.

Environmental Benefit- Recycling office paper reduces air pollution by 95% and saves 24 trees for every ton of office paper recycled (National Recycling Coalition).

2. Switch Your Bulbs

While the lighting technology choices are endless, CFL, LED, T8, T5… the solution is clear: switching to energy efficient lights saves energy and money. The bulbs may cost more upfront, but energy efficient lights last much longer than traditional bulbs and use significantly less energy to reduce costs in the long run. To help you decide which technology is right for you, visit www.energystar.gov.

Environmental Benefit- Replacing a single standard bulb with a CFL reduces energy use by 75% and prevents 450 lbs. of carbon dioxide emissions over the life of the bulb (Energy Star).

3. Build Green

Whether you start with a vacant lot or renovate your current space, integrating green building ideas can decrease energy and water use and increase worker productivity with a healthier work environment. The idea is simple: use sustainable materials and design to create a space that works with the local environment instead of against it. For ideas on green building and how to earn LEED certification, visit the US Green Building Council at www.usgbc.org or call the local Cincinnati chapter at (513) 388-0020.

Environmental Benefit- Green buildings on average use 30% less energy than conventional buildings, saving $60,000 per year for every 100,000 ft2 space (US Green Building Council).

4. Convert Your Fleet

Increase fuel efficiency, decrease pollution, and receive federal tax credits, need I say more? Integrating hybrid vehicles or biodiesel not only builds a green fleet but it also makes the public aware of your green commitment. To compare the latest alternative fuels and vehicles visit www.CleanFuelsOhio.org.

Environmental Benefit- The production and use of biodiesel, compared to petroleum diesel, results in a 78.5% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions (National Biodiesel Board).

5. Implement Storm Water Management

Everything the rain washes off your buildings and parking lots ends up in a stream nearby, likely with unnatural speed that damages a stream ecosystem. You can take steps to minimize this effect by installing green roofs, buffer zones, rain gardens, and porous pavement. These practices allow rainwater to slowly release into local streams improving the health of the stream for local wildlife. For more information, visit
www.hamilton-co.org/stormwater.

Environmental Benefit- Porous pavement can reduce storm water runoff six times better than traditional pavement during peak rainfall (Environmental Protection Agency).

6. Encourage Employees to Save Fuel

If gas prices continue to climb, employees will welcome ideas to reduce fuel consumption. Offer incentives to employees who take the bus, ride a bike, carpool, or drive fuel efficient vehicles. Or if practical, allow your employees to work from home and eliminate the commute altogether. These actions will reduce your company’s carbon footprint and likely save employees money.

Environmental Benefit- Switching a 20-mile round trip commute to existing public transportation can reduce one person’s annual CO2 emissions by 4,800 lbs per year, equal to a 10% reduction in all greenhouse gases produced by a typical two-adult, two-car household (American Public Transportation Association).

7. Adopt an Environmental Purchasing Policy

Your company purchases many products- why not make those purchases greener? Adopting an environmentally preferable purchasing policy will give your employees the green light to seek out products ranging from post-consumer recycled content paper to non-toxic cleaning products. For sample policies and environmental purchasing tools visit www.epa.gov/epp/.

Environmental Benefit- Purchasing one ton (40 cases) of 30% post consumer copy paper saves the equivalent of: 7.2 trees, 2,100 gallons of water, 1,230 KW hours of electricity, and 18 pounds of air pollution (Conservatree).

8. Reduce and Reuse

Reduce waste in your office by discouraging employees to print unnecessarily (e.g., keep emails electronic) and encourage double-sided printing when possible. A simple change in margin size to 0.75 inches fits more text onto a page and reduces paper usage over time. Reuse in your office by providing a water cooler instead of water bottles and giving employees a reusable mug instead of disposable cups.

Environmental Benefit- Save energy! You would have to use a foam cup 1,006 times to reduce the amount of energy equal to reusing a ceramic mug (Institute for Lifecycle Environmental Assessment).

9. Make Energy Conservation an Office Habit

Want an option for going green that won’t cost you a dime? Encourage employees to conserve energy by turning off lights when they are not in use and shutting down computers before they go home. This small change in behavior can add up to a big conservation of energy. According to the US Department of Energy, to conserve the most energy turn off the monitor if you are not going to use your PC for more than 20 minutes and turn off both the CPU and the monitor if you’re not going to use your PC for more than 2 hours./

Environmental Benefit- Turning your computer off at night or on weekends can reduce energy use by two-thirds and save an average of $90 a year per computer (US Department of Energy).

10. Take the Go Green Challenge

By joining the Hamilton County Go Green Challenge, your business becomes part of a network of local companies implementing green practices. Go Green Challenge members also have access to experts in a variety of environmental fields and receive public recognition for their accomplishments. Visit www.hcdoes.org/gogreen.htm for more information.

And remember, the next Go Green Challenge event is Oct 7. Are you registered?

Half price compost bins

When my building began recycling, the trash we made was cut in half.  When I look at what is in my trash can right now, I see a combination of useless garbage and food waste.  What can be done to make use of food waste and keep it out of the landfill?  Compost!

Feed your garden and help reuse resources instead of sending them to the landfill by composting.

If you’re looking for a reason to start or expand your compost, look no further.  The Hamilton and Adams-Clermont County Solid Waste Districts are sponsoring a compost bin sale on Saturday, September 27th from 9am to 3pm at the following locations:

1) Anderson Township Farmer’s Market
7832 Five Mile
2) Colerain Township Community Center
4300 Springdale

The “Earth Machine” compost bin retails for $80 but will be available to residents of the participating counties for only $37!  Please bring cash or a check to take advantage of this incredible deal.

If  you need more guidance to get started, there will be composting experts on hand to help.

Two-wheeler parking locations - enter your vote

The city is planning to provide parking spaces for scooters and motorcycles downtown.  If you want to vote on which location would be most convenient, visit the survey here.

Here’s more about the two-wheeler program from the release:

Two-Wheeler Parking Downtown

-  Vote for your top 5 locations!

This fall, the City of Cincinnati will install reduced rate, 10-hour parking meters specifically for scooters and motorcycles. But, first we need to know which spots best fit your needs.

Go to www.cincinnati-oh.gov/twowheeler and take our online poll to tell us which locations you prefer.

We’ll announce the top five vote-getters on October 15th, and create multiple parking spaces at each location.


Help us spread the word by forwarding the attached flyer to your friends!


Why Two-Wheeler Parking?
.       .         More fuel-efficient than cars
.       .         Less CO2 emitted
.       .         Less damage to our roads
.       .         Less space needed to park
.       .         More and more people are driving two-wheelers Downtown!

Questions? Suggestions? E-mail us at twowheeler@cincinnati-oh.gov

Post-storm yardwaste options

In light of yesterday’s storm and the mess of tree and yard debris left behind, Hamilton County and the City of Cincinnati would like to remind you about your options for dealing with yardwaste.

From the release:

County and City Offer Options For Yardwaste
In response to Sunday’s storm, many communities are offering special collection programs for yardwaste. To learn more about what your community is offering, please visit your community website or call the administrative offices.

The Hamilton County Solid Waste Management District (District) and the City of Cincinnati offer options for residents who have storm debris. Listed below are options to assist residents with yardwaste clean-up.

Hamilton County Yardwaste Program
Hamilton County residents can participate in the District’s FREE Yardwaste Recycling Drop-Off sites on Saturdays and Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. through November 30, 2008. This program does not accept yardwaste from landscapers or businesses.

The yardwaste sites are located at:

  • East*: Turpin Farm, 3295 Turpin Ln. (off Rt. 32) in Anderson Township
  • West: Kuliga Park, 6717 Bridgetown Rd. in Green Township
  • North**: Rumpke Sanitary Landfill, Struble Rd. and Colerain Ave. in Colerain Township

* The Turpin Farm location is also open during regular business hours, Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
** The Rumpke Sanitary Landfill location will also be open Wednesday through Friday, September 17th through September 19th from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Follow signs to designated drop-off area.

The drop-off sites accept materials such as leaves, grass clippings, brush, garden waste, tree trunks, and prunings from trees or shrubs. For more information about the yardwaste recycling drop-off program, please call the District at (513) 946-7755 or visit www.hamiltoncountyrecycles.org.

City of Cincinnati Yardwaste Program
The City of Cincinnati will accept all types of yardwaste, including grass clippings, leaves, branches and brush. City crews and contractors are out addressing downed trees and limbs in the following order:

  1. Major routes and thoroughfares
  2. Streets with only one access point
  3. Blocked driveways
  4. Houses

Residents are encouraged to follow the general guidelines for yardwaste collection, but some flexibility of these rules will be permitted during this time. The City will relax its procedures and pick up any tree limbs or branches brought to the curb.

  • The City cannot go onto private property to get tree limbs and branches.
  • The City will send crews as soon as possible; this may differ from your regular trash collection day.
  • Leaves, small brush and sticks should be put either in a biodegradable brown paper yard waste bags, or in trash cans clearly marked “YARD WASTE”.
  • Yardwaste in plastic bags cannot be collected.

The City can only address trees and limbs where Duke Energy has been able to clear downed lines.

If you need to report trees and limbs in the public streets and curbs, please the City of Cincinnati’s Customer Service Hotline at 591-6000 for more information.

If you live outside of the City of Cincinnati, please call Hamilton County’s Yardwaste Hotline at 946-7755.

A colossal recycling effort in Mt. Healthy

The latest numbers are in for Hamilton County recycling, and the news is good.  Recycling in the first quarter of 2008 is up 10% from 1 year ago. Kudos to Mt. Healthy residents for increasing their recycling a massive 77% higher than in the first quarter of 2007!

The facts:
From an Enquirer article

A total of 17,274 tons of materials were recycled between Jan. 1 and June 30. That’s compared to 15,676 tons for that period last year and 16,380 tons in 2006. The most common item people recycle is paper, followed by cans and plastic bottles.

Outreach and advertising efforts from Hamilton County Department of Environmental Services have raised awareness, and participation is following.  Great work to everyone out there using their bins and passing on the message about recycling!

More love for the Cincinnati Streetcar plan

The Director of the Economics Center for Education and Research at the University of Cincinnati recently worked to provide testing to support the positive outcome of the Cincinnati Streetcar feasibility study presented in 2007. In a nutshell, George Vredeveld’s work says:

Cincinnati is on the right track in considering a streetcar system, according to Vredeveld. The likely average net economic payoff of $315.8 million, as estimated by HDR over a 35-year period, is sound, as is HDR’s most conservative net economic payoff estimate of $186.8 million over 35 years. Even if this most conservative payoff comes to pass, “the proposed streetcar system is economically worthwhile,” said Vredeveld.
From the UC News online.

This week’s guest blogger on Soapbox Cincinnati is Councilman Chris Bortz. His first entry is a piece with more information supporting the Streetcar initiative. Here are his concluding remarks:

Why build it? You’ve heard the arguments. We need more money to keep the pressure on crime, close the health gap, improve workforce development, and combat blight. We need more residents and more jobs. A streetcar, according to the experts, will help create those jobs and attract those residents and generate those new dollars as well as position our city in a competitive, global economy, create walkable neighborhoods, attract young professionals, stimulate residential development, energize retail, reduce parking pressures and alleviate traffic congestion. But my favorite reason to do this? To tie together all the investments we have already made or are making. We can physically connect them.
From Cincinnati Soapbox.

These are convincing arguments for a small leg of city mass transit, and all without specifically mentioning gas prices or the environment. That’s a good indicator of the right thing to do - when it makes sense economically, socially, and environmentally. Remember the triple bottom line: people, the planet, and profits working together to create sustainability.

Volunteer your talents to help climate protection

Interested in helping Cincinnati to reduce it’s carbon footprint and protect our climate? Want to get the inside track on learning to reduce carbon emissions at home and work? Want to be a part of the solution? The Cincinnati Climate Protection Action Plan needs your help.

From the Cincinnati Climate Protection Action Plan call for volunteers:

The Advocacy Team needs help planning and executing the marketing/communications efforts for the Climate Protection Action Plan. This team plays an highly important role in creating the perceptual and behavioral changes necessary to achieve reduced energy consumption and waste, and thus greenhouse gas emissions. The goal is to make Cincinnati residents and businesses aware that the problem exists and they are part of the solution; and to educate them about sustainable behaviors and challenge them to act accordingly to reduce their emissions.

The volunteer opportunities exist in three areas:

  1. Marketing plan - Create and execute a multi-tiered marketing plan to reach, educate, and enable the general public and businesses to implement the related emission reduction measures.
  2. Green summit - Plan and hold a summit for leaders and decision-makers of major stakeholders in the region - governments, corporations, institutions (schools, hospitals, faith-based), etc. to meet with one another to learn about, discuss and commit to ways that they can increase sustainable practices in their respective organizations.
  3. Public education program - Create and distribute toolkits to Cincinnati educational centers to integrate awareness and reduction methods for carbon emissions throughout the community.

If you are interested in any of these opportunities, please contact Live Green Cincinnati and we will share the committee chair’s information with you.

Several of these task teams already have meetings scheduled so let us know as soon as possible. These should be fun, creative, interesting teams.

Thanks for your continued interest and involvement in climate protection efforts!

Paperless meetings save resources

Many companies are envouraging virtual meetings via teleconference and videoconference to save the costs of traveling.  One side effect of more virtual meetings is saved paper.  If the meeting attendees are scattered across different locations, an electronic copy of the agenda and presentation works much better than mailed, printed copies.

Paperless meetings can also be a benefit to face-to-face meetings.  Look at this example of the Hamilton County Commissioners going paperless for meetings and saving both a pile of trees, the time of copying the documents, and a decent amount of money.

Planning a workshop or seminar?  Consider saving all the agendas and presentations and supporting documents for the meetings to a USB memory stick.  Have the memory stick imprinted with your company’s logo and you’ve got an instant paperless workshop or tradeshow giveaway.

Recycling at parties, festivals, and events

We’ve previously discussed how to be environmentally conscious during the summer festival season.

However, did you know that you can borrow recycling containers for your next event?  There is a stock of 5-foot, bottle-shaped containers specifically for event recycling available to loan for any organization sponsoring an event in Hamilton County.  They provide the containers and liner bags, you provide the recyclables.

Find out more at the Hamilton County recycling container loan program website.

Know someone who needs a recycling bin?

The Mayor’s green challenge to the city encourages everyone to increase recycling participation. Want to do your part and participate in the challenge? Recycling begins with your bin. Fill out this form to get a bin.

From the Get A Bin program:

Did you know that Mayor Mallory kicked off a new effort to increase recycling in Cincinnati? Cincinnati currently recycles 9% of its trash. The Mayor wants to see residential recycling increase by 15% by America Recycles Day on November 15. So, do your part now! Get a bin and use it! Together we will make Cincinnati cleaner and greener.