City of Cincinnati Master Plan – Sustain Section Highlights

ChuckLohreCity of Cincinnati Leave a Comment


The following are sections from the new City of Cincinnati Master Plan,, with regard to energy and environmental design.

Steward resources and ensure long-term viability.
Our resources are what set Cincinnati apart from other cities in the region. Maintaining, developing, and preserving these resources is paramount to the viability of our urban ecosystem.

Our Goals

1. Become a healthier Cincinnati.
A. Create a healthy environment and reduce energy consumption.
B. Decrease mortality and chronic and acute diseases.
C. Make sustainable access to fresh, healthy food a priority in all neighborhoods.

2. Preserve our natural and built environment.
A. Protect our natural resources.
B. Preserve our built history.

3. Manage our financial resources.
A. Better coordinate our capital improvement spending.
B. Spend public funds more strategically.

Create a healthy environment and reduce energy consumption.

Following the strategies of the Green Cincinnati Plan and meeting the goals of the Green Umbrella Regional Sustainability Alliance will help reduce the City’s energy usage, improve air and water quality, and reduce sewer overflows to create a healthy environment.
Improve air quality

Burning fossil fuels for transportation and heating and cooling buildings has the greatest impact on the City’s air quality. Reducing dependence on fossil fuels by using alternative fuels and increasing the use of more efficient or renewable energy sources can help the quality of the city’s air.

Short-range (1-3 years):
• Incentivize construction of energy efficient buildings using the LEED tax abatement.
• Use Energy Services Performance Contracting to increase energy efficiency and reduce fossil fuel consumption in City facilities (as recommended in the Green Cincinnati Plan).
• Install solar panels on newly constructed and renovated City facilities and enter into Solar Power Purchase Agreements with local utilities. Provide technical assistance to encourage Solar Power Purchase Agreements in private new construction and renovation projects.
• Continue to track progress of the Green Cincinnati Plan and regularly update the Project Implementation Dashboard to meet the goals of the Green Cincinnati Plan.

Mid-range (4-7 years):
• Expand and create more incentives for cleaner vehicles.
• Install more renewable energy sources in City facilities, including more efficient traffic signal lights and charging stations in parking meters and City parking garages.
• Increase the amount of solar energy generated on city buildings and property.

Long-range (8-10 years):
• Complete the upgrade of the City’s fleet to more fuel efficient vehicles as directed in the Green Cincinnati Plan.
• Reduce emissions by 40 percent by 2030 (from the 2006 levels identified in the Green Cincinnati Plan).
• Reduce the amount of electricity generation that comes from fossil fuels.

Improve water quality
The Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati (MSD) is making significant investments to reduce sewer overflows. These investments create an opportunity to use green techniques to slow down and clean runoff to streams and rivers. Greater Cincinnati Water Works (GCWW) has always taken the lead in water quality research and technology to protect public health. Using the latest treatment techniques to remove harmful contaminants, GCWW works to ensure the highest quality of drinking water.

Short-range (1-3 years):
• Update codes to allow rainwater harvesting through rain barrels and other infrastructure.
• Create a rainwater harvesting educational program for home and business owners.

Mid-range (4-7 years):
• Manage stormwater overflows with strategic source control in watersheds to achieve compliance with MSD consent decree by implementing best management practices appropriate for the watershed, such as rain gardens, separated sewers, green streets, etc.

Long-range (8-10 years):
• Reduce discharges into the local watersheds by 40% by 2030.

Decrease pollution impacts on our neighborhoods.
Many city neighborhoods are impacted by light, noise, and odors from vehicles and industry as well as legacy pollution such as high lead levels.

Short-range (1-3 years):
• Plant trees in areas with a lower-than-average tree canopy as defined by Urban Forestry.
• Update codes for retrofitting old buildings with incentives to be more energy efficient.

Mid-range (4-7 years):
• Support programs that promote efficient use of vehicles such as Shared Car Services (like ZipCar), Idle Reduction Campaigns, and Rideshare Programs.
• Reduce the amount of lead in our buildings and soil by education, remediation, and/or mitigation.

Long-range (8-10 years):
• Incentivize research and development facilities for renewable energy and other green infrastructure innovations.

Green Cincinnati Plan
The Green Cincinnati Plan (formerly Climate Protection Action Plan), as part of Mayor Mallory’s Green Cincinnati Initiative, is a roadmap for how Cincinnati can become a national leader in addressing global climate change and thus make Cincinnati a healthier place to live.
Cincinnati is one of more than 1,000 U.S. Cities that has committed to reducing its contribution to global climate change. According to the City’s Office of Environmental Quality (OEQ), the more we learn about how to combat climate change, the more we realize that climate protection measures are mostly things that we have good reason to be doing anyway. Climate protection measures can help conserve scarce natural resources, save money, enhance the local economy, improve air quality, create jobs, and improve public health. But as with so many things, there is more than one way to do it, and whether climate protection work helps or hurts our community depends on the paths that we choose.
The Green Cincinnati Plan does the following:
• Identifies over 80 specific recommendations for how to reduce contributions to global climate change. The recommended actions generally share several characteristics:
–Effectively reducing green house gas emissions.
–Reducing dependence on non-renewable energy sources
–Saving more money than the recommended actions cost
–Supporting local job creation and the local economy
–Helping clean Cincinnati’s air, land, and water
–Relying on voluntary rather than regulatory approaches
• Quantifies annual contributions to global climate change at 8.5 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) for the City of Cincinnati, and 432,000 tons of CO2e for Cincinnati City Government.
• Establishes green house gas emission reduction goals of 8% within 4 years, 40% within 20 years, and 84% by 2050 (42 years).
• Presents a strategy to implement the Plan’s recommendations
• The full text of the Green Cincinnati Plan can be viewed on the City’s website at

The Green Umbrella Regional Sustainability Alliance
The Green Umbrella is a non-profit organization working to improve the economic vitality and quality of life in and around Cincinnati by maximizing the collective impact of individuals and organizations dedicated to environmental sustainability.
In partnership with local planning initiatives Vision 2015 in Northern Kentucky and Agenda 360 in Southwestern Ohio, Green Umbrella facilitates collaboration among over 100 area non-profits, businesses, educational institutions and governmental entities focused on the environmental aspects of sustainability.
It is united around the Collective Impact Model, which teaches that success requires having a common agenda, using a shared measurement system, supporting mutually reinforcing activities and maintaining continuous communication.
Green Umbrella is the “backbone organization” that helps all member organizations work better together to promote a more environmentally sustainable region.
Their Goals for the Year 2020 are as follows:
• Land: Increase the acreage of high quality greenspace by 8%.
• Outdoor Recreation and Nature Awareness: Increase participation in recreational and educational activities, events and venues that get people outdoors into nature by 15%.
• Energy Conservation and Efficiency: Reduce the total energy consumption in the built environment by 15%.
• Local Food: Double the percent of fruits and vegetables sourced and consumed within our region.
• Transportation: Reduce the use of gasoline and diesel as motor fuels by 20%.
• Waste Reduction: Reduce waste disposed in the residential/commercial sector by 33% as we transition to “zero waste”.
• Green Jobs: Working with all action teams to ensure that our region ranks in the top 10 US metro areas for green jobs.
• Renewable Energy: Double the local production of renewable energy each year.
• Water: Protect, enhance and celebrate all streams, rivers and other water resources by making a measurable improvement in 75% of them.

Protect our natural resources.
Our natural resources have brought people to Cincinnati for generations. We will maintain and preserve our hillsides, vistas, wildlife, forests, trees, waterways, and other natural features for future generations of Cincinnatians.
Protect our natural spaces with new development incentives and regulatory measures.
By analyzing environmental impacts prior to making decisions about development, we can work directly with developers to rehabilitate existing buildings or create infill development before building on greenspace or other vacant land.

Short-range (1-3 years):
• Develop a green construction incentive program.
• Create new incentives for redevelopment of existing structures and new construction on vacant infill sites.
• Implement regulations for developing properties that are within Public View Corridors.
• Begin to perform assessments of potential environmental impacts during the preliminary design reviews for large projects.

Mid-range (4-7 years):
• Amend the City’s LEED tax abatement program to incorporate additional energy efficient rating systems for commercial, residential, and neighborhood development.
• Develop a Utility Upgrade and Maintenance Master Plan to identify ways to improve water and wastewater networks to accommodate urban growth.

Long-range (8-10 years):
• Work with utility companies to implement smart grid networks.
• Use sustainable methods (i.e. LEED, Energy Star, etc.) and source energy efficient materials for maintenance and improvement of utilities, transportation, and other public infrastructure.

Preserve our built history.
Cincinnati’s rich history is best exemplified through our historic buildings and by the built-environment that help define a neighborhood’s character, such as curbs, sidewalk /street treatments, walls, and fences. These physical characteristics will be preserved as much as possible in order to be more sustainable in our approach to development.
Preserve our built history with new development incentives and regulatory measures.
We will promote renovations over demolition whenever feasible and create incentives to improve existing structures rather than constructing new ones.

Short-range (1-3 years):
• Use the recently completed historic inventory to create new historic districts.
• Develop less stringent levels of designation as a complement to National and Local Historic Districts.
• Develop changes to zoning regulations to remove barriers to adaptive reuse of buildings.
• Incentivize development that involves the community at the outset of a project through faster review and permitting.
• Identify and prioritize places where historic elements of the built environment such as curbs, sidewalk and street treatments, walls, and fences can be feasibly maintained instead of replaced with newer materials.

Mid-range (4-7 years):
• Identify vacant, abandoned or underutilized assets and determine suitable potential reuses.
• Create a best-practices toolkit that highlights funding sources for historic structures.

Long-range (8-10 years):
• Further develop standards for demolition of historic properties that require a clear and distinct reason that it is necessary.
• Develop and maintain an up-to-date historic building inventory for potential opportunities of adaptive re-use.
• Update the City’s historic inventory to identify late-20th century construction that should be preserved.

The City’s Historic Conservation Office performs a variety of duties and tasks including providing professional guidance and recommendations to the Historic Conservation Board, updating the Cincinnati Historic Inventory, preparing reports on historic designation and certificates of appropriateness, providing technical and educational assistance, and assures compliance of City’s programs with federal and state regulations mandating protection of historic resources.
• The Historic Conservation Board is focused on the conservation of historically or architecturally significant structures, sites, and districts.
• The Historic-Stabilization of Structures (SOS) Program out of the City of Cincinnati’s Department of Community Development works to stabilize at-risk, historic buildings throughout Cincinnati.
• Cincinnati Preservation Association is the recognized resource and catalyst for the preservation of historic cultural resources through education, advocacy, and technical support.

Spend public funds more strategically.
Funding for City projects and programs will be coordinated and developed to meet the goals and expectations of the public as well as the City’s elected officials and administration.
Focus funding on the completion of transformative projects in targeted neighborhoods.
Public and private investments will be coordinated in targeted neighborhoods to create real change. Funding will first be concentrated in neighborhoods that are near stabilization so that in the long-term, additional funding and support can be given to areas that are the least stable.

Short-range (1-3 years):
• Develop a mechanism using both qualitative and quantitative data to determine the level of stability in each neighborhood.
• Develop and institute a multi-year project priority matrix for all neighborhoods that identifies levels and types of support.
• Develop a mechanism for tracking measureable impacts
of all federally and locally funded programs and projects to determine if they are truly meeting community development needs.

Mid-range (4-7 years):
• Review the City’s policy and program on tax abatements to determine if it is providing the City with sufficient return.
• Review impacts of federally and locally funded projects and programs every 5 years in conjunction with the Consolidated Plan. Remove or re-tool programs or projects that are not working and create new projects or programs where there is a need.
• Re-evaluate neighborhood needs to determine the ratio of more and less stable neighborhoods with a goal of more than 50% stability.

Long-range (8-10 years):
• Re-evaluate neighborhood needs to determine the ratio of more and less stable neighborhoods with a goal of more than 75% stability.

Analyze the implications and potential costs and benefits associated with land use changes.
Land use guides the way towards future improvements in the City, but the change in land use has potential impacts that are often overlooked until it is too late. These impacts will be indentified through more scenario-planning for projects where a change in land use is proposed.

Short-range (1-3 years):
• Develop and begin to implement a system to analyze the return on investment (ROI) of development projects that considers not just financial support but the cost of maintenance, service needs, incentives, and other long-range expenditures into the total cost of development.
• Financially support and approve new retail development primarily only when it is mixed with other uses, such as residential and office uses.

Mid-range (4-7 years):
• Re-evaluate the ROI analysis system and make changes where necessary.

Long-range (8-10 years):
• Require the ROI analysis system as part of the permit and financing approval process for projects that propose a change in land use.

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