Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Akron Greenprint rollout delayed

I know I said I didn't have time to post, but -- at the E4S meeting in Akron tonight I learned some news that may interest my Akron readers. The schedule for tonight's event had been announced at the last meeting in August as including a preview of Akron's new Greenprint. That didn't happen. Evidently the process is taking much longer than anticipated. I had a chance to talk to some folks who are involved in the Greenprint, one of which works for a company that assists businesses, non-profits and now entire cities in assessing their green needs and helping to format a template for sustainability that will continue on no matter who is in political control at the time.

I was told that Cleveland's ongoing sustainability project began without any attention to the underlying system. Instead, the demand was for visible results from the get-go. One guy was hired to begin the project and was told that he would get funding if he could show bottom line efficiencies. There have been some dramatic results up by the mouth of the Cuyahoga, and evidently Akron's Greenprint folks are quite envious. However, the consultant I talked to felt it was better to put the underlying structure in place first. She said the Cleveland project is now faced with having to go back and do just that before they can continue to move forward.

E4S is all about networking. There is a "network weaver" who gives out conversation starting questions and gets people talking to each other around the room. I have had the opportunity to talk to very interesting and intelligent people. Tonight I met a local landscape designer from a firm that can help you conserve water through landscaping choices. I also met an architect who said he has worked on some of the Akron Public Schools new community learning centers. He says that the new schools yet to be built are going to feature more green elements. What fantastic news!

The Ohio new schools project began back in the era of Taft and his cronies, and nothing about green and sustainable building practices were included in the first rounds of urban school designs. Strickland has ushered in an era of progressive thinking about the buildings we work and live in. The Ohio Schools Facilities Commission has adopted the LEED for Schools Green Building Rating System. And just in the nick of time. As fuel costs go up, school districts investing in green energy systems will be ahead of the game. Green building practices in the urban setting will have a huge effect on student health and learning.

For more on the how and why of building green schools, go here.

It all makes me very glad that the building I teach in is on the list for the very final round of building and renovation. Maybe my dream of teaching in a school with a green roof with solar panels and geothermal wells under the parking lots is not so out there after all.

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