Sustainability Committee, April 11, 2019

May 7th, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

Members present: Council members Julianna Johnston Senturia (chair), Sean Malone and Anne Williams; citizen members Carmen Franks, Julianne Potter and Norman Robbins

Others present: Mayor David Weiss, Chief Administrative Officer Jeri Chaikin, Sustainability Coordinator Michael Peters

The agenda for the meeting may be found here: (

Ms. Senturia called the meeting to order at 7:31 a.m.

Ms. Senturia noted that this meeting is the first of the newly constituted committee and welcomed the new citizen members, Carmen Franks (water resources engineer, Biohabitats), Julianne Potter (sustainability consultant, ERM BrownFlynn) and Norman Robbins (CWRU professor emeritus), all of whom bring different but necessary expertise to the committee. Each member gave his or her name and Shaker neighborhood and stated the issue that piqued interest in sustainability. Among the issues were recycling and using free resources. After the introductions, Ms. Senturia stated that the agenda and meeting documents are available online, and that, since this the Sustainability Committee, a printed agenda would be available only at this meeting. Everyone agreed the practice of putting documents online was a good one.

Ms. Senturia told the citizen members that each had a vote equal to that of the council members on the committee, which is a continuation of the climate change group and then task force that came together in 2015 after summer flooding in Shaker Heights. In light of how the city responded to citizen efforts around sustainability—creating a Sustainability Committee—members were encouraged to bring issues to her attention or that of Mr. Peters, sustainability coordinator. Some committee business with a sustainability element will come through the natural process of city government, and other items will come from events and citizen concerns.

The minutes of the March 14, 2019, meeting were then unanimously approved as presented.

The next order of business was an overview of the LEED for Cities Grant for certification through the U.S. Green Building Council. Shaker Heights is one on the 14 cities to receive such a grant, good news for a brand new committee. The cohort will be announced on April 15. Not cash awards, these grants provide for membership, certification, orientation, conferences, and technical resources in light of the new LEED for Cities rating system that took effect in April. Mr. Peters will write letters of thanks to the different stakeholders for their support. Two representatives will go to a two-day orientation workshop in Washington in May to learn the expectations and then report back at the next meeting. Much of the work will be data collection, and within the 100 possible points, the goal will be to achieve at least 40 points, the benchmark of to become certified. Cities receive points for existing programs and physical characteristics as well as new ones. Once the assessment has been made, the committee will determine the priorities for getting other points, for example, public transportation. Collaboration with the county, on bike and scooter share, for example, will also garner points. A subcommittee as well as committee members could do some of the outreach work, getting students and residents involved. Mr. Peters will approach the four high schools and the three residents who applied but are not citizen members to determine interest. On energy use for the city, a baseline needed first for comparison later. Mr. Peters will gather the data necessary for that and report back to the committee each month on progress. The mayor suggested he get together with Ms. Chaikin and Mr. Peters to systematize data collection so as not to duplicate efforts internally. Using a framework like LEED for Cities could be an appropriate tool for prioritizing, tracking and communicating the committee’s goals.

The next topic was a review of sustainability task force priorities. Sustainability is a huge issue, with many different areas, and the committee needs to think about its direction, not necessarily its specific goals. LEED for Cities is a natural framework. The city-wide event about a year ago came up with some priorities, some of which are being addressed: increase total tons recycled and reduce tons of resident-generated waste; increase kWh of green energy, especially solar, by city and residents; increase the number of residents receiving NEORSD credits and reduce pesticides on city-owned land; increase the number of energy-efficient upgrades in private residences, apartment buildings, and businesses. These goals were for residents, and now that there are resources—the committee and sustainability coordinator—city involvement is a priority. How will the committee decide how and then create steps to reach those goals is a topic for discussion next month. Ms. Potter asked if other frameworks exist that should be considered. Mr. Peters noted that LEED is not the Bible. The committee’s work should be outreach to residents to let them know what opportunities exist rather than recreate the wheel. Committee members should look at Lakewood’s website to see what they have accomplished recently. Their sustainability task force plans to update the city’s master plan through the lens of sustainability.

Subcommittees, working groups, and ad hoc groups were discussed next. Flexibility is important, and depending on the topic, groups may form and then dissolve when a goal is met. Pathways for residents to become involved are vital, as is being a resource for information that can reduce the stress associated with change. For example, the county can help create solar buying co-ops so residents do not have to start from nothing; the issue is getting the word out. Among the other areas for subcommittee work are recycling, energy, and storm-water management. Mr. Peters will poll committee members to see who is passionate about what to help decide which issues to address first. Ms. Senturia suggested not overwhelming the committee and residents with options and that selecting two is probably appropriate. Start small and add as interest occurs. Goals should be measurable and trackable.

Ms. Senturia suggested creating a narrative to let residents know what has been accomplished so far as well as to present goals for the future. Mr. Robbins suggested the committee support the effort to have solar panels installed on the school roofs that are being repaired this summer. Also since NOPEC’s 100 percent recyclable fixed rate for cities is now available, the committee should weigh in on the publicity for this rate and suggested that the default, which 99 percent of people select, be opting in to the program.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:39 a.m.

Barbara Bradley, League observer

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