Sustainability Committee, June 13, 2019

August 16th, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

The agenda for the meeting is available here:

The audio for the meeting is available here:

Members Present: Council member and chair Julianna Johnston Senturia; Council members Sean Malone and Anne Williams; citizen members Julianne Potter and Norman Robbins

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

Ms. Senturia called the meeting to order at 7:31 a.m. and adjourned at 8:41 a.m.

The minutes of the May 9, 2019, meeting were approved and are available here:

Daniel Brown, scheduled on the agenda to give a brief presentation on the Shaker Heights Residential Composting Program, was absent, and the presentation was postponed to a later date.

LEED for Cities: Mr. Peters updated the committee on a conference he attended in Washington, D.C., regarding the LEED for Cities program that Shaker Heights is pursuing. At the conference, attendees were given information on what data the city must provide and the processes of doing so. Mr. Peters mentioned that the LEED for Cities program is still new for the U.S. Green Building Council, and that the administrators are open to making changes and accommodations for Shaker Heights, as we are a smaller city. Mr. Peters was also offered marketing support and was connected to the Ohio representative of the U.S. Green Building Council. Mr. Peters explained that in order for Shaker Heights to reach the base level of certification in the LEED program, the city must collect specific data. However, as a small city, we do not control utilities like water, sewers, and energy, but the private organizations that do have been cooperative and helpful in providing the necessary data. He explained that in regard to collecting city data, vendors will need one year of utility bills, and that he is working with First Energy to ensure that its records match the city’s. Mr. Peters explained that students and other volunteers will help collect data necessary for the LEED project. After Shaker passes the LEED certification level, the committee may focus on changing city procedures, policies, and legislation regarding sustainability, where necessary, in order to achieve the next level of certification.

Sustainability Roadmap: Mr. Peters then led a discussion on the city’s Sustainability Roadmap, which can be accessed here: The Roadmap provides specific sustainability goals and metrics to determine when they are accomplished. The objectives outlined in the Roadmap are as follows: 1. Reduce City Costs for Electric, Natural Gas, Water, Sewer, 2. Increase efficiency and reduce costs (Energy Conservation Measures for City Buildings), 3. Reduce fuel consumption for cost and greenhouse gas savings, reduce vehicle maintenance costs, 4. City staff involvement, buy-in, and attraction, and retention, 5. Solar demonstration project (Solar Power Generation on City-Owned Vacant Lots), 6. Respond to opportunities outside initial scope (Other Green Initiatives), and 7. Provide staff support to the Sustainability Committee and city Green Team.

Mr. Malone expressed concern about the feasibility of objectives numbers 1 and 2 (reducing city costs and energy conservation measures for city buildings). He questioned if the objectives are doable in the first year. Mr. Peters stated that the committee has already made good progress, that the city will have to engage a vendor to analyze the city’s energy use for the first objective, and that it is certainly achievable to be on the path to completing the objectives if not completing them within the first year.

Alternative City Vehicles: Ms. Senturia brought up the feasibility of city vehicles using electric fuel. Peters mentioned a survey regarding green vehicles sent out to city employees. He explained that the survey demonstrated that there is a real interest within the city of increasing the use of electric and hybrid vehicles, and that from here, there are two things: 1. Receiving a quote from a vendor that would input a device in vehicles representative of city use to determine how cars are used, along with what vehicles could be replaced with environmentally friendly options, and 2. The Ohio EPA grant for diesel replacement would help Shaker repower older diesel vehicles or replace motors to be more efficient, or replace diesel vehicles with new alternatives. Ms. Potter mentioned her involvement with a project regarding Green Fleet procurement and feasibility, and how Fleet users can be incentivized to choose energy alternative vehicles. She stated that she will have more information on the project closer to the end of summer.

Missions, Visions, & Objectives: The committee shared a document that detailed the Sustainability Committee’s missions, visions, and objectives. Ms. Senturia began a discussion on the document. Ms. Potter expressed concern that many of the priorities outlined in the document that were carried forward from the previous task force are climate and environmentally focused, while sustainability also encompasses social and economic issues, and that the committee should also potentially focus on social issues. Furthermore, because it is difficult for a single resident or a single city to make an extensive impact in sustainability, the committee should significantly emphasize collaboration. The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals were published in 2015 and end in 2030; they incorporate the social aspect that Ms. Potter is concerned is absent from Shaker’s goals. Ms. Potter also explained that the Sustainability Development Goals are not necessarily targeted at relatively affluent and developed cities like Shaker, but rather more towards developing countries, and for that reason, the goals may not align perfectly. However, there are already other cities that have outlined criteria to allow them to align with the goals, and there already exists target indicators for public transit, affordable housing, etc. And the UN has already laid out what a sustainable city should look like. Basically, Ms. Potter expressed concern for Shaker’s lack of sustainable social goals, goals that the UN has included within its own guidelines. Regardless, while the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals provide a rough outline as to what Shaker can focus on, the specific aspects may not be very applicable to the city. Ms. Potter believes that the best practice would not be aligning to all 17 Sustainable Development Goals, but only to the ones that apply to the city and where it would make sense. She also explained that the Sustainable Development Goals have the added benefit of sounding very aspirational without the city actually having to sign onto anything.

Ms. Senturia mentioned that external indicators and global thinking in terms of sustainability allow Shaker’s sustainability goals to be easier to explain to residents and easier to market. Therefore, they can be used to attract and retain citizens.

Mr. Robbins asked for a specific example of a social goal that Shaker might need to focus on. Mr. Malone provided the examples of making Shaker more affordable (reducing the tax burden) and increasing access to resources like public parks. Ms. Potter added that the Sustainable Development Goals include disaster preparedness.

Ms. Potter said that the city should aim for transparency around the sustainability metrics and the progress Shaker makes on that front, and asked if the committee would publish a report. Ms. Senturia explained that at the end of the first year there will be at least a formal committee discussion regarding progress (the minutes would be public), but that there does not necessarily have to be a report.

Subcommittees: Ms. Senturia began a discussion about subcommittees and if it makes sense to create a few. The rest of the committee expressed interest in the following topics: storm water management, energy, and LEED for cities. Ms. Senturia confirmed that the storm water management (John Scott) and energy (Mr. Robbins) subcommittees have started and that Mr. Peters and Ms. Williams with continue to work on the LEED for cities project.

Ryan Brady, observer

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