2014 Staff Retreat and Community Service

Another year, another staff retreat come and gone this week with time for reflection and energizing momentum. We shared good conversation, good ideas, good food and good fun as we planned for the future and took part in some community service – not too shabby for two days! Here are some of the highlights through photos…

image5 IMG_2591 IMG_2598 IMG_2611 IMG_2612 IMG_2614 IMG_2615 IMG_2600 photo 1 photo 4 photo 2 IMG_2608

Greening the government’s supply chain: federal procurement poised to drive sustainability reporting

As the federal government extends sustainability reporting to its supply chain, it needs to adopt more standardized frameworks for reporting than those now in place

The US federal government is poised to extend its sustainability reporting to its supply chain, giving further impetus to a best practice already encouraged by competition in the marketplace. Large government procurers, including the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Department of Defense, are inserting questions and requirements about sustainability into contracts with their largest vendors as they renew them.

‘We just renewed contracts with our two biggest packaging vendors,’ says Jed Ela, sustainability co-ordinator at GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, which buys products and services not only for GSA’s own needs but also for those of many other federal agencies. ‘They had the ability to report carbon footprint at the customer level.’

To read the full article, please visit Corporate Secretary Magazine online.

ESG research firms are looking at your company…are you ready?

By Mike Wallace, Managing Director, and Sarah Corrigan, Associate Consultant

Early autumn brings the unveiling of the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices as companies all over the world learn whether they have what it takes to be recognized on one of the preeminent sustainability indices.

When any award is announced, the first question is typically “Who won?” The second is “Who decided?” In the case of DJSI, the answer to the first question includes a list of 16 companies that have made the list each of the last 15 years. The answer to the second question is RobecoSAM, an investment firm based in Zurich, Switzerland, that specializes in sustainability investing.

Research firms specializing in environmental, social and governance analysis are experiencing a growth in the demand for their services as investors and other influential users become more attuned to the utility and availability of such information. Such firms provide investors (both asset owners and asset managers) with the tools and data to compare and contrast ESG performance of companies across sectors and regions. Quantitative metrics and consolidated scoring allows these comparisons to be made in real time, a feature favored by investment analysts who don’t have time to read your latest sustainability report cover to cover. Considering the growing number of PRI Signatories and CDP Signatories, the experts analyzing such ESG performance information quickly are multiplying.

To read the full post please visit GreenBiz.com.

Blurban Living: Urban Parks and the 21st Century

Issue 5

Parks: A Natural Capital

Urbanization around the world continues to transform our landscapes, with urban areas expanding at twice the rate of their populations.1 A 2012 study estimated developed urban land will increase by 1.2 million square kilometers by 2030, tripling the amount of developed urban land from a 2000 baseline.1 With urbanization increasing, residents are becoming increasingly disconnected from nature. As this trend continues, it is important to not lose sight of the economic, social, and environmental values added by parks and green spaces. Services provided by parks include recreation, education, human health benefits, increase in property values, and environmental services.  The presence of green spaces has also been shown to directly reduce mental fatigue, relieve feelings of stress, and have positive effects on mood.2

Building Blocks

 A new urban landscape confronts urban planners and urban residents in the 21st century. This landscape—the legacy of decades of suburban sprawl linked to racial tensions, poor planning policies, and a cultural desire for home ownership— has left our cities with barren pockmarks of parking lots, vacant buildings, and aging infrastructure. As Baby Boomers reach retirement and Millenials enter the workforce, history’s two largest generations are returning to long-forgotten city centers. As people move back into the city center, planners and developers are racing to reinvent these downtown neighborhoods. In many cities, planners and courageous citizens are integrating park space into redevelopment plans—creating thriving recreational centers for downtown residents. In one of the largest and most audacious projects in the history of the United States, Boston replaced the elevated John F. Fitzgerald Expressway with an intricate series of tunnels. On the vacant area formerly occupied by the highway, a 1.5 mile linear park—the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway—opened in 2008. With the help of Design Trust for Public Space and the Friends of the High Line, New York City opened the High Line Park—the quintessential rails to trails success story—in 2009.

The High Line has quickly become one of New York City's most popular attractions. (Image credit: Friends of the High Line)

The High Line has quickly become one of New York City’s most popular attractions. (Image credit: Friends of the High Line)

Across the country in Los Angeles, a bold plan to create a continuous 51-mile greenway corridor along the LA River is underway. Just last week, a 2-mile stretch of bikeway opened in the San Fernando Valley. The new bikeway—equipped with concrete paving, bioswales, art, restrooms, lighting, and exercise equipment—joins sections in Long Beach, Downtown, Burbank, and Glendale. The LA River Corp hopes to complete the greenway and return the largely concrete river to parkland by 2020.

The Emerald Necklace

Here in Cleveland, our Cleveland Metroparks have provided an escape from the bustling city for almost a century. First opening in 1917, Alfred Stinchcomb’s dream of creating a chain of parks and connecting boulevards encircling Cleveland and its suburbs has largely come to fruition in 18 reservations spanning over 22,800 acres. A recent study by the Trust for Public Land values the annual benefits of this system at $855 million. As part of its Centennial Plan, the Metroparks is working to link our urban centers and extend park benefits to urban residents through “an accessible, regional greenway and trail network [as well as] transforming the Cleveland Lakefront to an icon of urban vitality, healthy urban ecology, and active outdoor lifestyles.”3 On September 19, 2014, the Cleveland Foundation announced a $5 million grant to the Trust for Public Land for a 1.3-mile trail connecting the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath to Lake Erie. Named the Cleveland Foundation Centennial Trail, the trail connects the Metropark’s Lakefront Reservation to the 85-mile Towpath—providing a pedestrian linkage to the Reservation, which is currently obstructed by live railroads and the heavily industrialized old branch of the Cuyahoga River.

The prominence of Alfred Stinchcomb's greenway plan is seen in this 1920 Cuyahoga County Road Map. (Image credit: Teaching Cleveland)

The prominence of Alfred Stinchcomb’s greenway plan is seen in this 1920 Cuyahoga County Road Map. (Image credit: Teaching Cleveland)

A few stories above the new Centennial Foundation Trail, the Rotary Club of Cleveland  is hard at work creating the Red Line Greenway—a 3-mile linear park adjoining the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority’s Red Line. The trail—Cleveland’s answer to the High Line—would connect the Detroit-Shoreway, Stockyards, Clark-Fulton, Tremont, and Ohio City neighborhoods to Downtown. The trail can serve as a spine for alternative transportation in Cleveland, allowing residents complete and unobstructed pedestrian access from Downtown to the flourishing near-Westside. Together with Bike Cleveland’s Midway Project, these trails help realize Alfred Stinchcomb’s dream of connecting urban residents to green spaces , making Cleveland a model of healthy lifestyle urban living in the 21st century. 4

The Red Line Greenway would run alongside GCRTA's Red Line for 3 miles. (Image credit: Steve Litt, The Plain Dealer)

The Red Line Greenway would run alongside GCRTA’s Red Line for 3 miles. (Image credit: Steve Litt, The Plain Dealer)

1 Seto, K. C., Güneralp, B., & Hutyra, L. R. (2012). Global forecasts of urban expansion to 2030 and direct impacts on biodiversity and carbon pools. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1211658109

2 Kuo, F. E., Sullivan, W. C., Coley, R. L., & Brunson, L. (1998). Fertile ground for community: Inner-city neighborhood common spaces. American Journal of Community Psychology, 26(6), 823-851.

3 Cleveland Metroparks. Cleveland Metroparks 2020: The Emerald Necklace Centennial Plan.

4 For more on the Midway Project, visit Blurban Living, Issue 4.

 

-Blurban Living is a series by Jared Robbins, Analyst

Blurban Living, Issue 4

The Fall of the Streetcar

Prior to the Second Urban Revolution, which saw the proliferation of the automobile and rise of the suburbs, the city was a compact and dense place. Movement was at first restricted by how far one could travel on foot or by horse. In large cities like Cleveland, these methods of transportation were replaced by streetcar networks. Streetcars allowed for quicker (and less smelly) transit, and led commuters from the busy city to the tranquility of William Stinchcomb’s new metropark system. The arrival of World War II stopped upgrades to Cleveland’s streetcar system in its tracks, and the Great American Streetcar Scandal led to the dissolution of streetcar networks across the country.1 The Second Urban Revolution brought with it the creation of the Federal Highway System and rise of the suburbs. Streetcar systems had come to an end as quickly as they had begun. The last of Cleveland’s 38 streetcar lines was converted to a bus line in 1954.

streetcarCleveland’s streetcar system.

Infrastructure Reawakened

Many argue that America is currently undergoing a third urban revolution. The two largest generations in American history—the Millennials and Baby Boomers—are transitioning into more urban settings. These demographics are sparking debates on what is to be done with a plethora of aging infrastructure. Cities across the country have adapted new uses for these underutilized assets, such as New York City’s High Line. But in a city of less than 400,000 with built roads for over one million, there is plenty of empty asphalt around the City. Miles of redundant roads contribute to reckless driving, greenhouse gas pollution, and storm water runoff. 21st century urban planners preach a road reimagination technique called a “road diet,” which reduces the number of width of lanes in order to increase road efficiency. While the idea seems counterintuitive, research indicates that road diets relieve congestion by decreasing the likelihood of speeding and reckless driving associated with wider roads. They also allow for the addition of street parking, protected bike lanes, and green infrastructure.

Relinking Cleveland

Jacob VanSickle and Bike Cleveland recently proposed an audacious plan for Cleveland’s gigantic thoroughfares. The group—along with St. Clair Superior Development Corporation and Bialosky + Partners Architects—envisions a bicycle expressway along hundreds of miles of former streetcar line. The system would place protected bike lanes down the center of many of Cleveland’s roads. The lanes would be buffered on either side by greenways, which will filter out pollution, relieve storm water runoff, and protect bikers. In many Cleveland neighborhoods, where residents may not have a car, the system could provide a safe and low-cost alternative to public transit. Furthermore, recent studies have found that protected bike lanes increase business along transit corridors. While now just an unfunded “dream,” the Cleveland Midway plan could set Cleveland as a leader in 21st century urban planning, and spur economic growth throughout the region.

midway
Map of the proposed Midway System. The portion of the blue line between MLK Blvd. and E. 55 St. in the St. Clair Superior neighborhood would serve as a model for the system.

Between the 1930s and 1950s, a front company known as National City Lines and its subsidiary, Pacific City Lines, purchased and dismantled streetcar networks across the continental United States. The Company was successful in converting streetcar networks in 45 cities—including St. Louis, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and San Diego—into bus systems. National City Lines was funded by General Motors, Firestone Tire, Standard Oil of California (now Chevron), Philips Petroleum (now ConocoPhilips), Mack Trucks, and the Federal Engineering Corporation.1 Many say this move by the auto industry to dismantle the streetcars played a key role in the decline of public transit across the U.S. Attorney Bradford Snell testified before congress in 1974, saying “General Motors is in effect a sovereign economic state whose interlocking control of auto, truck, bus, and locomotive production is a major factor in the decline of this Nation’s rail and bus systems.”2

1 Between the 1930s and 1950s, a front company known as National City Lines and its subsidiary, Pacific City Lines, purchased and dismantled streetcar networks across the continental United States. The Company was successful in converting streetcar networks in 45 cities—including St. Louis, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and San Diego—into bus systems. National City Lines was funded by General Motors, Firestone Tire, Standard Oil of California (now Chevron), Philips Petroleum (now ConocoPhilips), Mack Trucks, and the Federal Engineering Corporation.1 Many say this move by the auto industry to dismantle the streetcars played a key role in the decline of public transit across the U.S. Attorney Bradford Snell testified before congress in 1974, saying “General Motors is in effect a sovereign economic state whose interlocking control of auto, truck, bus, and locomotive production is a major factor in the decline of this Nation’s rail and bus systems.”2

For more on Cleveland’s Streetcar System: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streetcars_in_Cleveland

2 For U.S. Attorney, Bradford Snell’s testimony: http://libraryarchives.metro.net/DPGTL/testimony/1974_statement_bradford_c_snell_s1167.pdf

For more on the Midway project: http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2014/08/cleveland_bicycle_expressway_c.html