Funding possibility has Akron thinking green
By Stephanie Kist
WEST AKRON — Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic wore a green tie and chose Summit County’s first “green” building for an Aug. 10 announcement about upcoming environmental initiatives in the city.
Anticipating upwards of $8 million to $10 million in federal funding, Plusquellic announced plans to create what he is calling a “greenprint” for Akron.
The long-term plan is expected to emerge within the next year, with Keep Akron Beautiful (KAB) taking the lead, Plusquellic said during the press conference, held in the Akron Zoo’s new education center, the first building in Summit County to be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified, according to zoo officials.
“This new role is entirely
consistent with Keep Akron Beautiful’s mission
that it has been performing admirably for 26 years,”
Plusquellic said. “It will encourage our businesses
and citizens to participate in environmentally friendly
activities that will benefit the entire community.”
KAB Board member Don Mittiga
said KAB is up to the challenge and will expand its
mission to include more environmental initiatives.
The city, which currently provides
about $200,000 in funding for KAB via street-cleaning
assessments, plans to provide additional funding to
the nonprofit as it embarks on its new charge.
KAB Executive Director Paula
Davis is enthusiastic about beginning a public dialogue
and identifying strategies for environmental education
“Our city can become more
attractive to young people, more healthy and more prosperous,”
An Energy and Environment Block
Grant program was recently approved in the U.S. House
of Representatives that would supply formula-based grants
to cities to reduce energy dependence and promote greater
Part of broad energy legislation
passed Aug. 4, according to the U.S. Conference of Mayors,
the program would authorize $10 billion over a five-year
period, prompting Akron to look toward the possibility
of several million dollars to put toward environmental
“We saw this thing moving,
and it may move very quickly,” Plusquellic said.
Plusquellic was president of
the U.S. Conference of Mayors in 2005 when it unanimously
endorsed a Climate Protection Agreement, an initiative
in which mayors commit to reduce emissions in their
cities to 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.
The location of the Aug. 10 announcement
might be the first LEED-certified building around, but
Plusquellic said it won’t be the last. Three more
green building projects are under way
in West Akron.
Metro Parks, Serving Summit County
is rehabilitating a structure on Sand Run Parkway for
offices that will be LEED-certified, and recently First
Energy Corp. broke ground on its new offices on White
Pond Drive and will seek the LEED designation.
Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority
also will be employing green building standards in its
$50 million Edgewood Homes project adjacent to the zoo,
the mayor said.
Eco-friendly practices en-gaged
in by city departments include: recycling of asphalt
and oil; conservation of energy in city-owned buildings;
implemented biogas technology; securing regional water
supply safety; protecting natural resources through
conservation and easements; remediation of 22 brownfield
sites; maintaining city parks and, with KAB, flowerscapes;
and highway landscaping.
Plusquellic also announced that
recycling has increased from 30 percent participation
to 48 percent in the year since the city began its new
automated trash pickup program.