Last Thursday, I was honored to play a role in the 2021 Midwest Regional Sustainability Summit. This event brought together sustainability giants in our region who work alongside each other to share best practices and facilitate deep discussion regarding how we can be good stewards of our planet.
The focus this year was the path to 2030, which has been cited as the year that catastrophic climate change will be irreversible. What a terrifying thought. The Cincinnati 2030 District’s mission is to create a network of healthy, high-performing buildings in Cincinnati with an ultimate goal of reducing energy use, water consumption and transportation emissions 50% by the year of 2030. I believe that it is my role as a designer to push sustainability in a project as one of the driving forces. It simply can no longer be a feature we only choose to include if budget allows. The future of our communities depends on how sustainable our built environment is.
For the conference, I sat on a panel discussing the Bethany School community and its architecture (done by Emersion Design), with the intent to communicate how a Midwestern school is preparing for a more resilient future. The Bethany School is the first net zero energy school in the Midwest. Furthermore, we discussed how a net zero school ultimately brings in energy use savings and how those savings can be put towards creative educational programming. Innovative programming can include outdoor learning, which facilitates solutions to many current issues. We discussed Spouts for Clouts, a proposed outdoor learning initiative that addresses food deserts and unemployment. We also heard from members of Groundwork Ohio Valley, a youth centered environmental justice program, who provided their valuable perspective.
The conference was an excellent resource for many other innovative programs and initiatives that address equity, economic, and environmental issues. Cincinnati is becoming a hub for immigrants, and Elevar’s own Tom Fernandez is co-chair of the Board of Mayor Cranley’s Task Force on Immigration. Furthermore, our city can even push to become a climate tech hub through corporate and government partnerships, along with providing local solutions for water pollution and food waste.