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being

2010

green in cincinnati

Because it makes sense

$5

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ways to go green right now


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Sustainability An inspired way to live, work, and play WE ALL WANT TO CREATE A BETTER WORLD for ourselves, our children, and future generations. And respecting the natural environment is fundamental to that pursuit. That is why Melink is committed to the principles of sustainability, conservation, and energy efficiency. It starts with us … as individuals and leaders within local companies, schools, and governments. Fortunately, Cincinnati is already leading Ohio and the U.S. in several ways. For instance, Cincinnati has more LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) registered projects than any city in Ohio. In addition, Cincinnati Public Schools is planning to have more LEED-Silver certified schools than any city in the U.S. And the City of Cincinnati offers a unique tax-abatement on LEED homes and buildings. With this maiden issue of Being Green in Cincinnati, we hope the homeowners and business owners featured inside will inspire YOU to help create a more livable and sustainable community. Our homes, places of work, and modes of transportation can be powerful examples. Let’s rise to the challenge and make Cincinnati a top 10 green city in America. – Steve Melink & Employees Melink Corporation


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www.melinkcorp.com | 513.965.7300


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JOHN HUEBER HOMES

is a Cincinnati based, family operated

Custom Home Building business founded in 1987. We specialize in LEED homes and high end custom homes ranging from $200,000 city infill projects to over $1,000,000 scattered lot estate homes.

Whether your idea of home is a pastoral estate nestled among sprawling acreage or a LEED Certified, urban loft within walking distance of Cincinnati’s finest restaurants and attractions, John Hueber Homes has the experience, resources and attention to detail to make your project a reality. With a respect for traditional hands on craftsmanship, functionality, originality, aesthetics and value we personally guide our homeowners through every step of the design/build process tailoring every home to the individual’s lifestyle, and budget.

We have the honorable distinction of being the first builder in Ohio to build and certify a LEED home and currently have received certification on 5 LEED homes including two LEED Certified Silver homes. Constantly working to improve our processes and procedures, maintaining the highest standard of quality, guiding and assisting our customers, and staying on the cutting edge of building trends are all hallmarks of our company.

www.johnhueberhomes.com

513.683.3080


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Contact Geothermal Solutions at

www.WrightSolutionsGroup.com 513-228-4900

Go green Literally. There is currently a 30% tax credit on the purchase of a geothermal system. No limit!

It makes a difference when it’s your name on the sign. My name is Daniel Wright and mine will be the first boots on the ground, and the last to leave when Geothermal Solutions installs your WaterFurnace Geothermal Comfort System. My name says it all: we do things the ‘Wright’ Way; on that, you have

Geothermal is efficient. Geothermal systems use 25-50% less electricity than conventional heating or cooling systems. Geothermal provides 3-4 units of energy for every 1 unit used to power the system.

my solemn Promise and a 100% complete satisfaction guarantee. We work with the very best equipment and materials and go to exhaustive lengths to provide you with decades of savings and comfort. Just speak with any of our many delighted clients. – Daniel Wright , President, Geothermal Solutions

Geothermal is cost effective. A WaterFurnace Geothermal Comfort System designed and installed by Geothermal Solutions can save you up to 70% on monthly energy bills, meaning that over its twenty-four year life expectancy, you can get a 200-400% return on your investment. Geothermal Solutions is a WaterFurnace GeoPro Master Dealer.

Only the best from the WaterFurnace network of independent dealers are invited to become a GeoPro Master Dealer.

Certified Loop Design and Installation


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A

ater urnace Geothermal Com ort S stem designed and

installed by Geothermal Solutions is the most efficient, costeffective, comfortable, environmentally-friendly, and reliable heating and air conditioning available in the world. erio .

and save green.

h st sourc or hom right n th our t.

n rg is


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inside

Photo by Cathy & Mark Lyons

being green in cincinnati

Real Cincinnatians who have gone green because it makes sense A Special Edition of Best Magazine Cincinnati

F E AT U RE STOR IES 14

Why Be Green?

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The Zoo’s Thane Maynard rides his bike to work

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Build Green: Save $300,000 on property taxes

31

COMPOST: The Love Story

36

Solar power’s time is now

40

Get 150 miles per charge with this car

43

The Red’s Chris Dickerson: My at bat against waste

46

Teaching green starts in kindergarten

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All the green that’s fit to print

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Re-seeding rooflines

61

Cincinnati’s LEED® tax abatement

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Making your home certifiably green and does it matter?

67 - 82

Tour of green homes & businesses Four homes and three businesses that have been awarded LEED® certification for being green: the visions, the plans, and the results. The major players include: RWA Architects, Great Traditions Homes, John Hueber Homes, Black Diamond Construction, Melink Corporation, PNC Banks and The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.

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Finding a green job

88

Energy Audit: The first step

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Geothermal: Letting the earth do its job

94

Who’s Who in Being Green in Cincinnati

98

Salvaging the workplace

106

Gorillas, cell phones and an 8-year old kid from Glendale

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Recycling: On the trail of trash

121

Eat local, eat smart, eat green

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Rolling out the barrels to save water, save money

128

Living Green: Gerald and Jan Brown Checco of Clifton

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Old topic, but new thinking on green

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Brewster Rhoads: Promoting the Ohio River

Advertising supporters American Heating & Air Conditioning Amp Electric Vehicles Appliance Loft Architects Plus Arronco Comfort Air Beck Architecture Benchmark Outdoor Outfitters Black Diamond Construction Camery Hensley Construction Cincinnati Bell Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens Coldwell Banker West Shell Cornette/Violetta Architects Custom Distributors Duke Energy Eagle Creek Custom Builders Elk Creek Vineyards Ferguson Bath Kitchen & Lighting Frame & Save - Hyde Park Geothermal Solutions Gilkey Window Company Great Traditions Homes Green City Resources Hafner & Sons HGC Construction Jacob Brothers Heating & Air Conditioning Jami & Libby - Comey & Shepherd John Hueber Homes John Senhauser Architects John Tisdel Fine Appliances Kent Bradley Roush Architects Klotter Builders Marsh Window & Door McCabe Lumber McSwain Carpets & Floors Melink Corporation Mercedes-Benz of Cincinnati Merwin Farms Patterned Concrete of Cincinnati Perrin March - Coldwell Banker RLT Design Rookwood Pottery Company Rumpke RWA Architecture & Design smart center Cincinnati Stewart & Jervis Builders Switch Lighting & Design ThirdSun Solar & Wind Verbarg's Furniture & Design

page 83 120 13 53 144 105 45 16 64 44 8 108 8 146 93 24 140 59 137 10 127 4 29 34 8 136 23, 84 6 48 103, 143 96 56 116 119 109 2 148 23, 84 60 104 56 126 39 66 110 117 89 42 30, 125

For more info, go to: www.beinggreenincincinnati.com About the cover:

Our good friend and well-known artist Beverly Erschell provided the paper, the colors, and the vision; the inspiration came from Steve Melink, founder of the Melink Corporation. To see more of Beverly’s work, her book The Art of Beverly Erschell, can be purchased at cincybooks.com, the Cincinnati Art Museum or at Joseph-Beth Booksellers. In September her work will be showing at the Cincinnati Architectural Foundation.


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because it makes sense S t o r y by J a s o n S a n dh a g e, Publi she r, Be i ng G re e n i n Ci nci nnat i

A

s we navigate our way through life there are many important questions we should ask. One of the most significant being, are my decisions today making the most sense for the future? There are no easy and absolute answers to this question and you will not find the key to life within these pages. But what you will find is that, much like a key, the correct series of decisions, or notches, will open the door to a brighter future. Start with the things that make the most sense and do them. Eventually you will unearth that you’re living the answer to yesterday’s questions.

With this first edition of Being Green in Cincinnati, we wanted to keep things simple and defined. In showcasing dozens of examples of those who have chosen to go green in one or many aspects of their lives, you can see how their decisions have had a positive impact on their pocketbooks, their lifestyles, and the environment. But even more so, you can see how you can do it too. Nothing presented in these pages is that difficult to do, or to understand. You can read this magazine in one hour and implement a few of the ideas in the next. A year ago, I wasn’t entirely sure if going green made sense. Today, there’s no question in my mind. Simply put, green is living your life in a more environmentally friendly way. It’s an understanding that we have a great impact on the ground on which we walk, the water from which we drink and the air in which we breathe. We cannot afford to continue taking the “I’ll take care of it later” approach. Many of the negative impacts we have created can be fixed but, we no longer have the luxury of waiting. The time is now. Green is us. It’s the passion found in the eyes of thousands of regular people and professionals throughout Cincinnati who have done it. It’s the story of Gerald and Jan Checco. Through their experiences, these two have found a way to integrate green into their everyday lives. In every niche and corner of their 100-year-

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old Clifton home, at work, above their garage, in the garden, even on their way to and from the grocery store, this couple embodies what we all can achieve. Like the rest of us, they just want to save money and maintain a beautiful city that we all can enjoy for many years to come (see story, page 128). In their story, and others, we explain their motivations, their conclusions, the process, and their cost-savings. Green is no longer for a select few. It has become a mainstream reality that is occurring right now and if you aren’t on board then you’re missing the boat. In many respects, Cincinnati and the state of Ohio are actually leading the nation’s green movement. Cincinnati Public Schools is in the process of building the largest number of certifiably green schools in the entire country (see story, page 46). If you are planning on building a green-certified home within the city limits, Cincinnati will award you a tax abatement worth up to hundreds of thousands of dollars (see story, page 61). During your next stroll through the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens, take a moment to look around at what many consider to be the “greenest zoo in America” (see story, page 80). Others are taking notice. Because of our many contributions to the green movement, the City of Cincinnati has been selected to host the 2011 Midwest Greenbuild Conference of the U.S. Green Building Council, Greening the Heartland. There is, as you can guess, much more to do. We have the


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Cover painting by Beverly Erschell

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capabilities of branding Cincinnati as the landmark on the map to green living. What if coming down the cut-in-the-hill to Cincinnati opened to buildings covered in vegetation, solar panels glistening in the sun in the quest for energy, and bicyclists on their way to and from work? Look what the Arch did for St. Louis. Our skyline and our buildings don’t have to compete with the natural environment. We can use the sun and the earth to fuel our needs while we create greener and healthier surroundings. It’s not one or the other. Let’s make this vision a reality. Take a look through these pages and decide where you can make your own contributions. You don’t have to do them all. Try one for starters. Because it makes sense. Special Thanks Being Green in Cincinnati is the result of more than a year of careful planning and research. Hundreds of people and professionals were consulted and without their support, confidence, resources and their educating of our staff on green principles, this project would not have been possible. At every stop along the way we learned something new and

exciting which spoke of the dedication by Cincinnatians to creating a more eco-friendly city. We wish there was enough space to thank everyone, but here are a few: To RWA Architects, particularly principals John Isch and Michael Mauch, who spent the equivalent of days talking green housing with us, and in the details of how we should proceed. To Chad Edwards, Chuck Lohre and the entire Cincinnati Regional Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. Andy Holzhauser at the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance. Thane Maynard, Brewster Rhoads and Chris Dickerson. Libby Hunter, Steve Melink, Michelle Greenfield, Barb Yankie, Rose Seeger and Pam Simmons. Everyone at PNC Bank, Duke Energy, the Cincinnati Zoo, Rumpke, John Hueber Homes, HGC Construction. And, of course, thanks are due to those who let us feature them in these pages. Without them, we wouldn’t have much to talk about. Until the next issue of Being Green in Cincinnati, Go Green!

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RIDING A BIKE TO WORK, OR ANY WHERE FOR THAT MAT TER

if Thane can do it, we can do it S t o r y by J a s o n S a n dh a g e

I

n the early morning of May 20 I stood atop one of the rolling, green hills above Newtown. The air was cool and held a foggy haze. I was outside of Thane Maynard’s home trying to forget that it had been many months since I had last ridden a bicycle. Today’s destination – The Cincinnati Zoo where Thane is the Executive Director of the “greenest zoo in America.” From Newtown, the zoo is a long 13 miles away. Chances are, if you drive to or from work along Newtown Rd, Wooster Pike, Plainville Rd, Erie Ave, Madison Rd, or Martin Luther King Dr, you’ve seen a tanned, fit man riding his bike during your commute. Chances are it was Thane Maynard and chances are it will be the only time you’ll ever see him sitting down. As Thane took off like a cheetah down his driveway onto the road, I followed behind at a pace resembling that of a three-toed sloth. No

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worries. I knew he would eventually slow when he hit Newtown Rd. Everyone slows when they hit Newtown Rd. In his role at the zoo, Thane tells the story of biological diversity, natural history and wildlife conservation to the public. Of his many formal responsibilities, riding a bike to work isn’t one of them. Neither is cleaning up after the giraffes or using a fireman’s-sized hose to wash and cool down the elephants. He does not perform these tasks because he feels obligated. He does them because they make sense. Just like being green makes sense. My excitement grew with every pedal stroke as we snaked from Newtown to the zoo. As we moved from Newtown to Mariemont, Hyde Park to O’Bryonville, I could feel the burn rushing through my calves and a hint of sweat trickling down my back. For Thane, this was


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a ride that he had done many times before but for me, it was a first. I’ll admit it. I have become addicted to my car. A rite of passage occurs at the age of 16 when most of us exchange our bicycle helmets for a set of car keys. If it’s not fast and convenient, it’s usually not for me. And in writing this, I feel ashamed. Interestingly, my brother Rory often rides his bike from his apartment in Clifton to his job at the downtown branch of the Public Library. He loves it! Pedaling in Thane’s downdraft, my mind wandered to my earlier years when a bike was an important means of transportation, able to get me from one neighborhood to another, to school and around the corner to the convenience store. Yet, the simplicity of a bike is often overlooked as we age. Certainly, for those shorter, more leisurely trips around town, a bike is a perfectly acceptable and possibly preferable choice. Baskets and bags can be attached to enable the rider to carry most anything needed for work or a day trip. For those longer rides, or days when the weather isn’t agreeable, it’s OK to take a car or, better yet if you can, the bus. Many progressive cities cater to bicyclists. Portland, Seattle and Chicago have healthy biking communities with people like Thane who commute to work, taking advantage of designated bike lanes, bike paths and well-placed bike racks. Throughout many European cities, biking to work, shops and corner markets is actually the norm. Enjoying a city from the seat of a bike opens up an entirely new vista that showcases the architecture, sights, smells and people of the community. It also provides one with an opportunity to think, void of noise and distractions. “Biking is not only great for helping you get in shape, it helps you save on gas and it’s good for the environment,” explains Thane. Using our 26-mile round-trip commute as an example, by leaving my car at Thane’s home and utilizing a bike instead, I was able to save 26 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions (www.epa.gov). I also burned well over 2,000 calories (www.healthstatus.com). For those of us more sedentary in our lifestyles, we need to know that the benefits are overwhelming. Our health, our well-being, our quality and length of life would all be improved if we got behind the handlebars more often. And, we would save money. The cost of purchasing and maintaining a bike is minimal when compared to that of a car. You could laugh at those who pay to park their cars while you consign your bicycle to a slot on the rack. Some companies have even gone as far as to provide perks for those who choose a more eco-friendly commute. As part of their health and wellness program, the Cincinnati Zoo has put together a bike team. Members of this team who ride to work frequently are being rewarded for doing so in the form of assistance with simple bike fixes, tune-ups and helmets. They get together as a group once a month to embark on an adventure that might include bike trails, scenic routes through various neighborhoods, a pleasant ride through Cincinnati’s beautiful parks, or treks that involve bird watching. There are currently many great places to bike in Cincinnati. One of Thane’s favorites is the Loveland Bike Trail. It is the longest paved trail in the United States and it stretches 76 miles through five of Ohio’s southwestern counties. From Newtown to Springfield, that’s a lot of enjoyment. Lunken Airport is another great option – whether you want to enjoy some time with your family or get exercise, watch the planes take off and land while you make loops around the airfield.

Zoo Bike Team, left to right: Top Row – Cody Sowers, Jocelyn Coulter, Jamey Vogel, Deb Zureick. Bottom Row – Chris Edelen, Thane Maynard, Michael Berry.

Biking in Cincinnati is still far from perfect. As Thane and I saw firsthand on our ride, bike lanes need to be improved and expanded. On most major thoroughfares, bike lanes are nonexistent – forcing bicyclists to ride shoulder-to-shoulder with the cars on the road. For the most part, drivers were very respectful of our presence and provided us with more than enough room to operate with them, side-by-side. However, if we would like to become a more bike-friendly city, we need to add to our bike trails and lanes, implement bike share programs and add more bike racks. The potential is here. To get started on the road to better health and a greener lifestyle, first find the right bike for you. Make sure it is a comfortable fit for your body type and fits your needs. Will you be riding on city streets, off road or both? A road bike allows you to experience a smoother, much quicker ride from point A to B. Mountain bikes are sturdier and better suited for those rugged warriors who wish to experience the thrills of riding a bike through the woods or off of the beaten path. A hybrid is the best of both worlds. It takes a little from the mountain bike and a little bit from the road bike and morphs them together, providing a great option for those who want to get started. If you have any questions, visit your local bike shop. They can help you with a bike fitting, recommend bike routes, provide you with gear, and more. From the seat of a bike, the city is entirely different. It’s the push and pull of the pedals. It’s the open air. It’s getting to where you need to go without having to talk on a cell phone, apply makeup or eat a cheeseburger. No distractions, no windshield, no parking fees, no gas pedal and no need to go to the gym. It’s a great way to wind up or wind down from work. It’s a fun activity you can enjoy with your friends and family. For some time I had forgotten why I rode. I would like to thank Thane for re-introducing me. In Thane’s words, “get out and pedal.” It’s as simple as that. To find out more about biking in Cincinnati, please visit www.queencitybike.com Special thanks to Reser Bicycle Outfitters in Newport (648 Monmouth St., Tel. 859-261-6187) for their assistance with this story.

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The Project: Build a new home in Cincinnati The Theme: Use green materials within a great design The Result: $300,000 saved in property taxes

S t o r y by D ou g S a n dh a g e P h o t o s by C a t hy & M a r k Lyo n s

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Looking up at the home is as interesting as being inside looking down. The homeowners, working with their landscape architect, chose non-invasive and draught-tolerant plants in keeping with green thinking.

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The expansive deck on the home features motorized screens to keep bugs and rain sprays away and Trex composite decking made from recycled plastic bags and sawdust.

m

ake no mistake about the owner’s intentions when he heard a proposal from the designer of his new home about building it with green standards. It was about the money. Not on the spending side; on the saving side. The proposal was straightforward. If the homeowner would agree to spend approximately $75,000 additional dollars on the cost of building their new home to “green industry” standards, on which they would get $11,000 back in tax credits, and save about $300,000 in Cincinnati real estate taxes, would he do it? Oh yeah, and one other thing said the designer: Your monthly energy costs will be lower. For approximately $275 a month, they would be able to heat and cool this home that has about twice as much square footage and volume as their previous home in Hyde Park. Even the insurance costs would go down due to a lower fire hazard rating. There was no shoe to drop. No April Fool’s joke. No kidding around. This was Green in many more ways than one. The million-dollar-plus home is gorgeous, and has a stunning view of the Little Miami River valley below. You don’t, in the words of some less-than-green enthusiasts, have to have a thatch roof and dirt floor to be green. Now that the owner and his wife have been in the home for about a year, a 5,515 square footer in Linwood, they call

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themselves “Ambassadors for Green,” ambassadors because they average a party a month and everyone gets to hear the green story of the house. The Mr. said if it hadn’t been for the tax abatement, they would have moved out of the city (the couple was paying about $20,000 a year property taxes on their previous home on Handasyde in Hyde Park). The Mrs. in the household says she now recycles and loves using the central vacuum system, yes, it counts as a green item. At the time this story was being written, the home was in consideration for being one of the first Platinum LEED®-certified homes in Cincinnati. That would mean they scored 107 or more points (see story, page 62 about LEED certification). The homeowners asked that their names not be used for this article, so we talked about the job with Tom Walter, owner of Klotter Homes (the builder), and Randy Travis, owner of RLT Designs (the residential designer). Both are clearly proud of their plan to reach the top-level Platinum score and of helping the homeowners save so much money. Tom has known the couple for some time and when they asked him to build this new home for them, and wanting a fantastic view, he knew that the location would qualify for Cincinnati’s tax abatement program (see story, page 61). He was also aware that if they installed a geothermal heating and


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“BUILDING HISTORIC, SUSTAINABLE HOMES OF THE FUTURE”

eaglecreekbuilders@fuse.net

r i v e r be ndt f . co m


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You can have a wall of windows with a great view even in a green-built home. The great room features 12 ft. ceilings. The Low-E glazed windows are from the Pella Architect Series and the 2x6 walls include R-24 insulation which combines both blown cellulose and closed cell spray foam.

cooling system, a 30 percent tax credit would apply, a credit not limited by income. Randy accompanied Tom to the planning meetings with the homeowner. Randy had already designed two homes that are registered for LEED certification, including his own home. He told the homeowner the details about the tax abatement program and the rest, as they say, is history. The key green components of the house include: • Geothermal heating and cooling. • Energy Star rated appliances. • Windows that exceed Energy Star ratings. • Rainwater reclamation. • Low-flow toilets, faucets and showers. • Use of recycled materials in the construction of the home. • Minimized construction waste and all leftover materials recycled. • High R-Value rated insulation in the attic and in the walls. Randy said the attic insulation is double that of code regulations. Points were also awarded because of the home’s closeness to shopping areas, and because it was built in a developed area, where less infrastructure was required. For the home to be rated for LEED certification, Randy and Tom 26

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were required to submit for review several binders totaling several hundred pages to the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). In addition, a local rater from the USGBC visited the house for inspections. Randy said the rater told him that the house was one of the “tightest” ever built, meaning that air leakage was minimal. Interestingly, Tom says that since he started building homes in 1979, he has always made it a point to make them energy efficient. “I’ve always found it to be practical to think in terms of energy use, such as using low-E windows and higher R-value rated insulation, but with new technology, it is now at an all new level.” He adds that he thinks much of the technology will soon be included in building codes. Randy began designing homes in 1988, and started his company in 2001. He quickly saw the rise in green awareness and his first LEED certified home was featured in Homearama in 2008 (Long Cove). He makes a point of saying that the net cost of owning a LEED home is actually less than that of a conventional home. The Linwood homeowner, says Tom, now feels “empowered with wanting to be more green. If he (the homeowner) could, he would like to be off the power grid.” The homeowner told us that he is considering adding solar panels to


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Not all features in a green home are obvious. In this case, you would need to be told that the auto court and the gutters direct all rainwater into a 4,000 gallon holding tank that is used for irrigation.

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Above: The kitchen in this Linwood-built home features appliances that have all been rated as Energy Star compliant. Even the Sub-Zero refrigerator and Wolf rangetop are energy efficient. Near right: The exposed beams on the house are all recycled lumber coming from a demolished garage on a previous Hyde Park project. Right: Even a shower can be lit naturally, and at no energy cost. This one was done via a solar tube which directs light from the roof right into the shower.

the home. Solar panels are also eligible for tax credits from both the federal and state levels. Together, Tom and Randy plan to break ground on The Arbors of Pleasant Ridge in the fall of 2010. The plan is that all 14 homes in the development, located adjacent to the Ridge Club, will be LEED certified. An entire green community, if you will. It is, says Randy, one of only 27 developments chosen out of a nationwide LEED Neighborhood Development Pilot Project Plan. Each home in The Arbors will be about 2,000 sq. ft. and be available in the upper $200,000s. If one of the units sells for $295,000, the Cincinnati tax abatement will be about $5,000 a year for 15 years ($75,000), plus 20-25 percent savings in energy costs, or about $600 a year based on current energy costs. Randy estimates that the additional cost to bring each home to green standards vs. conventional building costs will be about $7,500. Do the math to see the substantial “green” savings. The home in Linwood has a panoramic view of the Little Miami River and valley, the new Otto Armleder Dog Park, and many a hawk soaring in the skies above. But at the base of the hillside, within sight of the observatory deck on the house, 28

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stand two firms that saw the green side of business well ahead of the current trend. H. Hafner & Sons recycles wood and concrete products and Cincinnati Paperboard takes cardboard. And not too far away is Evans Landscaping which excavated the hillside for the home, took the rocks to its fabrication plant in Newtown to create stone veneer, and returned them for use on the exterior walls. Being Green can be easy if you stop and think about it. It makes sense. It is all around us.

Who Did It? The following businesses were involved in one or more aspects of helping this home qualify for LEED certification: Builder: Klotter Builders, Inc. Residential Designer: RLT Design Landscape Irrigation: Anderson Irrigation Landscape Architect: Bayer Becker Panelized Framing: McCabe Lumber Insulation: Mooney & Moses Geothermal Heating & Cooling: Pinnacle Air Solutions Plumbing: MT Crowe Plumbing Windows: Pella Paint: Beck’s Paint & Hardware Decking: McCabe Lumber


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Doing the most with your rain.

Green City Resources is a green infrastructure design, installation and maintenance landscape firm. Specializing in the creation and preservation of naturally landscaped areas, our experience is unmatched in the local market. From commercial to residential, vegetated roofing to storm

Vegetated Roofing

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John and Amy Out Standing in their Garden John is a past president of the Greater Cincinnati Daylily-Hosta Society, and the Greater Cincinnati Master Gardener Society. Amy and John have served on the Board of Directors for the Association of the Cincinnati Horticultural Society. John occasionally staffs the Help Line at the Civic Garden Center. John is also a Certified Master Composter, a Certified Master Gardener, and the founder of the American Compost Society.

tlc and compost: the perfect mix to make this garden spectacular JOHN AND AMY DUKE OF HART WELL

J

ohn and Amy Duke intended to spend their retirement cruising Kentucky’s Craig’s Creek on their houseboat. In fact, they did just that for about five years after John retired from his engineering job at Procter & Gamble in 1991. But they soon grew tired of the water, and 1996 found the couple again on dry land – specifically, in the dirt – as they began to dabble in their garden. They started out growing daylilies, and soon had collected 500 varieties. John then took a Master Gardener course as his hobby quickly turned into a passion. Now the half-acre of

Story and photos by Michelle Crawley

land in Hartwell where their Victorian home rests is the site of many garden tours. Besides being beautiful, their gardens are fully organic. The Dukes have been “going green” since before it became a national movement. Inside their home, the Dukes have been consistent about recycling household plastic for many years. Outside in their gardens, they do not use chemicals. Amy says any weeds that come up around their many flowers and ornamental trees and shrubs are pulled by hand, which helps to aerate the soil. Because they

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John Duke’s sense of humor is clearly evident throughout the ½ acre he and Amy have carefully cultivated and loved over more than two decades of helping nature grow. The two bins pictured are hosts to compost in its various decaying status. “Grateful Dead” is for remains added throughout the summer, after which it is transferred to “Sense of Humus” for final fermenting. It will meet its final resting place on the Duke’s garden in the spring.

are not using weed killers, they are preserving valuable worms in the soil. They also overwinter some tropical plants and coleus cuttings in their greenhouse – a process that saves them $500 each year in new plants. But, perhaps what makes the Dukes really “green” is their regular composting. John is founder and president of the American Compost Society, Greater Cincinnati Chapter. The group’s mission is to promote composting through demonstration and education programs as a way to showcase good gardening practices and to improve the environment. John and Amy practice composting every day in their own garden, a process that makes their plants thrive, and mimics what naturally happens with plants in the forest. “It’s really common sense when you think about it,” says John. “The idea is to recycle the good stuff. The only way to get good garden soil is through composting.” When used in gardens, organic compost loosens soil for better root penetration, improves soil capacity to hold water, controls weeds, maintains soil temperatures, and adds valuable nutrients to the soil. Composting is a great way to recycle all types of yard waste and it is free – composting naturally breaks down yard waste right in one’s own backyard, saving time and energy of bagging the yard waste and setting it at the curb for pickup (which can sometimes cost extra, depending on the community). John says compost piles require only a minimal amount of maintenance to produce a useable product that is a valuable soil amendment. Organic materials can be thrown into a pile and then nature does its work. Instead of a rough pile, one can purchase a compost bin to hold the material or make one at home. Carbon (brown) and nitrogen (green) sources – such as leaves and grass – are all that are needed to get started, and turning the pile once a month will keep the process going. John says it takes a year or longer to produce the compost.

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John has several compost bins marked with signs that reflect a sense of humor that can be found throughout the Dukes garden. “Frond Farewell” is a composting bin that the Dukes begin to fill when the growing season begins. Here they put yard scraps from pruning and deadheading plants and trees. John and Amy also shred their junk mail and add that waste to the bin, adding carbon to the mixture. They also add scraps from the kitchen, except for meat and dairy products which tend to cause odor and attract critters (Amy says coffee grounds repel raccoons and can be obtained free at Starbucks). The contents of this bin decompose throughout the summer, and at the end of the growing season John empties the bin’s contents into the “Grateful Dead” compost pile, which is almost ready for use. The third composting bin, “Sense of Humus” – which is full from the previous year – is fully decomposed and ready to be spread around garden plants in the spring when the ground warms. After spreading the mixture, the couple puts mulch on top of this compost. John says they use pine bark nuggets instead of typical hardwood mulch because pine bark does not decompose as fast as hardwood mulch, which also tends to steal the nitrogen from plants. John and Amy say they get five times the bloom in their plants from composting them, versus just putting down hardwood mulch. The Dukes spend about 20-25 hours a week getting their garden into shape in the spring. Once it is summer and the plants are blooming in their full glory, the Dukes spend about 12-15 hours a week in the garden. It’s literally a part-time job, and John and Amy share a work hierarchy, “I’m the master gardener, and Amy’s the boss,” laughs John. But they point out that others don’t need to spend that much time working outside to enjoy a garden. It can be done on a much smaller scale. “We encourage people to garden with someone because it’s a


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lot more fun,” says Amy. She and John have been married for 36 years and still enjoy each other’s company. They also point out that their garden draws the neighbors together – which is an added bonus. For the Dukes, the time spent in their garden is well worth it. “Being out here makes me feel good,” says Amy, whose other part-time job is church organist. “I get a lot of visual pleasure from the garden. I feel like I have to be out here surrounded by these plants. I also feel I inherited my love and appreciation of

plants from my grandfather, who was a gentleman farmer in Alabama years ago.” He would certainly be proud of her results. For those of us who want to learn to garden or compost, John suggests first getting an education from a University extension service, or by joining a gardening club like the Civic Garden Center. Besides teaching gardening, these places also have tips about being “green.” And remember . . . “All gardening is experimental,” says John. “It’s okay to make mistakes.”

THE DUKE’S TOP 8 COMPOSTING TIPS 1. Choose a composting site that is shady and protected. 2. A properly made compost pile should reach a temperature of 125 degrees in four to five days. That will kill the weed seeds, too. If the pile starts to settle, it’s working! 3. Turn the pile once a month with a shovel to allow oxygen to get to the bacteria. Turn it again if it gets smelly. 4. The pile should be moist like a damp sponge. Use a hose to wet it when the weather is dry. 5. Compost is ready when it’s dark brown and crumbly. 6. You can compost fruits and vegetable scraps, leaves, green plants, coffee grounds, tea bags, grass clippings, manure from animals that don’t eat meat, flowers, pine needles, wood chips, shredded newspaper, wood ash, straw, sawdust, cornstalks, alfalfa hay, brush and shrub trimmings, prunings. 7. Do not compost oils/fats/grease, bones, corn cobs, meat, weed seeds, salad dressing, diseased plants or weeds, inorganic material (plastic), butter or dairy products, cat or dog manure. 8. Do not spread compost around plants in the fall when they are about to shut down for the winter.

SUGGESTED CONTACTS FOR SUPPLIES OR MORE INFO ON ORGANIC GARDENING • TLC Landscaping & Garden Center, Reading, for pine bark nuggets, 513-733-5535. • Lakeview Garden Center and Landscaping, Fairfield, for interesting and unusual trees and shrubs, 513-829-6624, www.lakeviewgardencenter.com. • A.J. Rahn Greenhouses, Cincinnati, 513-541-0672, www.ajrahngreenhouses.com. • Pipkin’s Fruit and Vegetable Market, Montgomery, for a nice selection of perennials, 513-791-3175. • Greenfield Plant Farm in Maineville and Anderson for perennials, 513-683-5249, www.greenfieldplantfarm.com. • Marvin’s Organic Gardens, Lebanon, 513-932-3319, www.marvinsorganicgardens.com. • Civic Garden Center of Cincinnati for classes and resources, 513-221-0981, www.civicgardencenter.org. • Greater Cincinnati Master Gardener Association for classes, www.mastergardener.org. • University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Boone County Extension for classes, 859-586-6101, ces.ca.uky.edu/Boone. • Ohio State University, Hamilton County Extension for classes, 513-946-8989, hamilton.osu.edu. If you would like to take a tour of the Duke’s garden or ask John to be a speaker at your next garden club meeting, call 513-821-9163 or email him at jbduke@cinci.rr.com. His topics include: • Backyard Composting – The only way to get good garden soil. This program covers all the information needed to make world-class compost in your backyard. Inexpensive bins, special additives and other useful tips are included (1-2 hrs). • Sun, Soil and Water – These three things must be about right in order for your plants to thrive. Learn how to measure sun exposure accurately, what you need to do to your soil and tips for effective watering (45-60 minutes). • Sun/Shade Patterns In Your Garden – Learn a simple graphical technique to find out how much sun any spot in your garden gets at any time of the year (30-45 minutes). • Talkin’ Dirty – Learn the most important soil properties for the garden. Find out what kind of soil you have and how to get the soil you want (45-60 minutes). • Fall Tasks – Develop your own checklist of things to do to help the garden and the gardener survive the winter (45-60 minutes). • All About Daylilies – Learn daylily terminology, which ones to buy, how to hybridize, when to divide and how to handle pests (30-45 minutes). • Nomenclature – If you can’t name it, you can’t talk about it. Remove the mystery about Latin names. Understand species, speciation and cultivars. Listen to interesting stories about plant names (45 minutes). • Plants That Shaped History – Hear interesting stories about some familiar and not-so-familiar plants that influenced world history and human history in major ways (45-60 minutes).

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K E E P I N G C I N C I N N AT I G R E E N S I N C E 1 9 2 3

Most people in Cincinnati know us for our Virgin

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COMPOST our local economy by providing recycled aggregate for roadway and foundation construction, reusable lumber for new construction and remodeling and

G R AV E L

scrap steel that entered the world market through local buyers.

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WHETHER YOUR NEXT PROJECT INVOLVES LANDSCAPING, NEW CONSTRUCTION OR REMODELING, HAFNERS CAN HELP YOU KEEP IT GREEN.

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The Madeira home of Terri and John Succo have one of the largest arrays of solar panels, 108 total, in the state of Ohio. Each panel is 31” x61” and collectively they cover 1,418 sq. ft. of the home – including the backside, the patio, and a portico.

HARNESSING THE SUN

solar power’s time may be now THE SU C C OS OF M ADEIRA Story and photos by Doug Sandhage

E

very generation of Americans alive today has heard a teacher tell them that more energy comes from the sun in a single day than our country has consumed since the industrial revolution. True or False? No matter the answer, the far bigger question today – while green remains the hot button that it is – is whether or not the sun’s energy is truly ready for mass-scale harvesting in a manner

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in which we can afford it. The answer to this one is in the testing. Nobody wants to be the guinea pig on this one. Except for this one guy in Cincinnati: John Succo. Today his energy bill is about zero. John believes he now has either the largest, or thereabouts, solar array of panels on a home in the state of Ohio. More than 1,400 sq. ft. cover the many faces of his shade-free roof on the


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backside of his home in Madeira. Built in 1990, the 9,000 sq. ft. two story home, abuts Indian Hill property lines. The grass is thick and greener than a Scotts commercial. A 20 x 40 ft. pool looks particularly inviting as does a vegetable garden, which his wife Terri tends with obvious great care, and an adjoining portico off to the side. John, a native Cincinnatian, is quick to tell you how he got to this point. He worked on Wall Street for 25 years for the likes of Morgan Stanley and Lehman Brothers, and then as his own fund manager. He did “well,” he says, which is allowing him to be the guinea pig on solar energy. But interestingly, his interest is only suntan-deep new. It was in 2007 when research alarmed him on the status of the nation’s energy grid, and the rising cost of generating power. It would, he adds, only continue to increase so it was time to do something. Wall Street gave him lots of knowledge about investments. Especially their volatility. So he looked up and saw an investment that won’t do anything but go up. It’s a sure bet; no hedging here. “The sun is unlimited clean energy,” he says. But, on the other side, it is expensive. “If I were truly mercenary about this, I would

not have done solar. I would have gone geothermal. This is an area (solar) where all the balls are still up in the air.” The most interesting part about Succo’s solar experiment, which was started in 2008, is that he is NOT using the energy for his own home; conventional heating and air units still do that. He is, instead, using his house as a power plant: whatever comes in as energy – now 23,000 kilowatts a year, goes into the grid and back to Duke to resell to others as energy. And while he doesn’t have a smart electric meter that tells him exactly how much power he is generating at any given time on any given day, his Duke utility bills are nearly always about the cost of what he sells to them; thus, an even-steven switch. He calls the process “economically energy neutral.” John purchased the solar panels from ThirdSun Solar & Wind, but did not want to disclose the cost of the units and installation. “My objective is to spend money on (solar), to get familiar with the technology,” he says. “My ultimate goal is to start a company in some aspect of the business.” One of his two sons, a recent graduate in engineering from the University of Dayton, will partner with him in the business. “As it develops, it (solar) will be a significant contributor to the whole energy pie going forward. This is the one true green energy (solution) out there. Everybody can put up solar, but not everybody can put up a wind turbine.” For anyone else considering solar, Succo suggests that “you do your own research and be confident in what you are doing. The only real way to do this is to surround yourself with people who understand the technical side of things. That is why my son is working with me.” The Succos own a second home in Bloomington, Indiana, where John guest lectures on finance at Indiana University. The other home has geothermal as its primary heating and cooling source; it does not have any solar panels. In summary, for people who want to be green in their home, John strongly suggests that they start with an energy audit (see story, page 88) of their home. “It is the biggest, most economical thing you can do,” he says. Another Point of View Geoff Greenfield and his wife, Michelle, live in Athens, Ohio where they founded ThirdSun Solar & Wind Power. It was their company that sold and installed the panels on the Succo home, and the Checco home (see story, page 128). They founded the company in 1997 and today counts installs throughout Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Michigan and one in Florida. They currently have about a dozen in place in Cincinnati, mostly installed on remodeling projects. Since the Succo job, Geoff says that the price of going solar has come down dramatically, especially in the last year. Today the payback for a typical residential job is about seven years; for businesses it is about two years. “Most of our customers see a

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Terri Succo’s vegetable garden separates the house from the portico which is covered in solar panels.

50 to 75 percent reduction in their energy bills,” says Geoff. “Some go all the way and zero out.” He adds that a popular misconception about solar energy is that it requires batteries, lots of maintenance, dials, switches and an engineering degree – lots of user interface. Now it is mostly a hands-free operation. Geoff has a very positive personality, a sunny disposition I guess you could honestly say. Like Succo, he contrasts an investment in solar against the stock market. “The sun always rises in the morning,” he says. “Within five years, almost every newly constructed home will have solar. It will be like air conditioning. If you go to California subdivisions, they ask: ‘what kind of countertops do you want, what kind of solar panels?’ It will be a standard offer. It catches on virally. The neighbors see it and say, ‘Wow.’” Another huge factor, he adds, is that solar panels are actually more pleasing to look at today. Succo was particularly pleased that this writer did not notice the panels on his home upon pulling into the driveway.

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One of the reasons for solar going down in cost are the tax and grant benefits in effect. Geoff says Ohio now has a program where if he gets five projects signed and ready to go, he can collectively ask for a state grant that typically pays about half of the costs. It does, however, require a lot of paperwork and months of lag time. In addition, the federal government now offers a 30 percent tax credit with no limit on income. That means, for those successful in getting both, the net cost to the homeowner is about 20 percent. Finally, adds Geoff, real estate agents are already noting that energy efficient homes, especially those with solar and/or geothermal, are seeing better re-sale values; some as high as a 20-to-1 return based on the investment. “In the old days green meant sacrifice; now it means benefit,” says Geoff. “We’re talking about changing people’s mindsets. You can be green and be financially responsible. You can be a leader.”


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the electric car

A ND T HE VE RDI CT I S . . .

Story and photo by Jason Sandhage Mick Kowitz, a co-founder of Amp, and his own converted-to-electric Saturn Sky. He drives it daily from his home in Deerfield Township to the Amp headquarters in Blue Ash. He says that one charge-up will get him four to five roundtrips, or about 150 miles total.

H

as the all-electric car turned the corner? The logical questions that remain are: • Is it affordable, or, at least, comparable to buying a traditional gasoline-powered model? • Is it reliable? Does it run the risk of running out of energy on a road trip and becoming stalled in the middle of a 3-lane interstate road? • Is it efficient to use, to maintain, to charge? Is it as easy as plugging it in to a household electric socket? • Is it safe? Can it get the driver from zero to 60 mph in a matter of seconds, to help pass another vehicle or to avoid an accident? • Is it better to wait until tomorrow when an upgraded model will be introduced? The electric car has been around for decades, usually hauled out to showcase in parades, or car shows as the look and feel of the future. But to be fair, the last few years has

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resulted in a jump-start to entrepreneurs who know that the corner has indeed turned more to their favor. One of those entrepreneurs is Amp Electric Vehicles. It opened its doors in February and already customers are at the door. But it has a unique sales plan: you provide the car, currently limited to three types, and they provide the battery and conversion package. The three cars are Chevy Equinox, Saturn Sky and Pontiac Solstice. The three were chosen simply because Amp’s owners felt they were models the buying public would want. They are sporty looking and, says Amp CEO Steve Burns, “we had the technology to move a larger vehicle at a good clip that would go farther. Nobody had yet claimed the larger size (electric) car market.” Burns, who grew up in Symmes Township and remains a Cincinnatian, is, he says, a happy owner of one of his own Amp modified cars, a 2010 Chevy Equinox.


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“How does it go without gas and air? How does it go without sparks and explosions? How does it go without pistons or transmission? How does it go, you ask yourself. And then you will ask, how could we have possibly gone so long without it.” – GM produced, EV1 Ad Campaign, 1996 Mick Kowitz, a co-founder of Amp, is also an owner – an all-electric Saturn Sky. He drives it daily from his home in Deerfield Township to the Amp headquarters in Blue Ash. He says that one charge-up will get him four to five roundtrips, or about 150 miles total, well beyond the 100 mile range of what Burns says most of the others in the electric car industry are able to do. “It’s the perfect commuter vehicle,” says Kowitz, noting that the range for a charge is actually between 120 and 150 miles. “We go the furthest, the fastest, with the biggest,” says Burns. If an owner is worried about running out of a charge, the best way to treat an all-electric vehicle is to keep it plugged in when not in use. “We tell people to treat it like a cell phone,” Kowitz explains. “When you go to bed, you plug in your cell phone . . . same thing with the car.” If the battery is fully discharged, count on four hours of charge time if using a 220-volt connection (the kind that hooks to your clothes dryer); eight hours if using 110. So, plug-and-go appears to be easy and answers one of the basic questions. But once charged, can an Amp conversion car produce the extra power needed for Interstate driving or passing? As Kowitz explained, and this writer can confirm having experienced it first-hand on a test ride, Amp’s converted, electric vehicles can go from 0-60 mph in about 6.5 seconds, topping out at around 90 mph on the highway. There’s no loss of energy in an electric vehicle, allowing it to convert electricity into force at a moment’s notice. The electric car is more than functional for most of our driving needs, says Kowitz. “It has to drive like a car,” he adds. Drivers quickly notice that there is no shifting, resulting in a more smooth and enjoyable ride. Now we come to the cost. Since Amp only does conversions, you have to buy the car first. Let’s start by assuming you can buy a Saturn Sky for about $15,000. The electric conversion will cost about $25,000 (after an anticipated $3,000 - $7,000 tax credit kicks in). The math comes up to a net grand total of about $40,000. Expensive, yes, but there are some deductions you can take. They are or can include: • Charging Costs. Figuring that electricity now costs about 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, and that about 35 kilowatt hours are needed for a full charge, the cost of driving 120 miles would be

about $3.50. The equivalent distance in a gas-powered engine would cost $15-20, depending on the type and size of your car. Burns says to figure 3¢ per mile for electric; 15¢ per mile for gas. • Maintenance. There is no need for oil changes, saving maybe $100 a year; tune-ups and mufflers are not necessary; and brake pads will generally last about 100,000 miles says Burns. His math, he says, shows that a $50,000 electric car over seven years is equitable to a $35,000 gas powered car. Unknown cost factors include the rising costs of gasoline and/or electricity, and the life expectancy of the vehicle. • Perks. When you buy a car from Amp, they will give you an all-electric car sticker that entitles you to park for free at any meter in downtown Cincinnati or in a city-owned parking garage (the latter can even get you a spot in the most desirable spaces). Some states are offering tax breaks or grants on the purchase of all-electric cars, and, says Burns, one state allows owners, even if in the car alone, to drive in the rideshare lane during peak hours. He is even aware of some businesses that provide charging stations for employees with electric cars to plug in at no charge while they work. The bottom line is that an electric car will cost you more given today’s technology. But for those where the cost is not the #1 factor, buying electric makes to make sense. Your new car will leave behind no smog, no carbon dioxide emissions – only clean air. As the Boy Scouts still say: leave what you encounter better than you found it.

Amp converts select cars to electric by replacing the gas combustion engine with its own battery pack. A conversation takes about a week to complete.

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There’s solar in your neighborhood.

Third Sun Solar and Wind Power is a full service solar power design and installation firm. We work with commercial, institutional and residential customers in Ohio and surrounding states. We have Ohio’s most experienced solar design and installation team, including degreed engineers, a LEED AP and nationally certified solar installers. Experience with LEED buildings and maximizing federal and state incentives, as well as facilitating customer revenue from the sale of solar renewable energy credits.

Third Sun makes solar easy. • Market leader for solar power in Ohio • 13 years of installation experience • Nationally certified designers and installers • We help secure the maximum in rebates, tax credits and sale of solar energy credits for our customers • Solid history of delighted customers • As a Third Sun customer, you are in good company. Our customers include Duke Energy, Cincinnati Parks, Cincinnati Water Works, Cincinnati State, Osborne Coinage, BHE Environmental, AEP, Ameresco, Kentucky National Guard, and the Wayne National Forest.

The folks of Third Sun have been nothing short of outstanding. They are willing to share their extensive knowledge in a way that makes difficult concepts clearly understood, from the technical issues to financial outcomes. Their guidance on available grants, tax implications, and carbon credits enabled Jan and I to make an educated decision on our energy future. — Gerald Checco, Solar power homeowner.

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my at bat against waste CHRIS DICKERSON

Story and photo by Jason Sandhage

I

f you asked most people to describe a major league clubhouse, they would probably mention camaraderie, competition, testosterone, sweaty socks, horsing around, and possibly towel snapping. Yet, if Chris Dickerson has anything to do with it, “environmentally friendly” may soon be added to the list. Many of us know Chris as a professional baseball player with the Cincinnati Reds but, perhaps more importantly, Chris is CEO and co-founder of Players for the Planet (PFTP). PFTP is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness of the impact of professional sports on the environment. Since 2008, the organization has been educating and providing members of the baseball community with resources to reduce waste and become more eco-friendly. Custom recycling bins, reusable water bottles and efficient clubhouse lighting are all areas of focus. While these may seem like small improvements, in reality it’s these simple changes which make the largest impact. This is the realization Chris Dickerson had one day while playing for the Louisville Bats, the AAA minor league baseball affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. “I was sitting in the clubhouse and I started to add up all the plastic bottles being used,” says Dickerson. Every day, each player was using an average of six plastic bottles that went un-recycled. Not the biggest of concerns but, when you take into account the average roster of about 25 players, 120 teams in the minors, 30 teams in the majors, and many days in a season, the amount of plastic bottles being used at these levels of baseball is “truly staggering,” says Dickerson. Let’s use the 2010 Reds as an example. In 2010, the Cincinnati Reds will play 193 games in the preseason and regular season combined. Now, if we have the talent and luck to make it into the postseason and play every game in each series, the Reds would go on to win the World Series having played 212 total games. Are you following the math? That’s a lot of baseball and certainly a lot of plastic. Assuming each player consumes six bottles of fluid a day, while taking into account the ebb and flow of the roster, the total number of plastic bottles that could be used by the players on the major league roster of the Cincinnati Reds is over 34,000. That’s over 34,000 bottles used by one 25-40 person organization in about three-quarters of a year. If you were to line these bottles up end-to-end (based on an average 11” plastic bottle), you would still be rounding the bases after 86 laps. Thankfully, through 7th inning recycling efforts, the re-use of water bottles and clubhouse recycling bins, Chris Dickerson and the Cincinnati Reds were successful in saving more than 96 tons of cardboard and plastics from the landfill last year. Today, PFTP is supported by more than 45 professional athletes nationwide and continues to grow. With the likes of Jack Cassel (co-founder), Matt Cassel, Chase Utley, AJ Hawk, Ryan Braun, Scott Niedermayer, Matt Leinart, and our very own Dhani Jones and Jay

Bruce, PFTP has an all-star lineup of support. With the help of these environmentally minded athletes, Players for the Planet would like to extend their reach into all levels of baseball, their community, city and country. Currently, teams are involved throughout all levels of baseball. Some of the participants include the Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Xavier University, and some high schools around the country. And with the help of the Minor League Baseball Green Team, PFTP is in the process of implementing a pilot program in which dozens of teams will be supplied with recycling bins. Combined with steps to offset the carbon emissions created by team travels, electronic waste collection events, and a collaboration with SIGG water bottles, Players for the Planet is well on its way to creating a greener playing field for the future. If there’s something we all can learn, it is a basic truth that Chris recognized a long time ago. You don’t have to hit a home run when it comes to helping the environment. Just take a look at your own lifestyle: at home, in the office, at the supermarket. Become more aware of the changes you can make and follow through with those changes in your everyday activities. You too can step up to the plate and fight against waste. To find out more about the organization, go to www.playersfortheplanet.org

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At The Benchmark, environmental awareness and respect for our neighbors is more than just a public relations campaign. It is our lives. We enjoy our natural environment as much as our customers and we are committed to keeping it as clean, safe and beautiful as can be. Whether you want to hike or climb, camp or kayak, we can outfit you with what you need to get out and enjoy the outdoors as much as we do.

INDEPENDENT OUTDOOR OUTFITTER SINCE 1974 9 525 Kenwood Road Cincinnati OH 45242

513-791-WILD (9453)

www.b e n chm ar k ou t fit t e r .com


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teaching green T H E Y STA RT I N K I N D E RG A RT E N I N T H I S AWARD-W I N NI NG G RE E N SCHO O L Story by Lindsay Kottmann / Photos by Doug Sandhage

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eneath a clear afternoon sky and a lush golf-course backdrop, seven young schoolchildren work in a garden. A few others run by, tossing the remains of a fresh snack of fruit into the nearby compost pile. Class is in session at Pleasant Ridge Montessori (PRM), located adjacent to Losantiville Country Club. Angie Okuda, the community learning center resource coordinator at the 500+ student K-6 school, looks on. She often gushes about the many eco-friendly initiatives and technologies at PRM, the state’s first public elementary school to achieve certification at the Silver level in the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) program. But she takes particular delight in an act as simple as a student throwing food waste in a compost pile – not the trash – without being reminded. Such behavior is a result of the school’s emphasis on environmentalism, which started with the building itself. And this idyllic spring scene is coming to a school near you. Green building has been embraced by Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) and the Ohio School Facilities Commission. All school buildings approved for state construction funding in Ohio must now be LEED Silver or above. Four years from now, 22 of 51 CPS buildings will be Silver certified – which the district touts will be one of the highest concentrations of green schools in the nation. Michael Burson, director of planning and construction at CPS, hopes the buildings will make a lasting change in the way students see the world. “The kids are really involved in the technology and can someday green the rest of us,” he says. A LEED Life Montessori education emphasizes self-direction by students over traditional lecture-style lessons, which may explain the laughter and chatter drifting into the hallway this Friday afternoon. Burson stands in an “Extended Learning Area” in between several classrooms, speaking over the buzzing activity to point out a rug made of recycled plastic bottles. Floor mats are particularly important in Montessori education, because students often choose to work on the floor. And, with the school’s new, energy-saving heating and cooling system, kids are less likely to breathe in dust or germs when they do. In older buildings, air is introduced in the ceiling, forced through the space, and back out the ceiling, whipping air and germs around in a circle. At PRM and other new CPS build-

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Above: Rain gardens in front of Pleasant Ridge Montessori absorb runoff water before it enters the sewer. Right: Pleasant Ridge Montessori students can work in the gardens behind their school as part of daily learning activities. Note that the cell phone tower, without the usual attached disks, also serves as a flagpole for the school.


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Left to right: Recycling is second nature to the kids at Pleasant Ridge Montessori. Both of these bins are the first things you see when you enter the lobby of the school built in 2008. CPS schools feature desks, storage cabinets, and cubbies constructed from "urban timber" harvested from Cincinnati’s local parks. Most of the wood is Ash, cut down before they are expected to die from an insect borer. Classroom compost bins are emptied into a pile near Pleasant Ridge Montessori's community garden. The pile is mixed with wood chips from a nearby landscaping company and spread around the school's gardens.

ings, says Burson, rooms are heated and cooled from under the floors, and air circulates naturally as warmer air rises. As students step out of their classrooms on trips to the drinking fountain or restroom, Burson explains that they’re walking on floors of “Marmoleum,” composed of regionally sourced flax and linseed. These floors require less water to clean than a typical floor, and less waxing is necessary. You won’t see futuristic, energy-saving gizmos when you first glance inside the classrooms. But, Burson explains, the windows are large to maximize natural light, and they only face north or south, eliminating heat spikes caused by direct sunlight. Blinds are encased in three energy-efficient panes of glass, and classroom lights can turn on or off automatically. Burson leads the way into the school gym, where a teacher is placing cones on the floor for his next class activity. The fluorescent lights above use just half the energy of the typical buzzing gym lights that take several minutes to heat up. Soon, Burson says, they’ll also be motion-sensitive, just like those in the school’s library, bathrooms and hallways. Eco-friendly features at PRM are everywhere. Outside, rain gardens soak up runoff water before it enters the sewage system. Solar panels on the roof generate enough electricity to power 42 compact fluorescent light bulbs. And several “cubbies” and shelves are made of wood from local parks, discarded as a result of the invasive Emerald Ash Borer beetle. All together, Burson says, newer buildings like PRM consume three to four times less electricity than their older equivalents.

data from the solar panels, study and maintain the rain gardens, and get hands-on experience mixing and spreading compost collected in classroom bins. Daily lessons integrate bird observation and gardening. Teachers explain where the kids’ fruit and vegetable snacks come from (many of them come from local farms), and why certain items can be composted while others cannot. And, behind the scenes supporting all these programs is the arguably most influential advocate for this green school: the surrounding community. PRM, which opened its current facility in 2008, was the first school in CPS to go green because residents pushed for it throughout the school’s planning process. In 2006, that same community advocated Montessori education for PRM, helping to make it one of only a few neighborhood elementary Montessori schools in the U.S. PRM’s success helped spark CPS’s adoption of green building policies in its Facilities Master Plan. Five more CPS elementary schools opening in August will be LEED Silver. In addition, Clark Montessori High School’s new facility will feature geothermal heating, a water-permeable parking lot, and one of the city’s only “intensive” vegetated roofs – deep enough to host shrubs and perennial plants. It’s scheduled to open in 2011. The long-term plans are exciting, and some of the technologies are amazing. But sometimes it’s the little things that deserve the most celebration: Things like a bright orange peel avoiding the trash can on a spring afternoon – proof that these efforts are creating eco-savvy kids and an even greener future.

A Special Place The green mentality doesn’t end with physical infrastructure. At PRM’s after-school environmental camp, students can analyze

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G R E E N U P DAT E

green is about saving money, making money, saving the environment, and God love those backyard inventors Stories by Doug Sandhage VIRTUALLY ANYONE you talk to has a green story they can share. And virtually every business has, or can develop, a product or service that can go green. Being Green in Cincinnati intends to be the #1 source for consumers to find out what’s greening them in the greater Cincinnati marketplace. We will do it through his magazine (the next will be out in January 2011), and through our website that premieres on August 1 – www.beinggreenincincinnati.com. We have already found some news and/or actions of what some call “greenwashing.” As if with any good idea, scammers pop up and do a disservice to those who have the passion and spirit to do green the right and honest way. If you have a story for Being Green in Cincinnati, contact us with some of the details and how to best reach you. What follows are several interesting stories we thought you would enjoy.

Fewer white pages means less in the landfills and $3.5 million to Bell’s bottom line Somewhere along the line, somebody added up how far the 2008 version of the 950,000 Cincinnati Bell white pages books, each including 1,275 pages, would extend if the pages were faced end to end. It was pretty far. For sure Cincinnati Bell added up the cost savings when it decided to reduce the printing of the books in 2009 to 150,000. The math showed: • In 2008, Bell spent $4.14 million to publish the 950,000 books. Of that, $3.12 million went to the printer; $150,000 for freight (to get them from the printer to Cincinnati); and $874,000 to the guys and gals in their cars who delivered them to each home. • In 2009, Bell spent $637,000 to publish 150,000 books. Of that, $588,000 went the printer; $29,000 to the truckers; and $20,000 to the guys and gals in their cars. That’s a $3.5 million savings, year-over-year. But wait – there’s more. Less trucking and fewer cars being driven by the guys and gals saved significant CO2 emissions. Bell’s policy in 2009 became that if you still wanted to receive a copy of their white pages book, you could either request it online to be delivered to you, or pick one up at one of their phone stores. The policy required approval from a state regulatory agency. Interestingly, only about 10,000 people

asked for one of the 150,000 books, and 15,000 were delivered to local businesses such as hotels. That meant that just under 100,000 went to Rumpke’s recycling facility. In 2010, Bell will print 50,000 books – the extras just in case. In printing, you have to print a few more than what you need as it is very expensive to go back on a pressline to print smaller quantities. Customers will still be able to request a book on-line or get one at a Bell store. Cincinnati Bell serves the greater Cincinnati marketplace. Brian Duerring, Director of Wireless Services for the company, and whose task it was to enact the cut-back policy, said the local initiative to reduce the number of hard-copy books was the first in the nation and that other phone companies will soon follow suit. As for comments from customers, he said that a voice mail comment line set up to take any concerns was mostly filled with those who thought the Yellow Page directory should be cut back as well. However, Duerring said Bell no longer owns that directory and has no choice on that matter. For those who still need to look up a number that would have been in the printed white pages, their fingers can still do the walking over a keyboard. Duerring says the info online is in real-time so all changes are updated to the site as they are made. Go to cincinnatibell.com/white pages. Go Green!

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Big, beautiful & stylish can be green, too The thought that a green-built home has to have a thatch roof and dirt floor is the same flawed argument that your green-built car must be tiny and all electric, or your refrigerator an icebox. Any corporation, no matter the size, is thinking green in some aspect due to consumer demand and to have bragging rights. Being Green is good PR. And good PR usually translates to profitable transactions.

saving an average of $165 in energy costs over the lifetime of the fridge – than those not labeled as Energy Star qualified. Other SubZero features are dual compressors to maintain more control over the cooling, meaning less food waste, and a built-in air purification system that scrubs the air of odor, bacteria, and ethylene gas. The Sub-Zero website says its built-in units averages less than $79 per year to operate (based on 10.65 cents per kilowatt hour). The Sub-Zero company adds that 75 percent of the stainless

Mercedes BlueTEC series

Sub-Zero

Take Mercedes-Benz, for Example More specifically, the company’s BlueTEC brand of vehicles. Introduced in 2006, the car was Mercedes introduction to what it calls the cleanest, most efficient diesel car yet built. No smoke, no smell, says the company. The car immediately met national acclaim. At the 2007 New York International Auto Show, the MercedesBenz E320 BlueTEC was declared the 2007 World Green Car. To be eligible for the award, entries had to be all new or substantially revised, in production, and introduced for sale to consumers in at least one major market in 2006. Other requirements included meeting or exceeding tailpipe emissions per California standards, efficient fuel consumption, and the use of advanced power plant technology aimed specifically at increasing environmental responsibility. BlueTEC converts NOx emissions into nitrogen and water. Automotive journalists from around the world started the World Car of the Year Awards program in 2004. As with all green technologies, money helps keep the momentum on track. Currently, three of Mercedes BlueTEC models qualify for a federal tax credit, not subject to the Alternative Minimum Tax requirements. The credits range from $900 to $1,800. The MSRP of a ML350 BlueTEC SUV starts at $49,700. To drop names, singer and environmentalist supporter Sheryl Crow owns a Mercedes-Benz BlueTEC. "The newest clean diesel vehicles are eco-friendly and deserve as much attention as other gas alternatives like hybrids," said Crow. Mercedes-Benz also sells two hybrid models, both introduced in 2009: the S400 HYBRID and the ML450 HYBRID. For more info: www.CincyBenz.com

Take Sub-Zero, for Another It’s hard to look at a Sub-Zero refrigerator and not see a fully loaded tank. And at the same time, fashionable to a New York minute. Sub-Zeros are all hand-made in Madison, Wisconsin – meaning that parts do not need to be trucked from places like Taiwan, thus a lower carbon footprint. Sixteen of Sub-Zero’s refrigerator models are Energy Star® qualified. This means that they use at least 20 percent less energy –

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steel and 50 percent of the plastic used in the manufacture of its refrigerators comes from recycled material, and that any parts left over in the manufacturing process are returned to the maker to be reused. In addition, the shipping containers are returnable and reusable. In order to encourage kitchen designers and architects who specify Energy Star rated Sub-Zero and Wolf appliances in their designs, the company has added a new category – Sustainable “Green” Kitchen award – to its prestigious kitchen design contest. For more info, go to: www.growagreenkitchen.com

Get your charge-up here, there & everywhere Imagine all the solar carports. It’s easy if you try. Ah, if only John Lennon were alive and writing today. Perhaps he would be a significant part of the energy revolution and the Beatles would land again in the U.S.A. on board a solar powered aircraft. Imagination is what much of the future of green is all about. Somebody has to dream it, think it through, kick it in to place, then make improvements. I recently got a call from good friend Shannon Roush who said that she and architect husband Brad designed a solar-panel-topped carport that would allow anyone with an electric car to conveniently drive in, plug in, and drive away again a few hours later. She imagined apartment or condo complexes where every carport is the Roush’s design, and everyone had an electric car – harnessing energy from the one source that doesn’t cost anything, short of the setup costs. The sun. The Roushs executed the design for The Fischer Group. I called Matt Kuhn, the general manager of Smart Energy Solutions, a division


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Fischer Group solar carport

Specifically, the issues that Duke says it faces today include: • Rebuilding the economy. • Addressing climate change • Conserving natural resources. “Sustainability,” Duke says, “helps the company recognize linkages, address impacts, and seize opportunities that might be missed with more traditional, ‘linear’ approaches to problem solving. One primary area to build sustainability is for the company to modernize its generation and distribution network, and more specifically, to develop and implement smart grid technology.” of the Fairfield-based company, for the details. “As far as I know, this is a first in Ohio,” says Matt. “I did the solar calculations and the Roushs did the design.” The energy taken in via the solar panels goes to an inverter, a device that converts DC energy to AC energy. If an electric car is plugged in at the time, the energy goes into recharging the battery; if not, it goes into whatever needs the owner has – such as heating a nearby structure, or back into the energy grid to sell to Duke Energy. Kuhn says the Roush’s design was approved and built onsite as a prototype charging station, and also at the new Amp Electric Cars building in Blue Ash. The onsite station has room for three cars to be plugged in simultaneously. But if you wanted a single-bay station for your home, they are ready to build one for you today. It would require about 10 solar panels which would charge up your car in about four hours. The cost is estimated at about $14,000 but with 30 percent energy tax credits and grants of up to 50 percent from the state of Ohio, the final bill would be about $5,000. The advantage of having your own charging station is in several ways: it provides a roof to protect against the weather, the plug is easily accessible, and it’s quick and easy. Kuhn says that the energy landscape will someday include charging stations on every corner, much like gas stations today. His immediate vision is seeing the stations at stores like Kroger or Meijer, at places of work, and at churches. Al Fischer, the president and owner of his namesake, said that his company is well positioned to be in the right place at the right time. “One of the main problems with their (electric cars) proliferation is that there is no place to charge them. We are working on how to fix that.” But, he adds, the total picture is far bigger than Fairfield, or the USA for that matter. He sees Africa as a wide-open opportunity, not only in car charging stations, but also in building “net-zero energy buildings,” which is primarily what he wants his company to do. “We want the total package,” he says, adding that his company primarily serves as a consultant, or integrator, to businesses seeking energy solutions. Upon reflection, Fischer says that going green is not an immediate fix. “It’s a 50 year venture, but if you don’t start today, you’re delaying the 50 year venture.”

The Smart Grid: coming soon to your home Whoever heard of a power company that encourages its customers to use energy more efficiently? For shareholders, that could be a sign for Going Out of Business. But Duke Energy says energy efficiency is the plan – and that when they are done, the resulting energy revolution will be like nothing else since electricity was first harnessed in the 19th century. Duke is the third largest electric power holding company in the U.S. based on kilowatt-hour sales, serving 11 million people.

The Smart Grid Plan in Action In mid 2009, Duke started installing what is known as smart meters in the homes of 8,100 customers in a Charlotte, North Carolina neighborhood, as well as new digital communications technology on utility poles and power lines. The meters, says Duke, along with the technology, will improve the reliability of electric power, reduce outage duration, and provide customers with usage data and the ability to customize their energy usage. "Today's electric distribution system has changed little over the past 100 years," said David Mohler, Duke Energy's chief technology officer. "Smart grid will provide a 21st century, two-way digital communications link between the company and its customers." Beyond the smart meters, 100 of the 8,100 households in the smart grid test project are participating in a residential energy management system pilot. “This pilot will focus on the technical, operational and customer satisfaction characteristics of emerging energy management systems that will allow customers to save electricity and money by customizing how they use energy,” says Duke. For example, a customer will be able to work with Duke Energy to develop an "energy profile" which can be used to monitor and control appliances, air conditioners, heat pumps, water heaters, and dryers. This means greater efficiency and savings for the customer. Duke says it has already spent about $90 million of a $5 billion, 5-year plan to have the smart meters in place throughout its customer service area. In Ohio, Duke says its smart meter deployment will include over 1 million installations. For more info, go to the frequently asked questions on the Duke website: www.duke-energy.com/about-us/smart-grid-faq.asp In the same North Carolina suburb, Duke recently installed 213 solar panels that will provide approximately 50 kilowatts of electricity, enough to power five homes when the panels are operating. Electricity from these panels is sent directly into the distribution lines serving the test area or used to charge a 500-kilowatt storage battery.

Power by the People, from the People and to the People If you’ve watched the TV show 24, two of the burning questions are always: while saving the world from nuclear attack, when does Jack Bower have time to go to the bathroom, or to charge the cell phone that is always at his ear. Perhaps he could use the device Tim Moeller of Pierce Township is now inventing in his garage. It’s a power plant the size of a beer can or less, and works with the turn of a hand. The concept is the same that runs a hydroelectric dam. Another of Tim’s prototypes is a more efficient generator that hooks to the wheels of an exercise bike. While the operator is losing weight or just strengthening some calf muscles, the generator is produc-

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Tim Moeller

ing power for the TV, the microwave, the cell phone, or the computer. While most in the energy arena appear to be finding power sources from the sun, the wind, or heat from the earth, Tim is more interested in “people power.” Tim is, in many ways, the Tim the Toolman character long played by comedian Tim Allen. Inventions and ideas keep him up at night, and during the day he fabricates or designs the right part for the right piece to see if something new he imagined will work as planned. Much of what Tim sees benefits the green movement. He has his own wind turbine atop his house. It doesn’t generate enough energy to do much more than to charge a 12-volt battery, but nonetheless, it works. He shows me a new, more efficiently designed and significantly lighter-weight turbine blade he modified that he says will make wind turbines at least nine percent more efficient. He adds that wind tunnel experiments using the blade prove his figures. Tim is most proud of where he sees his instant power generator headed. The prototype is about a foot in diameter cylinder that is totally surrounded by powerful magnets. The cylinder will fit into a larger cylinder with a handle that, when turned by hand, will produce electricity. He hopes to sell the concept to the military, and to Third World countries. He sees it as part of his mission to “bring power to those who don’t have power.” Visitors to Tim’s garage often call him ‘the professor,’ or, simply, a ‘problem solver.’ “My talent is to build prototypes. Many people have great ideas, but they don’t know where to start.” One of Tim’s ultimate objectives is to start a think-tank of others like him, not necessarily to make a pot-full of money, but to share mutual interests. Tim, 50, is a self-made man, schooled in mechanical engineering, and an entrepreneur with his own heating and air conditioning company – Moeller Mechanical Services – for 30 years. He retired four years ago to pursue the art of garage-based inventing, and to do the laundry and cooking for his two growing kids. Perhaps his inspiration is simply seeing all the energy it takes to run a household. He is convinced that his new and improved generator that turns from the wheels of the exercise bike will be 30 percent more efficient than anything else on the market in this genre. “We’re just the little people; the engineers and the do-it-yourselfers who are enthusiastic about renewable energy products,” says Tim.

The Dream: whole green neighborhoods & communities Today there are a half-dozen LEED® certified homes in Hyde Park. They are scattered, determined only by available lots and who wants to

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go green. In the case of some homeowners, the City of Cincinnati’s decision to abate all or part of their property taxes for 15 years was the incentive to go green. But it isn’t just single-family homes here and there that are going green. Some builders are envisioning entire condo buildings, complete neighborhoods, or even communities built to green-rated standards. A few are in Cincinnati worth checking out: • The Lofts of Mottainai. Completed in 2009, the building has eight contemporary, loft-style condos carved out of two, 100-year-old buildings on Republic Street in Over-the-Rhine. The condos received the LEED Silver certification. Mottainai is a Japanese expression signifying “that which is too valuable to waste.” Some of the green features in The Lofts include using existing infrastructure, smart meters, low-flow faucets and dual-flush toilets, CFL lighting, efficient HVAC systems and appliances, bamboo and cork flooring, bike racks, a recycling cove, roof-top patios, and low VOC paints. "Our renovation of these historic structures serves as a perfect model of how older buildings can be brought back to life using environmentally responsible materials to create beautiful and energy efficient living spaces in an urban setting," says Mike Huseman, President of HGC Construction and builder of The Lofts of Mottainai. • The Arbors of Pleasant Ridge. Planned to be Cincinnati’s first allLEED neighborhood development, there will be 14 homes with starter prices in the high $200s. Each home will about 2,000 sq. ft. The development is adjacent to the Ridge Club in Pleasant Ridge. The project is one of only 27 developments chosen out of a nationwide LEED Neighborhood Development Pilot Project Plan. The developers – Klotter Homes, Inc. and RLT Design – say that each homeowner, because of the LEED certification, will qualify for a 15-year tax abatement from the City of Cincinnati, and save 20-25 percent in energy costs, or about $600 a year. • Rockford Woods. This Northside community, off of Hamilton Avenue, was the home to Citirama 2010. There are 36 new homes in the development, three of which are registered for or LEED certified. Participating builders include John Hueber Homes, Potterhill Homes, M/I Homes, Greystone Country Homes, Maple Street Homes, Perry Bush Builders, and Maronda Homes. Some of the green elements found in the homes include geothermal heating and cooling, water efficiency, CFL lighting, programmable thermostats, Energy Star rated appliances and more energy efficient HVAC systems, reclaimed and recycled materials, and smaller lots. • 2801 Erie. This 13-unit condo complex is a stone’s throw away from Hyde Park Square. The project began in 2007 and all but two of the units remain to be sold. One of the units is owned by one of the two partners in the firm – Steve Bloomfield – that developed them. The entire project, says Ken Schon, the other partner, is registered for LEED certification. The asking price for the units ranges from $700,000 to $1.5 million. Schon says that green features in the project include energy efficient windows and heating and air conditioning systems, Energy Star rated appliances, LED lighting, a white roof to reflect solar heat gain, and low-flow water fixtures. The project is also expected to receive LEED rating points because it has bike racks and a no-smoking policy.


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Go green. Save money. Look good. Whether its built into student housing, one of your favorite restaurants, or your own home, going green is not complicated and doesn’t compromise desired architectural elements. And, in most cases, it saves money. Call Architects Plus and ask for one of our “Green Team” designers.

CAMPUS COMMONS, Miami University, Oxford + Highly-durable low maintenance exterior materials + Compact infill housing on a previously developed lot + Drought-tolerant landscaping + Rain gardens to control stormwater runoff + Water-conserving plumbing fixtures + Energy Star rated performance + Bamboo and recycled content tile flooring, no carpet + MERV 13 HVAC air filters + Radon gas evacuation system + Low VOC interior finishes

BLUE ELEPHANT, Hyde Park + Lighting controlled by automatic daylight dimming system + Low VOC paints and interior finishes + Rapidly renewable Bamboo wall panels and casework + Recycled carpet and ceramic tile flooring + Geothermal HVAC + Permeable parking lot paving + High solar reflectance roofing to keep building cool

HISTORICAL HOME RENOVATION Indian Hill

+ Non-vented roof with closed cell foam insulation + Geothermal HVAC system + Energy recovery ventilator keeps air constantly refreshed + FSC mahogany wall panels and trim in new addition + Reclaimed historical interior doors and trim + Green guard-certified carpet + Rainwater harvesting from roof drainage for irrigation

Ar chi t e c tu re | Interio rs | Fur nishings www.architectsplus.com

513-984-1070

The Green Team at Architects Plus includes: Mike LeVally, AIA + Andy Schaub, AIA, LEED AP + Nora Wiley, LEED AP + Rick Koehler, AIA


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re-seeding roof lines I T ’S W H AT ’S O N TO P T HAT CO U NTS Story by Lindsay Kottmann

M

parking lots, and – you guessed it – vegetated roofs. Vegetative roofs act like a sponge. They absorb water so it drains off slowly, allowing more to evaporate and easing the initial storm surge that leads to sewage overflows.

Keeping Sewage at Bay According to the city of Cincinnati’s web site, 14.4 billion gallons of sewage overflow finds its way into local homes, streets, creeks and rivers each year, a result of storm water overwhelming the sewage system. Eliminating that overflow through traditional infrastructure alone isn’t an option. “We can’t afford to maintain every piece of pipe we’ve got in the ground,” Flanders says. The swamps and wetlands that were once common in the area have long since been drained, and, according to Flanders, restoring some would go a long way in reducing pressure on the sewage system. Such wet areas reduce erosion by slowing the flow of local streams, and purifying water as it filters through. However, there are additional ways to ease the burden and consequent maintenance costs on our sewers, including absorbent “rain gardens” near drains, porous driveways and

That’s One Cool Roof Cincinnati residents are no strangers to humid summers and smog alerts, especially in urban areas that trap heat because of a lack of vegetation and an abundance of dark surfaces. These places can be cooled by plants, whose process of using and evaporating water has a natural cooling effect. If such plants happen to be on your roof, you’ll also save on your energy bill: A cooler roof equals a cooler building. “If you come out here on a hot summer day and you put your hand on this gray stuff, it’s hot,” Flanders says of the material on the MSD roof. “But if you go six inches over and put your hand under a plant, it’s cool. You don’t have to counteract that heat radiating down into your building.” Another bonus for smoggy areas: More plants mean less carbon dioxide, more oxygen, and generally better air quality. The layers on a vegetated roof insulate the building it covers and are practically impermeable to air leaks. And, since the roof itself isn’t exposed to the weather, it lasts longer. Most vegetated roofs are expected to last more than 50 years, at least twice as long as a typical, non-vegetated roof. Flanders figures that makes up for the higher cost of installation. “It’s almost certainly going to pay for itself,” he says. Green City Resources, a local company that provides complete “watershed management” services, installs roofs just like the one on the MSD building. Green City Resources partners with Tremco for most of their roofing projects. Rose Seeger, co-owner and vegetated roof specialist at Green City, mentions that a leak detection system costing as little as $1 per square foot allows owners to repair leaks at their sources, with no need to replace the entire roof at once. That said, she hasn’t actually had to deal with a leak yet, and she doesn’t expect to for decades to come. Although deeper, more complicated vegetated roofs require a maintenance level similar to that of a typical garden, MSD’s roof features only has to be maintained twice a year – mostly just removing weeds and checking plant health. The plants can survive without much water, and they go dormant in the winter. The maintenance effort isn’t much, Flanders says, especially since roofs should ideally be maintained once a year anyway.

ill Creek Valley looks harmlessly pastoral from the roof of the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) building in Hartwell. But when Mike Flanders takes in the view, he sees 200 years’ worth of aging, labyrinthine pipes and drainage systems, plus a terrible history of pollution. Flanders, a senior engineer with the District, is standing on one step toward a greener future: a roof covered in plants. Vegetated roofs like this one reduce water runoff and stress on the sewer system. But Flanders had other reasons for advocating this roof ’s installation in 2007: its longevity compared to a standard roof, and its ability to reduce the building’s energy consumption. For these reasons and many others, vegetated roofs are gaining popularity in cities across the country, and are already popular overseas. The city of Cincinnati, along with the MSD of Greater Cincinnati and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, announced a Green Roof Loan Program in 2008 to help finance such roofs in the MSD service area. We don’t have as many green roofs as Chicago or Portland yet, but the number is increasing. Just a few examples: The Red Cross facility off Smith-Edwards Road, the Civic Garden Center in Avondale, Firehouse 51 in College Hill, the Eden Park Waterworks pumping station, the College of Mount St. Joseph, Turkeyfoot Middle School, the Cincinnati Zoo, and several PNC banks.

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The vegetative roof of the Metropolitan Sewer District building on Galbraith Road (near Drake in Hartwell) features Sedum, a cactus-type plant, Allium (Chive), and Talinum (Fame Flower). The 3,000 sq. ft. roof was installed in 2008. – Photo courtesy of Green City Resources

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THINKING OF GOING GREEN? And saving lots of green at the same time? We can help you do just that.

T HE ARB ORS OF PLEAS ANT RIDGE

T H O M A S W A L T E R President

~

Tw o S tor y Ar ts & Cr afts Exteriors

While Klotter Builders was the contractor for the first registered for LEED® Platinum home in Cincinnati, owner Tom

Walter is no stranger to building green. All jobs — new

home construction, renovations, kitchen remodels, and even historical preservations — are done with “green in mind.” Having been in business since 1987, Klotter Builders has a long history of craftsmanship and attention to detail. These standards are maintained with Tom’s hands-on approach 513.791.0908

and the quality supervision of his own personal staff of framers, trim carpenters, painters, and electricians.


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The Arbors will soon be Cincinnati’s first LEED Neighborhood Development located in Pleasant Ridge off Losantiville Avenue near The Ridge Club. This quaint development designed by RLT Design consists of fourteen new LEED Homes with cutting-edge green technologies. The plans vary between ranches with first floor masters and full two story homes; all of which will have authentic Arts & Crafts exteriors. Klotter Builders has planned for the development and home construction to begin in the Fall 2010 with home prices starting in the 290,000’s. Developer & Builder: Klotter Builders Inc. Project Designer: RLT Design Project packaging by City Lands Development Co.

Over 20 years of experience specializing in the creation of custom new homes and renovations. Currently at the forefront of green design, our client-driven creative designs range from traditional and historic, to

contemporary and modern. Attention to detail and a focus on quality design in both form and function truly transform houses into homes.

R A N D Y T R A V I S Residential Designer

513.312.9631


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While vegetative roofs remain in their infancy in Cincinnati, primarily on commercial buildings, the concept is growing. This is the roof of the PNC Bank on the corner of Ridge and Highland Streets. Sedum, a cactus-type plant, is the primary vegetation; but also seen are Allium (Chive), and Talinum (Fame Flower). The soil is approximately 4 inches deep and the total roof coverage is around 3,000 sq. ft. – Photo courtesy of Green City Resources

Even More Benefits Green roofs, especially if rarely disturbed, also present an opportunity to restore native habitats that are being destroyed by urbanization. Seeger, who comes from a farming background, knows the importance of re-introducing plants that help local birds, butterflies and especially bees, which are essential to our food production. Other reasons companies choose to install green roofs include aesthetics for employees, whose office windows may look down on flat roofs. Green roofs also help businesses earn certification credits in the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. Just make sure that if you’re interested in installing a green roof, you work through a company that has good references in this kind of installation, Seeger emphasizes. A regular 58

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roofing company may say they can do it, but it’s best to trust the complicated process to an expert. While there are only a few residential properties that have vegetated roofs in the Cincinnati area, Seeger says they certainly make sense to install, especially on new homes, and help qualify the home for LEED certification points. “Expect to pay about double, but hope for less,” says Seeger, noting that while the financial payback is yet unknown, immediate benefits include an energy use reduction, noise reduction, and less storm water runoff to clog up sewer lines. Speaking of experts, there may be more in this area in the next few years. A Green Roofing course was recently introduced as part of the University of Cincinnati’s horticulture program, Seeger says, and Cincinnati State is also in the process of adding a program.


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IT ’S EASY BEING GREEN

when the city of Cincinnati gives $ to you OK. Let’s make sure we’ve got this straight. If you: 1. Build a new home within the city limits of Cincinnati. 2. Make sure the architect designs and/or the builder constructs the home so that it meets what is known as LEED® rated sustainable “green” building standards. Verification will be required. And; 3. File the proper paperwork The City of Cincinnati will abate all or a significant part of your property tax on the value of the home for up to 15 years. In this issue of Being Green in Cincinnati five homes are featured which qualified for the tax abatement for a grand total of nearly $1 million in savings (see pages 68-75). It’s true. Granted, there is a catch. The cost of purchasing and installing the green items in the house, and paying for the required paperwork can add anywhere from 3-10 percent to the cost of the house. But taking just one of the featured homes in this issue, a million-dollar-plus, 5,500 sq. footer in Linwood, the $75,000 extra cost compared to the $300,000+ savings . . . it is, as they say, a no brainer. Add to that a 30 percent tax credit the homeowner got on the geothermal heating and cooling system, and a reduced energy bill, and now you’ve got a testimonial to green second to none. Why such a big give-a-way in financially tough times? To either get people to move in, or stay in the city of Cincinnati limits. The homeowners we talked to all agreed that the strategy worked on them. No doubt. Here’s how it works: • Follow the three steps noted at the beginning of this story. • New LEED construction of one, two, and three unit residential structures, including condominiums, are eligible for a 15-year

100% tax abatement valued up to $530,450. Using the maximum amount, the annual property tax savings would be $11,140; or $167,100 for 15 years. For renovated LEED residential dwellings (condominiums, one, two, and three unit structures), there is 10-year tax abatement on improvements up to a maximum $530,450 market value. In both new and renovated homes, the owners must still pay the tax on the land. The market value limit increases by 3% compounded each year. • There are four levels to LEED certification: certified, silver, gold and platinum. If the home or rehabilitated structure is certified at the highest platinum level, there is no maximum value limit. So, if you built a home valued at $3 million, the annual tax savings would be $63,1003; or $945,047 for 15 years. The tax abatement program, known as the Green Building Residential Property Tax Exemption, started in 2007 and expires in 2017. As of May 2010, 33 homes / condominiums have qualified for the tax abatement. It is important to note that many of Cincinnati’s builders already include green features into the homes they build. But to meet LEED certification standards it requires additional work and training so it is a good idea to ask all questions upfront if you intend to take advantage of the city’s tax abatement program. For more information on LEED, see page 62 of this issue. For more information on the tax abatement program, contact the Department of Community Development at 513-352-6146, or communitydevelopment@cincinnati-oh.gov.

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making your home certifiably green and does it matter? by Doug Sandhage

Y

ou will see the words “LEED®” and “Energy Star” appear more than a hundred times in this issue of Being Green in Cincinnati. You’ve probably already seen them hundreds of times before. What do they mean? Why are they important? If you plan on being green in your home, they mean a lot. Both cost money to do, but both can save you thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars if you want them to. Tax abatements and tax credits are both lying in wait to go to those who qualify. And, for many, energy savings can be 50 percent or more. It is not complicated; common sense can easily prevail. Let’s start very simply. You are standing on your lot – the place where you want to build or remodel your home. You have already decided to become more green in the way that you live, starting with the place you call HOME. If it’s an older home, chances are the insulation is weak or non-existent; the toilets consume more than four gallons of water per flush; the appliances eat-up double the energy that they should; the windows leak air like a sieve; and the heating and air-conditioning system is so old it sounds like a freight train. Another word for this is MONEY PIT. You can start being green this afternoon by making a conscious decision to replace all of these money and energy wasters with green-related items – all, or one, or one at a time as they die off. If you want to make it real easy, just replace your light bulbs with CFL lights. For most of these replacements you don’t need anyone’s permission, but some might require a remodel permit. The internet is the mother lode of green products and services, most of which you can, and should, buy from local stores. You want to build new? Your builder most likely has already been suggesting and installing green items for the better part of a decade. There is really nothing all that new about the intended purposes of each item: they have only gotten more technically efficient and financially feasible as each day passes. For example, solar panels and geothermal heating and cooling have been here for decades. What is new is that professional organizations have been formed that suggest a planned program for going green, usually at different levels. These organizations have partnered with interested parties – architects, builders, remodelers, and designers – who receive training on how to help homeowners be green. One of the older of these programs is Energy Star. Of more recent vintage is LEED, which was implemented in 1998 by the U.S. Green Building Council; and The National Green Building Standard. This article could consume the entire 148 pages of this issue, but we’re only going to give it two. Suffice it to say that those in the

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building trade know the ins and outs of this far better than we do. So what you are about to read will include the basics of LEED and Energy Star, and our strong advice that you consult with the business you’ve chosen to do your new home or remodel and get their suggestions on how to proceed, while always asking three questions: How much will it cost? How much will it save? How much will I feel better because I’ve done my best to be green?

What is LEED®? LEED is short for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED provides those in the building industry – architects, builders, designers – a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions. For homeowners it provides third-party verification and certification via USGBC raters that the green home being purchased meets select qualifications – that it is what they say it is. For example, if you live in the City of Cincinnati and want to receive a 15-year tax abatement on your new home, it must be documented LEED certified (this is where you can save up to hundreds of thousands of dollars; see story page 61). LEED measures items, via the assignment of points that matter most to making a house green. They include: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts. It is a voluntary program but there are costs associated with it, largely due to the price of “green” items – such as geothermal heating and air conditioning or low-flow faucets – and the associated paperwork that verifies compliance. Some of the measures don’t cost anything. If the home is near shopping and public transportation or if it is built in an area (an in-fill lot for example) that does not require extra infrastructure – such as road building, sewer or water lines, extra green points are rewarded. For a new home, there are four degrees of LEED certification: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Each degree requires more levels of green – Platinum being the highest level. Interestingly, while it might be assumed that each level or adding any green features will cost more money, whether LEED certified or not, sometimes that is not the case. Chad Edwards, president of the Cincinnati Regional Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council


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and his own firm, Emersion Design, says, for example, that with a tighter and more insulated home the demand for heating and cooling is significantly reduced – thus a savings on the front end cost of the mechanical equipment. Edwards’ Emersion Design, which was certified for LEED Platinum level in 2008 when it was renovated, said his costs were under $27 per sq. ft. while the industry average is $45-85. In the pages that follow, you will see examples of real Cincinnati homes and businesses that have been LEED certified. We’ve made it particularly easy to spot the green features with the use of a number system. In layman’s terms, the sexy parts that can make your home be more green include: • The use of reclaimed materials, such as wood or tile for your flooring. • The installation of geothermal heating and cooling, now so technologically advanced that the payback can take as little as a few years. • Super energy-efficient windows and doors that keep air loss at a minimum and have every bit the style you will be proud to own. Both, along with geothermal, now come with a handsome tax credit. • The use of an underground cistern to collect rainwater from your roof for later use in watering the lawn, the garden, or to wash the car. • Pervious pavers that allow rainwater to soak through to the ground rather than flow into an already over-clogged sewer system. • The use of more energy-efficient appliances. Even many of the big, stylized, built-like-a-tank Sub-Zero refrigerators are Energy Star rated. • And, for Gerald Checco, superintendent of operations for the Cincinnati Park Board and featured in this issue (page 128), it is the Smart Meter. Because he has both geothermal heating and air conditioning, and solar panels, there are many days when his meter is actually turning counter clockwise (one of several functions of a Smart Meter). That means he is putting power in the system, rather than taking it out, and resulting in a credit on his Duke energy bill. LEED points are awarded on different scales depending on the type of project and whether or not it is residential or commercial. Credits are weighted to reflect their potential environmental impacts. A project must satisfy all prerequisites and earn a minimum number of points to be certified. Think of it like the nutrition label on a box of crackers: LEED provides the same kind of important detail about the green aspects of a building that, taken together, deliver higher performance. For more info go to: www.usgbc.org

What is Energy Star? Energy Star is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. If you have shopped for windows or appliances in the past 15 years, it would be hard to have

missed the Energy Star logos that adorn a lot of these products. But Energy Star is much more than just products. While there are LEEDcertified homes, there are Energy Star-rated homes. To earn an Energy Star label for your home, the primary guideline is that it must be at least 15 percent more energy efficient than homes built to the 2004 International Residential Code, and include additional energy-saving features that typically make them 20–30 percent more efficient than standard homes. Energy Star uses a verified rating system on the homes that it checks. Any home three stories or less can earn the Energy Star label if it has been verified to meet EPA’s guidelines, including: single family, attached, and low-rise multi-family homes; manufactured homes; systems-built homes (e.g., SIP, ICF, or modular construction); log homes, concrete homes; and even existing retrofitted homes. Energy Star qualified homes can include a variety of ‘tried-andtrue’ energy-efficient features that contribute to improved home quality and homeowner comfort, and to lower energy demand and reduced air pollution. Simply buying Energy Star rated products can help make your new or remodeled home significantly less energy reliant. Energy Star press releases say that Americans, with the help of Energy Star, saved enough energy in 2009 alone to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 30 million cars – all while saving homeowners nearly $17 billion on their utility bills. In addition, there are a number of tax credits available on Energy Star rated products. Check with your accountant or at the

point of purchase for details. The Energy Star website – www.energystar.gov – cites 79 Energy Star Builder Partners in the Cincinnati / Middletown marketplace who are building Energy Star rated homes. Collectively, the partners built 1,194 Energy Star qualified homes in 2009 and 2010, or 3,661 since the program was implemented.

What Is The National Green Building Standard? In many ways, the National Green Building Standard (The Standard) is not all that different from LEED, but focuses primarily on homes. It, too, is a rating system based on measurable metrics concerning a home’s green-worthiness. One of the big differences is that this program is co-sponsored by the National Association of Home Builders and the International Code Council. The Standard was developed in 2007 with its goal to establish a standard definition of what is meant by “green building.” There are four degrees of certification: bronze, silver, gold and emerald. Energy savings of 60 percent or higher are a part of the emerald rating. Because the program is new, only one home (at the time we went to press with this issue) has so far met the National Green Building Standard qualifications in the Cincinnati marketplace. For more info go to: www.nahb.org

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we offer cincinnati green home building solutions from the ground up AS A MEMBER OF U.S. GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL (USGBC), CAMERY • HENSLEY SPE-

CIALIZES IN ENERGY-EFFICIENT, HIGH-PERFORMANCE, LEED-CERTIFIED RENOVATIONS AND NEW HOME CONSTRUCTION.

The Camery • Hensley Construction team is trained in environmentally sustainable building practices.Whether you are renovating an existing home or building new, we offer a variety of renovation and construction options to help

you achieve a healthier, more energy-efficient home environment. In addition to lowering your carbon footprint, green home building solutions can produce healthier indoor environments, reduce energy costs, and—in some cases—even qualify for tax credits, rebates, and low-interest loans. Green homes use less energy, water, and natural resources, create less waste, and are more durable and comfortable for occupants. John Camery 513-309-2262

|

Jeremy Hensley 513-319-2664 LEED AP

www.cameryhensley.com We conduct low-cost home energy assessments! To learn more about our green home-building

services and potential tax abatements, visit www.cameryhensley.com/greenhomes


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Being green in Cincinnati T O U R O F C I N C I N N A T I L E E D P R O J E C TS

The connection between humans’ quality of life and the rest of the natural world’s health is inextricable. A multitude of motives exists that may prompt one to live and build more sustainably; sometimes it may be difficult to know where to begin. Discover what takes hold of your heart and start there. Do you understand the value that wildlife presents? Non-sustainable logging and coal strip mining destroy the habitat that sets the locale back decades. One species goes extinct every 20 minutes. Do you want safer working conditions? The recent oil and coal disasters should drive us to understand the true cost of our current energy portfolio. Is there a desire to reduce unemployment? Green jobs may be the answer. Interested in financial security? Invest in energy efficiencies; many come with a 20% ROI. Want to make a buck? Sustainable strategies have boosted retail sales by 33%. Perhaps the easiest place to start is in the home, school and office. Highly sustainable buildings contribute to an improved indoor environment, better test scores for students, lower vacancy rates and a healthier lifestyle. Whether it is driven by doing good for our ecosystem, human need or the economy, I ask that you get involved in the one aspect that Chad Edwards you hold most dear. Make connections and learn. Collectively and individually, we can make a difference in protecting all life, born and unborn, current and future generations of all species. Enjoy learning from the examples in this magazine.

Photo Courtesy of Michelle Edwards Photography

Four homes and three businesses – each of them LEED® certified green, but at different levels – are showcased over the next 15 pages. Since green isn’t always obvious when it comes to buildings, we asked the participants to show us the projects, either as architectural cut-a-way views, or aerials. LEED is a program of the U.S. Green Building Council. For more on what LEED means, see page 62.

– Chad Edwards currently serves as President of the US Green Building Council, Cincinnati Chapter, and as a principal of emersionDESIGN.

residential LEED Platinum

LEED Gold

LEED Silver

LEED Certified

Hyde Park

Montgomery

Hyde Park

Mt. Lookout

commercial LEED Platinum

LEED Silver

LEED Silver / Gold / Platinum

Melink Corporation

PNC Banks

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

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H Y D E

P A R K

Registered for

LEED Platinum ®

B

uilding a LEED® certified home, particularly at the ultimate Platinum level, is no

easy task. It requires lots of paperwork, and costs extra. But when the home-

owner, architect and builder all agree that it is the right thing to do, it’s time to buy the flooring – reclaimed, of course. “The fact that the owner shared an active interest in obtaining LEED certification and having an interest in sustainable issues in general,” is what got the ball rolling, says architect John Isch. “Also, that we could accomplish a traditional looking and aesthetically pleasing house, have it incorporate sustainable practices, and not end up looking like an experiment.” As of presstime with this issue of Being Green in Cincinnati, the home was registered for LEED platinum level certification, meaning that the required third-party verification was still to be completed. The homeowner said that he chose RWA Architects because of their reputation, and strong desire to design sustainable housing, and Camery Hensley Construction because “they took the time to sit down and preplan the project. It was a significant commitment on their part to be part of this.” Primary green features of this home includes geothermal heating and cooling, high R-value rated insulation, and Energy Star rated windows that allow for lots of southern exposure, says the homeowner. Isch adds that the City of Cincinnati tax abatement for LEED certified homes, the energy efficiency over the life of the house, and the design of an extremely low maintenance exterior are also key features.

the architect OBTAINING LEED PLATINUM STATUS WAS OUR TARGET Getting a new home LEED® certified is, unquestionably, a major objective of RWA Architects, one of the city’s largest cheerleaders in building sustainable housing. The Hyde Park based firm has six American Institute of Architects (AIA) members: all of them LEED accredited professionals. So, when the homeowner shared his enthusiasm to go green with his new Hyde Park home with great Ohio River views, RWA Principal John Isch jumped at the opportunity. “Obtaining LEED Platinum status was our target,” says Isch, meaning it would be the first such recognized project built in the city. But, he adds, the project would not be simple since the homeowner, with a growing family, had a large square footage plan in mind, and wanted a more open plan on the main level. “The combination of these two factors is what sets the requirements for obtaining the various levels of LEED certification,” says Isch. But many other factors contributed to LEED points such as the addition of solar panels, a geothermal heating and cooling system, low flow water fixtures, and an underground rainwater reclamation cistern. Isch says that the overall satisfaction to him when the project was completed was “being able to address the owners functional requirements, meet their budget, and integrate sustainable strategies in order to obtain LEED certification – the benefits of which included delivery of various health, energy, and a sensible use of resources.” – John Isch, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, Principal RWA Architects

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Most green features installed in homes are rarely obvious. The illustration above is a cut-a-way view of the home highlighted in this story. The numbers in the drawing correspond to the primary green features noted below. Where applicable, we have noted the provider or contractor for each of the features. To qualify for LEED® certification, each green item must be verified by a rater trained by the U.S. Green Building Council.

1 Solar panels Designed to capture the sun’s 4 Low flow water fixtures To save water, as 7 Landscape Designed to use local, renewable energy and provide a large portion of the home's electricity. – Icon Solar Power

2 Geothermal system Uses the earth's temperature to efficiently heat and cool the home. – Anderson Automatic Heating & Cooling

3 Energy Star appliances Most energy effi-

well as the energy used for water heating.

5 Sustainable flooring materials Reclaimed hardwood flooring locally harvested from a barnand house in Ohio. – Rogers Lumber & Millwork

6 Pervious pavers Allows for water filtration through the driveway and patios to reduce storm water runoff from the site.

native plants that are drought-resistant and reduce the water required for irrigation. Limited turf also reduces irrigation demands and pollution from yard maintenance.

8 Rainwater reclamation Water is caught and stored in underground cisterns, to be used for irrigation of the landscape and garden.

cient on the market. Contractor: Camery • Hensley Construction LTD • John Camery & Jeremy Hensley, LEED AP

the homeowner

IT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO FOR OUR CHILDREN “Being in an older neighborhood like Hyde Park, I didn’t think I would have the opportunity to take advantage of the (green) technologies out there,” says the homeowner. But once enlightened by his architects – John Isch and Michael Mauch of RWA Architects – “I found it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.” The new home is a LEED® registered home for Platinum level certification, the highest of four levels that can be obtained. Green features most favored by the homeowner include geothermal heating and cooling, energy efficient windows and the use of recycled materials. “Geothermal is the biggest no brainer of it all. I think every home, even older ones, should be implementing this system,” he says. He added that his home incorporates recycled tiles and that the white oak hardwood floors in the home are made from reclaimed boards obtained from a teardown house and barn. Because the house is expected to be certified LEED Platinum level, it will qualify for a full tax abatement (on the value of the home) for the City of Cincinnati for 15 years. While important, the homeowner says the larger value for him was that he was doing the right thing for the environment. “It is the right thing to do for our children. We have a young family and we enjoy the outdoors. I have a real interest in sustainability. It is a very, very important issue to me.”

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M O N T G O M E R Y

LEED Gold ®

I

n a burgeoning industry that changes by the day, green industry experts are not always easy to find. Douglas Hinger, though, is one and he covers many

bases. As a registered architect and the president of Great Traditions Homes (GTH), hundreds of structures have been given his blessing to build, but one stands above the rest: it received the first LEED® certification for the Gold level in the state of Ohio. The 6,000 sq. ft. transitional styled home is located near the intersection of I-275 and Montgomery Road in The Vintage Club development of Great Traditions Land and Development Co. Completed in 2008, the home was built, says Hinger, to showcase what “Great Traditions Homes can do, particularly to include the green segment.” At first glance – if you look only at what is obvious – green may not be the first word that comes to mind. It looks too nice, like a conventionally built home, some might say. But green usually isn’t obvious anyway. Donna and Jim Ruehlmann own the home and confirm that nothing really is obviously “green,” unless you go to the basement and see the geothermal units, or look at the energy bill. However, Donna says that since they moved in in November of 2009, they’ve noticed that the heat appears to be the “same temperature all the time.” It doesn’t vary and there are no drafts. “With geothermal, our gas bill is like nothing,” she adds. Reminded that because the home was showcased for two weeks as Cincinnati Magazine’s “Design Home” and that thousands of people walked through each room, Donna says that when she tells people where she lives, many are aware of its notoriety and “are curious about the home’s green components.” Hinger’s hat at GTH as an architect put him in touch with those in the green industry, and with the movement toward building LEED certified homes. Some of the items considered green by LEED were already being included in homes he was designing / building, so the next step was a logical one to take. “We are building in six different communities and thought, ‘We can do a LEED home.’” Since the home was completed, Hinger says that he is finding the demand for green is being driven by a “younger demographic.” The longterm potential will be based, he adds, on building smaller homes. In a late 2008 interview with Cincinnati Magazine, Hinger said that a primary goal in building the house was that it be “intimate, comfortable and livable. Elegant but not pretentious.”

the architect / builder YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE OVER-THE-TOP LUXURIOUS TO BE GREEN Building green is not just using green products, says architect Douglas Hinger, AIA. It has a lot to do with location: homes that are close to shopping, schools and public transportation are a large part of the equation. This home, the first to receive LEED® certification for the Gold level in the state of Ohio, met all of the external qualifications, he says. Another large qualifier is the square footage. “This house is not terribly large, and it was constructed on a very manageable lot. The smaller footprint made it very efficient.” Hinger says that the most satisfying element to him in building the home was hearing people say that ‘“you don’t have to have an over-the-top luxurious home to be green.’ But you can have it well designed. Green doesn’t mean compromising the design at all.” – Douglas Hinger, AIA, President of Great Traditions Homes

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The LEED® Certification Mark is a registered trademark owned by the U.S. Green Building Council® and is used with permission.

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4

6

7

3

8

2

1

5

Most green features installed in homes are rarely obvious. The illustration above is a cut-a-way view of the home highlighted in this story. The numbers in the drawing correspond to the primary green features noted below. Where applicable, we have noted the provider or contractor for each of the features. To qualify for LEED® certification, each green item must be verified by a rater trained by the U.S. Green Building Council.

1 Community Connectivity This home's de-

4 Off-Site Fabrication Construction of building 7 Building Performance A tight building en-

velopment is in close proximity to many amenities and reduces automobile travel by encouraging walking and biking.

components in a controlled, off-site factory help to reduce or eliminate fabrication waste and ensures a consistent product in a shortened time period. – Whitewater Building Products

2 Compact Development High-density devel-

5 Geothermal Heating & Cooling/En-

opments exhibit an efficient use of land, that reduces the impact of providing and maintaining utility services, like water, sewer, and electricity.

3 Permanent Erosion Controls Landscaping and permeable pavement help to manage rainwater and site run-off to minimize erosion of the land. – Townescapes, permeable pavement; MSteele Design, landscape designer; Landscaping by Don Gilb, landscaping; Vanderwist of Cincinnati, irrigation

hanced Ventilation A properly sized mechanical system, natural ventilation, and exhaust fans combine to enhance ventilation and improve indoor air quality. – Willis Heating & Air Conditioning, geothermal

6 Energy Star Lighting Efficient light fixtures and the use of compact fluorescent light bulbs saves in electricity as well as utility costs. – Central Light

velope, comprised of enhanced insulation and exceptional windows, combines with efficient equipment and appliances to reduce air leakage and minimize energy consumption. – Whitewater Building Products, windows; Overhead Door Co. of Greater Cincinnati, insulation; Ferguson Bath Kitchen Gallery, appliances; Keidel, plumbing; Green Building Consulting & Homes +, Barb Yankie, third party verification

8 Education and Training Educating the homeowner in regard to proper maintenance and care of a LEED certified home helps to ensure that sustainable features will be protected and maintained in the future.

the homeowner NOT SEEING GREEN IS PART OF THE ALLURE Is living in a home that helped jump-start a significant movement in Cincinnati toward thinking about building more homes using “green” technology any different than living in a conventionally built one? No says Donna Ruehlmann. In fact, if anything, most people wouldn’t know the difference since most of the green elements are hidden or disguised. For example, you can’t see the heat coming from the geothermal unit, and you can’t see the high R-value rated insulation in the attic or the walls. When she and husband Jim bought the home in late 2009, Donna says she was not even aware that it had received the first LEED® certification for the Gold level in the state of Ohio. But because the green isn’t obvious, Donna sees that as a positive toward keeping the movement alive. “People might shy away if they think it might be different,” she says. The green things she says she likes the most are the even temperature of the geothermal heating and cooling system, a low utility bill, skylights that open up and allow for improved air flow, cork flooring in a home office, and the home’s easy access to shopping, schools and transportation.

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H Y D E

P A R K

LEED Silver ®

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wenty-five years ago, John Hueber built a partially underground, passive-solar house in Loveland. So no one can say he jumped on the now

trendy bandwagon of being green. But he is on the bandwagon if you look at the number of homes he has built that are officially certified green homes. Hueber is the most prolific builder of LEED® certified homes in the greater Cincinnati marketplace, if not Ohio. He has six under his hammer belt, and two more in process at the time of this writing. People do want to be green, he says, but there is still a lot of educating to do. “Green has always been a part of our program and will always be so. That’s the way I’ve raised my sons.” Son Marc Hueber is now the project manager for the company; other son Andy Hueber is the Vice President. Roger and Julie Heldman live in one of Hueber’s LEED certified to the Silver level homes in Hyde Park. They came here in 2008 after living in Seattle for eight years. In Seattle, says Roger, everyone talks about the environment and often does something about it. “When you live in the Pacific Northwest, you have a greater awareness of the environment,” he says. In Cincinnati, you often have to ask around and only now are things starting to change. The Heldmans knew that the home Hueber had for sale was LEED certified and because they wanted to be green, it was already pretty much a done deal. Upon touring the house, liking it, and hearing about the tax abatement offered by the city of Cincinnati (see page 61) they were ready to move in. One of the features about the home, and one of the reasons why it was awarded LEED certification points, is its proximity to shopping and public transportation. “We can walk places, go get a cup of coffee easily,” says Roger. He also likes his home office since it means less driving. His business is selling business uniforms, to places like the postal service. John Hueber built the home, designed by architect Kenneth Bowerman, knowing full well that it would qualify for the city’s tax abatement program, a huge selling point. “I did that house because of where it was located. It was one of the big reasons LEED was created, to find in-fill lots close to shopping and transportation.” Hueber says he now gets frequent calls from other builders wanting to know if he is aware of any other vacant or tear-down lots in Hyde Park. As previously noted, Hueber says green isn’t altogether new to him. “For us personally, and individually, we’ve always been interested in sustainable housing. The LEED program just formalizes it,” he says. “Even in homes where customers don’t ask for LEED certification, our homes are still very much green homes.”

the builder GREEN HOME AT HOME IN HYDE PARK “I designed the home as I was going to live in it myself,” says John Hueber, which was his intent. But when buyers were found, things changed. Julie and Roger Heldman live in it today, finding that it fit many of their environmental concerns learned from living in Seattle. “One of the main things is that we were able to deliver a traditional look that fits the Hyde Park style of unique homes and still get it LEED® certified,” says Hueber. “At first, when we started this (LEED certifications), we thought the style and architecture would have to be stark. But really, you can have any style that you want.” Hueber is particularly fond of the geothermal system of heating and cooling, a key component of many LEED certified homes. Hueber has built more LEED certified homes than any other builder in Cincinnati, and probably Ohio, he says. – John Hueber, President, John Hueber Homes

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The LEED® Certification Mark is a registered trademark owned by the U.S. Green Building Council® and is used with permission.

BEST_GREEN_2010:BEST_BEINGGREEN

Most green features installed in homes are rarely obvious. The illustration above is a cut-a-way view of the home highlighted in this story. The numbers in the drawing correspond to the primary green features noted below. Where applicable, we have noted the provider or contractor for each of the features. To qualify for LEED® certification, each green item must be verified by a rater trained by the U.S. Green Building Council. costs associated with hot water production. – Keidel, plumbing

1 Tightly Sealed Building Envelope The use of high-density batt insulation minimizes air infiltration and cuts down on heating and cooling costs. – M & D Insulation Co.

4 In-Fill Lot Choice Building on a lot in an existing community means less infrastructure work. Plus the home’s close proximity to shopping, business and transportation helps promote walking and biking.

2 FSC Certified Sustainable Wood Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an independent, not for profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests.

5 High Performance Windows Extensive

3 Low Flow Water Fixtures Simply put, these fixtures reduce domestic water use and energy

use of high performance windows takes advantage of natural light and reduces the need for energy consuming fixtures. – Marsh Building Products, Marvin Windows

6 Energy Star Appliances Appliances, windows and light fixtures awarded an Energy Star rating means reduced water and energy consumption. – Central Light, lighting; Custom Distributors, Inc., appliances.

7 Geothermal HVAC System Geothermal uses the earth’s temperature to efficiently heat and cool the home. It’s renewable energy at its best. – Pinnacle Air Solutions

the homeowner THE RETURN ON INVESTMENT IS THERE When Roger and Julie Heldman moved away from Cincinnati to live in Seattle from 2000 to 2008, they found that the Midwest is significantly behind in its green thinking compared to the Pacific Northwest. But all good things get started when the time is right and in this case the Heldmans discovered, upon their return, one of the few LEED® certified homes in the area they most wanted to live – Hyde Park. “The utilities for this size house (5,000 sq. ft.) are running at 50 percent less than we might have otherwise experienced,” says Roger. “It is very energy efficient.” In addition to energy savings, and the good feeling that “we are consuming less resources,” the house qualified for the city’s tax abatement program meaning they won’t be paying an annual $11,140 property tax (or $167,100 for the 15 years of the abatement period). Should others go green when buying a new house? “Absolutely,” says Roger. “The return on investment is there.”

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M T.

L O O K O U T

LEED Certified ®

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o, you build a green home, put it on the market, and the couple who buys it is named Green. How cool is that? Interestingly, if you walked

through the 4,000+ sq. ft. Mt. Lookout home today about the only thing Green you would see would be Patty or her husband Whitney. That’s the fun about the green industry in the homebuilding process: you don’t notice it necessarily, but when you see a cut-a-way illustration like is on the opposite page, your immediate response is ‘Ah-Hah.’ Jason Long, president of Black Diamond Construction, has built four LEED® certified homes, including the Greens, in the city of Cincinnati in the last two years. The Green home is rated certified; the other three are rated silver (there are four tiers in progressive order of green: certified, silver, gold and platinum). Relatively new in the construction business, he is yet an old-timer on the green side of it. Long said he started building to LEED standards long before they became so. It always made sense to be energy efficient, he adds. But it was the City of Cincinnati’s decision to award 15-year tax abatements to homes built to LEED certifications that spurred homeowners to start asking about it as well, says Long. “It was an initiator, that’s for sure. It perked our attention.” He figures that he helped save the four homeowners of the LEED certified homes he has built nearly $600,000 (see tax abatement story, page 61). Patty Green says that when they looked at the house to buy, Whitney already had a “green theme in mind, but wanted a new house, maintenance free.” Previously they had lived in an older Hyde Park home that was not at all energy efficient, she adds. When she and Whitney learned of the tax abatement, the deal was largely secured. They will save about $9,000 a year for 15 years. And since moving in a year ago, she said the home’s utility bills average about $375 a month (in past homes, adds Whitney, they’ve seen monthly bills in the $1,000 and up range).

the builder GREEN WILL ONLY GROW IN IMPORTANCE “The more I looked into it, going green meant really not doing much different than I was doing already,” says Jason Long, president of Black Diamond Construction. He has completed four LEED® certified homes in the last two years within the city of Cincinnati. However, he adds, one difference is in attitude. The quest for green will become standard practice: suggestions today will become building codes, and the movement will grow in expectations. Long says that an advantage to being LEED certified means that the green additions / improvements must be third party validated. “It adds credibility to the buyer . . . and it gets you to thinking about things you might not do otherwise.” For example, he says that a LEED standard requires that all ductwork be sealed and taped to cut down on air leakage. And that landscaping be less turf, more ground cover: meaning less water, less waste. Other LEED points awarded to the Green home included its proximity to shopping and public transportation, the small amount of scrap left over from construction, the installation of Energy Star rated appliances and energy efficient windows. – Jason Long, President, Black Diamond Construction

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The LEED® Certification Mark is a registered trademark owned by the U.S. Green Building Council® and is used with permission.

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Most green features installed in homes are rarely obvious. The illustration above is a cut-a-way view of the home highlighted in this story. The numbers in the drawing correspond to the primary green features noted below. Where applicable, we have noted the provider or contractor for each of the features. To qualify for LEED® certification, each green item must be verified by a rater trained by the U.S. Green Building Council.

1 Site Selection By using a previously developed infill lot in Mt. Lookout, the home took advantage of established infrastructure, such as water, sewer, and electric hookups.

2 Proximity to Business / Shopping Mt. Lookout Square – which offers restaurants, shopping and offices – is just over ½ mile away.

3 Indoor Contaminant Control A mudroom serves as a shoe and jacket drop zone to keep possible contaminants out of the home's living space and air systems.

4 Heating, Ventilation and Air Condition-

7 Construction Waste Management Reuse

ing Installation of high quality filters and efficient equipment preserve indoor air quality while saving energy and money. – Contractors Heating & Cooling

and recycling of left-over building materials reduces the impact of construction on the environment. (Not illustrated.)

5 Minimal Site Disturbance Preservation of site drainage and habitats reduces the home's imprint on the land.

6 Landscape Designed to reduce irrigation demands. – Ken Peck Landscapes

the homeowner ICING ON THE CAKE “The tax abatement was the icing on the cake,” says Patty Green, talking about her and husband Whitney’s decision on whether to buy a new home within the city of Cincinnati. They will save about $135,000 total over the 15-year abatement. But while she says she now better understands what green means, it remains hard to show visitors the green aspects of her home. “We recently had some parents from our kid’s school visit because they wanted to see some green things. She (the wife) was surprised at how ‘normal’ it looked. ‘What’s really green here?’ she asked,” says Patty. Patty advises that if you really want to see green, visit a construction site. “That’s when you really get to see the green features,” she says.

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M I L F O R D

LEED Platinum ®

GREEN P ROV I N G GROUNDS

SEEING IS

B E LIE V ING Story by Doug Sandhage

I

suspect Steve Melink’s blood runs green. He talks it, he walks it, he smells it, he sells it. To many he is Cincinnati’s Mr. Green Jeans. Those in the green movement all say that Melink is the man to see. Ohio Governor Bob Taft and Ted Strickland both made visits to his Milford-based headquarters. The short story is that Melink is actually a newcomer to green. He grew up in Loveland, and received degrees in mechanical engineering from both Vanderbilt and Duke. He founded in 1987 the Melink Corporation, a heating, ventilation and air conditioning commissioning firm. Through this line of work, Melink quickly realized that one product in particular, conventional ventilation systems, were huge energy wasters. Melink’s company developed the first variable speed controller for commercial kitchen hoods which is now an industry standard. The Melink company prospered, then, like any good company that looks ahead, something happened to make it even better. In 2004, Steve attended a green building conference in Cleveland. He saw, he experienced, a passion. A vision, too. The writing was on the wall that energy use needed significant fixing and would require folks like him – along with other architects, engineers, manufacturers and contractors – to think sustainability. “I came back with a fresh, long-term, let’s do the right thing mindset,” says Melink. A new building became the first objective. Melink chose property in an industrial park with plenty of open spaces, off Round Bottom Road, a few miles from where U.S. 50 intersects with I-275 near Milford. At the green conference he learned that the U.S. Green Building Council had established green building

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standards, known as LEED® (see story, page 62). They had four levels a company could achieve: certified, silver, gold and platinum. Like any good Olympian, he set his sights on gold. In 2006 he opened the doors to his 30,000 sq. ft. plant, making the Melink Corporation the first office building in Ohio to be LEED Gold certified and one of only about 100 in the world. Earlier this year, the building was upgraded to LEED Platinum status. So, what happens now inside this very modernly-styled business that greets visitors with obvious signs of green: a wind turbine, solar panels, and a well manicured architectural landscape? Melink Corporation has three businesses. They include national HVAC testing and balancing services for restaurant, retail, supermarket, and hotel chains such as Wal-Mart, McDonalds, and Walgreens; the manufacture and sale of the Intelli-Hood controller, a commercial kitchen ventilation system that saves energy by monitoring the heat and smoke inside hoods and adjusting the fan speeds automatically; and the design and installation of solar photovoltaic systems for generating onsite electricity and hedging against future rate increases of coal-fired electricity and reducing peak demand charges. The mantra at Melink’s firm is three fold: to be proven, practical and profitable, all in a mainstream sort of way. “To take what we’ve done, and apply it to future construction,” says Melink. • On the proven portion, Melink says that his building is now about 80 percent more energy efficient than a conventionally built one, as costs are only about 40 cents per sq. ft. per year. After additional building envelope improvements and solar PV is installed this


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1

6

An aerial view of the Melink Corporation shows some of the building’s green features that helped it become LEED® Platinum certified. The combined features saves the company about $45,000 a year in energy costs.

5

1 Building Envelope Features super-insulated 4 Geothermal Five miles of underground precast concrete walls, high-performance windows, and a reflective roof membrane.

2 Solar Electric Solar PV panels generate 25% of the corporation’s electric needs. Since the picture was taken, two more types of solar have been installed and four new types will be added by the end of 2010.

3 Solar Thermal Provides hot water for employees who use the showers after working out in the company gym, running on the corporate campus, or biking to work.

4

tubing connects 28 geothermal wells. The ground serves as a heat source in winter and heat sink in summer.

5 Wind turbine The turbine begins operating at 4 mph, suitable for low-wind markets like southwest Ohio.

Building Automation and Reduced Water Consumption (not pictured) Controls turn lights on and off based on ambient light and the occupancy of a room. Sink faucets have aerators and infrared sensors for automatic on/off operation, and dual-flush toilets and waterless urinals both help save water usage, estimated at 50 percent.

6 Building Orientation & Layout (Natural daylight) The orientation of the building and extensive use of exterior windows and skylights maximize natural daylight and minimize the need for electrical light.

summer, it should be a net zero energy building – meaning it exports as much energy back to the electric grid as it imports from the grid. • On the practical portion, Melink says that his company’s solutions to going green have a payback period that averages, on the aggregate, five years. “There are very few companies with this kind of payback,” says Steve, adding that company’s like his have a much more predictable return, compared to stocks, for example. • On the profitable portion, the Melink Corporation has been on the Inc. 5000 list for each of the last three years (rated 3,554 in 2009). The website for Inc. says that Melink’s revenue for 2008 was $13.8 million, up from $8.2 million in 2005. “There is a huge vacuum for a company like ours to fill and we’re going to do it,” says Steve. Melink says that other than an obvious energy savings benefit, companies that go green have happier, healthier employees and can realize a public relations bonanza. “Increased awareness benefits the top line,” he adds, noting that media and public attention to green efforts shows a “commitment to becoming a green leader that raises your credibility, reputation and brand as an environmentally responsible corporate citizen.”

Melink says the future for companies like his are obvious when, he notes, that the world population will reach nine billion people by the middle of this century. “That suggests the huge number of buildings that will be needed.” All of which need to be green-built, he adds. Back on the local front, Melink can easily look out from the company conference room and see his wind turbine, and a like-minded recycling firm maybe 1,000 ft. away. But his mind is focused well beyond. He sees a green “clean tech” business park that he is hoping is only months away from development, and perhaps even a “green corridor,” meaning Round Bottom Road, which connects Milford to Newtown. The road, if you haven’t experienced it, hugs the Little Miami River and is dotted with several landscaping firms and nurseries. It is its own green belt in many ways already. For employee use, Melink leases a fleet of hybrid cars, offers incentives to live green – such as an annual contribution of $3,000 for up to five employees who invest in renewable energy for their homes – and reinvests five percent of its sales toward new product development in renewable energy technologies.

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G R E A T E R

C I N C I N N A T I

LEED certified ®

GREEN ON GREEN: P N C M a k e s t h e m Wo r k f o r E a c h O t h e r

Story and photos by Doug Sandhage

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here isn’t a bank in the world that doesn’t think green. And you know what I mean. But PNC is taking another meaning of green and making it a

focus in the way they do business. It all started 12 years ago, when Earth Day was the only significant event that the majority of the population even thought about green. “We made the decision to build (a 650,000 sq. ft. operations building, Firstside Center, in Pittsburgh) in 1998 and when we opened in 2000, it was the largest LEED® certified building in the world,” says Gary Saulson, director of corporate real estate within the PNC Financial Services Group. “The decision was made deliberately; it was the right thing to do – to build a place where our employees could thrive and would want to go to work.” Today, PNC has 99 “green buildings,” 77 of which are LEED certified, seven of those are in Cincinnati. The Cincinnati branches are located in the areas of Fairfield, Liberty Township, Mason, Florence and Cold Spring. “The reaction (of customers) has been fantastic,” says Saulson.

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And while emphatically emphasizing that the green movement was

Future plans, says Saulson, is to make every PNC Bank even more

not for publicity, Saulson does admit that media coverage has been

green than they are now. “Our plans are to continue; to be better today

overwhelming. Each time a new PNC green bank opens, he says

than yesterday.” In February, he told Being Green in Cincinnati that in a

there is usually a substantial story and/or photo in the local news-

pilot program the corporation spent $400,000 on lighting that will save

paper. After seeing a story, customers usually start a “conversation

them $300,000 a year. “That’s a phenomenal investment; imagine the

with the teller” about the green features of the bank, he adds. “The

benefit of expanding this? This is very shareholder positive; it is environ-

employees then become extremely engaged. It helps them provide

mentally friendly; and consumes much less energy. And it improves the

better customer service and to say that they are proud of their em-

quality of the lighting. We see it as a big win.”

ployer, and proud to share the story.” Even school field trips have been scheduled for bank visits. Over 50 percent of the construction materials used in PNC LEED

Saulson unquestionably sees the green movement as sustaining. “The train has left the station,” he says. “Good architecture (today) is the convergence of old fashion architecture and green architecture.

certified banks are locally manufactured or made from recycled or

Frank Lloyd Wright would have been a green architect. At the end of

green materials—from the structural steel to the carpeting and fabrics

the day, it’s really about waste. The materials we use are sustainable.”

throughout the building.

Saulson says that PNC now offers discount loan rates for small businesses if the financing is used to help make them more energy efficient. For now, Saulson is clearly happy about PNC’s foresight in building green and the benefits it has endowed on the company, its customers and its employees. “We want to lead by example. If we put them (employees) in an open, friendly environment, they will want the same in their home,” he says. Other PNC Green Facts provided by the company: • In summer 2010, PNC will open a new regional headquarters in Washington, D.C. It is planned to be the first office building in the city to be certified at the LEED Platinum level. • In 2009, in downtown Pittsburgh, PNC opened Three PNC Plaza, a 780,000 sq. ft. building. It is one of the largest green mixeduse projects in the world. • In total, PNC has more buildings LEED certified by the U.S. Green Building Council than any other company in the world. More info: go to pnc.com

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C I N C I N N A T I

LEED certified ®

Spend $500,000 . . . Save $1,500,000 . . . Four Years Time . . . Next Question? The Proof is Clearly in the Numbers Story by Doug Sandhage

T

he Cincinnati Zoo is the greenest zoo in the U.S.A. Says who? Says

pleted in 2009, all of which were awarded the ultimate benchmark in

Mark Fisher, Senior Director of Facilities at the Zoo. Yeah, but isn’t he

green building, LEED® certification (see page 62).

biased, seeing as how he works there and part of his job is to plant good

“At the end of the day, the number one determinant of how green you

PR? “Seeing” is the operative word here. Fisher has been to other top

are is determined by how much green infrastructure you have,” says Fisher.

zoos. And there, he says, lies the proof. It’s as big as an elephant herd. In

“You can have a nice recycling program but it doesn’t move the needle. It’s

other zoos, green is little more than a “window dressing,” he says. They

how you design, build and operate that should be your measuring stick.”

have the recycling bins, they have the greenery, they have the exhibit

Fisher says that much of the green movement at the zoo started in

signage that says conservation is important, and on each of their websites

2005. Decisions were made that included significant green-thinking

they proclaim their green-worthiness.

design, about the kind and use of mechanicals for heating and cooling,

The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, its official name, has all that and more. The “more” part includes three building projects com-

and even on the type of paths and parking lots for visitors. The aerial photo within this story shows many of the details.


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What’s green about the “greenest zoo in America?” If right now you were standing in the area of the turnstiles and ticketing office, the most green you would see would be the plant material. Ah, but look closely. Much of what is green – when it comes to materials or design – is not all that obvious. The numbers below correspond to the aerial photo. Each item also notes who was primarily responsible for design and installation. The four LEED® certified projects at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden are: • The Harold C. Schott Education Center, certified to LEED Silver level in 2006. • The Historic Vine Street Village, certified to LEED Platinum-NC level in 2009. It was the first LEED Platinum certified commercial project in the city of Cincinnati, the third in Ohio. • The Pavilion, certified to LEED Gold level in 2009. • The Gift Shop, certified to LEED Gold level in 2010.

1 Pervious Pavers and Concrete Pervious pavement manages rainwater and eliminates runoff. It is estimated that more than 1 million gallons of water will be diverted away from the sewer system. Decorative Paving, pavers; Structural Systems Repair Group, concrete

4 Polished Concrete Eliminate future tile /

8 Storm Water Collection Tank Collects

carpet landfill waste. – Structural Systems Repair Group

5 Waterless Urinals Conservation of over 40,000 gallons of water per year. – Carrigan & Grimm

storm water underground to be re-used to irrigate surrounding plants. – Performance Site Management

9 Low Albedo Roof Sunlight is reflected to

2 Solar Panels Solar panels convert the sun’s en- 6 Solar Water Heater Water is heated by ergy into electricity. Dovetail Solar & Wind

help avoid a heat island effect. – Holland Roofing and D.M. Norris Co.

the sun. – Dovetail Solar & Wind

3 Geothermal / HVAC System Relies on the 7 Foamed-In-Place Insulation Higher R-value earth’s constant temperature as a source of heat in the winter and cooling in the summer. – Bill Spade Electric, Heating & Cooling

than standard insulation and fills in crevices to block drafts. – Priority 1 Construction Services

Some hard-core facts are in, says Fisher: • The projects resulted in a 25 percent increase in square footage in buildings at the zoo. • The cost for the heating and cooling portions of the projects, and fixes on some of the older installations, was about $500,000. • Utility bills are now at 2005 levels, prior to the projects. • Savings so far on utilities alone is $1.5 million. The numbers, adds Fisher, are the proof that defies anyone who says green doesn’t pay.

“People said, ‘We’re (the zoo) non-profit, we can’t afford to do this.’ But then they would turn around and complain about the utility bills. We’ve paid off the investment three times already, and now it’s ongoing.” “We are the only zoo that I know of that has committed to building all of its buildings in green (technology),” says Fisher. Two other projects are in the works, he adds. To Fisher, it only makes absolute sense that zoos, in all their talk about conservation, be leaders in green building. But, he adds, “I’ve been to zoos with unlimited budgets and they aren’t doing squat.”

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Are zoo visitors – who number more than a million every year – notic-

unteers, he adds, are often asked the logical green questions. “Where did

ing the change? Do they care? Will being the “greenest zoo in the U.S.A.”

you get the materials? How much did it cost? The intent is to offer a vision

bring more people through the turnstiles? And how do you measure suc-

where visitors can take what they learn home, to work, their school, or

cess in terms of a green yardstick?

their church.”

At minimum, says Fisher, he sees people stopping to read the sig-

“It has been well received,” concluded Fisher. But, he notes, you have

nage in the “green garden” near the zoo’s entry gate. The garden show-

to always note the money side of it. To him, saving more than a million dol-

cases pervious pavers, rain barrels and rain gardens. “People can see it,

lars in energy costs in just four years clearly shows that being green works.

they can touch it. And our staff of volunteers talk about green.” The vol-

A whole lot. Even the lions are roaring about it.

builders point of view The Cincinnati Zoo asked three primary questions when it most re-

A conscious decision to go green means a conscious decision by

cently hired HGC Construction to make sure three of its most recently

someone to take the ball and run with it. In the case of the Cincinnati

completed projects would be LEED® certified.

Zoo, it was Mark Fisher, senior director of facilities.

1. Can we get / use recycled materials?

“It was pretty amazing,” says Dean Violetta. “Fisher went to a

2. What is the payback timeline?

green conference in Chicago, came back, got his team together, and

3. What is the cost / benefit ratio?

said, ‘we will be on the forefront of this. All of our (new) projects will be

HGC and the Cincinnati Zoo go way back. One of the first big proj-

as green as possible, all LEED® certified.’” Violetta is the vice president

ects was in 1961 when HGC built a train trestle, which is still being used

of Cornette/Violetta Architects, the architects for the projects. “He

today. HGC founder Richard J. Huseman was known for his salvaging of

brought the challenge to us. He inspired us to go green.”

found objects (doors, windows, leftover construction lumber that might

But, adds Violetta, it was not all that easy. “We had to catch up,

have otherwise been sent to a landfill – see page 98), and the Zoo was

educate ourselves, take classes, become LEED certified.” Catch up they

legendary for its conservation efforts. In many ways, they were both

did. The first of the three projects – the Historic Vine Street Village – was

green well before green was cool.

awarded Platinum certification, the highest level achievable.

But these particular recent projects were out of the ordinary. LEED certification (see story, page 62) requires a much-more planned strategy, and third-party verification to confirm that specific LEED standards are actually met.

According to Violetta, when the projects were done and proclaimed LEED, Fisher said: “‘This is the way it’s going to be from here on out.’” It was the use of recycled materials that Violetta says was one of the more fun parts of the projects. He says he was amazed at how recy-

Gary Gilbert, a 30-year employee and now the vice president for

cled steel and masonry items could be used. He also notes that he was

HGC, said that one of the biggest “green challenges” was educating sub-

happy at how the buildings were sited to take advantage of prevailing

contractors and HGC staff about “why we were doing things a certain way

winds, thus less reliance on air conditioning in summer months, and that

and why everybody needed to be on board with it.” LEED demands, he

through the use of retaining walls, two, hundred-year-old oak trees,

adds, significant record keeping. For example, paperwork must document

were saved from chain saws.

what recycled or salvaged materials were used, and where obtained. Gilbert says that one of the biggest “green” things his company did was to insure that the “buildings were well insulated – that no air got in or

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architects point of view

Cornette/Violetta was formed in 2003 and primarily designs commercial projects. Violetta says that all good things must lead to others. Two more

out that wasn’t supposed to go in or out.” He also noted that the com-

projects now in the works – the renovation of the zoo’s cathouse and cat

pany harvested a dead 3 ft. diameter Bur Oak tree from the construction

grottoes, as well as an area to be titled Africa Savannah – are expected

site, had it milled and kiln dried, then made it into benches for the zoo.

to be LEED certified as well.

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finding a green job TO GE T A GREEN JOB, YOU H AVE TO THINK GREEN F I RST

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hile there are plenty of firms throughout the U.S. that can cite that they’ve created hundreds, even thousands of jobs due to the green industry, most of the growth is coming in on the ones-and-twos side of things. Take us for example, Being Green in Cincinnati. While it is a special edition of our primary product, Best Magazine, the skill sets required to research, write, edit and sell the advertising necessitated us to double our full-time staff – from one person to two. Putting this magazine together meant conducting hundreds of interviews and/or presentations over the last year. Nearly all of the material and ideas were new to us. My son, Jason Sandhage, a recent graduate of Ohio University, is the new staffer. Go Green! But Jason was not the only job recipient of our enterprise. The magazine helped provide new income to our designer, two writers, our photographer, the printer, mail house, and the U.S. Postal Service (we added 20,000 new pieces to their dwindling supply of paying customers). And for our readers who choose to buy the products and services from those who advertise in these pages and make it all possible, potentially hundreds of more jobs can be created – now, when we need them the most. We asked several of our advertising partners and friends how green has affected their growth and hiring practices.

Melink Corporation President Steve Melink says that the renewable energy portion of his business added six people to his staff in the last few years and expects many more to come on board in the next few. The Milfordbased company is actually three businesses in one. It does HVAC testing and balancing services for restaurant, retail, supermarket, and hotel chains; the manufacture and sale of the Intelli-Hood controller, a commercial kitchen ventilation system; and the design and installation of solar photovoltaic systems for generating onsite electricity. He says that candidates who want to work for his company need to have more “soft people skills than hard technical skills. Their integrity, attitude, customer-service mindset, passion for our mission, sense of accountability, and work ethic are more important to us than their grade point average, degree, certifications, and years of experience.” Many of the skills necessary, he adds, can easily be learned on the job.

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ThirdSun Solar & Wind Power Michelle Greenfield, CEO for ThirdSun based in Athens, Ohio but with an office in Cincinnati, says that a total of eight new employees were added in 2008 and 2009, and three so far in 2010. She hopes that eight to ten more can join in 2011. But, she adds, her company’s contribution to green jobs has also involved more use of subcontractors, and in the purchasing of manufactured and wholesale materials from Ohio companies whenever possible. “The green industry needs employees in all aspects of business. People always think of solar panel installers, or wind tower climbers, but there are many people behind the scenes. Many common finance, manufacturing, sales and construction skills can readily be applied to the green industry,” says Greenfield. ThirdSun Solar & Wind Power was founded in 1997 and today counts installs throughout Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Michigan. They currently have about a dozen in place in Cincinnati, mostly installed on remodeling projects.

emersionDESIGN Since its founding in 2007, this multi-faceted company based in Norwood has hired 71 employees to its green-based roster, and several more are expected to be added before the end of this year. emersion DESIGN is a group of architects, engineers, planners, interior designers, and sustainability consultants. Shawn Hesse, project architect and sustainability consultant for EmersionDESIGN, said that his best advice for getting a job in the green industry is to “get involved. There are so many environmentally focused organizations throughout Cincinnati that are always looking for volunteers. By getting engaged with a non-profit that is focused on environmental issues, you can demonstrate your knowledge, skills, and your passion for sustainability, and build relationships with professionals in the field at the same time. Choose the organization that aligns with your professional interests – if you are interested in green building design and construction, volunteer for the Cincinnati Chapter of the US Green Building Council; if you are interested in education, volunteer with Imago, or the Cincinnati Nature Center; or if you are interested in workforce training, volunteer with Building Value. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved.” Interestingly, Hesse says that the definition of a green job is anything but set in stone. “Every job can be a green job if it is done in a

Photo by Cathy & Mark Lyons

Story by Doug Sandhage


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way that builds environmental, social, and economic value at the same time. The best way to get a ‘green’ job is to make your current job green. Start your company’s recycling program, start a rideshare or carpooling program, make note of where your business uses energy in wasteful ways – are the bathroom lights always on? – make a note, then point them out to your employer. Eliminating wasteful energy use can save them money.” Chad Edwards, a principal behind the company, also serves as the current president of the Cincinnati Chapter of the US Green Building Council.

Green Buildings Consulting & Homes+ Barb Yankie, president of Green Buildings Consulting and Homes+ says that her companies have created three jobs since 2008, and hopes to add 3-5 more by the end of 2011. The two companies headed by Yankie primarily do consulting and verification of structures to check for energy efficiencies and sustainability. Barb Yankie’s name is known by nearly everyone in the green industry in Cincinnati. She was on board with green well before it became an everyday word in the Cincinnati Enquirer. “There are many different types of jobs in the green industries,” says Yankie. “The consulting, verification and testing of structures part of the industry is one of the fastest growing in the Cincinnati area. The main skills needed for this area are to be detail oriented, computer literate, able to communicate well, and being able to learn continually.” She adds that many green positions require some type of certification, such as HERS Rater, BPI Building Analyst, or LEED Green Rater. “I would recommend that anyone interested in this part of the industry research RESNET (Residential Energy Services Network) and the US Green Building Council for more information,” says Yankie.

Park + Vine Dan Korman, owner of Park + Vine, a downtown Cincinnati business that a city magazine claims is the “general store of the future,” says that because of the growing green industry, “it caused us to initiate a full staff and official payroll in 2008. We current employ five and have had a total of seven employees for the last three years.” The retail business sells eco-friendly merchandise that minimizes the use of natural resources and animal byproducts. For those wanting to go green with a job in the industry, he suggests getting a “knowledge of alternative lifestyles; product development; marketing; ecological education; horticulture; bio-fuels; bio-degradation; water conservation; alternative fuel/energy ideas; conscious packaging/advertising; and recycling technologies.” He says resources to learn about any one of these would be colleges and universities, as well as private workshops. “Perhaps the biggest trend will be in the development of standards and curricula for such purposes,” says Korman.

Building Value Jerry Janszen, Director of Building Value, says he hopes to double the deconstruction part of the business that would increase the number of crews to two or three, and would create approximately 15 new green jobs in 2011. Building Value LLC, located on Spring Grove Avenue, is a non-

profit social enterprise that provides Cincinnati residents with a place to donate and shop for reusable building materials. Additionally, it provides employment opportunities for people with disabilities and disadvantages. Janszen says that Building Value employees are taught the importance of recycling and reusing material and the inherent value in salvaged or “rescued” building material. “In most cases, new employees have not lived in a household where recycling is a part of the daily routine and they are somewhat surprised when they are introduced to Building Value’s business model.” New employees start either in the retail section of the business or, if they are interested in a career in construction, they have the opportunity to work on Building Value’s deconstruction team. “This team has completely deconstructed 12 buildings in the last 8 months, including foundation removal,” says Janszen. Building Value’s deconstruction process allows for over 80% of the material in a typical 2,000 sq. ft. building to be recycled or reused. All reusable material is transported back to the retail store and is then made available for purchase.

Rumpke With its ever increasing emphasis on its customers – homeowners and businesses in several states – to do more recycling of trash, Molly Yeager, corporate communications director for the company, says that “we added at least 55 jobs directly related to recycling” in 2009 and so far in 2010. And, she adds, “based on our current growth and anticipated contracts over the next two years, we are projecting substantial growth in terms of jobs in our recycling operations. There is a study that shows that for every 10,000 tons of material recycled, 34 jobs are created.” Yeager adds that as the company’s technology is updated in “our recycling facilities, we are looking for candidates that have computer and mechanical skills. We post our jobs weekly on www.rumpke.com.”

Cincinnati State Larry Feist, program chair of renewable energy for Cincinnati State, says that his school is leading the state in the development of courses and programs for students to learn about the green business. The school has two primary paths. The first is based on the manufacturing and implementation of the technologies needed to go green. “We are wrapping up our third year with that program,” says Feist, adding that it offers an associate degree with two years of study. About 170 students were enrolled in the program as of June. The other, says Feist, is about sustainable design and construction. “It prepares architects and construction people to help make buildings smarter. Classes include lighting, heating and air conditioning efficiency.” Now in its second year, about a dozen students are currently taking classes. Feist says that one of the reasons why Cincinnati State implemented the green studies is so that “industry doesn’t have an excuse any more that nobody is trained in the field, and that this is common-sense stuff no matter what side of the aisle you are on. It’s nothing to be scared of.” For more info: www.cincinnatistate.edu

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to go green with your home, the best advice starts here Story by Jason Sandhage

A

ir isn’t all that’s leaking out of the cracks in your home or business. Your money is close behind. From your choice in light bulbs to hidden heating issues, there are plenty of changes you can make today to save yourself some serious cash. The first step towards savings and reduced consumption is efficiency, explains Andy Holzhauser. Andy is the Executive Director of the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance (GCEA), a non-profit organization dedicated to helping Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky communities reduce their energy costs. “We believe that through education, expertise and innovative financing, we can help Greater Cincinnati become more energy efficient,” says Holzhauser, “saving money for residents while creating local jobs.” An energy assessment, or energy audit, will examine how much energy you use and determine the measures you can take to become more energy efficient. Inspections of your insulation, lighting, heating and air conditioning (HVAC), appliances, and other energy-consuming equipment are most common. If an audit is conducted by a professional auditor, they will be able to analyze your results and provide you with a prioritized list, or “road map,” which will empower you to make your own decisions. Energy audits are gaining in popularity and, in fact, some communities such as Austin, Texas are starting to require them when a home is sold. There are two ways to conduct an energy audit: on your own or using a professional. If on your own, some of the easiest solutions can be found by taking a look around and making note of the obvious. If your insulation or appliances aren’t up to building codes and Energy

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Star standards, consider a change. If your light bulbs are inefficient, change the oldest, most frequently used bulbs first and then work your way down the line. The examination of, and the appropriate reactions to these “lowhanging fruit,” are often the fastest and easiest problems to fix. In fact, put this magazine down for a second and take a look around your home or business. I’m sure you can find a few things that you can do right now to save some money. For those more difficult tests, there are plenty of professional energy auditors who can assist you in a more in depth analysis of your energy use and waste. These tests include the blower door, thermal imaging, ductwork integrity, and electrical phantom loads tests (involving electronics plugged in but not being used), in addition to an insulation R-rating check, and water usage check. Air leakage, pressurization, moisture, gas and carbon monoxide issues, and appliances may also be included. Due to the complexities and the equipment needed for many of these tests, you may want to call a professional. Holzhauser recommends for you to keep in mind that simple steps can lead to big savings. If you spend $2,000-4,000 on the tests and the improvements, you will average a return on your investment in two-to-three years, he explains. After that, it’s nothing but savings. Armed with this knowledge, there’s no longer a reason to wait for an energy audit. Wasting energy makes completely no sense at all and making the simplest of changes can have the biggest of impacts on your pocketbook and the environment. For more information about energy audits go to: www.energysavers.gov. For more information about the GCEA: www.greatercea.org


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geothermal: letting the earth do its job

Story and photos by Doug Sandhage

RA L P H TAY LO R & DON N A SC HWARZ OF B L AN C HEST E R

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Left: The only exterior evidence that a geothermal system was installed in their home are the trenches where a total of 375 ft. of loops were installed five feet underground, says Ralph Taylor. Within the next year, once the grass grows back, the installation in the basement will be the only proof that geothermal operates here. Inset, above: Ralph Taylor and Donna Schwarz have the one and only covered bridge in Clinton County just a few hundred feet from the front door of their country home. Inset, right: In addition to servicing their two-story home, a geothermal system also handles all of the heating and air-conditioning needs of a combined garage, artist studio, wine storage area, plus the hot tub on the couple’s back patio deck. The heating and cooling for this room comes from a forced-air wall unit.

W

hen you live in one of Ohio’s lesser-populated counties, it’s a bit easier to be either the first at getting something uniquely new or inheriting something uniquely old. Ralph Taylor and Donna Schwartz got both; and they have since added a third claim. They succeeded in getting the only permit in a dry township to sell wine. The first hint that something is different here is when you pull into their driveway, a couple miles off State Route 28 outside of Blanchester in Clinton County. A bright-red covered bridge over Todd’s Fork Creek sits in front of their home. It is the only covered bridge in the county. A pull-off allows for easy access for photographers and fishermen. The other hint is a bit harder to decipher. A walk in the couple’s backyard shows where someone has dug four trenches totaling 375 linear feet, now covered.

You would have to ask to know the answer, since the trenches go both up, and down, a small ravine. Ralph and Donna, to their knowledge, are the first Clinton Countians to get a geothermal system to heat and cool their home. In the easiest way possible to explain, a geothermal system sends a solution through a series of special pipes buried underground. This is called the loop. The temperature underground is a constant 56 degrees due to the earth’s ability to store solar energy. As the fluid circulates through the underground loop into the ground source heat pump, the energy in the fluid is converted to heat for your home in the winter. On the other hand, the heat in your home during summer months is transferred back into the fluid to be returned to the earth. Geothermal heat pump systems deliver heating and cooling the same as most systems; by forced air or through some sort of radiation system; or in the case of the Taylor/Schwarz house, to a radiant floor system.

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Above, left: While the basement of the Taylor/Schwarz house might look like a power plant in itself, the lineup is simple. From right to left: A Water-Furnace (brand name) heat pump which can produce either hot or chilled water; an 80-gallon storage tank for chilled water to service the air conditioning water coil; a domestic hot water heater in which the water is heated by the heat pump; and a 120-gallon hot water storage tank for the radiant floor heating system and to heat the hot tub. Above, right: The illustration shows three ways in which a geothermal system can be installed to capture energy from the earth via tubes laid out as loops: within vertical trenches, in horizontal shafts, or as placed under lake water.

“Geothermal heating and cooling has been around for many years and is a very mature technology. But more recently, it has taken on a more timely economical twist as energy costs keep soaring,” says Daniel Wright, owner of Geothermal Solutions, which installed the product in this home. Ralph used to live in the Hyde Park and Clifton areas of Cincinnati. In 2000, he met Donna, herself a Connecticut girl, and after getting hitched, they decided that country living is what they wanted to do. They bought a 22-acre mini-farm with a 1997-built two-story home. They owned Cups & Corks restaurant in Blanchester for a while, but decided that the wine part of the business was about to boom. Ralph contacted a number of Ohio wine distributors and opened www.winedog.com to sell wines from places like South Africa, Brazil, Chili, and in the U.S. from California, Oregon and New York. In 2006, Ralph was listening to All Things Considered on one of his favorite NPR stations when he heard a promotion for Geothermal Solutions. It made him think about his average monthly utility bill – in the $700 range, along with storage tank fees for propane gas. A geothermal unit, he found, includes three separate systems: • A ground loop for extracting or returning heat into the ground to warm or cool the structure as needed. • A heat pump itself that concentrates the heat. • A delivery system in the form of air ducts or a radiant system. Geothermal systems can be installed using tubes that are laid horizontally, or vertically if only limited space is available. The tubes can also be placed under ponds or lakes. Wright says a geothermal system’s greatest advantage is that you “don’t have to create a source of heat as with most conventional systems. These utilize nature’s abundant energy already stored in the ground. You are not creating a heat source; you are just moving it from the ground to the house in winter and from the house to the

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ground in summer. How cool is that?” His company provided the geothermal system to a home in West Chester in 2007 that was featured on the popular TV show Extreme Makeover Home Edition. Now that the geothermal system has been installed for about two years, Ralph says his total energy bill is 45 percent less, down about $300 a month from pre-geothermal days. At a total cost of $39,000 to buy and install the system (after a $2,000 energy credit), he says the payoff will be about ten years. The life expectancy of the system is said to be about 25 years. But Donna says the real payoff is now and adds: “I want some of the planet left for my grandchildren.” Until geothermal, she said her “green contribution” was largely recycling, raising chickens and growing some vegetables, but now she says she feels like a larger player while saving money at the same time. She also notes that the system is much quieter than their old propane furnace, and that the humidity stays the same inside as it is outside. The floors in the couple’s 2,800 sq. ft. home are a combination of wood and tile, making them very warm in winter using the radiant floor system. It is especially good for their three dogs and four cats who love to lie on the floor. The geothermal unit also heats the hot tub on the back deck and a garage that in part houses Donna’s artist studio, and Ralph’s 800-bottle wine inventory. She is an accomplished artist in several media, including colored pencils, acrylics, watercolors and pastels. Her subjects include farm scenes and portraits. Donna says their neighbors, who farm 150 acres, use both a wood-burning waterstove and a corn-cob burner for their heat, the cost primarily being the time and labor to haul in the commodities from their own land. But for those without such fuel resources, Ralph and Donna said they couldn’t be more pleased with their geothermal system. “Am I happy with it? Absolutely,” says Ralph. He said he would answer questions from anyone who wants to call him about geothermal systems. Telephone him at 937-685-9154.


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Who’s Who in Green . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . American Heating & Air Conditioning Co. 2284 Quebec Road, Cincinnati 45214 Tel. 513.471.2115 www.americanheat.com “Call the Dependables.” Mike and Dave Dempsey. Specializing in installation of Residential Climatemaster Tranquility 27.0 Geothermal systems in LEED Certified Houses to meet USGBC Standards. Third Generation operating business since 1936. Proud sponsor of Xavier Basketball with Joe Sunderman. Amp Electric Vehicles 4540 Alpine Avenue, Cincinnati 45242 Tel. 513.360.4704/513.307.1519 www.AmpElectricVehicles.com Amp Electric Vehicles has a patent-pending conversion technology that is presently installed into GM Saturn Sky and Solstice convertibles and the 2010 Equinox to make them 100% Electric. Amp’s 100% electric vehicles are available for ordering and delivery now. Amp will be expanding into additional vehicles in the future. Amp Electric Vehicles is located in Blue Ash right off of Ronald Regan Highway. Call to schedule a personal test drive of one of Amp’s vehicles. The Appliance Loft 3209 Madison Road, Cincinnati 45209 Tel. 513.533.0440 www.theapplianceloft.com The Appliance Loft is a local, family-owned business that focuses on the customer and provides the most up-to-date and accurate appliance knowledge in the area. From first-time home buyers purchasing their first refrigerator to a contracting firm looking to purchase appliances for an upcoming building project, the Appliance Loft pledges to serve the customer with respect and guarantees satisfaction. Stop by to see their selection of Energy Star appliances, including the super energy efficient Bosch Vision Washer and Dryers. Architects Plus 10816 Millington Court, Cincinnati 45242 Tel. 513.984.1070 www.architectsplus.com Providing exquisite residential and commercial design for 31 years. LEED for Homes accredited professional on staff. Experience with green design for single family, multifamily and commercial projects. Arronco Comfort Air 5578 Limaburg Road, Burlington, KY 41005 Tel. 513.474.7555/859.525.6407 www.arronco.com Specializing in the installation and service of residential and light commercial heating, air conditioning, and indoor air quality systems. With an emphasis on geothermal offerings and energy savings, their team of professionals will help you take advantage of tax benefits at home and in the office. Second generation family owned and operated since 1984. Brands include WaterFurnace Geothermal Systems, Tempstar, and Bryant. Beck Architecture, Inc. 550 Liberty Hill, Cincinnati 45202 Tel. 513.651.5550 www.beckarchitects.com Beck Architecture is an innovative firm specializing in custom residential, commercial and interior design projects. Founded in 1989 by Donald Beck, AIA, the firm excels in traditional architecture, renovation and compatible

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new construction. Residences designed by Cornette/Violetta Architects, LLC Beck Architecture are praised for their level of 1117 Cypress Street, Cincinnati 45206 detail and thoughtful design. Tel. 513.221.6600 www.cornette-violetta.com Benchmark Outdoor Outfitters Cornette/Violetta Architects, LLC, dates back 9525 Kenwood Road, Cincinnati 45242 to 1993. From the conception of a project to Tel. 513.791.9453 its completion, Cornette/Violetta emphasizes www.benchmarkoutfitter.com quality architectural services and high client At The Benchmark, environmental awareness satisfaction. The firm is a U.S. Green Building and respect for their neighbors is more than Council Member, and Dean Violetta is a LEED just a public relations campaign. Benchmark Accredited Professional. employees enjoy our natural environment as much as their customers and are committed Custom Distributors to keeping it as clean, safe and beautiful as 9190 Seward Road, Fairfield 45014 can be. No matter your outdoor need, Bench- Tel. 513.874.5444 mark Outdoor Outfitters can outfit you with www.customdistributors.com what you need to get out and enjoy the out- Custom Distributors is the area’s premier apdoors as much as they do. pliance provider with over 25 years of experience. Personal, professional attention, and Black Diamond Construction Co. service is the company’s mantra. “We believe 1054 Richwood Avenue, Cincinnati 45208 buying appliances should be made easy,” says Tel. 513.328.5302 President Ken Rieman. Brands carried by the www.bdcchomes.com company include Electrolux, GE, Jenn-Air, Custom home builder specializing in the KitchenAid, Maytag, Sub-Zero, Hotpoint, design and construction of new, energy effiViking, Whirlpool, Dacor and Wolf. cient LEED certified homes. Also available for remodeling, additions, and outdoor living Duke Energy spaces, the team at Black Diamond will www.duke-energy.com handle all of the details, while working with One of the largest electric supply companies you to bring your vision to life. in the United States. The company is currently active in the development and installation of a Camery • Hensley Construction, Ltd. Smart Grid throughout its distribution geogra1 Cherokee Trail, New Richmond 45157 phy. For more info on its sustainability goals, John Camery: 513.309.2262 go to: www.duke-energy.com/sustainability/ Jeremy Hensley: 513.319.2664 sustainability.asp www.cameryhensley.com John Camery and Jeremy Hensley established Eagle Creek Custom Builders, Inc. Camery • Hensley Construction in 2003, 2384 St. Route 132, New Richmond 45157 bringing more than 40 years of collective Tel. 513.553.1638 experience. A USGBC Member, Camery • www.riverbendtf.com Hensley Construction provides upscale As timber framing experts, the people at custom home building and complete renova- Eagle Creek can help you discover the history, tion services to Cincinnati-area homeowners beauty, strength and sustainability of timber who seek superior quality and service, frame construction. They believe that we have heirloom-quality craftsmanship, and highthe responsibility to create homes that are performance homes. both amazing and efficient. As the builders of the Merwin House I home, in the Merwin Cincinnati Bell Farms green community, Eagle Creek can www.cincinnatibell.com create a natural connection between your Cincinnati Bell Telephone provides modern next home and its natural environment. telecommunications products and services in a three-state area, including portions of Ohio, Elk Creek Vineyards Kentucky and Indiana. They are committed 150 Highway 330, Owenton, Kentucky to the principles of “corporate community Tel. 502.484.0005 responsibility” and pride themselves in being www.elkcreekvineyards.com one of the most visible communications Kentucky’s largest winery is located about an companies in the Midwest. hour from downtown Cincinnati near Owenton, Kentucky. In addition to wine tastings, Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens the Vineyards also features big-name concerts 3400 Vine Street, Cincinnati 45220 (such as the Beach Boys) on its outdoor stage, Tel. 513.281.4700/1.800.94.HIPPO world-class sporting clays, upland bird huntwww.cincinnatizoo.org ing, lodging and event hosting. Over a million people visit the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s award-winning Eric Doepke Landscape Architecture exhibits and its more than 500 animal and Planning Urban Design 3,000 plant species each year. Now, visitors 2712 Erie Avenue, Cincinnati 45208 can also experience the country’s premier Tel. 513.321.1133 example of sustainable, earth-friendly www.EDAeast.com design. Its new entry complex is just one Developers of Merwin Farms, the area’s of many reasons that the Cincinnati Zoo is premier eco-green community, including the greenest zoo in the country. the flagship high performance green timber framed Merwin House. Practicing natural Coldwell Banker West Shell design for 40 years on the Green Path: For office locations and contact info, go to: Gardens, Arboreta, Passive Solar House, www.cbws.com Impact of Development on Watershed, Coldwell Banker West Shell maintains that Town Center Development Strategy, Betts creating a green home will not only increase Longworth Historic District, Sawyer Point. a home’s sustainability, but add value, and Now offering six of the 20, 5-acre home sites suggests contacting any of its agents to at Merwin Farms. find out more about “going green.”

Ferguson Bath Kitchen and Lighting Gallery 11860 Mosteller Road, Cincinnati 45241 Tel. 513.326.2999 www.ferguson.com Your Cincinnati area Ferguson Bath, Kitchen and Lighting Gallery is a great source for Energy Star appliances, plumbing supplies and water fixtures, and energy saving lighting products from leading manufacturers. Ferguson’s trained product consultants make “going green” easy – whether you are building or remodeling a kitchen, bath, or entire home. Geothermal Solutions / Wright Solutions Group Tel. 513.228.4900 www.WrightSolutionsGroup.com Geothermal Solutions is one of greater Cincinnati’s premier geothermal heating and air conditioning companies. Owner Daniel Wright prides himself in that he personally sees each job through from beginning to end and that all work comes with a 100 percent complete satisfaction guarantee. Geothermal Solutions is a WaterFurnace GeoPro master dealer. Gilkey Window Company, Inc. 3625 Hauck Road, Cincinnati 45241 Tel. 513.769.4527 www.gilkey.com For over 30 years, Gilkey has specialized in the custom manufacturing and installation of energy efficient windows and doors. The Sharonville factory and showroom includes interactive displays, multiple product offerings, and friendly staff available to answer questions. Members of the US Green Building Council as well as having LEED certified professionals. Great Traditions Homes 10123 Alliance Road, Cincinnati 45242 Tel. 513.563.4070 www.greattraditionshomes.com An award-winning “green” builder recognized for its unsurpassed quality of lifestyle homes built in neighborhoods with superior amenities. Homes offer open, spacious floor plans, exquisite finishes and details, timeless exteriors with inviting outdoor spaces and customizable options to create a unique, personal home. Green City Resources 5912 Kellogg Avenue, Cincinnati 45230 Tel. 513.383.1071 www.greencityresources.com Green City Resources is a specialty landscaping company, with expertise in design, installation and maintenance of vegetated roofing, bio retention, native landscaping, raingardens, rainwater harvesting and storm water management, both for commercial and residential purposes. H. Hafner & Sons, Inc. 5445 Wooster Pike, Cincinnati 45226 Tel. 513.321.1895 www.hafners.com For the past 87 years, Hafner and Sons have been at the forefront of recycling construction and demolition waste in Cincinnati. In 2009 alone, they diverted over 225,000 tons of material from local landfills. Those reclaimed materials have helped to fuel the local economy in a variety of ways. Hafner and Sons can help you make your next project green.


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Being Green in Cincinnati appreciates the support of our advertising partners who helped make this issue possible. They are listed on these pages in alphabetical order with contact information and noting their current green initiatives, products and services. Your support of these businesses will help us all continue to Go Green! HGC Construction 2814 Stanton Avenue, Cincinnati 45206 Tel. 513.861.8866 www.hgcconstruction.com Founded in 1931, HGC Construction has a very successful track record among Cincinnati-based construction companies, which includes work on many of the region’s most visible architectural landmarks. HGC has gained recognition for green construction projects—both urban renovations and new buildings—last year completing 70% of the LEED Platinum certified projects in Ohio. Jacob Bros. Heating and Air Conditioning 3754 Beechmont Court, Cincinnati 45226 Tel. 513.533.3600 www.jacobbros.com Jacob Bros. sells, services and installs heating and cooling products; including high efficiency geothermal heat pumps, furnaces, air conditioners, boilers and heat pumps. In addition to saving customers money on their heating and cooling costs, Jacob Bros. helps to conserve natural resources and reduce carbon emissions. Jami & Libby–Comey & Shepherd Realtors 2716 Observatory Ave., Cincinnati 45208 Tel. 513.260.9632/513.515.0689 www.jamiandlibby.com Known as the “green team.” Active members of the U.S. Green Building Council, Jami and Libby strongly believe that environmental responsibility in residential real estate is not an option, but a standard of practice. Specializing in re-greening of older homes, LEED certified new construction and sustainable living. Jami and Libby are certified EcoBrokers. John Hueber Homes 526 Wards Corner Road, Loveland 45140 Tel. 513.683.3080 www.johnhueberhomes.com Family operated custom home building company founded in 1987. Specializing in LEED certified and high-end custom homes. With a respect for traditional hands on craftsmanship, functionality, originality, aesthetics and value, the people of John Hueber Homes will personally guide you through every step of the design/build process, tailoring every home to the individual’s lifestyle, and budget. John Senhauser Architects 1118 St. Gregory, Cincinnati 45202 Tel. 513.381.1669 John Senhauser Architects has for the past 30 years been designing buildings that are “nationally celebrated for their craft, durability, wit and poetic vitality.” The company has received more than 50 design awards from builder and architectural organizations. The citations have included the 1999 AIA Ohio Gold Medal Firm award, the 2009 Gold Medal, and twice being named a national winner for the prestigious Sub-Zero & Wolf Kitchen Design award. John Senhauser is the current chair of Cincinnati’s Historic Conservation Board. John Tisdel Fine Appliances 7177 Central Parke Blvd., Mason 45040 Tel. 513.339.0990 www.JohnTisdelFineAppliances.com John Tisdel Fine Appliances is a 6-state distributor for Sub-Zero, Wolf and ASKO appliances. The showroom in Mason is considered one of the finest in the U.S., displaying more than 120 appliances that can be seen by appointment. Sub-Zero and Wolf feature more than 20 appliances that meet Energy Star qualifications.

Kent Bradley Roush Architects 4142 Airport Road, Cincinnati 45226 Tel. 513.321.9242 Husband and wife team, Shannon and Brad Roush have teamed to design homes for some of the biggest names in Cincinnati. They have been featured in both national and Cincinnati-area magazines, and define their style as “fun and eclectic” at a fair price. They can serve on your project from beginning to end, or just in the design phase. Designing “green” is a specialty. Klotter Builders, Inc. Tel. 513.791.0908 Klotter Builders has the distinction of being the first builder in Cincinnati to register a home for the ultimate LEED® Platinum level of certification. Owner Tom Walter has been in business since 1987 and has a long history of craftsmanship and attention to detail. All homes are “built with green in mind.” He employs his own staff of framers, trim carpenters, painters and electricians.

three different businesses in one: national HVAC testing and balancing services for restaurant, retail, supermarket, and hotel chains; the manufacture and sale of the IntelliHood controller; and the design and installation of solar photovoltaic systems. Mercedes-Benz of Cincinnati 8727 Montgomery Road, Cincinnati 45236 Tel. 513.984.9000 www.mercedesbenzofcincinnati.com Top-of-the-line service can be found in this showroom and throughout the lifetime of your vehicle. Making sure that you’re driving experience is a great one, the professional staff at Mercedes-Benz of Cincinnati will help you find a vehicle which fits your specific needs. Check out their green models: The BlueTEC, named the 2007 World Green Car, and their two new hybrids: The S400 and ML450.

Patterned Concrete of Cincinnati 9470 Le Saint Drive, Fairfield 45014 Tel. 513.870.9449 Marsh Window & Door Classics www.patternedconcrete.us 9384 Montgomery Road, Cincinnati 45242 Specializing in installing stamped, colored, Tel. 513.985.0880 stained concrete on patios, pool decks, www.marshbuild.com floors, and countertops. Since 1994, the As the exclusive area distributor of Marvin company has been contributing to the Windows & Doors, Marsh has developed ex- homes, shopping centers, office buildings, pertise in the application of their products in restaurants and streets of Cincinnati. Their LEED projects, energy efficient replacements, sustainable concrete on LEED Certified and new construction. Marvin is one of many Projects can be found at the Cincinnati exterior products available at Marsh Building Zoo, GreenSource Cincinnati and the Boy Products that meet current green industry Scout Achievement Center. Showroom standards. available with over 3,000 square feet of samples on display. McCabe Lumber 118 Northeast Drive, Loveland Perrin March / Coldwell Banker West Shell Tel. 513.683.2662 2721 Erie Ave., Cincinnati (Hyde Park) www.mccabelumber.com Tel. 513.379.2253 Largely heralded as having one of the finest www.perrinmarch.com and largest building and remodeling showPerrin March has been serving as one of rooms in the Midwest, at 15,000 sq. ft., the Cincinnati’s top selling Realtors for nearly 20 locally owned company is perfect for the years, primarily focusing on the eastside. selection making process. The showroom is segmented into uniquely designed vignettes RLT Design to showcase windows, doors, mouldings, 9400 Montgomery Road, Cincinnati 45243 columns, stairs and railings, doorknobs and Tel. 513.312.9631 hardware, fireplace mantels and wall panels. Over 20 years of experience specializing in the Each of the staff averages at least 20 years creation of custom new homes and renovaexperience in the lumber/hardware business. tions. Currently at the forefront on green deMany of its lines of windows, doors and sign, their client-driven creative designs range decking are green certified, and many qualify from traditional and historic to contemporary for tax credits. and modern. An attention to detail and a focus on quality design in both form and function McSwain Carpets & Floors truly transform their houses into homes. 2430 East Kemper Road, Cincinnati 45241 Tel. 513.771.1400 RWA Architects, Inc. www.McSwainCarpets.com 2771 Observatory Ave., Cincinnati 45208 Specializing in carpet, hardwood, laminate, Tel. 513.321.9506 tile and hardwood refinishing and restoration. www.rwaarchitects.com Find that perfect match of flooring based on Specializing in Residential Architecture in your lifestyle, unique fashion tastes, perform- Cincinnati and around the U.S. With six AIA ance needs and budget. Family owned for members and seven LEED A.P.’s, RWA has the 42 years. Currently recycling carpet, cushion, experience in sustainable strategies for your plastic and paper products. Eight retail house project. Call RWA to discuss how they locations, commercial, property management can help you with your next project. and builder divisions. Rookwood Pottery Melink Corporation 1920 Race St., Cincinnati 45202 5140 River Valley Road, Milford 45150 Tel. 513.381.2510 Tel. 513.965.7300 www.rookwood.com www.melinkcorp.com Now celebrating 130 years in business with a Founded in 1987, the Melink Corporation is brand known worldwide, Rookwood Pottery is committed to the principles of sustainability, under new ownership and operating within a conservation and energy efficiency. Having re- warehouse in Over-the-Rhine. They still have cently received LEED Platinum status at their about 3,700 of the original molds and the forheadquarters in Milford, OH, Melink Co. is mulas for more than 5,000 glazes. Owner Chris

Rose has assembled a staff with a collective 320 years of experience. The primary focus currently is on architectural tile, but cremation urns and art pottery are soon coming on line. Rumpke Consolidated Companies Inc. 10795 Hughes Road, Cincinnati 45251 Tel. 1.800.582.3107 www.rumpke.com Rumpke has been committed to keeping neighborhoods and businesses clean and green since 1932 by providing environmentally friendly waste disposal solutions. Headquartered in Colerain Township, Ohio, just outside of Cincinnati, Rumpke is one of the nation’s largest privately owned residential and commercial waste recycling firms. smart center Cincinnati 9847 Kings Automall Dr., Cincinnati 45249 Tel.513.697.6600 www.smartcentercincinnati.com smart center Cincinnati is the exclusive dealer for all smart cars in the Cincinnati, Dayton and Northern Kentucky areas. The smart fortwo is the most fuel efficient gas powered engine on the market today (est. 41 mpg hwy). The smart fortwo is 95% recyclable and is listed as the “Best Bang for Your Buck” on Cars.com Green Buying Guide. Stewart & Jervis Builders, Inc. 4410 Brazee Street, Cincinnati 45209 Tel. 513.531.7676. Artisan home builders with more than 35 years experience, and the successful completion of LEED certified homes. Switch Lighting & Design 1207 Vine Street, Cincinnati 45202 Tel. 513.721.8100 www.Switchcollection.com Switch Lighting and Design has a fine collection of modern architectural lighting and design. If it’s in the leading design magazines, you can find it here: Artemide, Fabbian, Tango, Axo, Tech Lighting, LBL, David Trubridge, Fontana Arte, Vibia and other international makers. Switch designs and delivers throughout North America – and to your home or office. Third Sun Solar and Wind Power 340 West State Street, Athens, Ohio 45701 Tel. 1.877.OWN.SOLAR. www.third-sun.com Third Sun is a full service solar power design and installation firm, with extensive experience in Greater Cincinnati. They work with commercial, institutional and residential customers in Ohio and surrounding states. Third Sun’s highly qualified solar design and installation team includes degreed engineers, a LEED AP and nationally certified solar installers. Verbarg’s Furniture & Design 8155 Montgomery Road, Cincinnati Tel. 513.794.1555 www.VerbargsFurniture.com Verbarg’s Furniture is family owned and operated. Harold and Shirley Verbarg founded the store in 1978 and today their five daughters manage the operations. Brand names carried by the store include Harden, Sherrill, Durham, Hancock & Moore, Henkel Harris, and one that is particularly green focused, Stickley. In addition to their primary showroom in Kenwood, they also own an outlet store in Amelia.

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Coming soon

Couch use courtesy of Malton Gallery, Hyde Park

to your home ‌

Fun with

Brad

& Shanno n Kent Bradley Roush | Architects Kent Bradley Roush and Shannon Lowe Roush 4142 Airport Road 3rd Floor, Suite 3 Cincinnati, Ohio 45226 513.321.9242


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SPECIALIZING IN RESIDENTIAL PROJECTS, Kent Bradley Roush Architects is a husband and wife team. Brad and Shannon share a love for great architecture, especially the fun in creating it along with welcomed input from clients who share their zeal.Their client list reads like a Who’sWho in Cincinnati and their projects range from large estates to simple additions. The couple pride themselves in designing solutions that stay in style, with technical detailing necessary to get the job done in the best way possible. Depending on your budget, they can do the design and detailing only, or be on site as needed all the way through. If building green is your plan they can either get you started or help make your home the most environmentally friendly in the neighborhood.The only surprise you should expect to get from them is a design you will be proud to own, and a fair price. Kent Bradley Roush Architects’ work has been featured in several national magazines, as well as Cincinnati’s Best Magazine, The Cincinnati Enquirer and Housetrends. Call for a no-cost consultation and let them show you the list of others who have trusted their lust for creativity.

★★★★★ U P C L OS E A N D P ER S ON A L "We thoroughly enjoyed designing and realizing our home remodel with Brad and Shannon. They were fantastic about listening to our ideas, working with us collaboratively, and incorporating elements to make our home our preferred place to be." – Tim and Mary Lou Holt

★★★★★ DR EA M CAT C H ER "Brad and Shannon's vision for our house made it all possible and it fits our lifestyle to a T. We feel that Shannon and Brad really listened to what we wanted and how we lived. We just love the design." – Jim and Liz Niehaus

★★★★★ FA S T & F U R IOU S “Nothing drags a new home project down like having to wait for the first draft. Brad and Shannon struck a nerve with us at the first meeting.They listened, they added their thoughts and a short time later returned with a design that was on-target from the get-go.” – Marianne and Doug Sandhage

★★★★★ EA S Y L IV IN G “Architecture puts the art in home design but Kent Bradley Roush Architects puts life and excitement in the home.” – Julie K. Back, Executive Sales Vice President, Sibcy Cline Hyde Park


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GREEN IN THE WORKPL ACE

construction

leftovers repurposed

S t or y by Dou g & J a s o n S a n dh a g e / P h o t o s by C at hy & Ma rk Lyon s

E

ver wonder how thousands of years from now, as archeologists and geologists probe the remains of our generation, they will be able to figure out what was original to the space and what was imported? Nothing will be in its rightful place. For example, if they dig where my house once stood they’ll find fireplace rocks from Utah, boards from Brazil, maybe the volcanic rock I brought back from New Mexico. Unless of course these items got recycled to another location. Those were my first thoughts as I toured HGC Construction in Clifton. My second thought was: It would be great to work here. More on that later. The company, founded in 1931, specializes in commercial construction work and is considered among the top “go-to” firms in the city. Over the years many of the firm’s projects required removing all or part of a building already on a lot. HGC founder Richard J. Huseman would keep some of the teardown items and would store them in one of the company’s inventory bins until somebody needed it on a new job. Some of the hodgepodge of items were long forgotten as they were moved to the back of the supply chain. At least until a few years ago. During a restructuring of the company three years ago, it was decided that a 8,400 sq. ft., 1903-built HGC headquar-

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ters building – which was essentially a brick shell – needed to be remodeled to house the folks who do most of the creative or corporate work for the company. GBBN, a Cincinnati architectural design firm, was hired to plan the space arrangements, but HGC Senior Project Manager Greg Warner was assigned the actual building and design tasks. Because it was the “green” thing to do and because it was a “cost savings venture,” the HGC staff decided to search all of the storage bins to see what items could be used in the remodel. Warner salvaged all sorts of bits and pieces from buildings past to be used as bits and pieces for the future. It was a case of recycling without having to go to a middleman first, combined with the use of other products regarded as more sustainable. For example: • The second floor came from stadium bleachers where tens of thousands of students once sat at Hughes High School. Another of the floors came from remnants leftover from the renovation of the Contemporary Arts Center. • A metal spiral staircase, also reclaimed from Hughes, now serves as a transport between floors. • The concrete countertop in the company kitchen came from, simple answer, a concrete company (poured in a mold made by HGC’s own carpenters). Concrete is a more sustainable product since it comes from readily available limestone.


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The “concrete bar” in the company kitchen came from – simple answer – a concrete company (poured in a mold made by the company’s own carpenters). Concrete is a more sustainable product since it comes from readily available limestone. HGC Marketing Coordinator Dawn Bardone is in the foreground; also pictured is Tony Akers, a project manager at HGC.


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• The carpet squares used in various hallways and offices came from pieces removed during a renovation of a Procter & Gamble building. • The tin ceiling in one of the offices came from the renovation of the Showboat Majestic. • A beautifully finished mahogany conference room table came as a byproduct of the veneer process. In other words, it would have been trashed had it not been salvaged. • Redwood wallboards used throughout the building are the leftovers from a Mt. Adams condominium project. • Lyptus wood was used throughout as a countertop trim. Knowing that it comes from Brazil might cause hard-core greeners to grimace, but, says Warner, it is one of the most sustainable woods on the planet, able to be re-harvested within 15 years. • A beautifully designed arched back-door entry came from the now long-gone Alexander McDonald House in Clifton. HGC founder Richard Huseman salvaged it in 1961. It had been kept in a storage bin since. • The exterior windows were replaced with thermo-panes to increase energy efficiency, and some of the others came when HGC renovated College Hill Fundamental Academy. This is a story about being green in the workplace. And why not? Being green is a lifestyle choice that can be practiced at home, at work, in your free time – even when, and how, you choose your food to eat. For employers, there are dozens of studies that show workers in a green environment are more productive, and more creative. About 25 employees now work in this eclectic-looking interior. While there are a few rooms with doors, and cubicles are made of artfully arranged two-by-fours and desks of recycled particleboard, the workspace is free range. You could throw a basketball across some of the spaces and not hit anything. But most notable are not the found objects that Greg Warner discovered in his search to design this place, but the looks on the faces of those who work here. They are mostly young. They are mostly happy, friendly faces. They are guys and gals who would not be comfortable in a four-square building with whitewashed walls, industrialstrength carpet, and look-a-like desks. Heck, they aren’t even comfortable drinking from plastic cups from the water cooler; it’s glass cups, real silverware, or nothing. In a way, the place looks sort of Disneyland-ish – where imagineers went wild. The really fun part is that you’re looking at a bit of Cincinnati history all around you. If the walls could talk, oh what they could say! A significant intent of the remodel, says Warner, was that the environment needed to be like a think tank. “We are trying to change people’s thinking,” he adds, meaning both the staff and HGC customers. If you are sitting on one of the stools in the kitchen area, it is convenient to allow your mind

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to wander. It would be easy to sign a construction contract with this firm because you can see, touch, smell the creativity. There is proof that it works. “Our customers walk in and see that we are doing what we talk about. It’s a big plus,” says Mike Huseman, 45, a grandson of the founder, and now president and one of the five owners of the firm. Sales in 2009 jumped 48 percent to $43 million according to a recent story in the Cincinnati Business Courier. About 30 percent of the total revenue came from projects that emphasized sustainable building products. “If there’s a public green project, we know how to source it. Now that we’ve got that learning done, that’s a big advantage,” Huseman was quoted as saying. Last year, these projects included a renovation of the downtown headquarters for Scripps Networks Interactive, Inc., construction of the Lofts at Mottainai in Over-theRhine, and the new $3.5 million entry village at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. The village, which was awarded LEED® Platinum certification, used an oldgrowth burr oak tree, removed during the renovation, to mill 1,800 board feet of lumber to be made into benches and counters. The zoo job is only the last of dozens that HGC has performed at the facility during the last 50+ years of their working together. With four LEED certified projects within its confines, the Cincinnati Zoo is known by many as “the greenest in the nation.” Mike Huseman, in a recent guest blog on www.soapboxmedia.com says that one of his first jobs as a teenager with his father’s company was to pull nails out of old studs that could be reused for concrete forms. He added: “It was an old-school approach to construction, but that thrifty attitude still works well today. Midwestern values rooted in a German heritage tell us not to waste. We value the energy and effort spent in making something well: Why would we want to toss it? So, we look for new uses for old things. If we remove an old window in an historic building to replace it with a Low-E double-glazed window, we work harder not to throw away the old window. We re-use it.” Opposite page, [1-2] What once saw the eyes, feet and rears of tens of thousands of students at Hughes High School are now front-andcenter at HGC headquarters in Clifton. One is a spiral staircase; the other is hardwood flooring that came from the gym bleachers following a renovation at the school. [3] A beautifully finished one-of-a-kind mahogany conference room table was made from a byproduct of the veneer process. In other words, it would have been trashed had it not been salvaged. [4] Salvaged in 1961 by HGC founder Richard Huseman during demolition by his company of what was the Alexander McDonald mansion, these recycled doors are great eye-openers for visitors to the Clifton-based company. [5] The exterior windows at HGC were replaced with thermo-panes to increase energy efficiency, and others came from when the company renovated the College Hill Fundamental Academy.


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Above: The redwood on the walls of HGC Construction was salvaged from a notable Mt. Adams condominium project. Left: A tin ceiling salvaged following the renovation of the historical Showboat Majestic now adorns an office at HGC Construction

In another blog, Huseman lists four steps companies like his can take to build their green business in this changing economy: Know green. Building green is everyone’s responsibility. Embrace urban. Uptown, downtown, Over-the-Rhine, Covington, Newport. These are the neighborhoods of the new economy. If you’re still looking out past King’s Island, you’re missing the show. Work harder. Re-using the old is creatively challenging. It’s harder to salvage trim, to save window frames, to renovate while preserving the building’s value. Get experience. How do you budget for unforeseen complications in working with an old building? Experience teaches you how. Adds Huseman: “I can tell you that, after our company has completed a number of LEED projects in the past 18 months, including two that earned the highest LEED Platinum certification – that the revolution is real. It’s here to say. Be frugal, be cool. Engage in the future.” 

cincinnati


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Where does an 800-pound gorilla sit? In his natural habitat if this 8-year old kid has his way T H E H O E W E L E RS O F G L E N DA LE Story by Lindsay Kottmann / Photo by Jason Sandhage

M

acallan Hoeweler, 8, returned from soccer practice one day last year with a special announcement for his parents. “I want to do something to help people or animals,” he said. “Mac” probably couldn’t have guessed that this initial gesture would spark an inspiration that spread through his school and then community, keeping thousands of cell phones out of the trash and saving gorilla habitat in the process. Asked what prompted his impulse that day, Mac, a relatively quiet kid with a helmet of blond hair, simply reiterates that he wanted to “help out.” But his mother, Rhiannon Hoeweler, knows a few things that may have influenced him. Rhiannon herself has been into conservation long before it was the vogue – her undergraduate and graduate degrees are in environmental science. The rest of us may have recently started bringing reusable bags to the grocery store, but she’s been doing it since Mac was a baby. And she always makes a point of explaining her eco-friendly efforts to her son, whether it’s the family’s hybrid cars, their aversion to lawn chemicals, or the “green” driveway at their Glendale home (just two strips of concrete and pavers near the garage instead of the typical blanket of pavement). And, she has always emphasized the importance of giving back to the community. So when Mac made his announcement that day, Hoeweler and her husband were more than happy to put together a list of projects that Mac might want to pursue. One of the suggestions on the list was to support the Cincinnati Zoo’s cell phone recycling program. Coltan, a rare



cincinnati

ore used in cell phones, is mined in gorilla habitat in Africa, and recycling phones reduces the demand for it. The Zoo sends collected phones to Eco-Cell, a Louisville-based company, and Eco-Cell pays the Zoo based on the phones’ re-use value. That money supports the Zoo’s Conservation Fund, which supports gorilla field conservation projects. Mac loved spending time at the Zoo, where his mom works as a project coordinator for its visitor engagement initiative. He decided that the cell phone recycling project was the one for him. Terrence Malone, director of the Lower School at Summit Country Day, received a typed letter from Mac, a second grader, requesting that Summit host a cell phone recycling bin. Malone called Mac into his office for more information and was impressed when the second-grader explained the connection of cell phones to vanishing habitat. “I thought this was quite cool for a little kid to come up and talk to me about this,” he said. Yes, the school could collect phones, Malone told Mac. But he didn’t want to stop there. Malone decided it was a perfect idea for a service learning project. Throughout the school year, Mac and 20 other students researched the benefits of cell phone recycling, constructed bins to collect phones, and worked with their parents to place the bins throughout the community. They also created colorful posters promoting cell phone recycling and made a video explaining their project. (Mac was the star, sporting a khaki safari hat with his school uniform, and Malone dressed up in a gorilla costume.)


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As a result, the school collected 396 cell phones, which the kids dropped off at the Zoo as part of an educational field trip. The effort has since reached beyond the school. Local companies such as Gorilla Glue, ThyssenKrupp, Park + Vine and Urban Sites are supporting the project. In April, nearly all of the Starbucks Coffee locations in the Cincinnati area participated in a contest to see which store could collect the most phones, and one location even displayed the Summit students’ posters. Mac got to be featured in a video with Zoo Director Thane Maynard and the Bengals’ Dhani Jones promoting the program (you can see the video at www.cincinnatizoo.org/ earth/cellphone_recycling.html). The effort continues: Hoeweler has been approached by students from McAuley High School and Indian Hill High School who also want to help collect phones, and she continues to build partnerships with community organizations. She says the Zoo has collected more than 2,000 cell phones this year, already their biggest annual collection by far since the program began in 2006.

Mac isn’t sure if he’ll continue to push the cell phone program at his school next year or try to start another project to help animals. When he’s older, he says, he might want to work at the Zoo. (That, or be a professional soccer player.) But until then, he still enjoys visiting the gorilla exhibit, where he knows the animals by name. It’s nice to watch them, he says, and think about how he and his friends have helped their relatives in the wild. Here are a few ways the Hoewelers stay green at home. They: • “Recycle like crazy” • Purchase, when possible, carbon offsets for their travel • Use a tankless water heater, which uses less energy • Drive hybrid cars • Avoid using chemicals on their lawn • Recycle dry cleaning bags as trash can liners • Grow their own herbs • Use rain barrels to capture and use runoff water

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trash > trash > trash > trash > trash > trash > trash > trash >

on the trail of

trash St or y by Ja s on Sa n dh a ge

T

rash has a bad reputation. It can be stinky, grimy, odd and disgusting, bursting out of a 30-gallon plastic bag just begging to be dragged to the curb. Years ago, we didn’t give it a second thought, but with today’s overburdened landfills and ecological concerns, we can no longer simply move the trash as far away as possible. Your trash, garbage and throwaways embark on a journey as soon as they leave your home. How that journey ends is largely up to the decisions you make. Toss your paper, plastic, glass and certain other materials into the recycle bin and they have a good shot at everlasting life. Make a different decision, and the landfill becomes the final resting place. Trash meets more trash and it just stays there forever. We are taking you along on this fascinating journey, showing you where and how your garbage gets new life. Have you ever wondered how plastic is separated from glass and sent on its way to becoming new packaging or products that will end up on the shelves once again? Have you seen the different garbage trucks methodically making their way through your neighborhood and wondered where they take their loads at the end of the day? In the pages that follow, learn about the innovative RecycleBank program in Montgomery, where families earn points based on the volume of material they place in curbside trash receptacles. Meet a family that recycles to get a sense of why

they do it and how it feels to be making a difference. Rumpke graciously allowed us to tag along with their collection vehicles to see and experience their operations firsthand. At dawn, we rode the suburban streets of Montgomery in a truck with a highly professional, personable driver. At the end of the day, we finished our collections, taking our full load to the Rumpke facility. This building is a glorious place of garbage purgatory. It’s a mere pit stop of automation and technology, with limited manual intervention, where the sorting, separating and sending takes place so our trash can get on its way to meet a different, better fate. Hold your nose. It’s still stinky, but this trash is special. Rumpke, our communities, and individual families are committed to supporting the education, programs and facilities that can recover much of our waste, rather than simply burying it. In our daily lives, we have all sorts of choices. We can put that old bookcase to the curb for the next trash day or we can donate it to a local thrift store. We can buy recycled and recyclable goods on our shopping trips, using our own bags at check-out rather than the store’s plastic variety. Table scraps and yard waste can be composted and used to enrich the soil. Our trash can travel in different, better directions. Let’s follow it through its journey.

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trash > trash > trash > trash > trash > trash > trash > trash > trash > trash

my recycle bin is fuller than yours THE K E I THS O F M O N TG O M E RY



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here’s no reason to put something in the landfill when you have a better alternative,” says Jodi Keith. She and her family are part of Montgomery’s green team, an army of citizens who care enough not to clog the landfills with extra mounds of recyclable rubbish. Jodi, her husband Jonathan and their son and daughter, Dan and Marjorie, make separating and sorting the family’s waste, from food packaging to paper goods, an automatic part of their daily routine. Doing the right thing with plastic, glass and paper does not begin to tell their story, however. It’s all about reducing, recycling and reusing. The Keith’s’ attractive, brick suburban home features kitchen chairs that were once used at Montgomery Elementary School, purchased during a remodel of the facility. The fireplace mantle was fashioned from a tree on their property that had to be cut down to make way for their home. Today, the Keiths toss more than a third of their waste into the recycling bin each week. Their recycling commitment is so well known that friends sometimes request their expertise and help with specific items. Add their composting activities to the equation and about half of the family’s waste is put back to good use. Oscar the Grouch is a popular Sesame Street character who loves trash. If he visited Montgomery today, he would likely be shaking a tiny green finger at the city, since it has been producing less and less trash in recent years. Oscar has every right to blame Rumpke for updating its recycling facility, allowing it to process more items at a much faster rate. Oscar could equally blame RecycleBank for providing desirable incentives in the form of points to be redeemed at local establishments. However, for Oscar to get to the root of the

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situation, he need look no further than the residents of Montgomery, for without their commitment neither the program nor the facility would work as efficiently. The Keiths are a typical suburban family. They’ve made Montgomery their home for more than a dozen years. Jonathan works in technical sales at Microsoft and Jodi is employed part-time with Kenwood’s Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. Her full-time job, she explains, is taking care of the kids. Marjorie is a sophomore at Sycamore high school and Dan will attend Ohio University in the fall. The family embraced recycling long before the 2008 launch of RecycleBank in Montgomery. For them, going green is now a lifestyle. Across the country, landfills are filling up with trash that could have been transformed into new products, much like the paper in this magazine. Once it’s in the landfill, it stays there, so the idea is to put trash on a path to becoming something else. Today, Rumpke is making great strides in educating the public about what can be recycled and how easy it is to prepare it. With the new technology in its updated facility, Rumpke can separate and process more material than before with greater speed and accuracy. When families like the Keiths do their part, Rumpke can help make a huge difference. Families, too, can make a difference with just one step at a time. One of the Keith family’s favorite spots to cash in on their environmental goodwill is Stone Creek Dining Company in Montgomery, where they purchase some of their favorite drinks with $20 coupons they receive from the RecycleBank program. Something they would do anyway is now paying off in a new, unexpected way. And it’s catching on.


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Photo by Jason Sandhage

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recycle bank program rewards green customers

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urbside recycling is nothing new, but the RecycleBank program in Montgomery adds a unique twist that provides households with extra incentives beyond a commitment to a green lifestyle. Residents of participating communities can earn significant rewards just for making smart decisions about how they dispose of their everyday waste. With its unique business model, RecycleBank tracks how much residents recycle, providing rewards in the form of coupons and discounts to more than 1,500 national and local retailers. The City of Montgomery has rewarded its green customers with RecycleBank perks since October 2008. The city partners with Rumpke Recycling, the Hamilton County Solid Waste Management District and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to make the program available to residents. Significantly, RecycleBank owns no special facilities and requires no extra effort from its participants. The company provides residents with an oversized, 64-gallon trash cart imbedded with a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip. This chip is used to calculate the weight of your recycling bin and that information is sent wirelessly to your online account and converted into points. Much like a bank statement, all the participant needs to do is log-on to recyclebank.com to watch the points accumulate. A great feature about the points is the inclusion of neighborhood retailers as well as national, well-known companies. Need a trip to the salon? How about a new putter? Just dip into your points. For those who want to continue giving back to the community, points can be donated to schools and charities. There’s truly something for everyone. But what’s in it for the recycling company?



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Reduced tonnage of solid waste going into the landfill while increasing the amount of items recycled is the goal. At the time of the RecycleBank launch, Steve Sargent, Rumpke’s Recycling Director said, “RecycleBank has had great success in other regions of the U.S., and we hope to see similar results here in Ohio.” About a year and a half later the statistics are impressive. On its municipal website, the City of Montgomery points out that residents have met the goal, pointing to a three-year comparison that shows an increase in both waste and recycling tonnage. Looking at results for 2008-09, the website notes that, “Montgomery residents have increased the amount of items they recycle by 72% compared to the same period in 2006-2007. During that same period, residents reduced the amount of trash going into the landfill by about 25%.” The City of Cincinnati is getting onboard and currently expects to start rolling out the RecycleBank program in 2010, with carts capable of holding up to 96 gallons. Cincinnati’s cart distribution will be carried out in phases, with the containers eventually delivered to 140,000 households throughout the city. In order to handle the increase in recycling, as well as the ability to accept more types of items, Rumpke has invested $6 million into the renovation of its Cincinnati facility. What began as an idea has quickly become one of the most successful recycling ventures since, well, the introduction of recycling itself. The company says one million people in 20 states are participating now. In the future, watch for RecycleBank to expand its reach into even more areas. To find out more, check out this video: www.corporate.recyclebank.com/press


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Rumpke: the pick-up

Photo by Jason Sandhage

At 6 a.m. on Friday, April 16, I was waiting in the dark at the Pfeiffer Rd. exit off I-71, ready for some manual labor. Right on time, my co-worker for the morning arrived. Don Ison is an energetic, friendly guy who has worked for Rumpke for three years. Don operates a recycling truck that travels the carefully tended streets of Montgomery, where the RecycleBank program is helping to create a greener community. The neighborhood was still and quiet as we made our way to the end of a cul-de-sac where I would begin my day as a recycling truck pick-up man. As we drove, Don shared various de-

Don Ison

tails about the duties of the job, how the truck works and the camaraderie of Rumpke co-workers. On days like this, being a pick-up man is systematic and pleasant. Only during harsh weather does it get tricky, due to huge drifts of snow and ice plowed over curbs and other unpleasantries of nature. Rumpke Recycling services more than 200,000 homes and businesses throughout the Greater Cincinnati area every week through curbside, commercial and drop box collection. On this day, I would learn about collection first-hand and help get the recyclables delivered to Rumpke’s impressive, upgraded facility. As I climbed into the truck, I noticed a small video display showing the back of the vehicle. For safety reasons, the display makes

it possible to keep a watchful eye on the back of the truck. Don stopped at the first recycling container we spotted at the end of a driveway, noting that the routine is the same for each household. Don emerges from the vehicle and rolls the container to an arm-like mechanism on the side of the truck. The arm lifts the container and it is immediately weighed. Because each container is equipped with a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag, the technology immediately connects to the participant’s RecycleBank account. The container, itself, weighs around 36 lbs. and after that weight is subtracted, the weight of the contents is determined. That information is wirelessly sent to the resident’s account at www.recyclebank.com. Based on weight, the resident accumulates points in the account that can be used to make purchases at local and national retail establishments. Additionally, each container includes the address of the resident, making it easy to ensure that the right containers end up at the right homes. On this day, Don and I traveled from house to house, stopping only at those with a recycling container at the curb. It appeared to me that three out of every four homes had their containers out for pickup. Before I knew it, the sun was emerging, traffic was picking up and the day was flying by. On the same route that we were working, other Rumpke trucks were busy with their runs, as well. At various intervals, we passed trucks collecting compost (organic waste from yards) and regular trash trucks. Don generally works from 6 a.m. until about 5 p.m. on this route through Montgomery. At the end of his shift, he makes one stop at the Rumpke facility in St. Bernard, a newly outfitted and innovative building that uses technology to efficiently handle the sorting process. At the facility, Don’s entire truck was weighed. He then navigated to the landing area where his truck’s recyclable material was off-loaded to the conveyor belt, ready for the next leg of the journey.

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S TE WART & J E RVI S Building classic homes in Cincinnati’s finest neighborhoods for more than 25 years

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hether it’s on a lot you’ve chosen or one we have available to us,

you can be sure that we will carefully consider the impact on the neighborhood and the environment in the design and construction of your new home. Stewart & Jervis will work together with you and an architect of your choosing to design and specify a home that fits your needs and is compatible with other homes in your new neighborhood. A classic home of enduring value is one that doesn’t “scream new home.” Stewart & Jervis will assist you in choosing the right top line brand products which will provide years of service and energy efficiency. Names like Sub-Zero refrigeration, Wolf cooking appliances, Marvin Windows and Doors, and Kohler plumbing products, to name a few. Quality construction, top line brands, sensitivity to your needs, the environment and the demands of the site...it’s the way we do business. Stewart & Jervis has a proven track record for LEED certified new construction. Ask us about the City of Cincinnati’s 15 year tax abatement program for LEED certified construction that can save thousands of property tax dollars. Call us for a consultation and we’ll share with you our list of satisfied customers and discuss how your new home can become a Stewart & Jervis Classic.

– Joe Stewart and Dan Jervis

Ste wart & Jervis builders 4410 Brazee Street • Oakley 513.531.7676


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Rumpke: the drop-o≠

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perating since 1932, Rumpke Consolidated has a long and impressive history both in environmental and community involvement. Who hasn’t heard of Rumpke Ballpark? And

did you know that the firm was involved in recycling efforts long before the mainstream movement gained momentum? Rumpke, headquartered in Cincinnati, is one of the nation’s largest privately owned residential and commercial waste and recycling firms, providing service to areas of Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and West Virginia. Today, the company’s recycling plant in St. Bernard is getting national attention with its new and impressive capabilities that place it among the most efficient and effective operations in the U.S. The facility is noteworthy for a variety of reasons. Using impressive technology, it is designed to separate the mixed stream of recyclables (papers, glass, plastics and metals) collected from residential curbside, commercial and drop box collection, eliminating the need for customers to separate these items themselves. The system also produces a high quality mix of materials appropriate for marketing to vendors. Upgraded in 2009 with $6 million worth of improvements, the Rumpke facility uses computerized systems that keep tabs on speed and efficiency in real time. Here’s how it works: Once recyclables are collected, the materials begin their swift journey on a conveyor through a presort area where trash, cardboard and municipal scrap are removed by hand. Items then fall on two large, upward-sloping screens, each with areas that have more than 210 rubber discs, called shafts. The shafts rotate at a high rate of speed as the rubber discs sort the materials according to size to determine which direction each item should take. The discs carry paper items upward to another conveyor for further manual sorting. The rigid containers fall back on the conveyor and are carried to another area for sorting. As the single stream of trash runs through the system, technology is able to detect and handle a wide variety of recyclable items. Optical sorting capabilities focus on the stream of trash, ensuring that materials are identified and corralled appropriately. Cincinnati’s Rumpke facility is one of just 24 plants in the U.S. to use this impressive TiTech Optical Sorting Scanners technology.



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The new system has proven to be more efficient and productive than its predecessor, able to increase processing from 14 tons per hour with the old system to 28 tons per hour. Not all plastics are the same and who would expect busy residents to sort and separate them all? Within the Rumpke facility, technology supports more precise processing of plastics, along with an increase in glass recovery from 600 to 1,000 tons a month. The new system can recover 97% of all materials, compared to 93% prior to the upgrades. According to Waste Business Journal, the industry average is 90%. More than 100,000 tons of processed materials are shipped from this recycling center each year to vendors – local to international – who use the materials and give them new life. Today, Rumpke currently accepts these items for recycling: • Plastic bottles and jugs (no lids) • Aluminum cans and steel food, soup or drink cans • Empty aerosol cans with lids and tips removed • Glass bottles and jars • Paper bags • Computer paper and other mixed office paper • Corrugated cardboard, broken down to 3 x 3’ size • Envelopes with or without windows • Junk mail • Magazines • Telephone books • Newspapers with inserts • Paperboard, such as cereal boxes Rumpke has proven that the primary challenge in recycling is not in the technology of sorting and processing, but in the task of educating the public. By some estimates, 60% of waste currently ending up in the landfill could have been recycled if people had just taken the time to put the items into a cart for curbside pick-up. Modern recycling technology is accurate and efficient, allowing residents to quickly and easily prepare their trash for pick-up. These days, being green takes much less time and effort. For more information, please visit www.rumpkerecycling.com


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eating green means more than diving in to a head of lettuce Geddes Local 127 Local 127 executive chef Steven Geddes says his menu lists the sources for all of the food that the restaurant serves. Some if comes from a garden in Over-the-Rhine that the staff tends just a few blocks from the restaurant.

Story by Lindsay Kottmann / Photos by Jason Sandhage

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iving into a delicious pile of chicken fingers isn’t as easy as it used to be. As we become increasingly aware of our impact on the environment, we may also hesitate more often before meals, wondering: Did this chicken lead a happy life? Where did it live? How did the way it was raised, processed and shipped consume energy and produce waste? Whether you’re trying to support energy-efficient food production or trying to avoid indirectly ingesting steroids, hormones or pesticides, there are plenty of factors to consider if you want to apply green standards to your dining. Trying to stay informed on which species and products to eat can be a job in itself. Thankfully, many local restaurants research all the details on where their food comes from and do their best to eliminate waste in their operations.

Farm to Table: A Short Trip Today’s green restaurants strive to obtain the food for their cuisine as locally as possible. Why? “Number one, because it tastes better,” says Todd Hudson, owner and chef of The Wildflower Café and Coffee House in Mason. Meals prepared with processed or frozen food aren’t as tasty as those made with fresh ingredients – perhaps that’s no surprise. But locally grown food also takes much less energy to produce, because it doesn’t require being frozen or shipped over hundreds or thousands of miles. Plus, fresher food is healthier, because food begins to lose nutritional value as it ages, Hudson says.

Wildflower gets all its meat and dairy products from local farms, and Hudson’s goal is to source as many products as possible locally. “People are eating hamburgers all the time, and they don’t know if they came from China or Vietnam or the farm next door,” he says. But that’s changing. Wildflower encourages its diners to ask where their food came from and how it got on their plate, and they often do. Such inquiring diners may even find that some of their food comes from gardens on the restaurant’s own property. Steven Geddes, executive chef at Local 127 downtown, says that the restaurant is named after its address, which is the starting point for all its sourcing. Local 127 harvests herbs, tomatoes, spring lettuces, peppers, beets, turnips, peas and more from a garden just blocks away in Over-the-Rhine. The rest, it purchases from selected local farms, which are listed on its menu. At Virgil’s Café in Bellevue, the roof was built to support a garden that the restaurant uses to grow various plants such as basil and arugula, says owner Matt Buschle. Besides the freshness and energysaving benefits of the roof garden, Buschle hopes that it will also help keep the building cool, saving even more energy.

Raised the Natural Way Sourcing from local, independent farms also tends to yield food that is organic and better for the environment, Geddes says. “Most smaller farmers are very hands-on and are doing it because they want to protect our food chain,” he adds. Local 127 seeks out better tasting, higher quality breeds and species that are less common because they’re not conducive to mass Continued on page 124

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rolling out the barrels ANDREA BOOTH AND JASON STIVERS OF SYCAMORE TOWNSHIP Story and photo by Michelle Crawley

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any people talk the talk when it comes to conservation, but Jason Stivers and Andrea Booth actually walk the walk. Well, to be honest, Jason is a runner – so you may say he’s running with any ideas he has about preserving the environment. For the past five years, they have been saving one of our most precious resources by harvesting the rainwater runoff from the rooftop of their Sycamore Township home. They divert it into rain barrels and then to the gardens that they have lovingly cultivated from scratch during the 10 years they’ve lived here. Rain barrels are large containers that capture rainwater at the bottom of a downspout. Jason has linked the downspouts at the back of their home with two rain barrels, which together accumulate and store about 100 gallons of rainwater. When the barrels are full, the couple can water their entire backyard. It’s estimated that during the hot summer months, the average homeowner uses 40 percent of their household water in the yard, according to Paul James, host of HGTV’s “Gardening by the Yard.” This strains water supplies and costs money. Andrea and Jason decided that collecting rainwater would be another great way to recycle. “One year I saw a rain barrel in a catalog and asked my mother– in-law to give it to us for Christmas. At that point we were already collecting water in buckets in the shower and dumping that in the yard, so this seemed like a natural extension of that,” says Andrea.

CANS FOR SHOES, AND MUCH MORE In most all aspects of their life, Andrea and Jason practice “being green.” Here are some examples: • Last year they began making compost outside, using a bin purchased from Lowe’s. • Inside, they practice Bokashi composting, a high-speed composting process developed in Japan. Conventional composting relies on oxygen-fed organisms to break down organic material. Bokashi uses different kinds of microbes that thrive without oxygen. They decompose organic matter through an anaerobic process. To make bokashi you need a couple of big containers with tightfitting lids (to keep the oxygen out), some kitchen scraps, and Bokashi mix. The mix contains wheat bran, molasses, and efficient microorganisms that drive the process. The couple says this is an easy way to compost in winter. • Only five percent of the plants and trees found in their garden were purchased – the rest have been divided and shared from family and friends. The couple, in turn, passes on divided perennials to others. “You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a pretty yard,” says Andrea.



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Rain is free, and rain barrels can fill in a matter of minutes in a rainstorm. A 60-gallon rain barrel can fill in less than .25-inches of rainfall (depending on the size of the roof and gutter system). By linking two or three barrels together, one can save up to 180 gallons of precious rainwater. “It really takes no time to fill the barrels when it’s raining,” says Jason. “And any overflow goes through the soaker hoses into the planting beds. It’s fun to water the garden without turning on the faucet from the house.” The couple’s smaller rain barrel has a soaker hose connected to it, which runs to some of their flowerbeds in the back yard. They hook a hose to the larger rain barrel to water plants, or use its spigot to fill watering cans. Typically, the couple can water all of their perennials in the yard with one barrel. It takes a day or two of watering to empty the larger barrel. During periods of drought in late summer, they may use up the water in the barrels and have to resort to using the spigot and regular water – but this is the exception rather than the rule. The couple says that collecting rainwater in barrels and collecting the greywater in the tub and shower is perfectly healthy for plants. (Greywater is a term used for wastewater generated from domestic activities such as laundry, dishwashing, and bathing which can be recycled on-site for uses such as landscape irrigation. This In addition, they: • Plant a lot of vegetables like tomatoes, peppers and herbs. • Water houseplants with glasses of water left sitting out, instead of dumping the water down the drain. • Hang clothes outside to dry on a clothesline. • Use environmentally friendly dish soap purchased from Trader Joe’s. • Use canvas bags at the grocery store. • Installed honeycomb blinds in the house that help to control drafts. • Wait as long as possible each season to turn on the air conditioning or heat. • Recycle almost everything. Because of the composting and recycling that they do, they only need to take one can of garbage to the curb a month. “If you are diligent in finding a place to do it, you can recycle nearly everything,” says Andrea. • Pick up aluminum cans while running or biking and take them to Deer Park Recycling on Blue Ash Road for cash. “This has paid for many pairs of running shoes,” says Jason.


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Easy to buy, install and use, barrels filled with roof run-off holds just enough water to keep the grass and the backyard gardens lush. Andrea Booth and Jason Stivers got their first barrel as a Christmas present (per their request).

differs from blackwater or sewage from toilets, which is not used). The couple says that there are companies that can install and route a permanent greywater recycling system. Jason routed the rain barrels and downspouts himself. And while he is a mechanical engineer, he says anyone can make the connections needed to hook up a rain barrel, as long as they are careful with their aluminum eaves. The system is simple to construct from materials found at your local home improvement store. The rain barrels can also be purchased at garden and home improvement stores for around $130. Jason does note that rain barrels should be covered to prevent mosquito breeding, and to reduce evaporation losses, contamination and algae growth. The barrels should also be unhooked, emptied and put away for the winter.

Rain barrels can go a long way in offsetting domestic water needs: including gardening, car washing, and pool topping. In turn, the burden on the local water system diminishes and ultimately saves money. For this couple, collecting rainwater has become as typical as recycling bottles, cans, newspapers, and composting – and it keeps their water and money from going down the drain! Resources: • Civic Garden Center of Cincinnati, www.civicgardencenter.org, 513-221-0981 • Marvin’s Organic Gardens, www.marvinsorganicgardens.com, 513-932-3319.

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Questions about where the foods come from that are served in restaurants owned by the Relish Restaurant Group (which includes Local 127, Greenup Café, Chalk, JeanRo, Lavomatic Café and others) can be easily answered with a short hike just a few blocks from the Local 127 locale in downtown Cincinnati. There the group maintains their “Urban Garden,” where they harvest herbs, tomatoes, spring lettuces, peppers, beets, turnips, peas and more.

production. For example, Geddes says, wild pigs that are allowed to graze freely in a field may take more energy to raise and process than docile pigs that have been bred over years specifically to be massproduced for food. “Are you willing to go the extra mile and raise difficult breeds and plant difficult varieties because the end result is better? That’s the farmer we’re looking for,” Geddes says. Even if small farmers can’t afford to do everything required for their products to be officially labeled “organic,” they may still avoid pesticides whenever possible and treat animals more humanely than those that are mass produced, Geddes says. Overall, it’s important for restaurants to de-

velop relationships with farmers that share their values. When ingredients can’t be obtained locally, restaurants may still check out the best options for the environment. For example, Hudson buys shrimp from a farm where they are fed all organic grain, and he checks environmental web sites to make sure that the fish he orders are clean and aren’t being over-fished. He can even tell diners which island their fish came from. For many, green dining means cutting down on meat consumption, or avoiding it completely. That’s because meat requires much more energy to produce than vegetables and grains. Many green-oriented restaurants, such as Melt in Northside, offer a great variety of menu items that are free of meat and animal products.

A Green Ambience For many restaurants, the green movement goes beyond food. Buschle puts it bluntly: “I try to do my best to not generate any more crap.” The materials for his bar were all reclaimed, as was the restaurant’s furniture. Hudson says Wildflower’s furniture and silverware was also reclaimed from other restaurants. “We bought an old rental property instead of locating into a strip mall or building new,” he points out. Wildflower and other restaurants, including Melt, offer biodegradable or compostable to-go boxes and coffee cups, which also take less energy to create. Many restaurants also make the effort to compost and recycle. Food waste at Local 127 is composted and helps fertilize its urban garden. Also at Local 127, an in-house water purification system means that guests who want purified water don’t have to get it from a plastic bottle. Staying green is a constant process, Geddes says. Standards change frequently as benefits are debated. But it seems that diners are increasingly likely to patronize restaurants that do their best to stay on top of eco-friendly initiatives. “We do get a lot of people from an hour, two, three hours away,” says Hudson. “There’s a good chunk of the public that’s made a commitment to the way they eat.” Greenup Café It never hurts to have the “green” in your name when you are promoting a menu that uses locally produced food, some of which it grows itself, or buys from area farms. Greenup Café is located in Covington.



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Sources Todd Hudson, Owner and Chef, Wildflower Café, Mason, 513-4927514 • Matt Buschle, Virgil’s Café in Bellevue, 859-491-3287 • Steven Geddes, Executive Chef, Local 127, Downtown, 513-721-1345.


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living green Because it makes sense

G E RA LD A N D JA N B R OW N C HEC C O OF C L I F TON

S t or y by D ou g S a n dh a g e / P h o t o s by C a t hy & Ma rk Lyon s

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Being green also means telling your friends and neighbors about it – to spread the word that it is a good thing, the right thing to do. Everyone is curious about the subject given the media publicity it gets. The Checcos say they get asked three to four times a week about how they went green, and why.


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With Jan growing up in Golf Manor and Gerald on Guadeloupe Island in the French West Indies, eclectic decorating can be found throughout their three-story, 100year-old Queen Anne Victorian-style home located in the gaslight district of Clifton. Much of Jan’s work as a multi-media artist can be seen in the living room and foyer.

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he one sure-fire bet to make you want to go green in your home is always the same: a big energy bill. But once it starts going down, be prepared to say things you would not normally say. For the record, on April 21, 2010, we were standing next to Gerald Checco as he watched his basement meter reader turning BACKWARD. “Now that’s sexy,” said Gerald, articulating with flair in an accent obtained growing up on Guadeloupe Island in the French West Indies and later Paris. We asked him to take his shirt off next to the meter for a comparison photograph and, at least for a second, he thought about it. Checco and his wife Jan Brown Checco live in a three-

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story, 100-year-old Queen Anne Victorian-style home in the gaslight district of Clifton, just six blocks from the IGA Grocery on Ludlow Avenue. They can often be spotted carrying their empty tote bags to, and full bags from. It saves on gas and gives them a chance to exercise and talk to their neighbors. For both of them it’s another notch in the door for their being green in Cincinnati. This couple lives it, breathes it, and they save money doing it. But, they caution, they do it not to be “preachy,” but because “it is the right thing to do.” But let’s start from the beginning: September 11, 2001, the day they moved from Finneytown into their home. They got two shocks: the first, we all remember. The second came shortly there-


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Left: The local IGA grocery store is only six blocks from the Checco home so Gerald and Jan are often seen bringing home their purchases in recycled tote bags. It costs nothing to walk, and everything is gained with the extra exercise. Above: Having room for a garden makes being green even more fun. Jan Brown Checco usually has enough vegetables in season to feed the entire family on Sunday afternoons. Her art studio is in the garage behind her, heated by the solar panels you can see on the roof.

after: their utility bill. They had done their research on the home to see what the bills had been; only problem was that the home was empty in the year prior and the bills didn’t accurately reflect the cost of keeping the home in a comfortable temperature range. Their first bills were in the $700 - $800 per month category. What to do? Their professional careers – she’s an artist, and he’s the superintendent of operations for the Cincinnati Park Board – demanded that they think outside the box. Some things were painfully obvious. The windows were like open vents to free-range drafts, insulation was nowhere to be found, and an old gas furnace spelled M O N E Y P I T. Anybody who watches TV commercials knows that windows are fixable and that new ones with an Energy Star rating (see page 62) would result in an immediate savings. But with a big utility bill, and cash flow a bit slim, Gerald said they struck a deal with Gilkey Windows that allowed them to buy the windows one at a time. Next came the furnace. Who could argue that it only made sense using the free heat from the earth and converting it to a geothermal system? Because of the small lot on which the house sits, Jacob Bros. Heating & Air Conditioning Co. was called to do the installation, which included drilling five wells, each 150 ft. deep. Tubes were inserted into the wells through which passes a solution that

picks up both heating and cooling energies from the ground to bring inside the house. During this time, the house was being renovated to the couple’s liking so that not only would it be a monument to green, but fun to live in as well. And as if to cap it all off, solar panels were added in late 2008 to the roof of the garage which also serves as Jan’s artist studio. Today the Checco’s average energy bill runs about $225 a month. And when we visited with Gerald and Jan on a sunny day in mid April, the dial on the meter reader was actually turning backward: it was putting power back into the grid which would result in a credit on their bill. “Duke treats us as a mini-power plant,” says Jan. In the space between the back of the home and the garage is the couple’s organic vegetable, flower and herb garden. “Every Sunday (in season), for our family meal, I can feature something I’ve grown in the garden,” says Jan. So, what exactly, do they do green? Let’s count the ways: 1. They walk to the grocery store, and use recycled bags for carriers. The grocery store is just six blocks away. 2. They walk to work when they can. For Gerald, his primary office is about 15 blocks away; for Jan it’s

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Above: The garage with the solar panels. Opposite: Why use a power-hungry clothes dryer when the sun will do the job for nothing and only a little bit of labor? Not only that, the clothes smell better says Jan Brown Checco. Gerald Checco says an electric mower he bought five years ago holds just enough charge to mow his yard for each cutting. When done, he just plugs it back in. Under his feet are five, 150 ft. deep wells that hold tubes to provide the geothermal heating and cooling the Checcos enjoy year round. Jan Brown Checco says that even in the oven, she goes green by always trying to bake several items at the same time. Husband Gerald and Grover the dog endorse it as well.

about 100 feet from her kitchen to her studio in the garage behind the house. 3. They reuse the water from their clothes washer to keep the garden wet. Buckets are kept on the outside steps leading from the basement laundry to the garden. “It takes a lot of water to keep our clothes clean,” says Jan, saying it just makes sense to save the energy by using it again. 4. They dry their clothes on a wooden drying rack. 5. They plant their garden from seeds, rather than starts, meaning less water use. Kitchen scraps are composted and added to the garden as a fertilizer. A small fountain near the garden is solar powered. 6. They recycle. All household items are sorted per recycling standards and when their garage was converted into a

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multi-use building to include Jan’s art studio, they called Building Value (a building recycling company) to pick up the materials so that they can be used again. 7. They installed solar panels on the roof of the garage/art studio. The total cost of $39,000 was reduced to $10,000 following a $13,000 tax credit from the federal government and $16,000 in a grant from the state of Ohio. Additional solar panels planned for installation in Fall 2010 means the Checcos could reduce their energy costs to $0, or even result in a credit. 8. They installed in 2007 a geothermal system to replace the home’s aging gas furnace system. The house now has four separate temperature zones, and pocket doors can be used to keep the warm or cold air intact where needed.


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9. They mow what little is left of their lawn using an electric mower. The balance is planted in perennials and herbs and watered with a slow-drip irrigation hose using a timer. No fertilizer or other-type lawn treatments are added. 10. They installed Energy Star-rated windows throughout the entire home except where there are stained-glass features. An energy audit in 2007 found only light air leaks around some transoms, easily fixed with caulking. 11. They installed Energy Star-rated appliances and when it comes to using the oven, every effort is made to cook several items simultaneously. 12. All light bulbs were replaced with CFL lighting technology. 13. Jan lets the clay she fires in her kiln air dry longer than normal thereby cutting down use of the kiln, which needs lots of heat to work. She also only fires it when she has a full load. The Checcos say that a week doesn’t go by that friends, neighbors or others who have heard about their ‘green-cut’ ways stop in and ask how they can do it too. “Most leave with astonishment saying ‘I didn’t know it was possible,’” says Jan. “They walk away with a ‘can-do-it’ attitude. It’s something about connecting with the earth,” she adds. Gerald and Jan lived for five years in Paris after they got married and started their family there with two daughters. Jan, who grew up in Golf Manor, quickly noticed that the European way of living was significantly different from what she knew in Cincinnati. In Europe she said people were much more accustomed to opening their windows early in the morning and closing them about 10:30 to “conserve the coolness in the house.” They use pocket doors to seal off rooms, shuttering windows or hanging tapestries over them. And they wear sweaters or three to four levels of wool socks. “They don’t dress like its summer when it’s winter,” she says. Gerald, who has been superintendent of operations for the Cincinnati Park Board since 1999, admits that his job plays a large role in his green attitude. “It is part of my duty. I have to think green,” he says. “I’ve always been mindful as a civil servant to use the least amount of money for the common good.” He adds that salaries are the parks’ biggest expense, followed by energy use. “The driver for my job and home has been economics. And I’d rather cut electricity than somebody’s job.” He notes that some of the city’s green initiatives include a no-idle policy, installation of a

wind turbine in Eden Park, use of 30 solar trash compactors, conversion of mowers to biodiesel, conversion of vehicles to either use ethanol or propane, and the harvesting of ash trees being killed by an ash borer insect. The trees are sold to the public school system of Cincinnati to be used to make shelving and storage bins. The money from the sale is then used to help buy the 3,000 to 4,000 trees the park department replaces each year. Jan says her artwork is moving more toward “designing large projects that engage community participation.” To underscore the point, she is the art director for Krohn Conservatory’s annual butterfly show. “The Conservatory has a mission to connect to the public with nature, and our show design work has successfully folded cultural and arts stories in with green messages,” she says. “Every year the set pieces become more reusable and recyclable or are updated with LED lights.” In addition, Jan says that since 2000, she has been using “found objects” in much of her art. “Instead of painting or drawing a portrait of someone, I find a piece of clothing or accessory that personifies the subject, and then arrange and change it to more fully tell about who they are, giving more information about character and situations than any photo image could. The essence of the person is the subject, rather than the surface, leaving us as mere observers of appearances.” In summary, the Checcos say that while green living is still of recent vintage to them, “It’s now about living a life that is necessary for us,” says Jan. She adds that she and Gerald enjoy a “symbiotic relationship. He makes it work and knows the costs. I make it lovely.” But, I ask, will anyone still be green 10 years from now once the novelty wears off? “I want to believe they will,” says Gerald. “The writing is on the wall. We will be forced to do it.” Reminded that President Jimmy Carter had us all turning off lights for about a year, Jan retorted that he did get something right when he told Americans that “There’s nothing wrong about wearing a sweater in the winter.”

Who Did It? General Contractor for Renovation: Scott Crawford Garden Design: Tim Young with Brengelman Young Landscaping Service Windows: Gilkey Window Co. Geothermal System: Jacob Bros. Solar Panels: ThirdSun Solar and Wind Power

Opposite: While most of the windows in the Checco home have been replaced with Energy Star-rated windows from Gilkey over the last few years, the home’s stained glass windows were left untouched but can be covered with pull-down shades. Opposite, inset: Nearly all of the lights in the Checco household, even those in decorative fixtures and in outdoor lampposts, have been replaced with CFL bulbs.

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Call us today so you can take control of your energy costs. We are the Jacob Bros. and we’re in your neighborhood.

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This is the last year to take advantage of the Federal Tax Credit for high-efficiency furnaces, heat pumps and air conditioners. Together, the Federal Tax Credit of 30%, up to $1,500, and Duke Energy’s Utility Rebate Program, up to $400, can save you up to $1,900.

Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. Over 75 years of combined experience have provided Gary and Ralph Jacob the knowledge and expertise to install and service the perfect system for your home. From geothermal heat pumps to dual fuel heating systems, boilers to high efficiency air cleaners, the Jacob Bros. provide a professional, full service experience every time.

Margie and Gary Jacob at their New Richmond home.

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Go green!

Larson-Juhl is proud to partner with Frame & Save Hyde Park in presenting its Forest Friendly FSC & PEFC Certified frame collections. Forest Friendly Certifications provide a credible link between responsible production and consumption of forest products, enabling consumers and businesses to make purchasing decisions that benefit people and the environment.

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paddlefest: it’s all about the water BREWSTER RHOADS ON THE OHIO RIVER Story and photo by Jason Sandhage

L

ong before there was a Cincinnati, there was the Ohio River. Stretching 980 miles in length, the river drew people to its waters and shorelines centuries ago, when Native Americans created communities along its hillsides and valleys. Cincinnati’s earliest settlers came here by river, using keelboats, flatboats and later on, steamboats and paddlewheel boats to move animals, people and goods. A true jewel in Cincinnati’s crown, the Ohio River remains the focal point of the city and is in fact, its raison d’être.

A Green Ambience Regardless of its stature, the Ohio River has not always been properly cared for and protected. In fact, it’s been downright neglected and mistreated, sparking a long history of pollution control efforts and regulations aimed at stopping its degradation.

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Clean-up and regulatory steps have included the creation of the Ohio River Investigation Station in 1913, the nation’s first basin-wide pollution control strategy. Additional efforts include the federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1948 and most recently, the federal Clean Water Act of 1972. These combined efforts, with the decline of some of the early industries that contributed to the pollution of the river, such as many of the older steel mills, have led to the river’s improved conditions today. Rallying people to the river’s cause, Brewster Rhoads is a key figure in the resurgence of these waters. Well known as a primary component behind major political campaigns and Ohio Governor Ted Strickland’s current Regional Director of Southwest Ohio, Rhoads knows how to bring attention to an issue and rally people to action.


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As a frequent kayaker and originator of the Ohio River Way Paddlefest, Rhoads has the river running through his veins. His home away from home is a 1955 houseboat parked alongside BB Riverboats in Newport. It hasn’t run in years but it’s a comfortable place where Brewster allows himself to unwind a little and enjoy what he believes to be “our region’s most precious natural asset,” the Ohio River. “I call it my ‘hour vacation,’” says Rhoads of his time spent on the river. So far, Rhoad’s record for paddling in one year is 326 days, which may explain why Reds announcers Marty Brennaman and Joe Nuxhall have been heard saying, “Rhoads is out there,” while he was paddling his kayak next to the stadium. For Rhoads, the Ohio River is his front yard.

Paddlefest 2010 What began as a small gathering of friends and paddlers has grown into the largest on-water canoe and kayak festival in the United States. “When we began in 2002, 98 paddlers signed up and 280 showed up on the day of the event,” says Rhoads. They were a bit overwhelmed and unprepared for the turnout. But with over 1,800 paddlers expected this year, PaddleFest has become a full-fledged three day event where people of all ages can come to enjoy some paddling, music, scenery, wildlife and each other’s company. “That’s what Paddlefest is all about, explains Rhoads, “taking the time to experience the natural world.” At its essence, the event is a pep rally for the river. Illustrating that water quality has improved in recent years and providing participants with a chance to see a beaver or blue heron as they paddle the Ohio is an important step in getting people out of their homes and back in touch with their natural surroundings. During Paddlefest, barge and riverboat traffic is blocked for four hours to accommodate the paddlers as they make their 8.2-mile trek down the river from Coney Island to downtown. The U.S. Coast Guard, Cincinnati Sail & Power Squadron and the Paddlefest Safety Patrol are all set up on the water to help where needed. In return, Paddlefest and The Ohio River Way (ORW), a non-profit, volunteer-led organization working to promote, protect and celebrate the natural beauty and recreational benefits of the Ohio River, give back. Together, they work to raise funds to complete the Ohio River Bike Trail (downtown Cincinnati to Lunken Airport) and to create and promote the Ohio River Water Trail to help paddlers and power boaters safely explore the Ohio and its tributaries. The annual Paddlefest weekend promotes fun, challenges and educational activities for all ages. The Kid’s Outdoor

Adventure Expo helps youngsters learn about and enjoy the environment, launching a new generation of paddlers and protectors of the Ohio River. There’s also kayak paddling clinics, environmental education exhibits, a fishing tournament and the annual Ohio River Music Festival, where people can enjoy the sights and sounds of local bands like Jake Speed and the Freddies.

Ultimate Melting Pot For Rhoads, Paddlefest is a state of mind that actually lasts year-round. Gliding across the water, he gets a chance to unwind, think clearly, plot strategies and enjoy the views that are only available from the river. In addition to Paddlefest, Rhoads has generated additional attention through activities such as his across the-Ohio River swim with National Geographic Traveler writer Boyd Matson in 2007. “The river is the ultimate melting pot,” he explains, citing encounters with beavers, ducks and muskrats, not to mention the diversity of the people he encounters on the water, from the high-rise residents simply enjoying the view to local fishermen who see the river as a source of dinner. He comments that the Cincinnati panorama from a kayak is far more personal than anything on land, invoking an inspirational experience that speaks to our natural surroundings. Rhoads says that he has “always been outdoor oriented.” But the credit for his introduction to kayaking can be attributed to his brother-in-law, Olympic Kayaker Jon Lugbill. “I married into the sport,” said Brewster with a smile. Lugbill is widely regarded as the greatest whitewater canoe, slalom racer to ever hold a paddle. During the 1980s, he dominated international racing in Men’s Individual C-1 (a decked canoe, similar to a kayak) and he is also known for his innovations in paddling technique and boat design, and gracing the cover of Wheaties. Integrating the river into his everyday life provides enjoyment and physical fitness for Rhoads. Well aware of the river’s place in Cincinnati history and lore, he works tirelessly to bring that message to others in the community. “The Ohio River is the source of our drinking water,” he says. “It’s an iconic image of what people picture when they imagine the postcard view of our city, an amenity that other cities would love to have for themselves.” Keeping our river clean and safe is not only good for the environment and good for business, but it’s also good for the soul. To learn more about Paddlefest and the Ohio River Way, please visit Ohioriverway.org.

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new twists on old ideas CLOSING WORDS Story by Doug Sandhage

T

he funny part about most older people that I know is that they often laugh when you start talking to them about being green. Not that the topic is funny. It’s just that they’ve already been practicing green for most of their lives. Not because someone told them to, or because of a fancy marketing blitz, but because it made sense to do so. Growing up in my family, all of our vegetables came fresh from the garden in the backyard, and we threw the leftovers on the garden after dinner (now they call it composting). Hard goods were not thrown away if there was any potential for re-using them (now they call it recycling), and every plastic container in the refrigerator had the Cool Whip label – the first inexpensive, reusable plastic container known to my Mom, and everyone else in the neighborhood. Every trip downtown meant several stops to avoid excess gas and mileage, and a single shower was always started and stopped several times to avoid wasting water. If a glass of water was not fully consumed, the balance went to watering a plant. The list goes on. Interestingly, about half of the stories in this issue are written as if the ideas are new. And to many they are, but to the previously mentioned folks I started this story with, they are old hat. In the good old days nobody talked about climate change, argued about whether the plastic in the Cool Whip container would kill you, or if kitchen scraps or good old cow poop was good for the garden. On the latter, we all knew a farmer or two who had extra manure waiting for someone to shovel it into their pickup. What we did just made sense. Sometimes the more advanced we get, the less we know. But I do have to give credit to the newcomers to green who do it with such gusto. To some of them, saving a half-glass of water to share with a plant is as close as it gets to heroism. But that’s OK; at least they are doing it. It’s a start. Which is what this green issue is all about. Get started. Do something. Don’t get bogged down into whether it’s right or wrong. Follow your heart. It really does make sense. • Did I mention passion? Since my son Jason and I started this magazine nearly a year ago, we’ve talked to hundreds of professionals who have found green – much like finding religion. It’s easy to pick them out. Their eyes glow, their bodies are generally much more animated, and they can talk for hours if given a forum. They see things. They know that a half glass of water is half full, or a ten-story wind turbine is our future. Right now I’m thinking about Libby Hunter of Comey &

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Shepherd Realtors, one of the first to believe in our venture and our plan to do a magazine to “tell all” about the benefits of being green. I’ve always said that when Realtors get hold of something, something gets done. They know people, they spread news better than email, and when homes start going green, they will know how best to market them. Libby got involved in the greening of Cincinnati a long time ago and in her you see the momentum. But, to be fair, I’m also thinking about dozens of others, many of them mentioned in my son’s opening story to this issue. • Being Green is for everyone. On a day-to-day basis it takes little extra effort, and just a little extra thought. You can be rich or poor, any color, any religion, any size or shape. Every contribution counts. Earlier this year my wife Marianne and I attended the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. After our plane landed in Salt Lake, we toured the city. If you haven’t been there lately, the downtown route is like driving through the make-believe streets of Disneyworld. The streets appear to be regularly picked up, the greenery is lush, you see lots of bicyclists and people walking, and, most important to the success of any city, lots of holes in the ground with active cranes moving steel. We were amused with a sidewalk billboard promoting green living. It implied, aided with the handwritten help from a street prophet, that you must be poor if you ride, walk, or take public

transportation. But reading between the lines, it shows that, even if unwittingly participating, we are all a necessary part of the being green thinking. • About our cover. Can Cincinnati be the green capital of the U.S.A.? You bet, and many would say we are already well on the way. If you like the view of Cincinnati coming down the cut-in-the-hill from Kentucky, think of what it would look like in full, living-greencolor. Much thanks to friend, artist Beverly Erschell for her vision.


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Being Green in Cincinnati