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Cleveland, OH's Municipal Action Plan for Sustainability

A critical first step in the planning process was building a foundation of Mayoral leadership to drive the creation and implementation of the SC-MAP. To ensure that sustainability is integrated throughout the decision-making process of all aspects of city government, the Office of Sustainability, created in 2005, is run out of the Mayor’s office where the Chief of Sustainability serves in a cabinet level capacity and is responsible for the creation and implementation of the SC-MAP. The Office of Sustainability is responsible for advancing sustainability through policies, training, Green Team facilitation, planning, monitoring, and management. The office also helps integrate sustainability as appropriate through all aspects of city operations, performance management, capital improvement planning, strategic planning, budgeting, and employee training. Other positions in the office include Director, Energy Manager, Sustainability Manager, Sustainable Cleveland Coordinator, Outreach and Education Coordinator, and interns.

The second step in the process was to create the Green Team. Led by the Office of Sustainability, the Green Team consists of representatives from across city government serving as “ambassadors of sustainability.” Members are responsible for disseminating the priorities of the Office of Sustainability to other municipal departments.

Once the Green Team was established, the next step focused on internal stakeholder engagement. The Green Team is the cornerstone of outreach and education to city employees regarding the SC-MAP. In 2012, the Office of Sustainability conducted market research via surveys of city employees and realized that employees were aware of the sustainability initiative and recognized the economic value of sustainability, but lacked an understanding of the specific projects underway or the progress being made. City employees also expressed an interest in being educated and trained and assigned clear, individual lines of responsibility.

The Green Team, consisting of employees from 12 departments, worked over 12 months to create the SC-MAP with the help of an outside consultant. Implementation of the SC-MAP began in 2013, and once fully implemented, the city will benefit from an annual savings of approximately $12 million, more than $6 million of which will result from energy actions. The total process from formation of the Green Team to the completion of the SC-MAP took approximately 18 months.

While the SC-MAP identifies specific actions for city staff, it also provides a context for the general public to better understand the city’s approach to sustainability. In addition to the SC-MAP, the city has implemented a set of informed and coordinated policies and actions which have served to advance sustainability both within city operations and the broader Cleveland community.

In 2009, Mayor Frank Jackson convened Sustainable Cleveland 2019(SC2019), a 10-year umbrella initiative to engage the larger community to work together to design and develop a thriving and resilient region that leverages its wealth of assets to build economic, social and environmental well-being. Working groups comprised of community volunteers have been engaged in a variety of sustainable economic initiatives with defined benchmarks and yearly actionable goals. Every year, the city focuses on one of the key areas or “celebration points” fundamental to achieving a sustainable economy. In 2011, the focus was energy efficiency.

To address the community components of SC2019, in 2013, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability convened a 50-member Climate Action Advisory Committee representing leading area organizations from the commercial, industrial, educational, government, and non-profit sectors. The committee created The Cleveland Climate Action Plan (CAP) with 33 actions to support an overarching greenhouse gas reduction goal of 80% below 2010 emissions by 2050 with interim goals of 16% reduction by 2020 and 40% by 2030.

The SC-MAP was developed in conjunction with the larger community-wide CAP. While the two plans had similar focus areas – energy, waste, and water – the SC-MAP was more organizational in nature which allowed for more detailed next steps and cost/benefit data. The SC-MAP was completed in October 2013 and focuses specifically on municipal operations. It is designed to enable the city to lead by example while reaping the benefits of increased efficiencies, reduced operating costs, and enhanced service.

Also adopted in 2013, the Sustainable Municipal Building Policyrequires green building and energy efficiency strategies to be incorporated into the siting, design, construction, remodeling, repair, maintenance, operation, and deconstruction of all city facilities.

After publishing the SC-MAP, the city focused on implementing the recommendations and coordinating municipal operations. As part of this process, key City Departments will incorporate SC-MAP targets into their larger portfolio of metrics tracked on an annual basis.

To reaffirm the importance of energy and educate leaders in city government, the Chief of Sustainability provides quarterly updates to the cabinet on the status of energy use and related projects. Guidance is being developed to help employees identify sustainability-related SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely) for individual performance reviews across departments. Departments with lead roles in the SC-MAP take ownership of those actions and approve roles and responsibilities for implementation. Each department reports annually on their key metrics, which get fed into the Mayor’s Annual Report. Select departments are beginning to report their energy data and reduction targets in 2014.

As needed, the city will evaluate re-structuring of processes, procedures, and organization structure to identify opportunities to conduct business more efficiently. The SC-MAP is meant to be a living document subject to a continuous “Plan-Do-Check-Act” review. Revisions will be made as actions are implemented and new actions developed.

The SC-MAP lays out coordinated recommendations to continue educating and supporting employees throughout city government as well as new staff. The foundation of employee education is theSustainable Cleveland website. The website educates employees and residents about getting involved at home, at work, and in the community. City employees also receive training via webinars, workshops, and seminars custom-designed to each department.

The Green Team members serve as a conduit for training in their own departments, using a “train the trainer” approach and establishing department specific “green teams” for larger departments. Currently, the Office of Sustainability offers Sustainability 101 to all city employees and a monthly sustainability e-newsletter is distributed highlighting local events, important policy updates, and sustainability tips. One of the next steps in employee education is offering theRoots of Success Environmental Literacy curriculum.

The Office of Sustainability launched the community-wide “I Am Sustainable, Cleveland” poster campaign. City employees, local residents, and businesses were able to submit a photo and message to show what they are doing to be sustainable at home, in the community, and at work in support of the city’s Climate Action Plan. The customized posters were then displayed at the Sustainable Cleveland annual summit and on Sustainable Cleveland’s Facebook page to provide positive reinforcement for desired actions. Click hereand here for examples from The City of Cleveland’s Division of Water Pollution Control and Port Control.

As of August 2014, the city has collected rebates from completed projects, secured federal grant funds, and focused on aligning recommended actions with the city’s budget cycle. The city plans to use capital from the rebates to fund ASHRAE level 2 energy audits and other energy activities for city facilities. Additionally, the city is working to complete a renewable energy site screening (RESS) to identify the best roofs and vacant land to install solar and wind. Projects that move forward as a result of the RESS will likely be funded through a power purchase agreement.

As funding sources are identified to implement the recommendations other potential funding approaches include:

  • Seeking ways to align recommended actions with the city’s budget cycle;
  • Using alternative financing such as Energy Savings Performance Contracting, revolving loan funds, and power purchase agreements with limited or no upfront costs;
  • Procuring federal, state, or foundation grant funding; and
  • Reinvesting some portion of recognized cost savings into further implementation projects.

In the implementation of the SC-MAP, the city developed a framework to track relevant data and monitor progress. The framework for action expanded on EnergyCAP outputs, an organization wide utility data management system used across all City departments. The framework also utilized data from existing energy audits, completed projects, prior facilities assessments, and the city’s LEED buildings to generate project opportunities not already financed by the EECBG program or other city department projects.

The city used the following tools to manage data throughout the initiative:

  1. EnergyCAP Energy Data Management System and its reporting capabilities
  2. EPA’s Portfolio Manager
  3. Sustainable Cleveland Municipal Action Plan (SC-MAP)’s customInventory Management System (IMS) excel application.

The city has also identified six recommendations on methods to more fully incorporate data into the implementation of the SC-MAP. These include:

  1. Making energy use in city buildings data publically available,
  2. Developing a system to track progress,
  3. Prioritizing city buildings for energy assessments based on performance data,
  4. Conducting energy assessments on at least five city buildings,
  5. Integrating energy efficiency into planned building upgrades when cost effective, and
  6. Applying for utility rebates.

The city uses EnergyCAP as one central repository to track and report city-wide energy cost and consumption data. For the SC-MAP, EnergyCAP facilitated the computation of municipal operation GHG baselines and help set quantitative overall GHG reduction targets by focus area such as energy efficiency, conservation, and water systems optimization. Additionally, the city uses ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager to benchmark city buildings and other facilities and to share data with the Better Buildings Challenge and the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) Cities. The city also uses source energy use intensity benchmarking data to prioritize energy assessments and actions for city buildings, as well as track reductions from previously implemented projects.

As of August 2014, implementation for 13 of the 25 actions was underway. Five of the 13 are from the energy focus area including energy efficiency in existing buildings, energy conservation in existing buildings, streetlight upgrades, renewable energy, and Cleveland Public Power's Advanced Energy Portfolio Standard.

By 2030, once fully implemented, the SC-MAP is estimated to result in a 20% annual utility savings, or more than $12 million, more than $6 million of which will be from implemented energy actions. Additionally, the city will achieve a 45% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from municipal operations by 2030 from 2010 levels.

The following chart represents the five energy actions in progress. The remaining four actions will begin implementation by 2016.

Projected Annual Savings in 2030 per SC-MAP Energy Action
Energy ActionTotal Near-Term Cost*Resource Savings/yearNet Savings (Savings minus cost)
E-1: Energy Efficiency in Existing Buildings$2,320,00014,000 MWh
74,000 MCF
14,000 MTCO(2)e
E-2: Energy Conservation in Existing Buildings$400,000900 MWh
600 MTCO(2)e
E-3: Building Automation Systems$3,040,0002,900 MWh
15,000 MCF
2,800 MTCO(2)e
E-4: Re-Commissioning Tune-Up$2,560,0006,500 MWh
42,000 MCF
6,700 MTCO(2)e
E-5: Cleveland Division of Water System Pumping and Treatment Optimization$3,320,00038,000 MWh
26,000 MTCO(2)e
E-6:Streetlight Upgrades$1,760,00020,000 MWh
13,000 MTCO(2)e
E-7: Renewable Energy$1,960,00019,000 MWh
5,800 MCF
13,000 MTCO(2)e
E-8: Cleveland Public Power's Advanced Energy Portfolio StandardN/A98,000 MTCO(2)eN/A
E-9: Smart SavingsN/AN/AN/A
*Total near-term cost figures assume no use of alternative financing or funding.
**This net savings figure does not incorporate anticipated revenue from selling Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs).

Cleveland Climate Action Plan Outreach Materials

Climate Action Plan for City of Cleveland

Cleveland Sustainable Municipal Building Policy Corporate Energy Policies

City of Cleveland's Sustainable Municipal Building Policy

Sustainable Cleveland Website Outreach Materials