RECOGNIZING THE ROLE a healthy environment plays in creating a city in which people want to live, work and raise a family, Mayor Michael B. Coleman established the Get Green Columbus initiative in 2005. The Mayor's Office of Environmental Stewardship manages the initiative, focusing internally on city operations as well as externally partnering with stakeholders from throughout the community.
To assist in guiding the efforts of Get Green Columbus, the Mayor convenes an advisory group of city staff and community members as well as business and environmental experts known as the Mayor's Green Team. The group meets every other month and is further supported by six working groups: Education and Engagement; Energy; Business; Greenspace and Green Building; Growth and Development; and Transportation.
A year ago, yours truly was recruited to join the Growth and Development working group. In this capacity, I have lent my time, effort and skills to such projects as recycling for apartments and condominiums as well as recycling policies at all community festivals. This past January, I was appointed to the Mayor’s Green Team to work on the city’s third sustainability master plan, which will be implemented between 2015 and 2020. Together with the Mayor's Office of Environmental Stewardship, cabinet members and Green Team identify and implement projects to reduce the impact on the environment through the city's influence.
Why is going green important? It’s important because investments in sustainability lead to long-term cost-savings, job creation and economic resiliency to secure Columbus’ continued growth. For example, the benefits of recycling are numerous. They include helping the environment, saving energy, reducing waste buried in landfills and creating and retaining local jobs. In Ohio, recycling is a $22.5 billion business, providing more than 100,000 jobs. Recycling 10,000 tons of waste creates 36 jobs as compared to landfilling the same amount of waste, which creates only six jobs.
About 80percent of the materials recycled in Columbus stay within a 150-mile radius and are used by local companies for a second life in the economy. Furthermore, every ton of trash diverted from the landfill saves the city $55.42 in landfill fees and it extends the lifespan of the landfill. These savings enable the city to better fund services like roads, sidewalks, fire trucks, police cars and other community needs.
Last May, Quorum Columbus covered another sustainability project. The largest solar project of its kind in Ohio was installed on the roof the City’s Fleet Maintenance facility. The 2,650 panels produce more than 60 percent of the building’s electricity needs. This project was completed through a 20-year power purchase agreement with no upfront cost to the city.
I have given you two examples of how Columbus is benefiting from going green. In reality, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The city is doing its due diligence to improve the quality of life and safeguard our economy through sustainability initiatives.
You can do your part to foster a greener, stronger Columbus. This month marks Columbus Earth Week. During the week of April 19– 26, thousands of our neighbors will volunteer in projects across the region to put in the hard work needed to keep our communities clean and green.
Find out how you can give back at: