Emerald Cities aims to bring green jobs, energy efficient buildings to Cuyahoga County

Freshwater Cleveland - April 19, 2012

Lee Chilcote

A new initiative being pioneered by Cuyahoga County,Policy Matters Ohio and a bevy of partners aims to create more energy-efficient municipal buildings and catalyze the creation of green, living wage jobs.

Now that advocacy within the green jobs movement has shifted away from the state and federal level — where activity is slow or nonexistent — organizers are counting on this new initiative to help create a new model for energy-efficient construction as well as stimulate good, union jobs in Cuyahoga County.

“We were pushing on the national level, but when the cap and trade legislation fell apart, we still lacked a comprehensive energy strategy,” says Shanelle Smith, local organizer for the Emerald Cities Cleveland-Cuyahoga County project. “We had the economic stimulus, but now that the money is on the ground, it’s about organizing locally so it benefits all of us.”

Emerald Cities, which was approved last week by Cuyahoga County Council, aims to “create a clean energy economy by developing community workforce opportunities, enhancing environmentally sustainable practices and working to make government buildings more energy efficient,” according to a release.

The initiative aims to make municipal buildings in Cuyahoga County 20 percent more energy-efficient by 2020. Emerald Cities will achieve this by seeking financing mechanisms to help local governments pay for projects, creating community workforce agreements to help foster union jobs, and participating in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge.

“We want to build a pipeline to unionized apprenticeships for underrepresented communities,” says Smith. “Our goal is to help create family-sustaining jobs.”

Now that the initiative has been approved by Cuyahoga County, Emerald Cities partners are working together to assemble a strategic plan for implementation.

Emerald Cities aims to bring green jobs, energy efficient buildings to Cuyahoga County

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