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Kent Environmental Council
In This Issue
Green Building 102: Landscape Architecture and SITES
LEED Certification for New Police Station Goes Forward
Traveling on the Crooked River
Bike Lockers Available at Kent Central Gateway
Clean Energy Report: Successes and Challenges
In Memoriam: Caroline Arnold
Sustainability Tips of the Month
Edith Chase Named '2014 Outstanding Environmental Leader' by Burning River Foundation
The Environment in the News
Dates to Remember
KEC Membership
Quick Links

Featured Article




Green Building 102: Landscape Architecture and SITES
KEC Board

Charles Frederick, Vice Chair
Iris Meltzer, Secretary 
Dick Lewis, Treasurer 
Welcome to the September 2014 issue of the Kent Environmental Council newsletter.  

Green Building 102: Landscape Architecture and SITES

This is the second of three articles that introduces various concepts of green building. These issues are timely with the new construction planned for both the city and the university. As an organization, the Kent Environmental Council has advocated for sustainable practices that could be pursued at many levels: institutional, commercial and residential. The first article introduced the LEED system, which is the most well-known and established of the green building standards. This article introduces the Sustainable Site Initiative (SITES).


The goal of SITES is to create ecological and resilient communities that benefit the project teams (owners, designers and contractors), the local communities and future generations. SITES provides a framework for the project teams--from concept designs, to construction and finally maintenance practices. It is a rating system similar to LEED, with the objective being to measure project performance and provide stakeholders the ability to value landscapes beyond construction and maintenance costs. The rating system is structured to measure the following benefits: site context; assessment and planning; water, soil and vegetation; material selection; human health and well-being; construction; operations and maintenance; education and performance monitoring; and innovation and exemplary performance. There are 18 prerequisite conditions and 48 credits a project can pursue. There are four certification levels that a project can earn: 100 points/1 star, 125 points/2 stars, 150 points/3 stars and 200 points/4 stars.


SITES was initiated in 2006 with the cooperation of the U.S. Botanic Garden, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the American Society of Landscape Architects. Currently it is in version 2 as discussions continue with the Green Building Certification Institute to establish future project certification and professional credentialing--similar to the U.S. Green Building Council and the LEED system. There is a possibility that both rating systems will be more integrated in the future.


As of August 2014, 34 projects have achieved certification. The range of project types and scales include: open space/parks, gardens/arboretums, institutional/educational, commercial, residential, mixed-use, governmental complex and industrial. A local project is Cleveland's Public Garden: Modeling Sustainability in the Rustbelt (Cleveland Botanical Garden woodland and inspiration gardens), which features a low-maintenance lawn, rain garden, vegetated roof, native plants and on-site food production. The major objectives for design decisions concentrate on conserving, managing, restoring and generating the natural, cultural and economic resources for the project.


What the concept of sustainable sites and green building should mean for our community and region is that northeast Ohio is a low-growth area that will not see the same building pressures as other regions. So while LEED is a well-established green building system, its concentration on architecture could have limited impacts on our region. Therefore a more comprehensive green building standard that includes our region's complex landscapes could have a larger impact on our future. We need to foster this concept of sustainable sites at the residential level as well as large-scale projects. Our attitude for infrastructure and public works can include these concepts as well as private retail, residential and mixed-use developments. The region will benefit from the start of the new graduate landscape architecture program at Kent State University's College of Architecture and Environmental Design (CAED). The program is based in Cleveland and will study urban/suburban issues such as green infrastructure, biological and cultural diversity, transportation alternatives, and innovative redevelopment and landscape strategies for postindustrial cities.


The final part of this series will look at urban design and planning standards and challenge the issue of scale for green building concepts.



Sustainable Site Initiatives (SITES) 

American Association of Landscape Architecture 

Graduate Landscape Architecture Program, CAED, Kent State University 

Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative 


--Charles Frederick, RLA, LEED AP, Graduate Landscape Architecture Program CAED

LEED Certification for New Police Station Goes Forward

The following letter was to Kent City Council:


The Kent Environmental Council gives its heartfelt thanks to the five members of Kent City Council who stood by principle on August 20 and voted down the proposal to proceed with construction of the ten million dollar Police Building without seeking LEED certification.  Seven current members of Council had voted for a 2008 resolution, "Requiring that all new construction of City buildings, in excess of 5,000 square feet, meet LEED certification at the silver level, unless a waiver is granted."  Four of those Council members, Mr. Amrhein, Mr. Ferrara, Ms. Shaffer, and Ms. Wallach, were joined by Mr. Sidoti, in taking a principled stand to, in the words of Councilman Amrhein, "honor our resolution."


Kent Environmental Council fully supports Councilman Ferrara's position, "If we can't follow our standards, we shouldn't have any."  The practice of adopting a resolution that sounds good, but failing to implement that resolution in practice, is unworthy of Kent.  Councilwoman Shaffer's position that Council's action on August 20 is a "statement of values" and that "The City needs to be a leader" in environmental action, exemplifies the spirit and actions of the Kent Environmental Council for the past forty-four years.  Councilwoman Wallach's analysis of the relatively small cost of certification compared to the costs of other components of this project clearly demonstrated that certification does not impose a "financial hardship". Councilman Sidoti's quiet vote to stand for principle is in the best tradition of citizen government.


Thanks again, Council. It is reassuring that city government is willing to invest in preserving a future for coming generations.      




Lisa Regula Meyer, Chair, Kent Environmental Council

Traveling on the Crooked River

kayakers A group of seven people from Kent State University's School of Architecture and Environmental  Design (including KEC Vice Chair Charles Frederick) left on an urban adventure July 2 after consuming a breakfast provided by KEC member Ann Ward and coffee from Little City Grill. The seven urban adventurers left from Heritage Park and kayaked to Cleveland, arriving the following day in time to attend the Burning River Festival after staying overnight at the Cuyahoga Valley hostel.


The trip involved a portage in Cuyahoga Falls and in Brecksville. The trip was interesting, challenging in spots--especially beyond Cuyahoga Fall and into Peninsula, areas where there is more debris in the water. Two individuals got wet, and one got pinned for a few minutes but was able to extricate himself. The group met other paddlers who were astonished that they could go all the way to Cleveland on the river.


The Kent group noted that they saw much wildlife, some natural species of plants and a lot of invasive plant species.  Some participants used cameras to document species on the river, highlight the water trail and help Kent State establish itself as a partner regarding the Cuyahoga River. The plan is to do the river trip annually.


For more information about the 2014 Crooked River Commute, click hereTo view photos and videos, click here

 --Lorraine McCarty

Bike Lockers Available at Kent Central Gateway
bike lockers
Bike lockers at Kent Central Gateway

Bicycle owners who want added safety for their rides should note that the Kent Central Gateway offers 10 fully enclosed bike lockers. They are located on the south side of the building on Erie Street, facing the Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center. The lockers can be used for free for the day (bring your own lock) or rented for $5 per month (three are currently rented by downtown residents). 


Bicyclists also have seen an increase in racks around town and at the university, and more are planned; however, some of the more artistic racks make it challenging to figure out how to lock your bicycle to them!  


--Lorraine McCarty 

Clean Energy Report: Successes and Challenges

While environmentalists say the new 30 percent reduction in carbon targets are not tough enough and others say they go too far, it is important to look at what is already working in the United States.


Ceres, a nonprofit group that mobilizes leaders to address climate change and global sustainability, looked at how 32 of our country's largest utilities are doing at delivering renewable energy and energy efficiency. The group notes wide disparities and says that strong state policies play an important role in meeting clean energy needs. Five electric companies focused on renewable energy and delivered 60 million megawatt hours in 2012--enough to power an impressive 6 million homes. All the states represented by these five companies (California, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin) "have set goals for sourcing more renewable energy, showing that there is a strong correlation between forward-thinking clean energy policies and utilities that are delivering the most to their customers." 


The National Renewable Energy Laboratory reports that such projects added only 1 percent to electricity costs around the country, defeating the claim that they are too expensive. Additionally, renewable energy project costs are dropping at a rapid pace.


States that have set energy efficiency goals and incentivized their utilities to achieve them (such as California, Massachusetts, Oregon, Colorado, Minnesota, Arizona and Michigan) are proving it costs far less to save energy than it does to build new plants to produce it. For 2012, electric utilities helped customers save a total of 140 million megawatt hours--enough to power 13 million homes. The EPA is encouraging states to include such programs as a part of their 2016 compliance plans.


Another Ceres report notes that 53 of Fortune 100 companies have set clean energy goals and that these goals are an important factor in their site selection for new facilities. Warren Buffet plans to double his investments in wind and solar in the next decade, and many states are also "doubling down."


The article notes that for "some states like Michigan and Ohio, which are actively reconsidering their clean energy goals and targets, it would make sense to align their goals with the expectation of the Clean Power Plan"--after paying attention to these trends and the states that are already seeing the financial and environmental benefits from proactive clean energy policies.


This commentary is especially important because in June, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed Senate Bill 310, which put a two-year freeze on annual increases in standards for renewable energy and energy efficiency and eliminates the requirement that utilities buy half their renewable energy from in-state sources. While utilities have the option to maintain existing green energy programs, it is not yet clear how utilities will decide (although AEP has said it will maintain its programs). Several utilities that already have approved large wind farms need to decide whether it makes economic sense to go forward with construction. Wind power companies also were hit by another bill, one that requires larger setbacks between wind turbines and nearby property lines. The new law does call for a study committee to develop policy recommendations by September of 2015 but, according to Mike Shannahan, an energy consultant  who spoke at an event sponsored by Green Energy Ohio, "The next few years will be tough for Ohio's clean energy advocates . . . this is a debate about our future." Bill Spratley, executive director of Green Energy Ohio, described environmentalists as back to being underdogs and needing to "fight back as best we can."



Akron Beacon Journal, August 18, 2014, commentary by Don Bakal, Director of Electric Power at Ceres

Akron Beacon Journal , June 21, 2014, article by Don Gearino of the Columbus Dispatch

--Summarized by Lorraine McCarty
In Memoriam: Caroline Arnold
Caroline Arnold

For more than 40 years, Caroline Arnold was committed to environmental causes in the Kent area. She advocated environmental conservation in the Kent area through recycling, reuse and a commitment to a lifestyle that seeks to have minimum impact on the resources of the planet, including riding her bicycle around town for transportation whenever it was possible.  As an aide to U.S. Sen. John Glenn, she worked on issues relating to landfill disputes and industrial toxic emissions and helped the senator facilitate the establishment of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. A former chairperson of the Kent Environmental Council and longtime board member, she also served on the city of Kent's Destination 2006 Steering Committee; the Kent Dam Advisory Committee, studying water quality issues in the Middle Cuyahoga River; and city of Kent Sustainability Commission. She brought an intelligent and measured contribution to any discussion. Her ability to articulate issues with clarity and force made her an invaluable leader in the community of those actively seeking to address environmental concerns.


Her impressive capabilities as a writer--be it through editorial correspondence with the local and regional press, through her op-ed column in the Record-Courier, her legislative correspondence with state and federal elected officials, or the online articles published on the Common Dreams website--Caroline's spirituality and passion for responsible stewardship of the natural world came through. 


We will miss you Caroline.


--Board of the Kent Environmental Council
Sustainability Tips of the Month

Microplastics and microbeads are polluting Lake Erie and contaminating the fish we eat and our food chain. (For details, see "The Environment in the News: Plastics in the Great Lakes" in the December 2013 KEC newsletter.) In June 2014, Illinois approved a ban on microbeads (natural replacements for them include oatmeal, pumice and almonds), and Ohio and other states are considering a ban. Here's what you can do: 

  • Avoid personal-care products listing "polyethylene" or "polypropylene" as ingredients.  

 --Lorraine McCarty

Edith Chase Named '2014 Outstanding Environmental Leader' by Burning River Foundation

Edith Chase
Edith Chase

Edith Chase was the recipient of the Burning River Foundation's 2014 Outstanding Environmental Leader Award. Each year, the Burning River Foundation awards an individual or organization showing exceptional environmental leadership in the Northeast Ohio region and Lake Erie. The Burning River Foundation presented the award at the Burning River Fest on July 26 at the historic Coast Guard station on Whiskey Island. A longtime resident of Kent, Ohio, Chase spent years helping to improve and protect the Cuyahoga River; she now lives in Ithaca, New York.


"The Kent Environmental Council is delighted that Edith Chase, founding member of the organization and its first chair, has been honored by the Burning River Foundation as its 2014 Outstanding Environmental Leader," said Iris Meltzer, who received the award on Chase's behalf. "Edith served as a Board member of KEC from its inception until her move this spring to Ithaca. We can think of no better honoree."


Chase has been an environmental leader for the past 50 years. She was the founding president of the Kent Environmental Council (KEC) in 1967 where she consistently encouraged KEC members to advocate beyond local issues and for statewide and national environmental issues. She was a guiding force in establishing the Portage County recycling program. Chase worked tirelessly to improve Kent's water treatment plant from one of primary sewage treatment to one of secondary treatment and to establish Riveredge Park along the Cuyahoga River in Kent, all while remaining cognizant of the need to educate and create awareness of the importance of the environment and environmental conservation. Her recognition of the importance of watersheds and her understanding of and championing of environmental improvements in the Cuyahoga River Watershed led to her leadership in Kent's River Day since its inception 24 years ago.


In 1982, she founded the Ohio Coastal Resource Management Project (OCRMP), a citizen advocacy group that identified threats to the aquatic environment along the Ohio coastline and advocated appropriate remedies through legislation. OCRMP published the first environmental monthly newsletter, Ohio Shorelines, with Chase as its editor-in-chief and publisher; she remained its editor until 2010. Chase also was among the first members of the Ohio Coastal Resources Advisory Council (CRAC), a group of citizens appointed by the director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to advise its Office of Coastal Management on matters related to the environment and the development of a sustainable economy among Lake Erie coastal counties. She served as chairperson of the CRAC from 1998 to 2000.


--Iris Meltzer

 The Environment in the News

Prison Time, Fine for Dumping

Akron Beacon Journal - August 6, 2014

Ben Lupo, owner of a Youngstown oil and gas drilling company, was sentenced to 28 months in prison for ordering employees to dump tens of thousands of gallons of fracking waste into a Mahoning River tributary. The court also fined him $25,000. Prosecutors documented the six weeks of clean up with pictures.



EPA Asked to Close Injection Well in Portage

Record-Courier - July 2, 2014

Akron Beacon Journal - July 1, 2014


Concerned Citizens Ohio and the Center for Health, Environment and Justice have asked the U.S. EPA to close a Shalersville injection well at 9795-9899 Coit Road, saying that it has illegally received millions of gallons of waste for years. The complaint contends that this well was permitted only to stimulate production of two nearby wells and was not to be operated as a disposal well. One nearby well (Kotonowski No. 5) has not produced oil or gas since 1985 and has been plugged. The other well (Hawkens-Kabat) has not produced since 2011. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources contends the well is operating legally and that it is "capable" of producing oil and gas (even if there has been little or no production) and was listed as "producing" every day in 2013. The ODNR inspected the well in January and March of this year and found no violations. The two groups filing the complaint contend that ODNR's own rules state that if a well is no longer operating as an enhanced recovery well, it is operating as an unlicensed injection well and must be plugged. The complaint to the U.S. EPA was the only option because Ohio has no mechanism to compel enforcement by state officials.



About Lake Erie--In Our Opinion

Akron Beacon Journal - August 10, 2014


The recent water crisis in Toledo fouled their water supply and resulted in a do-not-drink order for several days. Will this lead to the coordinated effort required to stop the toxic algae blooms responsible for the toxicity? The answer is simple--it requires Ohio, neighboring states and Canada to reduce the level of phosphorous flowing into Lake Erie. It worked in the 1980s when everyone took aim at wastewater treatment plants, got farmers to alter their tilling methods and spurred manufacturers to reduce phosphorus in laundry detergent. In 1990s, however, the algae bloom began to reappear and the public became aware of a liver and nerve toxin generated by the algae that can sicken people. Toledo's treated water exceeded the safe level for drinking by more two times.


U.S. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio described this episode as a "wake-up call," but the editorial asks, "wake up and do what?" A state task force last year updated recommendations, proposing a 40 percent reduction in phosphorus runoff into waterways of Northwest Ohio flowing into Lake Erie. It is estimated that the Maumee River delivers 43 percent of the phosphorous pollution (and has seen a 218 percent increase of dissolved phosphorous since 1995) coming from farmland draining into the river in Indiana and Ohio to the lake. The dumping of dredged sediments into the lake make matters worse, as does the presence of invasive species (zebra and quagga mussels) and wastewater, most notably raw and diluted sewage entering the Detroit River and eventually flowing into Lake Erie.


Restoring wetlands, with their natural filtering effects would be helpful, but the primary effort must be to establish a maximum amount of phosphorus the lake can take and still remain healthy. This means "regulations with teeth" to the farm industry. Ohio recently passed legislation to encourage farmers to become more knowledgeable about curbing phosphorous runoff, but the legislation lacks firm goals, follow-up or a sense of urgency. Livestock manure is another issue. The International Joint Commission for the Great Lakes has recommended not spreading manure on snow-covered or frozen ground, but the call lacks sufficient accountability.


Meetings are under way about the issues and will help only if there is focused and coordinated action. One can hope that the next headlines will show that the state, the Great Lakes region and the country have come together to solve the problems of too much phosphorus getting into Lake Erie. 



Ohio Farmers Get More Money to Combat Lake's Algae

Record-Courier - August 31, 2014


U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio said that $1 million will go into a program to help farmers who plant winter cops, an action that helps stop fertilizers from washing into streams that flow into Lake Erie. Ohio farmers in the 20 counties within the Lake Erie watershed are able to apply some for some of the $2 million available for cover crops.   



Did You Know?

Alliance for the Great Lakes Newsletter - Fall 2014


Did you know: Lake Erie supplies drinking water for approximately 11 million Americans and Canadians.  



Analysis of Dam Removal Derailed

Akron Beacon Journal - August 3, 2014


The proposal by the Ohio EPA for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to analyze removal of the Gorge dam on the Cuyahoga River between Akron and Cuyahoga Falls has been rejected for now. Nothing will happen this year, although the federal money is still available. The Ohio EPA would like to see the dam removed to boost water quality on the Cuyahoga River. The sediment built up behind the dam ranges in depth from 15 feet to 28.5 feet deep over 34 acres and is enough to fill the Akron Rubber Bowl four times. Tests show moderate levels of contamination though nothing toxic. Federal funds could cover 65 percent of the sediment removal costs. The local match could be paid with in-kind services and contributions from state, county and local agencies as well as FirstEnergy Corp., which owns the dam. 



Study: Drilling Causes Quakes

Akron Beacon Journal - July 6, 2014


According to the journal Science, the massive amounts of drilling wastewater that went into four wells in Oklahoma seem to have triggered more than 100 small to medium earthquakes in the past five years, many of them much further away from the wells than expected. The study showed ways that the pressure probably triggered existing fault lines that were ready to move but were not yet active; however, more information about the fracking fluid is necessary to confirm the finding. The study used computer simulations to identify the mechanism of how the water traveled as much as 20 miles from the well (much further than the three miles previously believed) and then triggered small faults or previously unknown ones. According to U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Elizabeth Cochran, this knowledge changes how they "might look at the hazard for a particular well."



Fracking Triggers Quakes in Ohio in 2013

Akron Beacon Journal - August 18, 2014


Five hundred small (magnitude 2.0 or smaller) quakes were caused by fracking in late 2013 near Clendening Lake in Harrison County, about 42 miles southeast of Canton in an area that had no previously recorded quakes. These quakes occurred within a half-mile of three Utica shale fracking wells. Because they occurred very deep inside the earth (nearly 10,000 feet), they were not felt by the public and did not cause any surface damage. They started after the fracking was completed, and there is no evidence of additional quakes later.


Quakes from fracking are rare and scientifically interesting according to Paul Freiberg, coauthor of the study done on the Harrison County quakes. Harrison County is the fifth case of fracking-caused positive-magnitude quakes in the world. The other locations are Oklahoma, the United Kingdom, British Columbia and Mahoning County, Ohio. 


Nathan Johnson and Melanie Houston of the Ohio Environmental Council questioned why the state took quick action to put a moratorium on fracking near the Mahoning County wells but took no action in the Harrison County case. Mark Bruce of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said that the quake data came from nonstate sources and the state's OhioSeis network did not record those quakes. He also said that there was no action to be taken because the fracking was finished before the quakes occurred--unlike in Mahoning County where state data were available and where the fracking was still under way.


Freiberg stressed the importance of monitoring earthquakes around fracking sites to alert drillers and to prevent larger positive-magnitude quakes. Drillers could bypass fault zones to do this. Freiberg added that fracking-induced quakes appear more likely in Utica Shale than other shale formations because Utica Shale is deeper and closer to the older basement rocks where unknown faults are more apt to exist. He also noted that injection wells are more likely to trigger larger quakes, up to magnitude 4.0, such as the 2011 and 2012 Youngstown quakes and those in Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas.



From Hydraulic Fracturing to Earthquakes (editorial)

Akron Beacon Journal - August 19, 2014


Ohio is just beginning to come to grips with the fast growth of oil and gas drilling. The growth of the shale industry (700 new wells projected this year and another 800 in 2015) has brought welcome jobs but also challenges to develop appropriate regulations. New rules have been put into place, and seismic monitoring is increasing regulators' knowledge. But scientists report that identifying underground fault lines is difficult and limits the effectiveness of the new regulations. The state must have resources to continue to enforce the seismic monitoring and must use the knowledge gained to protect the health and safety of people and the environment. 



Less Shakes from Artificial Earthquakes, Fed Study Says

Record-Courier - August 19, 2014


For people within six miles of a fault, artificial quakes caused by drilling and natural quakes feel pretty much the same, according to U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Susan Hough. But in her study of man-made and natural quakes of similar magnitudes in the central and eastern United States from 2011 to 2013, people report experiencing less shaking. While distance matters, her study showed that man-made quakes are generally about 16 times weaker than natural earthquakes of the same magnitude. 


--Summarized by Lorraine McCarty  

 Dates to Remember

September 23 (Tuesday)

Clean Fuels Ohio Awards and Workshops

10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Columbus, Ohio
To register, click here.

October 31 (Friday)
Kent State University's Second Annual Water Research Symposium
Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center
8 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

Symposium sessions on:

  • Ecology of water and the Great Lakes
  • Water policy
  • Green design and urban infrastructure
  • Stormwater management


Free and open to the public.
KEC Membership

We welcome anyone who wants to join the Kent Environmental Council and support our efforts. If you are already a member, you will be receiving a reminder of renewal by mail the month before the expiration date for your dues. Remember, dues are the main source of income for KEC. We need your support to do our work. 


Membership levels are $45, Sustaining; $35, Family; $25, Individual; $15, Golden Buckeye; $10, Student; $500, Lifetime; and $200, Organization.  

To join or renew, send your name, address, phone number, email address and check made payable to KEC, P.O. Box 395, Kent, OH 44240. 

To join or renew online with PayPal, click here.  




Offer Expires: No Expiration Date