Cleveland 2030 District: Building a Green City on a Blue Lake

Cleveland, located in the heart of the rust belt and on the banks of the once burning Cuyahoga River, was never known for being at the forefront of the environmental and sustainability movement – that is until now. In 2009, the City of Cleveland held its first annual Sustainable Cleveland 2019 Summit (named for the 50 year anniversary of the burning river), which brought over 700 stakeholders together representing policy makers, professionals and the public to co-create what sustainable economic development means for Cleveland. Through a summit working group tasked with engaging commercial building owners to reduce energy consumption, the Cleveland 2030 District was born. At the time, Cleveland was the second District established helping to create the 2030 movement, which now includes 12 Districts across North America with several more emerging.

Cleveland 2030 District (C2030D) is a non-profit, private-public collaborative with the goal of engaging property owners and managers to create a high performance building district. C2030D now has 41 property owners and managers who have committed to the challenge of reducing energy and water consumption as well as CO2 emissions from transportation by 50% by the year 2030. This translates to 169 buildings and over 40 million square feet of commercial property. That’s about a 36% participation rate. The momentum of the District is inspiring; participation has doubled in the last 16 months.

To date the District has been concentrating on energy use. In 2016 the District will expand its work to include measuring water use and transportation emissions in the District. The water baseline is nearly complete and the transportation baseline was created just a month ago.

In 2015, the District expanded its original downtown business district footprint to include University Circle, the education, cultural, and medical center of the city. Shortly after, more than 20 buildings representing 7.5 million square feet of commercial property in University Circle have committed to the District goals. This area, located four miles east of downtown, contains many unique buildings, both historic properties and new construction, and offers a tremendous opportunity to expand the impact of the District.

“The Cleveland 2030 District challenges our members to unite toward aggressive, yet attainable goals. The properties participating are progressive property owners and managers – the leaders in our community who will advance the goals of the city to be what we in Cleveland call a Green City on a Blue Lake.”

Using Energy Star Portfolio Manager, the Cleveland 2030 District provides benchmarking reports to participating building owners, which allows them to better understand the performance of their buildings, giving them a foundation on which to base energy reduction opportunities. Through effective collaboration with several partnering organizations, the Cleveland 2030 District also provides education on topics including green leases and financing to its members. Not all participating buildings have verified Portfolio Manager accounts yet, but for those who do, they are collectively operating at 24% below the baseline set by Portfolio Manager. That has saved an average of 367,665,725 kBTUs per year, or the equivalent of removing the total energy use of almost 3,000 single-family homes. Downtown office buildings scored well with a combined average Energy Star score of 77. Energy Star scores buildings on a scale of 1-100 with 50 representing the median. A score of 75 or higher represents a top performer.

The District boasts a vast professional partner network, providing assistance to building owners and managers in developing their roadmap for operational efficiency. These professionals can provide assistance with energy audits, low cost solar array assessments, financing and more. These partners support the work of the District and offer discounted services for property owners who are members of the District.

The Cleveland District had the privilege of hosting the third annual North American 2030 District Network Summit this past fall. North American Districts, both established and emerging, came together for two days to set a strategic course and encourage further collaboration. It was a wonderful opportunity to share progress reports and best practices.


Executive Director at Cleveland 2030 District