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Cincinnati to spend $10M on solar power and energy efficiency in city buildings

cincinnati city hall
Jason Whitman

Cincinnati Council approved a contract for more than $10 million Wednesday to make 94 municipal buildings more energy efficient.

"That money is going towards sustainability retrofitting of city buildings," said Council Member Meeka Owens, chair of the Climate, Environment and Infrastructure Committee. "And so what that means is changing out existing lighting structures to be more efficient, so we will be looking at LED lighting."

Buildings on the list include police stations, fire stations and administrative buildings. Facilities for the city's Health Department and Parks Department are managed separately.

The project also includes rooftop solar panels for nine city buildings:

  • Fleet garage
  • Three fire stations
  • Highway maintenance
  • Public administration building
  • Millvale Recreation Center
  • Evanston Recreation Center
  • Westfork Garage

Buildings and facilities are the second highest contributor to municipal greenhouse gas emissions, behind water and wastewater treatment facilities.

"That's going to save a lot of electricity and carbon emission and all of these things that are very much aligned with the Green Cincinnati plan," Owens said. "It's really a project that demonstrates the city's commitment to leading in sustainability and climate action work."

Retrofitting work is expected to begin in the next couple months, with possible delays if materials are not readily available. Installation of solar panels should begin this fall.

The 2018 Green Cincinnati Plan sets out a goal to reach 100% renewable energy in city buildings by 2035, and to reduce carbon emissions 80% by 2050.

The next version of the Green Cincinnati Plan is due next year. City officials are already working on community engagement for that process with an online survey for residents.

City administration recently announced they will only purchase electric vehicles from now on, as long as that option is available. For now, that only applies to sedans used by administrative staff, not police or fire vehicles.

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.