2020 Green Achievement Award Winners

Green Energy Ohio is proud to honor individuals, businesses, universities, nonprofits, and government and community entities, throughout the state at the Annual Awards Ceremony and Reception with the Green Achievement Award. The Green Achievement Award recognizes innovators, collaborators, educators, and leaders in their respective fields for the work they have accomplished in advancing GEO’s mission. This year’s Awards Ceremony and Reception take on special significance as 2020 marks Green Energy Ohio’s 20th year.

GEO is proud to honor the following for their work to protect public health and the environment, to generate economic opportunity and prosperity, and to ensure a green energy future for the state of Ohio.

20th Anniversary Lifetime Achievement Award for Service to the State: Governor Ted Strickland

Ted Strickland has spent his career in service to Ohio. Elected Ohio’s 68th governor in November 2006, Ted led the state with policies that focused on investments in job creation and education. Recognizing the importance of a clean energy economy in the 21st century, Ted signed a $1.57 billion state stimulus to create thousands of growth-sector jobs, including $50 million for new jobs in the advanced and renewable energy field.

Building on his commitment to a clean energy future was the passage of Senate Bill 221. The legislation’s comprehensive approach to addressing energy policy included the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), Energy Efficiency Resources Standard (EERS), and Greenhouse Gas Emission Reporting Requirements. Key elements of the statute were a 25% alternative energy resource target by 2025, half of which would come from renewable energy. A unique provision specified a set aside for solar generation and, to invigorate the clean energy industry sector, there was an in-state requirement stipulating that half of the renewable energy generation used to meet the target must originate in facilities located in Ohio. Within the limitations on state’s ability to regulate climate pollutants, S.B. 221 directed the PUCO to adopt rules establishing greenhouse gas emission reporting requirements.

Working with Chancellor Eric Fingerhut, Ted envisioned a system of Centers of Excellence within Ohio’s distinguished research institutions. Of those that were established, nine focused on various aspects of energy and environmental sustainability. His recognition of the contributions of higher education to a clean energy future was evident in his support for the University Clean Energy Alliance of Ohio (UCEAO).

Prior to his role as governor, Ted served six terms in Congress representing Ohio’s 6th congressional district, where he established a strong record advocating for investments in economic development, technology, and health initiatives. Much of his work focused on improving lives in Appalachian Ohio through education and job creation.

Ted’s service ethic is rooted in his faith and education. An ordained Methodist minister, he has served in ministerial positions and as an administrator at a Methodist children’s home. Ted worked as a counseling psychologist at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville and was a professor of psychology at Shawnee State University. He received a bachelor’s degree in history at Asbury College in Kentucky, a Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary, and a doctoral degree in counseling psychology at the University of Kentucky. Ted’s partner in life, Frances Strickland, is a Ph.D. educational psychologist and author, who has made her mark on Ohio politics entertaining crowds with her guitar.

20th Anniversary Lifetime Achievement Award for Service to the Region: Brewster Rhoads

Brewster Rhoads has served the Greater Cincinnati community for over forty years.

Brewster became Executive Director of Green Umbrella in 2011, the same year that the organization partnered with Agenda 360 and Vision 2015 (now Skyward), the area’s leading planning initiatives, to become the sustainability alliance for the region around Cincinnati. In that capacity he coordinated the work of member businesses, non-profits, local governments and educational institutions collaborating to make Greater Cincinnati one of the top 10 most sustainable metro areas in the US.

Prior to his position with Green Umbrella, Brewster served as the SW Ohio regional director for Governor Ted Strickland, acting as the Governor’s liaison to citizens, elected officials, business leaders and educational institutions in thirteen counties in the Greater Cincinnati and Dayton regions. He began his time in Southwest Ohio as director of the Cincinnati office of Ohio Citizen Action. Brewster has managed over 150 ballot issues and candidates throughout the Greater Cincinnati region. He is the founder and chair of the Ohio River Paddlefest and is an avid kayaker, cyclist, boater, and photographer.

A native of Philadelphia and a graduate of Williams College, Brewster participated in the first Earth Day celebration in 1970 and has been an environmental advocate and political strategist ever since. Since retiring from Green Umbrella in 2015, he and his wife Ann divide their time between Ohio, the Florida Keys, and traveling overseas to visit their accomplished daughters Elizabeth and Caroline.

Green Achievement Award in Academia: The University of Dayton

As a leader in sustainability efforts, The University of Dayton lists their sustainable focus as one of their many points of pride. Their work toward a more sustainable world crosses disciplines, programs and divisions.

In 2009, The University of Dayton instituted Ohio’s first master’s program in clean and renewable energy. The program prepares students to design solar, wind, biofuel and geothermal systems and make buildings and factories more energy efficient by offering energy engineering courses and by providing research, professional engineering, and international energy development opportunities. In 2014, the Hanley Sustainability Institute (HSI) was founded to develop a cross-disciplinary network of innovative people and projects, stimulating and supporting dynamic collaboration between the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Engineering, School of Education and Health Sciences, School of Business Administration, the University of Dayton Research Institute, and within the community.

The University of Dayton’s Green Revolving Fund (UDGRF) promotes sustainability and renewable energy efforts with investments in environmentally-sound technologies and initiatives that promote environmental stewardship and save the University money. The University has invested in renewable resources for their own energy needs, including solar arrays on the roof of Fitz Hall, in front of Curran Place and at Adele Center. The front lawn of Daniel J. Curran Place has been transformed into a “solar prairie” with a 1.26 Mw solar array installed in 2018 and a pollinator prairie planted under the panels the next year.

In 2019, UD added BA and BS tracks in a sustainability major. They include BAs in food systems and urban sustainability and BSs in energy and sustainable watersheds. That’s in addition to the Sustainability, Energy and the Environment (SEE) minor that’s been popular for nearly a decade and the Graduate Certificate that also is offered.

Today, UD ranks in the top 3 percent of all AASHE STARS-rated schools; first in Ohio and second among all U.S. Catholic colleges and universities. Further, the University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI) is a national leader in scientific and engineering research, serving government, industry and nonprofit customers.

Green Achievement Award in Business: Fifth Third Bank

Fifth Third Bank has made an outstanding commitment to making their company environmentally sustainable. The company understands that increasing environmental sustainability creates long-term value for Fifth Third and strengthens the communities where their stakeholders, customers, and employees live and work. Fifth Third has established five operational sustainability goals to promote a healthy and sustainable environment and help protect the planet for future generations.

In 2018, they achieved their first goal—to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent—and took a giant stride toward accomplishing their 100 percent renewable energy goal by becoming the first Fortune 500 company to contract for 100 percent renewable power through a single new renewable energy project. And then in August 2019, Fifth Third made history again by powering up the new 80 MWac/120 MWdc Aulander Holloman Solar Project that will generate as much power as Fifth Third uses in a year, enabling it to meet its 100 percent renewable power goal three years ahead of schedule.

Further, Fifth Third joined both the RE100, a corporate leadership initiative led by The Climate Group in partnership with the Carbon Disclosure Project, and the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance.

Fifth Third continues to make great strides toward their remaining bold goals – to reduce energy usage by 25 percent, landfill waste by 20 percent, and water usage by 20 percent – and remains on track to achieve these goals by 2022.

Green Achievement Award for a Nonprofit: The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden has been dedicated to the conservation of plants and animals since 1875. Named the “Greenest Zoo in America” in 2010, the Zoo has continued to lead the way in sustainability and green initiatives by greening its daily operations and reducing its impact on the environment.

As part of the ambitious “More Home to Roam” campaign, the Zoo is capturing 100% of the storm water and reusing it in the habitats. Through green building, solid waste management, renewable energy, water conservation, storm water management, energy efficiency and community outreach, the Zoo has committed to become net zero energy, water and waste facility.

To reach their net-zero energy goal, the Zoo has committed to using renewable energy, and producing their own clean energy on site. Despite adding 12 percent in building square footage, they have reduced their reliance on grid-based electricity by 23 percent. A 20kW solar array adorning the roof of the Harold C. Schott Education Center and 10kW solar panels are at the Go Green Garden Exhibit. These arrays, in addition to a 1.2kW wind turbine at the Go Green Garden Exhibit, are providing more than a third of the power demands of their Membership and Ticketing Building.

The latest solar panel project, a 1.56-megawatt array with 6,400 panels installed on a canopy structure is the largest, urban, publicly accessible array in the nation. One of many sustainable features located at the Zoo’s parking facilities, guests also utilize electric vehicle charging stations, a bike sharing station, a Metro bus transit stop, and electric and bio-diesel vehicle fleet.

Green Achievement Award in Government and Community: The City of Cincinnati

The City of Cincinnati has a history of environmental leadership, stewardship, and energy cost saving initiatives, including the creation of the first Green Cincinnati Plan in 2008.  Updated in 2018, the Green Cincinnati Plan presents a comprehensive set of recommendations to advance the sustainability, equity, and resilience of the city. 

The goals and recommendations included in the plan are believed to be the highest-impact, most feasible strategies for reducing the risks of climate change, growing green-sector economic opportunity, and improving comfort and quality of life for all citizens of Cincinnati.  In 2012, Cincinnati became the 1st major city to offer 100 percent renewable energy through its aggregation program, and the first to offer 100 percent carbon-free energy for both natural gas and electricity in 2018.

Currently, more than 80,000 electric aggregation program participants receive 100 percent renewable energy.  It is the largest carbon reduction program in the City and abates approximately 250,000 tons of CO2 annually. Both the municipal solar array and the renewable aggregation program save money and create local jobs, compared to buying electricity from the grid. Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley is playing a leading role in mobilizing other jurisdictions to make similar commitments.

Further, Cincinnati has committed to use 100% renewable energy by 2035. As a major step toward that goal, the City recently signed a contract for the largest municipal solar array in the country, scheduled to be producing 100 MW of clean energy by Summer 2021.