Greater Cincinnati Not So Hot In The Carbon Footprint Game

The Brookings Institute recently launched their Blueprint for American Prosperity: Unleashing the Potential of a Metropolitan Nation: ambitious, multi-year initiative to build long-term U.S. prosperity by reinvigorating the federal role in promoting the health and vitality of America's metropolitan areas.
The key concept is that our nation's assets are concentrated in our metro areas, and are the vital engines of the U.S. and global economy.

Anyway, one of the policy briefs that have come out of it so far is a study on carbon emissions and energy usage in the top 100 metropolitan areas. Greater Cincinnati does not fare so well (page 21 of the PDF).

First, they looked at the period between 2000 and 2005 and studied the change in the average per-capita carbon emissions:
  • Average per-capita carbon footprint change from 2000-2005:
    • Metro Cincinnati: +12.10%
    • Top 100 metros: +1.1%
    • Nation: +2.2%
  • Of that carbon footprint change, portion which was transportation energy:
    • Metro Cincinnati: +4.0%
    • Top 100 metros: +2.4%
  • Of that carbon footprint change, portion which was residential energy:
    • Metro Cincinnati: +20.8%
    • Top 100 metros: -0.7%
Then they studied the average per capita carbon footprint for the year 2005 as a snapshot.
  • Average per-capita carbon footprint in 2005:
    • Metro Cincinnati: 3.281 tons of carbon
    • Top 100 metros: 2.24 tons
    • Nation: 2.60 tons
  • Of that 2005 carbon footprint, portion which was transportation energy:
    • Metro Cincinnati: 1.575 tons
    • Top 100 metros: 1.310 tons
    • Nation: 1.44 tons
  • Of that 2005 transportation carbon footprint, portion which was from cars:
    • Metro Cincinnati: 1.140 tons
    • Top 100 metros: 1.004 tons
  • Of that 2005 transportation carbon footprint, portion which was from trucks:
    • Metro Cincinnati: 0.436 tons
    • Top 100 metros: 0.305 tons
  • Of that 2005 carbon footprint, portion which was residential energy:
    • Metro Cincinnati: 1.706 tons
    • Top 100 metros: 0.925 tons
    • Nation: 1.16 tons
  • Of that 2005 residential carbon footprint, portion which was from electricity:
    • Metro Cincinnati: 1.255 tons
    • Top 100 metros: 0.611 tons
  • Of that 2005 residential carbon footprint, portion which was from residential fuels:
    • Metro Cincinnati: 0.451 tons
    • Top 100 metros: 0.314 tons
The numbers that jump out at me are the whopping 20.8% increase in home energy use, and the related 1.706 tons of carbon emissions from home energy in 2005, nearly twice that of the average person living in the top 100 metro areas. And most of that 1.706 tons is from homes powered by electricity.

Why the drastic increase and consumption of home electricity? Do Cincinnatians like it cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter than other cities? Is it all the huge, new home construction, with an entertainment center and server room in every house? Is it all the old homes that need a fortune to keep heated in the winters? Other cities have these things. But they may make up for it with more high-rises and multi-family buildings and public transit. The study does say that weather is a factor.

I originally found this info linked from Soapbox Cincinnati, which wrote up the Blueprint For Prosperity program as a whole. There's also a story about it on Local12, though they spent most of the time focusing on how our air is still clean.

Tracking The Banks

I understand that most people would just like to see something on the riverfront between the two stadiums, but if this truly the "front porch" of the city and as important as they say it is, let's build something that doesn't look like something you might find at the Deerfield Towne Center.

When I first saw the renderings, I don't even remember my reaction. I must have totally glossed over them in ambivalence. (Or I was still reeling from the new website, but that's another post.) They look nice and all, but...

In the story comments, quimbob links to some old renderings, circa 1999, I believe, of The Banks way back when the idea first surfaced. I remember these drawings, now that I look at them. Somehow they feel better. Maybe it's just the texture - I guess rendering software has advanced a lot in the last 10 years. But notice the triangular block with the fountain in the second picture, a characteristic you might find in an East Coast neighborhood that grew organically over time. I don't get that feeling from the new drawings.

You can see all the old renderings by clicking on the first one here, and then changing the filename in the URL.

Rehabilitation Not Demolition

Over at Building Cincinnati is an incredible tale of a housing resurrection, in the true sense of the word. There are lots of stories about people who buy "fixer-uppers," renovate, then sell, but this story is framed a little differently.

Kent Evans bought a house for $700 in a bad neighborhood, fixed it up, and it now provides a nice home for committed residents. The decision to rehab as opposed to demolish was better for the new residents, better for the city, and better for the area. But Kent talks about the plain economical sense in rehabbing discarded homes like this one, as opposed to demolition.

"In these times of national housing crisis, local leaders need to fashion policy with the most bang to the buck in the program cost and a more prudent choice in cost for the area's homeowners - individuals' wishes notwithstanding," he says. "Go with a program which targets existing structures. It's the best, most economical way."
Beyond all this, the work itself was amazing. Sometimes I like to think I could do something like this. I'm not averse to the work (I don't think), but I just wouldn't know where to begin. This is coming from a guy who was proud of installing a light fixture without setting anything on fire.

Below are a pair of inside before-and-after pictures, and a pair of outside, taken by Kent Evans. See the full post, and a ton more pictures, on Building Cincinnati.

Soapbox Derby

I walked through the Cincinnati Soapbox Derby on Saturday, and took some random photos. It was a nice day and it looked like a lot of people had come and gone already.

Here is the start of a heat.

I particularly liked this shark racer. The WCPO car is in the background.

The Soapbox Cincinnati car.

A couple more heats.

Reds Report

When the Reds went on a that long winning stretch at home, I thought that this was it, all that young talent and a couple veterans have finally coalesced and we won't lose very much anymore until September. And they played well for a little longer, then they lost 2 of 3 to St. Louis, 2 of 3 to Boston, and got swept by the Dodgers. That did it for me. They would have to play almost perfectly to make any postseason this year. I guess there's always next year.

One thing to watch are all the young pitchers. Case in point, this weekend series with the Yankees, won by the Reds 2 games to 1. Starting pitchers in this series: the rookie Volquez, the rookie Thompson, and the rookie Cueto. Their lines:

  • Reds win, 4-2. Volquez: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 SO, 0 HR, 1.71 ERA
  • Reds win, 6-0. Thompson (ML debut): 5.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 2 SO, 0 HR, 0.00 ERA
  • Reds lose, 4-1. Cueto: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 SO, 0 HR, 5.01 ERA
I'd say the future looks bright.

Photo by Bill Kostroun/AP

Speaking of Volquez, the Josh Hamilton trade may have been the most mutually beneficial trade in the history of baseball. That's my unofficial opinion.
  • Hamilton: .316 AVG (7th), 19 HR (1st), 76 RBI (1st)
  • Volquez: 10 W (tie 2nd), 1.71 ERA (1st), 110 SO (1st)
Each player is leading their respective league positions in two-thirds of the Triple Crown. Not much to complain about with that trade.

Speaking of positions, the Reds lost their fourth short stop of the season on Friday, losing Jolbert Cabrera (who was 4-for-4) to injury. This certainly has not helped their record, but the season's starting short stop, Gonzalez, was never supposed to hit much in this lineup. The two subsequent replacements, Keppinger and Hairston, Jr., were upgrades, IMO. So then who hasn't been hitting? How about the 3 and 5 hitters, bringing in averages of .249 and .219 respectively. Griffey, Dunn, WTF?

Driven To The Brink

Via CityKin, comes a link to "How the Gas Price Spike Popped the Housing Bubble and Devalued the Suburbs," a paper about - well, the title says it all.

Here is a short video (3:44) explaining the concepts. While it focuses mainly on the Chicago area, the paper studies several other metro regions.

The paper looks at the issues from many angles, but the angle I found most interesting was the simple number of vehicle miles traveled per person:

But in the past three years, vehicle travel per capita in the United States has begun to decline. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, total vehicle miles traveled per person per day reached a peak of 27.6 in 2005 and declined to 27.2 in 2007. This represents a substantial departure from the trend established between 1990 and 2003. Vehicle travel is now about 1.5 miles per person, per day, below the 13-year trend. Despite an increasing population, the decline in driving per person has had the effect of reducing gas sales, which in early 2008 were down 1.1 percent from a year earlier (Campoy 2008).

Economists who have studied travel behavior and energy consumption agree that consumer responses to gas price changes are greater in the long run than in the short run. There are very few things, other than combining trips or forsaking travel, that consumers and workers can do in the short run to reduce their travel. But over a longer period of time, consumers can do much to lower their travel and gas consumption. Decisions about where to live or work, which neighborhood to move to and which job to take all profoundly influence travel behavior in the long run.
What might be the policy implications of all this?
  • Government can help families save money by making it easy and convenient to live in mixed-use, close-in neighborhoods served by transit.
  • Reducing vehicle miles traveled not only saves families money, households that drive less have more to spend on other things, stimulating the local economy. Additionally, reducing oil consumption not only cuts greenhouse gas emissions but lowers the trade deficit.
And what about long-distance traveling? Returning from vacation last week, my total elapsed travel time, including getting to the airport early, sitting at the gate, sitting on the runway, and the layover, was about 7 hours. I wonder if high-speed rail could've gotten me there in about the same amount of time? Even if it were a little longer, on the train, it must be cheaper, there must be more space, and it might be easier to work, read, etc. But that's a different story altogether.

I Have An Idea For The New Skyscraper

I have an idea for the new tower at Queen City Square. In Dubai, construction is set to begin on David Fisher's Rotating Tower, a 59-story residential tower with independently rotating floors, completely powered by sun and wind.

Each floor is composed of 12 self-contained units, complete with plumbing and electrical. Each unit is attached to a central spine or axis, enabling each floor to rotate independently. Once the central spine is in place, each unit can be fabricated in a factory, sent to the site, hoisted up and attached independently. Over 90% of the tower will be manufactured.

In the comments of the linked blog, the challenges of such a design are debated. A local mention makes it through:

This is not as complicated as you’re all making it, Psuedo and PaTrond. Buckminister Fuller designed and built a rotating house, the Dymaxion House. Hell, there’s even a rotating restaurant in Covington, Kentucky, not to mention many far more cosmopolitan cities. Plumbing and electrical connections are not a problem. Rotation is typically no more than once per hour.

Please, how much more cosmopolitan can you get than Covington, KY?

The coolest thing is are the wind turbines sandwiched in-between each floor:
The 59-floor building will be powered entirely by sun and wind energy. And, the architect claims that the building will generate 10 times more energy than required to power it, thus making it a positive energy building. Solar panels will be fitted on the roof to harness sunlight, and a total of 48 wind turbines will be sandwiched between the rotating floors, placed so that they are practically invisible. Each wind turbine could produce up to 0.3 megawatt of electricity, and it is estimated that 1,200,000 kilowatt-hours of energy would be generated every year.
That would make a pretty nice addition to the skyline, eh?

Watch the PR video.

600 Clean Ones

Congratulations (belated), Junior, on 600 home runs.

Photo by Wilfredo Lee/AP

CCV Preparing For Election Year

I guess with no anti-gay, anti-lesbian agenda on this year's ballot, the Citizens for Community Values is feeling a little need for attention. Which would explain why they called for a press conference in front of City Hall denouncing CityBeat for accepting money from legal customers in return for gasp publishing ads! What is this business they call "advertising," and why has nobody ever told me it was illegal before?

This is wrong on so many levels, it's comical. Allow me to enumerate.

  1. CityBeat is guilty of nothing but accepting payment for ads, which of course lots of people do. Even if their customers were not legal, wouldn't the job of arresting and prosecuting them fall onto the shoulders of law enforcement? Why would anyone expect CityBeat to police its advertisers? Wouldn't that be the job of, um, the police?
  2. The letter sent to CityBeat from CCV is lacking. As CityBeat points out, there is no where to send a reply as they request. Also, it is signed by 39 people, most of whom are reverends and pastors I've never heard of, the chief of police, county sheriff, and some random attorneys. I wonder if any of those reverends and pastors have ever told their flocks that the federal government introduced AIDS in the black community.
  3. I'm not fan of prostitution. I think it's exploitative and a general drag on neighborhoods, but as they say it's the oldest business in the world. But if I was a fan, I certainly would not look in CityBeat to get my kicks. If the CCV was really concerned about this, they should target the Yellow Pages, the internet, and the late-night TV ads that run while I watch syndicated episodes of Friends at 11 pm at night. They should work with the law enforcement privately, perhaps with CityBeat's help. Vice squad usually doesn't hold a press conference at City Hall when they are preparing a bust. To this point, this line from the letter is laughable:
    " has been brought to our attention that the adult classified ad sections of both your weekly print edtion and your online edition have become primary avenues through which the sex-for-sale industry in greater Cincinnati markets their destructive services."
Many good comments over on Cincinnati blog about this (this one in particular). Also, see the Cincinnati Dealer's take.

Western Bowl Is Bestern Bowl

So Western Bowl may be torn down. I have not been to Western Bowl for quite some time. In fact, all my visits to the Western Bowl are contained in the year-and-a-half that I dated a West Side girl in college. Without her, there was really no reason to go to that bowling alley, and my friends and I usually made our way to Madison Bowl in Madisonville, or the Super Bowl in Erlanger.

But I can appreciate an institution like that. So can Christy Feldhaus of White Oak, according to her letter to the editor:

How to describe the West Side of town? If you ask anyone they will tell you how they grew up on the West Side and their parents are here. So are their grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, best friends, best friends' family, etc.

The point is that we have very strong roots on this side of town, and at one time or another Western Bowl has played a part in those lives.

Have you even looked into the bogged-down nightmare right over in Bridgetown/Dent? Ask that developer what happens when you want to tear things down.

I'm not saying give up the idea of developing around there, but do so with respect for our values. Keep Western Bowl in the plans and it will serve you very well. Tear it down and all those aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, best friends will have very long memories and will resent your business and not go there.

Though the very thing she champions is the very reason some people deride the West Side, I appreciate the sentiment here. I'm not really sure if what she says would come true, but it's a great threat.

Update On Walnut Hills Kroger

Over on Building Cincinnati, read the latest in a series of posts about the status of the Walnut Hills Kroger.

All I'll say is that it would be a real tragedy of this Kroger's closes. It would be a huge inconvenience for me, but at least I have a car and copious amounts of free time :) . As commenters regularly point out, there is a huge walking population in the area that walk to that Kroger's, and I'm not sure where'd they go if it was gone. Take the bus to the University Kroger's, I suppose.

This store is the only Kroger's I can think of between UC and the Hyde Park store. As one commenter put it, it has a chance to become the store for Walnut Hills and Mt. Adams, as the area changes in general. Each time I shop there, I feel that I see more and more - for lack of a better word - yuppies in the store than ever. Same goes for the UDF at Victory and McMillan.

I understand business is business is business, but, c'mon Kroger, you can afford to lose money on a store for a little while. Ride this out, and see what happens to the neighborhood.

I'd Be Lying If I Said I Missed It

Been on the beach for the past five days, completely offline. Just starting to get caught up. I missed a couple interesting news items in that short time, so expect some possible posts on the CCV-CityBeat circus, the demise of Western Bowl, and Griffey's 600th.


Sunday was a great day for baseball... Griffey on the verge of 600, Cueto on the mound, and some kid named Jay Bruce everyone's been talking about. Griffey didn't hit #600, but he did go 2-3. As did Bruce, with a HR and an RBI double, in a 6-2 Reds win. He raised his career average to .591.

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