A few years ago Mayor Katherine Procop proposed to implement the "Twinsburg Green Initiative." The Green Initiative would focus on making the city of Twinsburg a more environmentally friendly community by preserving floodplains associated with Tinkers Creek, by encouraging preservation of unique and significant habitat for wildlife, by providing public open spaces for the enjoyment of residents, and by seeking ways to make the city a more sustainable place.
With the support of the public, the city has acquired significant land areas which are now devoted to open space rather than residential subdivisions or strip malls. A little more than 25 percent of the city's developed area is devoted to parks and open space.
While the Green Initiative originally focused on open space and habitat preservation, it has morphed into broader issues of sustainability. City officials said a sustainable community is one in which the occupants do not deplete the community's inherent natural resources faster than they can be replenished.
The concept of sustainability is holistic in Twinsburg. It impacts every aspect of the community and the lives of its residents. It has become an objective of the city to lead by example. To this end, a variety of actions have been pursued in addition to land acquisition and open space preservation. For example, the city is looking for ways to reduce the need for development of "green fields" or previously undeveloped land by encouraging the reuse of existing developed land and buildings. The city has tailored its Twinsburg Occupancy Program (an income-tax-based incentive program) to encourage new tenants and new uses for older buildings. Similarly, it has priovided property tax incentives for expansion of existing buildings and businesses at higher benefit rates than those made available to green field development sites.
Twinsburg strives to reduce the city's demand for energy. An energy audit performed by Johnson Controls, Inc. in 2008 assessed all city-owned buildings for energy conservation purposes. Using this information the city was able to secure several grants to undertake multiple projects including the following:
* Building envelop improvements (weather sealing, insulation, etc.) at the city's wastewater treatment plant, service structures, maintenance buildings and community center.
* Lighting retrofits for higher efficiency and lower costs at the community center, wastewater treatment plant and fitness center.
* Installation of solar water heaters at the community pool.
* Installation of a methane powered gas turbine at the wastewater treatment plant that will convert waste gases to electric power to energize various functions at the wastewater plant.
Other energy reduction measures initiated by the Engineering Division included the conversion of traffic signals to high efficiency LED lighting. The recently constructed round-about at Liberty Road and Glenwood Drive has resulted in less wait-time and fuel burned at the intersection.
Development of the city's multi-purpose trails not only provides recreational and health benefits, but can provide an alternative to driving to key destinations like the library, schools, city hall, and other locations.
The city's efforts to conserve energy, reduce operating costs and reduce greenhouse emissions continues. This year the city received a grant that will fund new windows and doors at the government complex. In addition, Twinsburg has secured a grant to fund the acquisition and testing of hybrid vehicles for city use.
Low-income residents will soon benefit from a grant that will fund various weatherization improvements as well as water heater and furnace replacement with high-efficiency units, thereby reducing costs to the resident as well as reducing their consumption of natural gas and electric power.
In order to identify other opportunities to enhance sustainability efforts, the city's Environmental Commission will be contributing to a review of city land development and building regulations to identify code elements that might be modified to encourage more environmentally conscious land development.
All these efforts benefit the residents and businesses of the city, either directly or indirectly. In addition to improving environmental quality and contribution to healthy living conditions there are monetary savings. The city anticipates saving more than $125,000 in annual operating costs. Reductions in operating costs will enable the city to conserve taxpayer dollars, and to fund services essential to the residents. City officials said reductions in energy consumption will not only save money but will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce consumption of (and therefore dependence on) foreign oil, and contribute to a greener and healthier environment.