Graduate students from a sustainability studio class at Ohio State University have completed a draft framework for Grove City's sustainability committee.
The 10-member committee began meeting in June with the task of creating a sustainability plan the city will be able to implement going forward, said Linda Rosine, the environmental coordinator for Grove City's parks and recreation department.
The 13 city and regional planning students from Ohio State's Knowlton School of Architecture began working with the committee three months ago, she said. Associate professor Kim Burton leads the class.
The students presented the draft of their report Nov. 18 to City Council. It includes a number of proposed action plans in a variety of sustainability-related categories.
Grove City already has a good start in its sustainability efforts, said Maeve Hogel, a second year dual natural resources/city and regional planning and project manager for the sustainability studio.
In the past decade, the city started a facility recycling program in 2010, created the annual EcoFest event in 2015 and installed a blue roof, intended to store water, typically rainfall, at the safety complex in 2016, she said.
"Many things that will be going on in the future were incorporated into the plan," including the city's ideas to install two electric-vehicle charging stations, add five hybrid police cruisers and revise the city's building and development codes, Hogel said.
"The purpose of the framework and draft we are creating is to take all this work Grove City is already doing and try to elevate it and find any gaps where we could make recommendations on where the city could build off of the projects and programs (it) is already working on," she said.
The studio class kicked off its work Aug. 21 and held its first meeting with the sustainability committee Sept. 11, class member Alan Clinton said.
A public meeting was held Oct. 9 to gather feedback from community members and more than 500 people responded to an online survey that was available Oct. 29 through Nov. 5, he said.
For each action plan listed in the draft framework, the students have identified who should "take ownership" to implement the action policy, potential funding sources, a potential timeline for implementing the action plan and the metrics the city could use to determine when implementation has been completed, Clinton said.
Action plans were created in the areas of community engagement, built environment, natural environment, energy, transportation, waste reduction, city operations and business practices.
The proposed ideas include suggestions raised both by sustainability committee members and the public, Clinton said.
Among the major action items, the framework suggests in natural environment that the city increase the number of native species planted in non-recreational areas and create community gardens to engage residents and encourage locally grown food, he said.
In the survey and public meeting, the topics that people seemed most interested in were waste reduction and recycling, Hogel said.
"What we heard over and over again was that there still needs to be some education going on about what can be recycled, how you recycle it and where you can recycle items that aren't recycled at home," she said. "Several of our action items deal with that."
There was broad consensus from the feedback from committee members and the public that the city should promote convenient composting collection and develop an educational campaign to encourage proper composting in the community, Clinton said.
In the area of business practices, the framework proposes the city establish a green-business checklist, he said.
"We heard this (idea) from a wide range of voices," Clinton said. "This can be done through creating an online web application and also doing surveys of different businesses so that we can essentially try to understand and engage what businesses in Grove City can do to engage in sustainability practices."
The students will complete their studio class when Ohio State's current semester ends this month, Hogel said.
"At that point we will be handing over everything we've been working on to the sustainability committee," she said.
The framework and the list of proposed action items it contains will provide a starting point for the committee to explore the issues the students raised with more depth before coming up with a final set of recommendations, Rosine said.