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Building a sustainable, green neighborhood is one of the key ingredients in the development of Circle East District, the new residential neighborhood being developed just east of University Circle.

Building Green From the Ground Up

To that end, the Circle East District is being designed and constructed to meet the National Green Building Standard (NGBS) certification requirements. This rigorous certification program ensures the entire project meets high standards for energy efficiency, water conservation and the use of sustainable materials. Sustainability is considered in the project planning, the infrastructure enhancements and the types of landscaping and plantings included in the neighborhood. All new homes will be built on infill sites – a term used to describe building on vacant or under-used parcels within densely developed urban areas. The Circle East District would be the first local urban infill project to attain NGBS Green certification. NGBS-certified homes provide numerous benefits, including improved indoor air quality, reduced maintenance costs and a healthier living environment for residents.

Beyond the Basics

The Land Bank’s commitment to sustainability extends beyond the walls of the homes themselves. It is dedicated to creating a walkable, bike-friendly neighborhood with green spaces and easy access to public transportation. This approach reduces dependence on car usage,

further minimizing the environmental impact. The Land Bank is also committed to conserving native trees and shrubs and utilizing wildlife-friendly lighting techniques in the district. Thanks to Cuyahoga County’s Healthy Urban Tree Canopy grant program funding, 30 trees will be planted along the project’s open space greenway connecting residents within the neighborhood, and a Tree Inventory and Management Plan has been developed.

“Sustainability initiatives go beyond just bricks and mortar,” said Kamla Lewis, who manages the Circle East District project. “It’s about creating healthy, energy-efficient homes that nurture a more sustainable future for residents and our community.”

Harnessing the Power of the Sun

The City of East Cleveland has become a member of Power a Clean Future Ohio, a group dedicated to reducing carbon emissions throughout the state. This enables the City to benefit from technical expertise and grant assistance related to climate resilience and sustainability. Beyond the project plans that include energy-efficient construction, rooftop solar panels and EV chargers in each home, the Land Bank is working with Cleveland OWNS to install a community-owned solar array on the rooftop of the Mickey’s commercial building on Euclid Avenue. Not only does this create an opportunity for ordinary citizens to join the energy economy, it also translates to lower utility bills, reduced reliance on fossil fuels and a smaller carbon footprint for the building and our community.

A Shared Vision for a Sustainable Future

This initiative represents a collaborative effort between the City of East Cleveland, the Cuyahoga Land Bank, its builder partners and environmental organizations.

“We believe sustainable housing is not just a trend, but a necessity,” said Lewis. “By working together, we can create vibrant, livable communities that leave a positive legacy for future generations.”

About Our Circle East District Sustainability Partners

Cleveland OWNS

Cleveland OWNS is an economic democracy incubator that builds business co-ops and leads campaigns for community control of resources. It supports workers and neighbors in building wealth and grassroots power by starting co-ops led by and serving urban and minority working-class communities. The group provides co-op business coaching through its Co-op U and loans through its Cleveland Co-op Fund.


YellowLite is a Cleveland-based residential and commercial solar installation company. It is committed to excellence in designing and installing renewable energy systems and educating customers on reducing their consumption and using energy more efficiently. Based on the belief that solar is an important energy source that will continue to grow in prominence and scale, Yellowlite is committed to participating in the growing clean energy movement. It will be installing the rooftop solar systems on the homes, and providing training to our builders, realtors and other team members.

Team WS

A real estate and management consultancy, Team WS assists clients involved in residential urban and inner-ring neighborhood revitalization in reimagining land development incorporating sustainability techniques. It works with organizations committed to reinvigorating urban and inner-ring neighborhoods and cities to help achieve growth, sustainability and efficiently use scarce land resources. Team WS is taking the lead in guiding us through the NGBS certification process.

Bartlett Tree Experts

Bartlett Tree Experts was founded in 1907 by Francis A. Bartlett. It is the world’s leading scientific tree and shrub care company. From its over 100 offices worldwide, Bartlett helps both residential and commercial customers maintain beautiful, healthy trees. Its goal is to provide quality care and good value to owners and managers of landscape trees and shrubs.

DERU Landscape Architecture

DERU Landscape Architecture is a boutique practice specializing in public, corporate and private landscapes in civic, educational, recreational, hospitality, healthcare and residential environments. It is committed to incorporating social dynamics, placemaking, ecology, horticulture, stormwater management and aesthetics into each project. The company has designed our Greenway.