As Ben Haggerty sweeps up from a weekend night’s business at his Bellevue bar, the B-List, he doesn’t act the part of an eco-warrior. But one conversation makes it clear that Haggerty not only knows the ins and outs of water conservation, he has a great appreciation for businesses working to preserve the environment.
From the time his father first built a rain barrel with him as a child, Haggerty recognized the importance of water. Today, he promotes those childhood values through his second business, Green Streets, LLC
After getting the B-List up and running, Haggerty looked around the community, driven to make a positive impact on the city. His knack for rain barrels made their production and sale a natural choice for his burgeoning green initiative, a construction company.
With its focus on storm water mitigation, Green Streets works with clients who wish to install sustainable options in their homes and businesses. Haggerty works to meet every client at his or her level of commitment to sustainability. He believes every action towards sustainability is a good one.
“If I can get 1,000 people to take two steps I think it will have a bigger impact than getting 10 people to take 10 steps,” Haggerty says.
From a small installation of a rain barrel to a larger project of a green roof, every individual green decision, big or small, can have an impact for both the user and the environment. A rain barrel attached to the gutter system of a home conserves water for use on a dry day, making it possible to water a lawn and garden without using any new water. A green roof reduces run–off and insulates homes. “There is no limit to what you can do to utilize rain water," Haggerty says.
Green Street’s most public project was the installation of a green roof, watering system and rain containment system on City of Cincinnati’s City Hall in 2010. The vision began with Mayor Mark Mallory, who wanted to set to an example of sustainability for the city. Green Streets was subcontracted for the project and City Hall’s roof was transformed into an eye-appealing and water-conserving masterpiece that the public can view from upstairs windows of City Hall.
More things changed within City Hall during that project than just the roof’s landscape. Outdated construction codes restricted redirection of water from a downspout to anything other than the sewer. They made it illegal to reorganize the gutters to flow into a rain barrel. City officials amended the rules to allow a more modern sustainable construction method for City Hall and paved the way for future water conservation initiatives.
As he started Green Streets, Haggerty saw an opportunity to do even more. So he formed The Sustainability Partnership of Cincinnati (TSPC) to help consumers learn about investing in sustainable options and strengthen the Cincinnati’s “green” business community.
“It can be pretty confusing on what is going to be the best use of people’s money, whether it solar, geothermal or new insulation and so on,” Haggerty says. “So we have joined forces with locally owned and operated companies that are invested in the community, and we are able to help people navigate sustainability.”
Haggerty praises the growing network of people with similar goals in and for Cincinnati. One of the first green relationships he created was with Libby Hunter, an eco-broker for Comey & Shepherd. At the time she was known as Cincinnati’s only green realtor.
“It makes a lot of sense, particularly in this economy, to band like-minded businesses together to draw from their collective experience and resources,” says Hunter. “Working together helps each member of the TSPC continue to grow their own business under the support and guidance of the bigger partnership, as its recognition and reputation expands.”
Currently, Green Streets is looking forward to its newest project. Mackey Advisors, a wealth Advocate Services Company in Independence that was named Green Business of the Year of Covington in 2010, hired Green Streets to transform an historic building in Bellevue into its new headquarters.
“It will be the first true TSPC project,” Haggerty says. “We will be saving a historic structure in Bellevue Ky., and adding additional office-grade space, all with an eye for sustainable practices.”
Successful projects demonstrate Haggerty’s passion about making Cincinnati a sustainable city.
“Ben is incredibly knowledgeable,” Hunter says. “It comes from a deep conviction that we need to be re-considering how we live in our homes, how we manage our resources and water usage and waste.”
By Erin Leitner
Erin Leitner, a new graduate of the University of Cincinnati, completed this story as part of a Journalism Seminar focused on Communicating Sustainability. Look for more stories from this class in Soapbox and around the city.