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June 09, 2017

CIA affirms commitment to sustainability

For Immediate Release
Contact: Karen Sandstrom

The Cleveland Institute of Art this week joined leaders from 150 cities, more than 900 businesses and 250 colleges and universities as a signatory to We Are Still In, a nationwide open letter declaring a commitment to reducing carbon emissions.

The letter was first published June 5 in response to President Trump’s removal of the United States as a member of the 2015 Paris climate accord. That agreement, the first global treaty on behalf of the environment, allows each country to set its own emission-reduction targets and adopt strategies for reaching them.

By joining We Are Still In, signatories stand to be recognized for working toward measures to reduce greenhouses gases.

CIA President Grafton J. Nunes said the decision to join We Are Still In is in keeping with the college’s efforts to operate with greater sensitivity to environmental impact.

“Stewardship of the environment needs to be among our highest callings, and it certainly is a critical challenge for artists and designers,” Nunes said. “Our faculty emphasize sustainable solutions with students, although frankly most of our students have grown up with an innate understanding that they are living in an era of a changing climate. But we guide them as they consider what materials and processes they use in their art making. Some of them consider how to use their skills and social agency to improve the environment.

“We also model good stewardship through efforts to reduce the impact of our campus facilities,” Nunes added.

As part of the renovation and expansion of CIA — which in 2015 brought all operations under one roof in the Uptown neighborhood of University Circle — the college installed a 300-panel solar array on the roof of the Gund building. The array was installed in cooperation with the Medical Center Corp., an energy consortium used by much of University Circle. The panels offset an estimated 3 percent of CIA’s energy use per year. The financial savings are invested back into Medical Center Corp.’s efforts to expand its sustainable-energy efforts.

In 2016, CIA partnered with Cleveland entrepreneur Dan T. Moore and one of his companies, Rooftop Green, to plant a native-species garden, based on a variety of sedum, on the roof above the Peter B. Lewis Theater. As the garden matures, it will enhance insulation and reduce rainwater runoff.

And in 2017, CIA will again work with Medical Center Corp. to replace virtually all the compact fluorescent lighting in the Gund building with the highest-efficiency LED lights. This will reduce energy consumption and enhance lighting for artwork in alternative gallery spaces throughout the building. The energy conservation is expected to translate into cost savings that will pay for the project within about two years.

At the heart of CIA’s sustainability ethic is a goal to keep moving the goal post, Nunes said. “Innovative thinking is an absolute requirement if we are to meet the environmental challenges we now face,” he said. “Fortunately, we’re very comfortable with innovation and self-critique at CIA. It’s at the heart of how we teach our students to approach the world.”

Founded in 1882, the Cleveland Institute of Art is an accredited, independent college of art and design committed to nurturing the intellectual, artistic and professional development of students and community members through rigorous visual arts and design education. The Institute offers 15 undergraduate majors, from the visual arts and craft to design and digital arts. It extends its programs to the public through gallery exhibitions, lectures, a continuing education program, and the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque, a nationally acclaimed art and independent film program.

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