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2024 Green Umbrella Sustainability Awards

Green Umbrella will honor two organizations and three individuals for their impact, innovation, and leadership at the 11th annual Midwest Regional Sustainability Summit, on May 2nd, 2023 at the Duke Energy Convention Center in Cincinnati. The conference brings together hundreds of visionary leaders to share inspiring, forward-thinking, and solution-oriented ideas that propel us toward a healthier, more resilient, sustainable, and equitable future.


The Sustainability IMPACT Award recognizes significant and measurable sustainability impact that increases natural resource conservation with/for diverse audiences within its facilities operations, organizational structure, and/or community.

Hamilton County Facilities Department


Hamilton County Facilities Department (HCFD) has had a long-standing commitment to sustainability through operating and designing its buildings to serve people in Hamilton County while reducing environmental impact. The Hamilton County Facilities Department is an organization of over 200 staff that manage energy and water use for over 25 buildings consisting of 3.5 million square feet. The Department actively participates in the US Green Building Council’s LEED Program, US Department of Energy’s Energy Star Program Awards, and the Cincinnati 2030 District. The 800 Broadway building is the longest running and most awarded government building in Ohio, earning fifteen straight ENERGY STAR Certifications. Hamilton County also has four other buildings that have consistently been awarded ENERGY STAR for more than 10 years. The Department has stayed on the leading-edge of energy savings technologies saving taxpayers over $32 million dollars in energy costs since 1998. In 2023, the Department had its best year to date by lowering energy consumption to its lowest level since 1998. Hamilton County Facilities Department deserves this award for its long-term commitment to innovation and energy savings projects through training, funding, and implementation of sustainable projects.


The Sustainability INNOVATION Award recognizes an innovative program that promotes, practices, and/or encourages sustainability included in but not limited to successful education programs, facilities operations, public campaigns, and inclusive strategies.

Plaine Products

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Plaine Products is a woman-owned company in our region innovating to reduce waste. It is pioneering a convenient circular system that empowers customers to reduce waste and carbon by replacing disposability with reuse. Plaine Products helps eliminate single-use plastic from the bathroom by offering a line of personal care products in aluminum bottles that can be sent back, washed and reused time after time. It is the only personal care company in the Midwest that is reclaiming packaging, washing and reusing it. Their rehabilitated warehouse in Milford, Ohio is a fulfillment center and bottle washing station. Since 2017, they have eliminated over 600,000 plastic bottles from the waste stream. They currently offer 14 products and work with 300 wholesale partners. In addition to sustainable packaging, all products are vegan, non-GMO, cruelty-free, biodegradable, color-safe and free of parabens and sulfates. Thank you for your innovation, Plaine Products!


The Sustainability LEADERSHIP Award recognizes individuals that serve as strong and inspiring leaders in support of sustainability for their region, staff, students, customers, company, or community. This year, we recognize three individuals for their outstanding sustainability leadership.

Tim Sisson

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Tim Sisson became a Sierra Club member in 1986 and has been a committed and effective environmentalist ever since.  His success in leadership is best displayed through his 30 plus years with the Western Wildlife Corridor (WWC), a nonprofit nature conservancy and land trust that protects natural habitats along the Ohio River Valley from the Mill Creek to the Great Miami River. Tim has been with WWC since it was established in 1992, and served as WWC President for 18 years. According to his nominator, “Tim is the living embodiment of the WWC mission.” Under Tim’s leadership WWC not only protects, but restores and preserves natural habitat, and provides public education to foster connections with nature. Tim’s relationships with local landowners led to a donation of 30 acres of woodlands for the creation of an event center and headquarters at the Kirby Nature Center in Addyston, Ohio.  As a result of Tim’s efforts, WWC now has 16 nature preserves totaling nearly 400 acres. Even at 82 years young, Tim leads weekly hikes, leads volunteers to remove non-natives, maintains hiking trails, builds bridges, and more. Thank you, Tim, for your conservation leadership.

Michelle Merrett


Michelle Merrett is a pioneer for fresh food access in our region. As a Greater Cincinnati Food Policy Council Steering Committee Member and Board Member of Hamilton Urban Garden Systems (HUGS), Michelle is a huge proponent of equity and access to fresh produce in underserved communities, especially her home community of Hamilton, Ohio in Butler County. With HUGS, Michelle spends time educating youth on the benefits of healthy eating and sustainability through a range of programs that help residents meet their immediate needs and work together for long-term food system resilience and health. Under Michelle's leadership, HUGS received federal funding to work with schools in Butler County to increase fresh food access and nutrition education. HUGS worked in partnership with Miami University to establish a community garden on the Hamilton campus. Thank you for your leadership in health food access, Michelle.

Meeka Owens

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Meeka Owens is a collaborative and courageous leader for municipal climate issues in the City of Cincinnati where she has served as a Councilmember since 2021. As Councilmember, Meeka chairs the Climate, Environment, and Infrastructure Committee and serves on both the Budget and Finance Committee and the Equitable Growth and Housing Committee. During her first term in office, she chaired the Green Cincinnati Plan Steering Committee and championed the passage of the 2023 Green Cincinnati Plan. This pivotal plan serves as a roadmap for city government and the broader community to build a more sustainable, equitable, and resilient Cincinnati as we move toward carbon neutrality by 2050. Prior to her time on Council, Owens served as an organizational development consultant and as a board member for a number of regional organizations. Thank you for your climate and equity leadership, Councilmember Owens!

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