During the early 2000s, Sadhu Johnston was a determined tree planted in Cleveland’s industrial landscape. As co-founder and executive director of the Cleveland Green Building Coalition, the Oberlin College graduate worked to implement and develop green technology as Cleveland evolved from its manufacturing-based economy.
“One thing that I was really focused on in Cleveland was how clean tech and green technology could make the city a more competitive community and improve the quality of life there,” says Johnston.
He was more than an advocate for sustainability — he was a doer.
In 2003, the group was instrumental in the LEED Certified renovation of the Lorain Avenue Savings & Loan Building in Ohio City. As Cleveland’s first green-retrofit construction project, it featured a geothermal unit, solar panels, a partial green roof and stormwater retention.
Then Johnston got snatched up by Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and spent the next seven years in his administration, working on environmental and sustainability issues.
That government experience has carried over into his new role as the city manager of Vancouver, where his Greenest City Action Plan hopes to make the British Columbia seaport into the most eco-friendly in the world by 2020. Equally ambitious, Johnston is committed to reducing fossil fuel usage to make Vancouver 100 percent renewable energy-powered by 2050.
“One of the key parts to the Greenest City Action Plan is to make it easier for people to bike and walk,” he says.
They’re all ideas Cleveland might want to import. “Cleveland was a great opportunity to learn so much about the challenges and opportunities,” he says, “particularly of a city that was older and reinventing itself.”