Facilitating the Cleveland Air Toxics Working Group

CBI convenes and facilitates the Cleveland Air Toxics Working Group, a multistakeholder group which reaches agreement on dozens of projects to reduce air toxin exposure in Cleveland, OH.

Background and Challenges

As part of its national Urban Air Toxics Strategy, the U.S. EPA created a pilot program in Cleveland, Ohio to support local initiatives for reducing air toxics beyond regulatory requirements. The program’s goals were to reduce air toxins, sustain these reductions over time, and be able to replicate these reductions in other communities. As part of this project, CBI was asked to convene and facilitate the Cleveland Air Toxics Working Group, a group of Cleveland citizens, organizations, businesses, and government agencies working together on air toxics reduction.

The CBI Approach

CBI facilitates the Cleveland Air Toxics Working Group, helping them develop projects, prioritize their options, and choose projects to implement.

CBI conducted a convening report with the assistance of Dr. Sanda Kaufmann of Cleveland State University. CBI then facilitated working group and subcommittee meetings. CBI helped the working group choose ground rules, invent options, prioritize projects, and decide which projects to implement. Dr. Kaufman provided important connections to the local community, co-facilitated meetings, and helped link Cleveland State University to the effort. Dr. Juliana Birkhoff of Resolve evaluated the project from start to finish, providing valuable on-going feedback to participants and CBI during the process.


The Cleveland Air Toxics Working Group reaches consensus on projects to reduce exposure to air toxics for adults, school children, and families in Cleveland.

In June 2002, the Cleveland Air Toxics Working Group reached agreement on over a dozen projects that will reduce the risk of exposure to air toxics for children, families, and adults in two of Cleveland’s urban neighborhoods. The new projects selected by the Working Group include $150,000 for retrofits for Cleveland School buses, over $100,000 for a county-wide air toxics inventory, and some $50,000 for Cleveland schools to further reduce air toxics exposure for children in the area’s public and parochial schools. The group also helped initiate family sign-ups for the smoke-free home pledge; held a hazardous home-material collection day; implemented Tools for Schools in four Cleveland schools; and provided clean diesel circulator buses in two inner-city neighborhoods. So these programs could be implemented efficiently, stakeholders sought to link these projects to existing national programs in Cleveland such as Tools for Schools, Design for the Environment’s Pollution Prevention for Autobody Shops, and county toxics inventories.

The Air Toxics Working Group did not simply plan, study, or analyze air quality improvements; rather, CBI’s facilitation helped the group to focus on direct, tangible actions to reduce air toxics.

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons/ianfreimuth