Living Sustainably: No Snow, Snow Kidding!

By Michelle Gibbs, Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute

Central Avenue and sidewalks along Centennial Park are free of snow thanks to the snowmelt system. Photo courtesy City of Holland

Did you know, in the City of Holland we have the largest municipal snowmelt system in the United States?
After the recent expansion, the system provides more than 600,000 square feet of heated sidewalks and streets. Personally, I love walking around downtown and not worrying about slipping on the ice or having my shoes ruined by the snow and salt, but did you know there are many other benefits to this unique system?
Here is the story of that system – how it came to be, how it works, and its benefits to our community economically, socially, and environmentally.
History:  We have enjoyed the benefits of the snowmelt system since 1988 thanks in large part to Edgar D. Prince, Prince Corp. founder, who brought the idea of the snowmelt system to city officials after a visit to Europe. Over the years, the system has expanded to meet growing needs of the community.

Some 190 miles of tubing carry warm water beneath Holland streets and sidewalks. Photo courtesy City of Holland

How it works: Excess heat from generating electricity at the Holland Energy Park is captured in the cooling tower, and warm water is pumped through a large underground pipe to downtown Holland. The water is then circulated through 190 miles of smaller tubing. This closed loop system means the same water is circulated over and over again at 95 degrees Fahrenheit. In the past, the system pulled its water from Lake Mactawa, but switching to a closed loop system reduces sediment and wear on system valves.
Economics: In the late 1980s and the 1990s, the snowmelt system played a part in the revitalization of Holland’s downtown. Business owners rallied with the city and Holland Board of Public Works to create a vision for an attractive, snowfree downtown, and the system became a part of that vision to help our community grow. Our downtown now offers a variety of stores, boutiques, restaurants, galleries, and even a winter farmers market.
Socially:  The snowmelt system helps bring people together, as even on the coldest of days you still find people downtown. A number of community groups even meet downtown so they can walk or run without the fear of slipping. The recent system expansion helped connect downtown to the farmers market area near the Civic Center, Herrick District Library, police department, and various parking areas.

A view from above shows the pattern of snowfree streets and sidewalks in Holland. Photo courtesy City of Holland

Environmentally:   Typical power generation systems discharge their waste hot water to the environment; however, the closed loop system greatly reduces the discharge to local bodies of water. Another environmental benefit is the reduced use of salt to melt ice and snow. “Salt is a pollutant that is harmful to fish and wildlife, so we are always happy to see a reduction in its use,” notes the  Macatawa Watershed Project.
Holland Energy Park has the potential to support a snowmelt system five times the current size and to provide additional community resources such as district heating for downtown buildings. The Civic Center is set to be the first building in Holland heated with support from water from the snowmelt system, making it very energy efficient.
Snowmelt has become a part of our identity and is one of the ways Holland continues to “make big ideas come alive.”

WZZM 13 News Segment on Holland’s Snowmelt

To learn more about this unique resource, please click the links below to see photos, videos, and maps of the system:

https://www.cityofholland.com/streets/snowmelt

http://www.holland.org/snow-free-holland

 Michelle Gibbs is the director of the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute.  The vision for the Institute is a healthy and economically vibrant community that promotes environmental stewardship and mutual respect for people and  the planet.  Our mission is to foster collaborative efforts to infuse sustainability into the minds and practices of the greater Holland community.

Snowmelt by the Numbers:
 4.9 miles of heated streets and sidewalks
 114,000 square feet of streets are warmed
 534,000 square feet of sidewalks and parking lots are warmed
 5,500 gallons of water per minute pumps through the system
 Melts about 1 inch of snow per hour at 20 degrees with light winds

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Transportation: The movement of people, goods, and services within the area links us to our regional, national and global networks.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

January 2018 Sustainability News

January 2018 News

January 31, 2018 – Affordable Tech Marvels Dominate Greenest Vehicles List

January 31, 2018 – AT&T and Verizon Pressured to Match T-Mobile’s 100% Renewable Energy Pledge

January 31, 2018 – Why bike share makes sense as a library resource

January 31, 2018 – White House to ask for 72 percent cut in renewable energy programs: report

January 30, 2018 – Gov. Rick Snyder announces proposal to help renew Michigan’s environment

January 29, 2018 – Living Sustainably:  Community policing is sustainability session topic

January 29, 2018 – How healthy is Ottawa County? Find out and join the conversation 

January 29, 2018 – Turning to beet juice and beer to address road salt danger

January 28, 2018 – Michigan Roll Call: See how your legislators are voting in Lansing

January 28, 2018 – Ottawa, Allegan unemployment near lowest in state

January 28, 2018 – A New Year’s Resolution for Everyone: Battery Recycling

January 28, 2018 – Road commissions caution drivers of potholes

January 27, 2018 – A fantastic Super Bowl party that’s … plant-based?

January 27, 2018 – Holland council wants many involved in James DeYoung site planning

January 26, 2018 – City of Holland Human Relations Commission Announces 2017 SOCIAL JUSTICE AWARDS and “I HAVE A DREAM” Essay Winners

January 26, 2018 – Budweiser’s Super Bowl Beer Ad Isn’t about Beer

January 26, 2018 – Pennsylvania rep talks Trump, farm bill, immigration

January 26, 2018 – Hulu Migrates Data Centers To 100% Renewable Energy Facility

January 25, 2018 – Administrator talks issues, initiatives in State of Ottawa County address

January 24, 2018 – BIRDS AGAINST GLASS: AN AVIAN STUDY

January 22, 2018 – Students thrive in Robinson Elementary STEM program

January 21, 2018 – Living Sustainably:  Energy prize competition results in change for Holland

January 21, 2018 – LG Chem continues growth, hiring despite tight talent pool

January 20, 2018 – Lakeshore Advantage gives BPW Energy Park pioneers Visionary Award

January 20, 2018 – Why Am I Marching Tomorrow?

January 19, 2018 – Big Give announces nonprofit recipients

January 19, 2018 – H&M faced backlash over its ‘monkey’ sweatshirt ad, but it isn’t the company’s only controversy

January 18, 2018 – Wind energy sets sail on the Great Lakes

January 16, 2018 – HOPE STUDENTS TO RECEIVE 2017 YOUTH SOCIAL JUSTICE AWARD FROM HOLLAND’S HUMAN RELATIONS COMMISSION FOR DACA MARCH AND RALLY

January 16, 2018 – Ben & Jerry’s Debuts Two New Vegan Ice Cream Flavors

January 15, 2018 – Biodiversity Could Be As Important As Climate For Healthy Ecosystems

January 12, 2018 – Inclusion and Equity: LEDA

January 11, 2018 – A Greener, More Healthful Place to Work

January 11, 2018 – GR nonprofit to give $100K in ‘100 Ideas’ campaign

January 9, 2018 – In Michigan, solar growth meets uncertainty with end of net metering

January 9, 2018 – Jubilee, Homecor plan another housing project in Holland

January 8, 2018 – Living Sustainably: Group launches spring sustainability series

January 8, 2018 – Top 10 Movers And Shakers In Sustainability – 2017

January 8, 2018 – Wetland Meadows Help Cities Stare Down Climate Risk

January 7, 2018 – The Sentinel revisits the top stories of 2017

January 7, 2018 – Commentary: Kids don’t need a cellphone; they need a digital diet

January 7, 2018 – Many High-Profile Actresses Are Bringing Activists to the Golden Globes

January 6, 2018 – What ‘healthy’ looks like in 2018: Vegetables and proteins

January 6, 2018 – Online map aims to make poverty data more accessible

January 5, 2018 – Nikola Tesla’s extraordinary impact still felt decades later

January 5, 2018 – Legal action regarding Weaver House deck collapse pending

January 5, 2018 – Superfund work touted by Trump EPA was completed years ago

January 5, 2018 – Outdoors Winter Market opens Saturday

January 5, 2018 – Supply chain company relocates US headquarters

January 4, 2018 – Lending green: New credit union offers loans solely for eco-friendly projects

January 4, 2018 – Trump moves to vastly expand offshore drilling

January 3, 2018 – Northeastern States Sue EPA To Protect Them From Ozone Pollution

January 3, 2018 – Ann Arbor’s new clean-energy goal: go 100% renewable by 2035

January 2, 2018 – West Michigan companies shine in Newsweek’s ‘Green Rankings’

January 2, 2018 – Growth Rate of Bioplastics Could Erode Demand for Oil

January 2, 2018 – Q&A: How is the growth of bitcoin affecting the environment?

January 2, 2018 – Commentary: We don’t need oil from the Arctic Wildlife Refuge

January 2, 2018 – Fashion in 2018 | 08. Sustainability Credibility

January 2, 2018 – Our View: Sentinel establishes ethics, transparency guidelines

January 2, 2018 – Seven Cost-Saving Sustainability Ideas for 2018

January 1, 2018 – Living Sustainably: Understanding funding for a stronger community

 

Living Sustainably: Community Policing is Sustainability Session Topic

By Penny Shuff, League of Women Voters of the Holland Area
A safe but also friendly community is an essential part of creating sustainable quality of life. But can we maintain both a safe and secure environment while also being a warm and welcoming community?
The Holland Police Department’s approach to community policing will be the focus of the next installment of the Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore continuing education series, with a discussion titled “Community Policing for Peaceful Living.”

Serving ice cream at public events is one of the ways the community policing program seeks to build relationships to boost quality of life in Holland.

The concept of community policing has been around for decades, and the Holland Department of Public Safety has been engaged in this approach for 20 years. Sgt. Larry Matzen leads the Holland police program and says the idea is to create better relationships in the community with people from all walks of life. “Intimately knowing our families and the people we serve is key to building trust,” Matzen said. He explained that community officers are dedicated to the complex task of gaining trust by getting to know the needs of the citizens they serve.

The program on Feb. 6 will be a chance to find out more from Matzen about techniques used by the Holland police to cultivate good relationships with every citizen and especially with residents of our diverse populations. Did you know Holland community police officers will make time to replace a broken tail light? Can you guess how many people were served ice cream last summer by community officers as they were getting better acquainted with their neighbors? These are just some examples Matzen will discuss.
Matzen said Holland is a small town dealing with many of the same issues facing larger cities and every police department needs the public’s help in preventing and solving crimes.
 Hear how community policing is working to establish trust between local law enforcement and all citizens so eyewitnesses feel comfortable coming forward. This relationship is key to solving crimes and keeping all residents safe.
Matzen will explain how community police officers are specially trained based upon long-term research in law enforcement studies, and he will discuss the unique support these officers have from the Holland police chief. He also will talk about whether or not body cameras are working and how police generally feel about wearing cameras. Information on what every driver should know if they are ever pulled over by police will also be available.
In large and small ways, the goal of community policing is to break down barriers and create an environment where trust is a two-way street between Holland law enforcement and the citizens they serve.
Join us for a unique discussion with Sgt. Matzen at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 6, at Herrick District Library.

 Penny Shuff is public relations director for the League of Women Voters of the Holland Area, a nonpartisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government. It influences public policy through education and advocacy.

What: Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore Series
Topic: “Community Policing for Peaceful Living”
When: 6:30 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 6
Where: Herrick District Library, 300 S. River Ave., Holland

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Quality of Life: The community, through governmental, religious, business and social organizations, makes decisions that contribute to its own well-being.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Living Sustainably: Energy prize competition results in change for Holland

By Anne Saliers, Holland Board of Public Works

The people of Holland reduced energy consumption by 3.2 percent, to place No. 16 out of 50 cities in the Georgetown University Energy Prize competition. The reduction is relative to our 2013-2014 baseline and represents roughly $500,000 reinvested in the community rather than spent on utility bills. It is equivalent to removing more than 350 homes from the grid annually.

Fargo, North Dakota, finished first in the national competition with a reduction of 6.8 percent during the two-year competition spanning 2015 and 2016.

The Georgetown University Energy Prize challenged small to medium-sized cities to rethink their energy use and to implement creative strategies to increase efficiency. Holland’s leaders saw the national competition as a way to bring awareness to the Holland Community Energy Plan, and it was among the first communities to step up.

Holland’s comprehensive 40-year plan is making our community a national leader in energy security, affordability, sustainability, and efficiency, enhancing its attractiveness to investors, businesses, and residents. Adopted in 2012, the CEP calls for cutting energy use and the city’s per capita greenhouse gas emissions by more than half by 2050.

The new Holland Energy Park power plant and a flexible balance of clean, reliable energy supply choices are key components in the plan. So is energy efficiency — the idea that, if you don’t need it, don’t use it.

So, what did competing for the Energy Prize accomplish?

    • 7,400 doors were knocked on by volunteers distributing LED light bulbs and chances to win a Nest smart thermostat.
    • 120 Nest thermostats were given away and installed in Holland homes.
    • Students created energy saving videos and conducted their own Energy Wars competition between area high schools.
    • 1,600 streetlights were converted to LED.
    • 11 municipal buildings and parks received deep energy efficiency retrofits, including new windows for City Hall and motion-sensitive LED lighting along Heinz Walkway.
    • A Prize Patrol delivered great prizes, like a new furnace or refrigerator, to lucky winners of quarterly competitions.
    • Holland received a national award for its Holland Unplugged campaign to unplug and get outside, starting the annual Movies in the Park series.

Our congratulations go to Fargo and the other competing cities that achieved energy reduction success. Holland’s community leaders will review policies and programs that other cities have implemented to see what could help move us closer to our own Community Energy Plan’s energy reduction targets.

Our mantras during the competition were ”$5 Million and Change” and “A Better House, a Better Holland.” We accomplished a great deal, including change and a better Holland.Georgetown University Energy Prize Competition

Thank you residents, and commercial and industrial customers, too, whose energy saving efforts were not included in the competition but are still critical in achieving the CEP goals.

Let’s continue our energy-saving efforts and keep up the good work.

— Anne Saliers is community energy services manager at Holland Board of Public Works and facilitates implementation of the Holland Community Energy Plan.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Environmental Awareness/Action: Environmental education and integrating environmental practices into our planning will change negative outcomes of the past and improve our future.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Living Sustainably: Group launches spring sustainability series

By Michelle Gibbs, Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute
Do you want to learn more about what is happening in the community?  The spring 2018 Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore series has announced another great line-up, full of educational events sharing how Holland is becoming a more sustainable community.

Holland Michigan Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore
The series will continue to share information about work as it relates to the city’s Sustainability Framework. All of the events, with the exception of May, will take place on a Tuesday at Herrick District Library from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Here’s this spring’s lineup:

 “Economic Development: Sustainable Government,” Tuesday, Jan. 9:  This program will explore sources of local government funds and review the city and county budget process and near-term and long-term needs within the community.
 “Quality of Life: Community Policing for Peaceful Living,” Tuesday, Feb. 6:  A safe and friendly community is essential to our sense of well-being and quality of life. How does the Holland Police Department’s community policing approach help local residents of all walks of life find life satisfaction? Our discussion will address fair and equitable interactions and the needs of our community.
 “Community Knowledge: Planting and Saving Seeds,” Tuesday, March 6:  Ben Cohen, sustainable homesteader and proprietor of Small House Farm, is an heirloom seed activist and educator. He is passionate about growing food and will discuss why planting, saving, and sharing seeds is essential to the cultivation of sustainable neighborhoods, healthy communities and the preservation of history. This event coincides with the launch of Herrick District Library’s seed saving library.
 “Environmental Awareness/Action: Fly Fishing,” Tuesday, April 24:  For over 100 years, fly fishermen have been leaders in the watershed conservation movement. Local author Jon Osborn and illustrator Joe Van Faasen, of the book “Classic Michigan Flies: 16 Legendary Patterns,” will speak about Michigan’s fly fishing heritage.
 “Transportation: Green Commute Expo,” Friday, May 18 (Special Friday event, 6 to 7:30 p.m.)   As part of the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council’s Green Commute Week (May 13-19), the expo will include a presentation about green commute options in the Holland/Zeeland area and the role transportation plays in the 40-Year Community Energy Plan, followed by fun, hands-on activities for the whole family.
This series of free educational events began in the fall of 2014. Our mission is to educate and empower citizens to live more sustainably.

The series is sponsored by: City of Holland and its Sustainability Committee’s efforts; GreenMichigan.org; Herrick District Library and its adult programming; Hope College through the Sustainability Institute; the League of Women Voters; the Meijer Campus of Grand Valley State University’s sustainability program; and the West Michigan Environmental Action Council.  For more information visit the Events section at www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute or follow us on Facebook at Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore.

 Michelle Gibbs, is the director of the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute (HHCSI).  The vision for the HHCSI is a healthy and economically vibrant community that promotes environmental stewardship and mutual respect for people and the planet.  Our mission is to foster collaborative efforts to infuse sustainability into the minds and practices of the greater Holland community.

Holland’s Sustainability Framework includes seven topics related to how sustainability awareness can improve our community’s future.
 Smart energy
 Economic development
 Transportation
 Community & neighborhood
 Quality of life
 Community knowledge
 Environmental action & awareness

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Community Knowledge: The collective knowledge of the community is an incredible resource, that knowledge and energy must be channeled to where it is needed.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

December 2017 Sustainability News

December 2017 News

December 31, 2017 – Living Sustainably: Understanding funding for a stronger community

December 31, 2017 – Add Shoe Year’s hikes to your resolutions

December 30, 2017 – Obama’s ‘pollution-free society’ is needed to combat climate change

December 30, 2017 – Projects to look out for from Ottawa County Parks and Rec. in 2018

December 29, 2017 – Hope College profs study preschooler sleep habits

December 28, 2017 – 5 things to know about Holland Township’s zoning ordinance rewrite

December 28, 2017 – Higher energy costs accompany bitter cold snap in US

December 28, 2017 – 11 videos that captured the spirit of sustainability in 2017

December 27, 2017 – Director to focus on economics of affordable housing in county

December 27, 2017 – The Slow But Steady Progression Toward Environmental Sustainability

December 27, 2017 – Ask Amy: Celebrate the giving season by donating

December 27, 2017 – Ottawa County approves plans for Parkside Marina redevelopment

December 27, 2017 – The most consequential environmental stories of 2017

December 26, 2017 – Ways to eat more fruit, veg in winter

December 25, 2017 – Hope College students start project to combat hate

December 24, 2017 – What will become of the James DeYoung plant?

December 21, 2017 – LEDs Cut 500 Million Tons of CO2 From the Sky in 2017

December 21, 2017 – China Launches a Cap-and-Trade Program to Cut Carbon Emissions

December 20, 2017 – What the tax bill may mean for energy efficiency

December 20, 2017 – Michigan Supreme Court: Return $554M to school employees

December 19, 2017 – Can You Balance Gift-giving and Sustainability?

December 19, 2017 – EPA Formally Ask Stakeholders How to Change the Clean Power Plan

December 18, 2017 – More Companies Set 100% Renewable Energy Goals in 2017

December 18, 2017 – Living Sustainably:  Solar panels system is first for city retrofit project

December 18, 2017 – GTM Research Reports US Solar Installation Slowdown

December 18, 2017 – The Year In Corporate Sustainability: The Best Of Times And The Worst Of Times

December 18, 2017 – Advice for breaking down sustainability silos in 2018

December 18, 2017 – 3 Ways to Make a Commitment to Sustainability Your Customers Want to See

December 17, 2017 – Here are some of the largest 2018 projects for Holland

December 17, 2017 – Letter: Volunteer at the Community Kitchen

December 17, 2017 – Bucs Care Food Pantry launched at Grand Haven High

December 16, 2017 – Trump Administration Reportedly Instructs CDC On Its Own Version Of 7 Dirty Words

December 15, 2017 – My Year of No Shopping

December 15, 2017 – Superbacteria could soon be eating China’s factory waste

December 15, 2017 – Environmental Management in 2017 – Can You Guess the Top 5 Trends?

December 15, 2017 – Movie review: ‘Downsizing’ makes for a great tall tale about getting small

December 14, 2017 – Mayors tout the importance of energy efficiency in meeting climate goals

December 14, 2017 – Rethinking sustainability: A greener Grand Rapids starts from the ground up

December 14, 2017 – Sustainability: The World’s Change Agent

December 14, 2017 – Central Massachusetts businesses getting creative when it comes to high energy costs

December 13, 2017 – Grand Rapids selected among 12 U.S. cities for Zero Cities Project that targets energy use

December 12, 2017 – Secretary of Energy Rick Perry Announces $18.5 Million for Offshore Wind Research

December 12, 2017 – 4 Questions for Your Local Organic Farmer

December 12, 2017 – Want to Buy Organic? 3 Steps to Avoid the Fakes

December 12, 2017 – 5 Companies Who Succeed By Prioritizing Sustainability Over Profits

December 11, 2017 – Living Sustainably: Herrick District Library is Holland’s ‘third space’

December 11, 2017 – Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area awards $109,750 in grants

December 11, 2017 – 4 Tips to Improve Electric Vehicle Battery Range this Winter

December 10, 2017 – The Organic Label is the Gold Standard [Infographic]

December 10, 2017 – Guest Editorial: Enbridge agreement a small step in the right direction

December 9, 2017 – Survey: Dune supporters include stormwatchers, ecologists, campers, economists

December 8, 2017 – Holland documentary ‘Wilderness to World Class’ premieres next week

December 7, 2017 – 2018 Fuel Economy Guide Helps Consumers Save Money

December 7, 2017 – This Was the Year Sustainable Fashion Got Sexy—Read the Highlights from Vogue Here

December 7, 2017 – HOPE COLLEGE’S DAY1: WATERSHED PROGRAM RECEIVES STAKEHOLDER OF THE YEAR AWARD

December 7, 2017 – Outdoor Discovery Center embraces entrepreneurial culture, empowering staff members

December 7, 2017 – Ready for School: 63 percent of Holland-area kids ready for kindergarten

December 7, 2017 – LG Chem Michigan now landfill free facility

December 6, 2017 – Simple ways to give back all year long

December 5, 2017 – Erin Brockovich tied to class action lawsuit over toxic Michigan dumping

December 5, 2017 – Ready for School to hold annual breakfast

December 5, 2017 – Sea turtle released back into gulf where it was rescued by Florida officer

December 4, 2017 – Sustainable Reporting: Lessons From the Fortune 500

December 4, 2017 – Trump signs proclamation to scale back 2 national monuments

December 4, 2017 – What is the home energy rating system (HERS)? [Infographic]

December 3, 2017 – Holland council backs out of collectively asking for DACA 

December 3, 2017 – Hope College gets more ‘Code Blue’ towers

December 3, 2017 – Michigan Roll Call: See how Holland-area legislators are voting in Lansing

December 3, 2017 – Wrap up of police calls in Ottawa, Allegan counties

December 2, 2017 – Michigan Has Its Very Own Dutch Christmas Market And You’ll Want To Visit

December 1, 2017 – Veteran says clean energy is good for the military

December 1, 2017 – Who Will Pay For Nature? How To Catalyze Private Investment In Sustainability

Living Sustainably: Solar system is a first for city retrofit project

By Peter Boogaart, City of Holland

Roy and Mary Cole’s 26 th Street home is the first to install solar panels through the city’s Home Energy Retrofit program.

Roy and Mary Cole have a long-standing interest in energy efficiency. “We’ve always done what we could to help the environment,” Roy said. So, when they moved into their new home on 26th Street, they set about making it the best it could be.
The most obvious change is to the landscaping. Roy and Mary developed an eye-catching remake of all the gardens and beds. Not so observable, however, is the work that Roy did inside. He went to work on the attics and basement, sealing up air leaks and insulating empty spaces. “I want this house to be as energy efficient as possible,” he said.
After doing all he could by himself, Roy brought in the GreenHome Institute for an evaluation. GreenHome evaluated all the building systems and processed the data using the Department of Energy’s Home Energy Score system. The system scores a house’s energy efficiency on a scale from one to 10.
The Cole’s home rated an eight.

Solar panels are a later step in the energy efficiency process, after addressing more basic fixes such as insulation, air sealing, lighting and appliances.

Brett Little, GreenHome’s director, then referred the Coles to the City of Holland’s Home Energy Retrofit Program. Brett knew that a score of eight was the qualifying level for solar panels in the Holland program. “It made sense to me,” Roy said. “I’ve always wanted solar panels and this was the chance.”
The Holland program covers 10 percent of qualified energy efficiency improvement costs.
The Holland program brought in additional professional help. Ver Wys Home Improvement, one of the authorized contractors, inspected the home and made recommendations to further improve the air sealing and insulation. Hunter Energy Resources came on board to install the solar panels.
The Coles are a first in Holland.

Roy Cole is able to observe his system’s power generation through an app.

Homeowners working through the city and our residential energy advisor office have completed 78 projects so far, but the Cole’s project is the first using solar panels. An effective energy efficiency strategy moves through a series of steps. It is important in those steps to review all the home systems – air sealing, insulations, HVAC, hot water, appliances, lighting, and windows and doors.
Solar panels are considered only after doing everything possible through those previous steps to lower a home’s energy baseload. Solar panels are the icing on the cake.
In its Community Energy Plan, the City of Holland has a goal to become a world-class energy efficient city. Some 20 percent of energy used in the city goes into homes, and there is much room for improvement.
All residential property owners in the city, including landlords, are eligible to benefit from the expertise and rebates provided through the city’s Home Energy Retrofit program. Learn more at www.hollandenergyfund.com or call Holland Community & Neighborhood Services Department at (616) 355-1330.
 Peter Boogaart is the residential energy advisor for the City of Holland and assists homeowners with energy efficiency issues.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Smart Energy: We need to use both conservation and efficiency measures to manage our resources to provide access to reliable and cost-effective energy.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.