Living Sustainably: Energy efficiency upgrades create comfort, savings and healthier homes

By Ken Freestone, City of Holland
Although we had a late start to summer, is your home already too hot – especially that second or third floor? Now think back just several months ago. Remember how cold some of your rooms were during the Polar Vortex?
A Home Energy Upgrade could solve many of those issues, whether cold or hot.
The Home Energy Retrofit program through the City of Holland has several ways to assist homeowners, including landlords (for up to four-plexes), to make homes more comfortable all year long, help you save on energy costs, and also make homes healthier and safer. In addition, homes that have been retrofitted and upgraded and then certified usually see a 5 percent increase in value at time of sale compared to non-certified homes.

Holland’s Home Energy Retrofit program helps city residents save 10 percent on home energy improvements.

The Home Energy Retrofit program is sponsored through the City of Holland, the Holland Board of Public Works, and the Holland Energy Fund. It is available to all homeowners in the City of Holland.
The Home Energy Retrofit program provides a 10 percent grant towards home energy upgrades plus low-interest, on-bill financing through the Holland BPW or through Michigan Saves, a state-wide nonprofit dedicated to low-interest energy efficiency loans.

A blower door like this is part of the equipment used in a complete home energy audit to help measure the energy efficiency of a home.

For homeowners living outside the city limits, there are some other incentives through the Holland BPW and Semco Energy.
So how do you get started? The first step is to get a complete energy audit on your home by a certified building performance professional in our program. These audits are conducted using scientific tools to measure data and then compile a detailed report on the condition of your home. If you have had some kind of “walk-through,” clipboard audit in the past you have gotten only a small snapshot of the true condition of your home.
A complete home performance audit provides a clear picture of the energy related conditions of your home and also provides a road-map for the highest and lowest priorities for upgrade. Audits are free for city residents.
The audit will also help you understand the highest and best return on your upgrade investment, including how to understand some of the advertising out there.

Appropriate insulation installed through Holland’s Home Energy Retrofit program can make upstairs spaces cooler in the summer and warmer in winter.

For example, before you jump up and say, “I need windows,” let us help you understand that windows are lowest on the list of energy saving priorities. There are good reasons to replace windows, such as if they are broken, rotted, or inoperable, but they are the most expensive in the energy upgrade process and have an approximate 20- to 70-year payback for energy savings.
The really good news is that some of the most effective measures in an energy retrofit are also some of the least expensive.

Icicles like this are a good sign your home has energy issues that could be addressed before next winter.

So, how to get started? The City of Holland is hosting a free Home Energy Retrofit Open House from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, July 15 at the Civic Center Place. Attendees can talk with HER auditors, homeowners who have retrofitted and upgraded their homes, contractors, city staff and local nonprofits that provide resources for income qualified households.
People may also contact Ken Freestone at the City of Holland for more details on getting an energy audit and to find out other resources available through the program.

 Ken Freestone is the residential energy advisor for the City of Holland. Ken can be reached at k.freestone@cityofholland.com or (616)355-1364.

If You Go
What: Home Energy Retrofit Open House
When: 6:30-8:30 p.m., Monday, July 15
Where: Civic Center Place
Why: A free event to explore resources for saving home energy costs

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.

Living Sustainably: Local efforts can address global climate change

By Diane Haworth, local sustainability professional

There is plenty of news related to climate change these days. The planet’s climate has constantly been changing over geological time, but now scientists are concerned that the natural fluctuation is being increased by an upsurge in greenhouse gases from human activities.
The greenhouse effect refers to the way the Earth’s atmosphere traps energy from the sun. Trapped energy that radiates back to the planet heats both the atmosphere and the earth’s surface, keeping the temperature at a level to sustain life.
Scientists believe we are adding to the natural greenhouse effect with gases such as carbon dioxide from fossil fuel use and methane from agricultural sources and landfills. These gases trap more energy and increase the overall temperature of the planet. This effect is commonly referred to as climate change.

The impacts of climate change can be seen around the world with increasing water scarcity in dry areas, torrential downpours in wet regions and more severe heat waves and wildfires. The cost to the United States economy alone could be over $200 billion from heat-related deaths, sea level rise and infrastructure damage by the end of the century.

Greenhouse gas emissions from energy production can contribute to climate change. The city of Holland has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by building a new combined-cycle natural gas power plant to replace the former coal power plant. Burning natural gas significantly reduces emissions versus coal, although natural gas is still a fossil fuel and not a sustainable resource.

Home solar panels are an effective way for an individual homeowner to trim back their carbon fuel use and impact on climate change.

However, lower emission, sustainable options such as wind and solar do not provide continuous power. At the utility level, they require large scale energy storage that is still under development. The Holland Board of Public Works uses a mix of energy sources including wind, biogas and natural gas to keep our energy portfolio diverse and able to respond to changes in fuel availability and pricing. The Board of Public Works will continue to explore more sustainable options as they become viable.
Meanwhile, you can take direct personal action to reduce emissions in simple ways that will save you money. Plug air leaks in your house to reduce heat loss. Consider installing a smart thermostat and switching to more efficient LED light bulbs.

Installing LED bulbs are a simple way to reduce energy use, save money over the long run and trim a person’s impact on climate change problems.

Want to make bigger improvements to your energy use? The Holland On-Bill Loan Program administered by the Board of Public Works provides Holland residents a way to make energy improvements to homes both easy and affordable.
The program provides a home energy assessment that gives you an understanding of your home’s energy efficiency and provides a prescription for the necessary improvements. Find out more about the program at https://hollandenergyfund.com/on-bill-loan-program/

 Diane Haworth is a retired sustainability professional.  After a career in product development, purchasing and marketing, she transitioned to develop and manage the global sustainability program for furniture manufacturer Haworth.  She later helped develop the sustainability program for certification body NSF in Ann Arbor.

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.

Resources from our Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore Series

Our friends at Herrick District Library have put together a great listing of additional resources from our Spring 2019 Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore Series.  Check them out at the links below!

Stay tuned for our announcement later this summer about our Fall 2019 series topics.

Green Commuting

The Affordable Community

Economics of Sustainability

Search results for LSATL lists

Living Sustainably: Green Commute Expo offers info and fun at Holland Energy Park

Information about charging stations and owning and driving electric vehicles will be part of the Community Green Commute Expo set for Tuesday evening.

By Michelle Gibbs, Hope College Office of Sustainability and Colleen Nagel, Holland Sustainability Committee

“Green commuting” might sound complicated to some, but it’s not. In fact, the “why, where and how” will be explained Tuesday evening, along with other fun activities, as part of a free Community Green Commute Expo at Holland Energy Park.  The family-oriented event will focus on green commuting options in the greater Holland area. The expo is the last in the spring 2019 series of Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore events.

At the Expo, people will learn about:
Why we should green commute We will hear about the health, environmental, and economic benefits of green commuting as well as how it relates to Holland’s 40-Year Community Energy Plan.
Where we can green commute The Macatawa Area Coordinating Council will share information about the transportation plan and area bike trails, and the Outdoor Discovery Center will provide information about the Greenway Trails for travel.
How we can green commute Local bike shops and green commute groups will have areas to demo bikes, do fun bike decorating, and offer tips on maintaining your bike for safe riding. MAX Transit will share information about services and routes and will have on hand a bus to let visitors practice putting a bike on and off the bus bike rack. Local residents will attend with their personal electric vehicles (EVs) so you can look under the hood, sit inside, and ask questions about their experiences with EVs. (Sorry, no test drives.) And the Holland Board of Public works will have a station for EV education and charging station rebates for residents and business owners.

Tips and routes for bicycle commuting will be part of the presentation at the Community Green Commute Expo Tuesday evening.

Other Expo activities will include the kickoff of the third annual Bike Holland Series. Those who bring bikes to the Expo can ride the trails of Holland Energy Park or take a fun ride out and around Windmill Island. Go to   https://www.facebook.com/bikehollandmi/ for more information.

And with the weather warming, the Expo will also include the City of Holland’s Operation Polar Patrol offering frozen treats.

This Expo is part of the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council’s annual Green Commute Week, beginning today, May 12, through Saturday.  It’s not too late to join in the Green Commute week fun and track your miles! Green Commute Week is all about making transportation decisions that are good for your health and the planet. And since everything is more fun with friends, teaming up is encouraged.  Register today and start tracking your miles at www.the-macc.org. What counts as Green Commuting? Some examples include walking, biking, carpooling, riding the bus, telecommuting, or driving a fully electric car.

And we’ll see you Tuesday as we have fun learning about all the benefits of green commuting!

Community Green Commute Expo
When: 6 to 7:30 Tuesday, May 14
Who: The whole family is invited
Where: Holland Energy Park
Cost: Free

 Michelle Gibbs is director for the Hope College Office of Sustainability and the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute. Colleen Nagel is a member of the City of Holland Sustainability Committee.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Transportation: The movement of people, goods, and services within the area is an evolving system that 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.

Living Sustainably: Rethink, Reuse, Recycle with Holland BPW during Tulip Time

By Morgan Kelley, Holland Board of Public Works

The Holland Board of Public Works is excited to be the official Tulip Time Conservation Partner for the seventh year in a row and, as such, to help the community “rethink, reuse and recycle” to help boost sustainable practices in our community.

Along those lines, consider these opportunities:

Rethink your transportation choice for navigating Tulip Time by taking the MAX Tulip Time shuttle. The shuttle offers optimal convenience for getting around the festival, and it’s also better for the environment. You’ll save time by avoiding heavy traffic and limited parking; you’ll also reduce your carbon emissions. Check the interactive map for details and routes at www.tuliptime.com/visit/transportation.

Reuse a refillable water bottle. Bring your own bottle, and as you explore the festival, you will find free water bottle filling stations. There is no need to buy disposable bottles of water when you can conveniently refill!

Recycle acceptable materials. You will find recycling bins around the festival, promoting stewardship of our resources.
Meanwhile, the Holland Board of Public Works will be helping Tulip Time paint the town orange.

The Holland Board of Public Works will help “paint the town orange” for Tulip Time by handing out orange hard hats for kids before the Kinderparade Thursday.

Before the Kinderparade on Thursday, May 9, we’ll be passing out orange hard hats for kids and other conservation tips. The West Ottawa Robotics team (WOBOTS) and their robots will be assisting us.
In addition, partially guided tours of the Holland Energy Park will be held during Tulip Time. Tours are on a first-come first-served basis and will be held Monday through Thursday mornings from 10 to 11:30 a.m., as well as Monday through Wednesday afternoons from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Participants need to arrive no later than 10 minutes after the tour start time. More information can be found at www.hollandenergypark.com/events/ or by contacting the HBPW visitor programs specialist at (616) 355-1213.
The Board of Public Works has been a community-owned resource since 1893 and strives to be environmentally responsible while providing reliable and economical electricity, water and wastewater treatment, and fiber services to the Holland community. Find more details about the Board of Public Work’s role as conservation partner at www.tuliptime.com/green.

Remember to Rethink, Reuse, Recycle: See you at Tulip Time!

 Morgan Kelley is the conservation programs specialist at the Holland Board of Public Works where she tracks and administers residential energy efficiency programs and represents HBPW at community events.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Community & Neighborhood: The places we live and the individuals we interact with support the development of our personalities and perspectives on life. Encouraging vital and effective communities is essential.

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.

2019 HOPE COLLEGE STUDENT SUSTAINABILITY RESEARCH PROJECTS

In Holland, we believe that in order to become a vibrant, world-class community we must look at all aspects of our community.  This includes the “Triple Bottom Line”  and the economic, social, and environmental impacts we all have. Our City of Holland Sustainability Committee has created a seven-pillar framework with “lenses” to help us evaluate and make more sustainable choices. We have used this framework model as a way to identify the 2019 Hope College Sustainability Research Projects.

The Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute (HHCSI) would like to formally recognize the following projects:  

PDF Document:  2019 Sustainability Research Projects

PDF Document:  2019 Program

This year’s research projects were designated with a “green ribbon” on their research poster at the annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research and Creative Performance. Original research by students on topics ranging from: exploring the effect of the Vietnam War on the Hope College campus to finding out about the value of trees in the City of Holland; from learning about environmental factors that influence the Macatawa watershed to discovering how project-based learning in STEM classrooms impacts local students’ attitudes toward school, were highlighted during the Celebration at Hope College on Friday, April 12, from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Richard and Helen DeVos Fieldhouse.

Framework Categories:

SMART ENERGY  

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT 

TRANSPORTATION  

COMMUNITY & NEIGHBORHOOD  

QUALITY OF LIFE  

COMMUNITY KNOWLEDGE  

ENVIRONMENTAL ACTION & AWARENESS  

For more information about the Framework visit:

www.hollandsustainabilityreport.org

For more information about the Annual Celebration visit:

https://hope.edu/academics/celebration-undergraduate-research/

The students and their projects represented all of the college’s academic divisions — the arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural and applied science.

The research and performance celebration, first presented in 2001, is designed to spotlight the quality and importance of student-faculty collaborative research at Hope. Undergraduate research is a hallmark experience for many Hope students and has been a teaching model used at the college for more than seven decades. Mentored collaborative research happens year-round, with approximately 300 students conducting faculty-supervised independent research during the academic year and 200 doing research over the summer, making Hope’s summer research program among the largest in the nation at a liberal arts college. Since faculty are active in scholarship year-round, many more students engage in research during the academic year.

Research has a long and storied history at Hope College. More than 100 years ago, biologist Dr. Samuel O. Mast designed research laboratory space for the college’s Van Raalte Hall, which opened in 1903. The late Dr. Gerrit Van Zyl, who taught chemistry at the college from 1923 to 1964, is widely recognized for developing research-based learning at Hope in its modern sense.

Hope has received recognition in a variety of ways through the years for its success in teaching through collaborative faculty-student research, and for the high quality of the research itself. For the past 16 years, since the category debuted, the “Best Colleges” guide published by U.S. News and World Report has included Hope on its listing of institutions that are exceptional for their emphasis on undergraduate research and creative projects. Hope is one of only 42 institutions of all types, and one of only 12 national liberal arts colleges, on the list in the 2019 edition.

Spring into Sustainability this Earth Month!

Below is a listing of some of the fun things happening around the greater Holland area that you can participate in to learn more about our Earth and how to protect it.  
Be sure to also check out the events on the calendars for the Holland-Hope College Sustainability InstituteOutdoor Discovery CenterDeGraaf Nature CenterCity Parks, and our county parks (Ottawa and Allegan). 
 
Happy Earth Month! 

 

Poster sized April Sustainability Events 

Living Sustainably: Free trees can help cut energy use

A properly planted tree can help a homeowner save up to 20 percent on energy use. And Holland Board of Public Works residential electric customers can reserve a free tree this spring to strategically plant in their yards to save energy and lower utility bills. Image result for arbor day and right tree right place

From the Arbor Day Foundation, the Energy-Saving Trees program began in 2012, and operates in 37 U.S. states. More than 70 organizations have participated, including utility companies, city governments, state governments, corporations, and nonprofits. This is the first time the program has been offered in Michigan.
The Holland BPW and the City of Holland are partnering to provide 300 trees in four species.
Customers may choose from among red maple, river birch, royal star magnolia, or prairie fire crabapple.
These species thrive in our climate and soil conditions, and will help the urban canopy move from 25 percent to the city’s goal of 36 percent. In addition, trees absorb carbon dioxide, and will help drive Holland’s Community Energy Plan goal of cutting per capita greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050.
Developed by the Arbor Day Foundation, the Energy-Saving Trees program educates homeowners about the benefits of strategic tree planting for energy savings using an online mapping tool.

The tool was created by the Arbor Day Foundation and the Davey Institute, a division of Davey Tree Expert Co., and uses peer-reviewed scientific research from the USDA Forest Service’s i-Tree software to help participants plant trees in the most strategic location in their yards. The tool calculates the estimated
benefits of the selected tree, including cost savings associated with reduced energy bills, cleaner air, reduced carbon dioxide emissions, and improved storm water management. When planted properly, a single tree can save a homeowner up to 20 percent on energy costs.
While using the tool, customers will see their property and utility lines and will be able to select a species, position it, and learn if it is in an optimal spot. If the tree is positioned in a safe place and submitted, a confirmation email will be sent to the customer once HBPW staff confirm its placement.
Customers will need to call MissDig within the week before receiving their tree, as it is very important to know where to dig to avoid utility conflicts. Customers will be provided with tree care, maintenance, and placement resources upon registering, and at the time of pick up.
Registration is open from Feb. 11 to mid-April, or until supplies last, at www.arborday.org/HBPW.

For people who have a confirmed order from their online registration, the trees will be distributed at a pickup event on Saturday morning, April 27, at the BPW Service Center, 625 Hastings Ave, Holland, from 8 a.m. to noon. At the pickup, participants should be sure to either print their order confirmation or have it readily available on a phone. We hope to see you there!
 Morgan Kelley is conservation programs specialist at Holland Board of Public Works and leads the residential energy waste reduction programs.

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.

Happening: A Clean Energy Revolution – Thursday, February 21

Please join the Macatawa Creation Care Group on Thursday, February 21 in Graves Hall for a film screening of “Happening: A Clean Energy Revolution.”

Doors open at 5:45, and the film starts at 6:00. The film will be followed by a panel of representatives from the City Of Holland, Holland Board of Public Works, and West Michigan Community Sustainability Partnership.

View the trailer here: https://happeningthemovie.com/

““I know it’s going to change because when I talk to young people, they are not even questioning that it’s happening, they just understand it.  I feel like it’s just happening.”  Lisa Jackson Vice President Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives, Apple Inc.”

SYNOPSIS:  Filmmaker James Redford embarks on a colorful personal journey into the dawn of the clean energy era as it creates jobs, turns profits, and makes communities stronger and healthier across the US. Unlikely entrepreneurs in communities from Georgetown, TX to Buffalo, NY reveal pioneering clean energy solutions while James’ discovery of how clean energy works, and what it means at a personal level, becomes the audiences’ discovery too. Reaching well beyond a great story of technology and innovation, “Happening” explores issues of human resilience, social justice, embracing the future, and finding hope for our survival.