April 2017 Sustainability News

April 30, 2017 – Living Sustainably: Task force shows businesses how energy efficiency wins

April 29, 2017 – Can a tiny house play a role in helping the homeless?

April 29, 2017 – Controversial Saugatuck Dunes development gets nod from planning commission

April 28, 2017 – 100% Clean Energy Bill Launched by US Senators Merkley, Sanders, Markey, and Advocates

April 28, 2017 – Robots, tasers join battle against invasive species

April 28, 2017 – DNR seeking volunteers at state parks

April 25, 2017 – Nearly 400 military bases must be tested for drinking-water contamination

April 25, 2017 – Holland West recognized for energy reduction in ‘Battle of the Buildings’

April 24, 2017 – Three Holland organizations win Battle of the Buildings Contest

April 24, 2017 – Roots run deep for American growers

April 23, 2017 – 7 things we’ve learned about Earth since the last Earth Day

April 23, 2017 – Living Sustainably: Join the Macatawa Cleanup for a healthier waterway

April 21, 2017 – DeGraaf Nature Center hosts Earth Day events

April 21, 2017 – Local SpartanNash stores to sell redesigned reusable bags

April 21, 2017 – The Swedish six-hour workday could help you live longer

April 20, 2017 – Hope College was a finalist in the “U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY RACE TO ZERO STUDENT DESIGN COMPETITION

April 20, 2017 – (Michign) Bipartisan legislators speak out against possible EPA closure

April 20, 2017 – Michigan DNR stresses caution during Wildfire Prevention Week

April 20, 2017 – George F. Will: The battle against sex trafficking of minors

April 19, 2017 – Earth Day crafts at Herrick

April 19, 2017 – Target Vows to Use Its Power & Scale to See that All Packaging Is Recyclable

April 19, 2017 – Hertz to Provide Carbon Reporting, Offsets to Corporate Clients

April 19, 2017 – 5 gadgets for a smarter home

April 19, 2017 – Walmart Launches Sustainability Platform to Reduce 1GT CO2 Emissions Across Value Chain

April 19, 2017 – Letter: Change your diet to fight climate change

April 17, 2017 – Living Sustainably: A week’s worth of things to do for Earth Day

April 17, 2017 – Kroger Sustainability ‘Lives Here’

April 11, 2017 – Chicago’s Mayor: 900 Public Buildings to Go 100% Renewable

April 10, 2017 – Living Sustainably: You can help fight the invasives invasion

April 10, 2017 – STUDENTS TO PRESENT CREATIVE AND RESEARCH PROJECTS ON APRIL 21  Original research by students on topics ranging from the historical roots of the Black Lives Matter movement, to monitoring of the Lake Macatawa watershed, to changes in political trust in the United States will be highlighted during the annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research and Creative Performance at Hope College on Friday, April 21, from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Richard and Helen DeVos Fieldhouse.

The public is invited.  Admission is free.

April 9, 2017 – Planting pride: Beautifying America one garden at a time

April 8, 2017 – Biking Holland: What’s next for city’s bike network

April 6, 2017 – UNCOMMON CLASS ON COMMON GROUNDS

April 5, 2017 – Get safer drinking water

April 4, 2017 – MICHIGAN SPACE GRANT CONSORTIUM SUPPORTS SEVERAL PROJECTS Several Hope College projects have received grants from the Michigan Space Grant Consortium (MSGC).

April 4, 2017 – Subscription boxes OK for the Earth?

April 3, 2017 – Transforming Organizations with Sustainability Management

April 2, 2017 – Holland Recognized as a 2016 Tree City USA

Living Sustainably: Task Force Shows Businesses How Energy Efficiency Wins

LIVING SUSTAINABLY:  Task Force Shows Businesses How Energy Efficiency Wins

By Brian Pageau (Hope College Alumni ’03), Commercial Institutional Task Force for Energy Efficiency

In my six-plus years of helping organizations pursue energy efficiency in buildings, I have met with more than 1,000 business owners and decision makers. I can confidently say 99 percent of the people I met love the concept of energy efficiency.

Some people love energy efficiency for reasons like financial stewardship and energy independence. Others like the environmental stewardship. Energy efficiency is driven by innovation in technology, and innovation drives our economy and job growth.

Energy efficiency is good for the environment, good for national economic competitiveness, good for the wallet and creates jobs. That’s a lot of wins.

And yet, less than 15 percent of those same 1,000 businesses and people strategically and proactively pursue energy efficiency. Even though they desire to be more energy efficient, they do not take action to be more energy efficient.

This is true among churches, schools and non-profits as well as retail, commercial, manufacturing and industrial businesses. With few exceptions, they all have a gap between desire and action.

Why? Three main reasons:

1. Lack of knowledge. Simply put, if someone doesn’t know a particular type of technology exists, it will not be implemented.

2. Lack of an attractive business case. In the world of business, every project is competing for the same dollar. If an energy efficiency project is “cool” but doesn’t pay back within the company return-on- investment threshold, it will not be prioritized.

3. Lack of capital. An organization might be aware of great energy efficient technology, and the business case might meet necessary criteria. But if the cost is $100,000 that’s not in the budget, most times the project will get shelved.

The Commercial/Institutional Task Force for Energy Efficiency is part of Holland’s 40-year Community Energy Plan. This past year, the task force conducted a pilot program with 13 small businesses and churches to determine what inspired action towards energy efficiency.

It addressed those three roadblocks between desire and action:

1. We built a program that delivered easily digestible energy information. This information was contextualized to the specific building and type of business.

2. We helped participants understand the business case for energy efficient technology and what it would mean to their bottom line each month.

3. We minimized the capital needed to implement the project by making people aware of Holland Board of Public Works and SEMCO utility incentives and financing options.

The results? Five of the 13 organizations implemented energy efficiency projects that created over $120,000 worth of contracting work in our community.

These projects collectively represented an average of 3.5-year return on investment in energy savings and realized a 30.1 percent savings in gas and electric consumption.

When factoring in the utility incentives, these projects are now saving the organizations about $25,000 per year.

With the right links between desire and action, these organizations learned how energy efficiency can be a win in multiple ways!

 Brian Pageau is spokesperson for the Commercial Institutional Task Force for Energy Efficiency, president of the Midwest Energy Group and a board member of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council.

Photo:

MINIT MART CASE LIGHTS.JPG  Simple steps such as using LED lights in the cooler cases are part of a plan to save energy at the Washington Square Minit Mart.   Courtesy photo by Barry Rutherford, Holland Board of Public Works.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme:

Economic Development: Businesses and the local consumers are driving engines that generate capital for growth and development. We want to be a location of choice for new business and industry.

 

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: Five Good Reasons to Borrow a Home Energy Monitoring Kit

LIVING SUSTAINABLY:  Five Good Reasons to Borrow a Home Energy Monitoring Kit

By Ashley Kimble, Holland Board of Public Works

Do you know how much the electricity is costing you for that second refrigerator in the basement that you use once a year for the Thanksgiving turkey? Or the hidden cost of the incandescent lightbulb you can’t seem to part with just because it hasn’t died yet?

Incandescent light bulbs, extra refrigerators, old appliances, extra humidity – all of these things can contribute to excess energy use in your home. Making simple yet effective changes can make a difference in your monthly energy bill.

But how do you find out what changes to make in order to save? Here’s the answer: Check out a Holland Board of Public Works Home Energy Monitoring Kit from the Herrick District Library.

 

Here are five reasons to check out a Home Energy Kit today.

1. Learn how much electricity your appliances and electronics are costing you.  The Home Energy Kit includes a watt meter. Simply plug the watt meter into an outlet and plug your appliance or other electronic device into the watt meter. The display will show an instant read of how much it costs to use this device. The meter is even programmed to Holland Board of Public Work’s rates.

2. Find out where heat is escaping from your home. The Home Energy Kit also comes with an infrared thermometer. Point and shoot the thermometer laser to measure the temperatures around doors, windows, vents, light switches and other openings. If you find an area with significant temperature difference compared to the rest of the room, odds are that area could benefit from air sealing or more insulation.

3. Measure the humidity in your home. Did you know humidity affects home energy usage? It requires the heating and cooling system to work longer to overcome the negative impact that too high or too low humidity has on the interior of your home. Keeping the humidity at 40 to 50 percent is the ideal condition for your comfort and the efficiency of your heating and cooling systems.

4. Learn about energy conservation with your family. Use the Home Energy Kit together as a family and seize it as a learning opportunity with your children. The kit includes information about ways to save and other resources provided by the Holland Board of Public Works.

5. It’s Free. That’s right, free. With your Herrick District Library card, you can check one of these kits out at no cost, just like a book. Simply ask at the information desk where the kits are located, grab one and it’s yours to use until the return date.

What are you waiting for? Head to Herrick District Library and start saving!

 Ashley Kimble is the customer communications specialist at the Holland Board of Public Works.

IMAGES: ENERGY KIT.jpg CUTLINE: The Home Energy Monitoring Kit, available for free loan at Holland District Library, will help homeowners cut energy use and save money. Photo: Ashley Kimble

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: Earth Hour-Little Things CAN Change the World

LIVING SUSTAINABLY:   Earth Hour-Little Things CAN Change the World

By Carolyn Ulstad, Holland Sustainability Committee

When I first heard about Earth Hour happening in cities like Paris, Singapore, Dubai and New York, I couldn’t help but start dreaming up what it could be like to bring it here to Holland.

For some background, Earth Hour started in 2007 as a lights-out event in Sydney, Australia. It has since grown to more than 170 countries and territories worldwide and has become one of the world’s largest grassroots movements for the environment. Every year households, businesses and iconic buildings in major cities turn off their lights for one hour to promote energy conservation, celebrate our night sky and raise awareness about how we impact our environment.

After a few conversations at our meetings and excited by the idea, the City of Holland’s Sustainability Committee decided to move forward in promoting Earth Hour to our community. This year, Earth Hour in Holland is taking place from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 25.

Our hope is to inspire you and your families to take the pledge to change your energy use for at least one hour.

A great way to get started is to think about what’s important to you.

I love Earth Hour because it’s completely customizable. If your concerns are about bees and pollinators, make it about that. If you care about light pollution or wildlife habitat, make those the focus. I myself will be participating for the first time and felt I should ask an Earth Hour veteran why he participates.

I spoke to Steven Bouma-Prediger, professor of religion at Hope College. Bouma-Prediger has been celebrating Earth Hour for the past four years and told me that he initially got involved “since it seemed like a creative and fun way to bring attention to energy use (and abuse) and highlight the issue of climate change, in a coordinated way with people from all over our home planet.”

That same potential for global collective power is what drew me to Earth Hour.

If you need some help getting started, visit the Earth Hour website for ideas. Consider actions like these: If you’re eating a late dinner, maybe sit by candle light. If you have little ones at home, get them involved by reading a bedtime story by flashlight. If you represent a business, school or church, encourage your members to take the pledge as well.

Go to https://goo.gl/QhJbY9 to sign up for the Earth Hour pledge.

If you are looking for something to do that afternoon, come join us at 3 p.m. Saturday in Graves Hall, 263 College Ave., on the Hope College campus for a free showing of the documentary “The City Dark,” which highlights the effects of light pollution.

A closing word from Bouma-Prediger is this African proverb: “Many little people in many little places doing many little things can change the world.”

 Carolyn Ulstad is a resident of Holland and sits on the Holland Community Sustainability Committee.

PHOTOS:

HOLLAND_NIGHTPHOTO: Earth Hour on Saturday, March 25, encourages Holland residents to turn off lights for an hour to raise awareness and celebrate the night sky. Courtesy photo – Go Dark Initiative

EARTHHOUR SPARKLE – Earth Hour is an international event bringing awareness to saving energy and celebrating the night sky, coming to Holland on Saturday, March 25. Courtesy photo – World Wildlife Fund

 

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: How Are We Creating a Sustainable Community?

LIVING SUSTAINABLY:  How Are We Creating a Sustainable Community?

By Brett Little and Michelle Gibbs

Great things are happening in Holland, and we want you to join in!

Many people are working hard to help Holland become a vibrant, world-class community, but for that to happen, it takes all of us working together and addressing all aspects of our community.  This includes the economic, social, and environmental impacts we all have.

On March 7 at City Hall we will explore how Holland is building a more resilient community. The evening will include refreshments, a program, awards and door prizes.

The event will present the programs and tools that are helping us see where we are and how we can best adapt to change with our Community Energy Plan.

Among the evening’s activities: The winners of the Holland Energy Prize Biggest Loser Challenge will talk about what they did to save energy.  In Holland, 118 households took part in the contest, and over half of them received Department of Energy Home Energy Scores.  (Learn more at www.homeenergyscore.gov)

Here are a few of the easy, do-it- yourself measures that winners implemented:

 Sealing air ducts,

 Insulating and air sealing basement ceiling/rim joists,

 Replacing old, inefficient bulbs with LED bulbs,

 Sealing holes in homes and caulking around windows,

 Using rigid foam boards or cellulose insulation in unfinished areas.

Learn more tips at the open house about how to make your home more efficient.

In addition, the open house will let you meet the pros who can help with low-financing options like Holland’s new Home Energy Retrofit and On-Billing Financing programs with the potential for thousands of dollars in rebates.  (Learn more at ww.hollandenergyfund.com/) 

Did you know that a majority of your wasted home energy is going through your floors, walls and ceilings? Most homes in Holland can see significant savings – as well as increased comfort and home health – by air sealing and insulation. People attending the Open House can sign up for a limited offer of a free Department of Energy Home Energy Score assessment of their house.

Finally, an RSVP is not required for the Open House, but those who do will be entered into additional drawings for more than $200 worth of door prizes. Go to www.Greenhomeinstitute.org/events to RSVP.

All of this work is helping the City of Holland reach the goals in the city’s 40 year Community Energy Plan, which aims to make our community a world-class leader in energy security, affordability, sustainability and efficiency.

 Brett Little is director of the Green Home Institute and organizer of the Holland Biggest Loser competition. Michelle Gibbs is director of the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute.

If You Go
What: Creating a Sustainable Community Open House
Who: Anyone interested in saving energy and learning about how to create a more sustainable community.
When: Tuesday, March 7. 6 p.m. reception with refreshments, and 6:30 p.m. program, awards, and door prizes.
Where: Holland City Hall, 270 S. River Ave.
Why: Join the effort to make Holland a vibrant, world-class community for all.

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

 

Photos:

BULB IN HAND.JPG LED bulbs are one way that winners of Holland’s Biggest Losers cut energy use.

HOME ENERGY ASSESSMENT.JPG Free Home Energy Score assessments will be available to people who attend the Sustainable Community Open House on March 7.

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.