Living Sustainably: Lecture to address “green” uses for the blue oceans

By Greg Olgers, Hope College
The promise and peril of economic development of the world’s oceans will be the focus of an address by Daniel Vermeer, a 1988 Hope College graduate who is the founding director of Duke University’s Center for Energy, Development and the Global Environment.
Vermeer will speak on “Ocean Futures: Making the Blue Economy Green” at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13, as part of the college’s annual John Shaughnessy Psychology Lecture Series. The public is invited, and admission is free to the event in the Schaap Auditorium in the Jim and Martie Bultman Student Center.
Vermeer will evaluate the potential of creating a “blue economy” that successfully balances economic, social and environmental priorities. The tension between exploitation and protection is raising urgent questions about how to sustainably use the ocean.

Traditional ocean industries such as fishing, shipping, energy development, and tourism are expanding, the presentation’s abstract notes, and new business opportunities are also emerging in aquaculture, biotech, marine mining, offshore wind and other areas. At the same time, ocean health is rapidly declining from over-exploitation, climate change and other factors.
Since graduating from Hope with a psychology major, Vermeer has worked on some of the world’s “grand challenges” — poverty, water, climate change and ocean sustainability — through diverse roles in academia and business. Trained as an anthropologist, he spent his 20s working with indigenous people in the Himalayas of Nepal and India.
His first-hand experience seeing the impacts of the global economy and ecosystems led him to work with companies to develop more sustainable business practices. For example, he led Coca-Cola’s water sustainability initiative, where he initiated public-private partnerships on water access, watershed protection and agriculture in more than 90 countries.
The Center for Energy, Development and the Global Environment, or EDGE, was founded in 2010 and is part of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. It is an initiative that harnesses the power of business to meet the global demand for energy, resources and improved quality of life.
In addition to his leadership role with EDGE, Vermeer, who holds his Ph.D. in learning sciences from Northwestern University, is an associate professor of the practice of energy and environment at Fuqua School of Business and Nicholas School of the Environment, where he teaches sustainability, energy and international business courses.
The lecture series through which Vermeer will be speaking is named in memory of John Shaughnessy, a professor emeritus of psychology who died on Dec. 16, 2015. He had taught at Hope for 40 years, from 1975 until retiring at the end of the 2014-15 school year, and was highly regarded for both his teaching and his commitment to engaging students in collaborative research.
The annual lecture series features psychology alumni who, in addition to giving a presentation, interact with students, demonstrating ways in which their Hope psychology education informs and shapes their work.

 Greg Olgers is director of news media services for Hope College.

If You Go
What: “Ocean Futures: Making the Blue Economy Green”
When: 3:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 13
Where: Schaap Auditorium, Hope College, 115 E. 12th St.
Who: Public invited, no admission charge

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.

Daniel Vermeer has worked on some of the world’s “grand challenges” such as poverty, water, climate change and ocean sustainability through diverse roles in academia and business.

Living Sustainably: Holland’s snowmelt system cuts salt and plow use

By Marianne Manderfield, City of Holland
Shoppers love it, and downtown business owners enjoy that it helps keep their entryways clean. It makes walkers and runners feel steady on their feet regardless of the conditions outside. It works so well that visitors may not even realize what is happening beneath the sidewalk they are navigating. And no salt or plows are necessary.
This is none-other than Holland’s snowmelt system, from which residents and visitors have been reaping benefits since 1988. Snowmelt sets downtown apart from other communities along the lakeshore and beyond.
The City of Holland boasts the largest municipally owned snowmelt system in North America.
Holland Board of Public Work’s power generation facility, Holland Energy Park, is the force behind the mechanics and magic of this impressive downtown infrastructure.

The original installment in 1988 was three city blocks, and since then, the system has had three major expansions in 2005, 2007 and 2015-16. Today, Holland’s downtown has just over five miles of snowmelt. It covers the farmers’ market area near the Civic Center, plus sidewalks to Herrick District Library, police department, several parking areas, and along Central Avenue to 20th Street.
The snowmelt system uses waste heat from power generation at Holland Energy Park, making it very cost effective and energy efficient. What would normally be waste thermal energy is captured to heat water, which is circulated through almost 200 miles of tubing beneath the sidewalks and streets in Holland.
The system can pump more than 5,500 gallons of water per minute at a temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit, and is able to melt about one inch of snow per hour at 20 degrees with winds of 10 mph – or what we call “regular winter conditions” here in Holland. The 95-degree water heats the sidewalks and pavement to about 42 degrees to prevent freezing conditions and snow accumulation; instead, it melts and seeps underneath the pavement to help alleviate stormwater runoff.
The snowmelt system is a closed-loop system, meaning it circulates the same water over and over again. The water comes back to the Energy Park at about 75 degrees and provides input to a heat pump, which is used to heat the Civic Center and the administrative areas of the Energy Park, similar to a district heating system.
Winters can be harsh in West Michigan, but thanks to Holland’s snowmelt system, they are a bit easier to handle in downtown Holland.
More information on Holland’s snowmelt system is available at snowmelt.cityofholland.com, including a map of where snowmelt is in place, and readers can get a live look at Downtown Holland via the MiHollandCAM.
 Marianne Manderfield is public information coordinator for the City of Holland.

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.

Living Sustainably: Bicycle commuting can be year-round treat

By Kerry Irons, Pedal Holland
Few people would describe driving to work as the best part of their day. The good news is that you have an alternative that can significantly reduce your costs while making your commute much more pleasant. Bicycle commuting is far less expensive, far more environmentally friendly, much healthier, and more enjoyable.
Now, if you’re wishing that you could use bicycle transportation instead of driving a car, you can.
No special bicycle is needed (though fenders are a good idea), and only a little preparation is required.
Using Holland’s developing network of designated bike routes, bike lanes, and paths, route planning is straightforward. Watching the weather and choosing clothing appropriately deals with nearly anything that Mother Nature might throw at you.
That is the general concept, but why are we talking about bicycle commuting in the dead of winter?
The short answer is that bicycle commuting year-round is very possible, even in snowy West Michigan.
Minneapolis has a large number of year-round bike commuters!
On most days, our roads are dry or only wet, rather than “snow covered and slippery.” The two real winter cycling challenges are the temperature and the dark. And there are ample solutions to both.
Low cost and highly effective bike lights are available at any bike shop. A white LED light in the front allows you to see the road ahead, and a red strobe in the rear makes it easy for motorists to spot you.
Wheel reflectors make you even more visible.
We all know the old saying that, “It’s not too cold outside, only people who don’t know how to dress properly.” There are lots of bicycle specific clothing options – check out our local bike shops.
But you may already have some solutions at home. Examples could be as simple as rain pants and rain jackets. Worn over street clothes, the wind break that they offer means you can ride comfortably at much lower temperatures. Ski gloves or any insulated gloves keep your hands warm, and a thin ski hat that covers your ears can fit under your helmet. A pair of winter shoes or boots protect your feet.

It does take some experimentation to get things right, but a quick look at the thermometer and the weather forecast, combined with experience, will tell you how to dress.
If you’re worried about not having the right clothes at work after you’ve ridden your bike, many riders simply bring needed “change items” in a backpack. Others leave things like dress shoes at work and just change when they get there. And think about how impressed your co-workers will be!
The internet has huge resources for bike commuters, including https://peopleforbikes.org and https://bikeleague.org/content/commuting
  Kerry Irons is a retired chemical engineer who has lived in Holland for five years.  Irons is a lifelong cyclist who commuted to work by bike year-round for 30 years in central Michigan. He is the U.S. Bicycle Route System national volunteer coordinator for the Adventure Cycling Association.

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.

With property equipment and planning, bicycle commuting is possible year-round. Photo courtesy City of Holland

Living Sustainably: Winter Sustainability Film Series

By Jerilynn Tucker, Sustainability Film Series Planning Team
A free film series is bringing to Holland some of the best documentaries and movies that explore issues of creation care, sustainability and clean energy.
The series, which began in October, has award-winning films scheduled for this Tuesday, Jan. 14, as well as Feb. 25 and March 31.
On Tuesday, the series will present “The Game Changers,” a 2018 documentary about the benefits of plant-based eating. The film showcases elite athletes, special ops soldiers, and scientists from around the world.
The movie’s producers include James Cameron, Jackie Chan, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.  The film is hosted by James Wilks, a retired English mixed martial artist, and was featured on CNN with the heading: “Macho Vegans: The documentary that’s changing the script on plant-based diets.”
This film, and the others coming up, will be shown at Hope College’s Graves Hall. Each movie night begins at 6:30 to provide for networking and collaboration among citizens interested in promoting a sustainable approach to our environment. Film screening is at 7 p.m. There is time for questions and discussion afterwards.
The film series is offered through a collaboration of the Hope College Green Team, Hope Student Activities Committee, Macatawa Creation Care, Citizens Climate Lobby, and the League of Women Voters of the Holland Area.
The series began with the movie “Happening: A Clean Energy Revolution” in October, followed by “The Sequel” in November and “A Plastic Ocean” in December.  
Coming up on Tuesday, Feb. 25, will be “Merchants of Doubt,” a film based on the book of the same name by historians Naomi Orestes and Erik Conway. The film traces the use of public relations tactics that were originally developed by the tobacco industry to protect their business from research revealing health risks from smoking.
The most prominent of these tactics is the cultivation of scientists and others who successfully cast doubt on scientific results. The Wall Street Journal’s Joe Morgenstern said, “ ‘Merchants of Doubt,’ a provocative and improbably entertaining documentary by Robert Kenner, means to make people angry, and to make them think.”
The final movie for the 2019-20 year, on March 31, will be “WALL-E” a PIXAR and Disney film that topped Time’s list of the Best Movies of the Decade in 2008.  The movie, great for children and adults, follows a solitary trash compactor robot left to clean up garbage on a future, uninhabitable Earth.
Humanity is nowhere to be found, having been evacuated seven centuries earlier by the  megacorporation Buy-N-Large (BnL) on giant starliners. Of the robotic trash compactors left by BnL to clean up, only one remains operational: A Waste Allocation Load-Lifter (Earth Class), or WALL-E.
One day, WALL-E’s routine is broken by the arrival of an unmanned probe carrying an Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator or EVE, sent to scan the planet for plant life, and the story proceeds from there.
 Jerilynn Tucker is a member of the Holland Area Chapter of the League of Women Voters, the Citizens Climate Lobby, and the film series planning committee. The retired school psychologist at Holland Public School has had a long-time interest in social and environmental justice.

If You Go: Sustainability Film Series
What: The film “The Game Changers”
When: 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 14
Where: Hope College Graves Hall, 263 College Ave., Holland
Cost: Free
Future Films: “Merchants of Doubt” Feb. 25 and “WALL-E” on March 31

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.

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: Research shows top five ways to limit climate change

By Evan Bright, Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute
A world-class research organization known as Project Drawdown has crunched the numbers and ranked the most viable solutions to climate change based on the total atmospheric carbon dioxide reduction in their “plausible scenario” between 2020 and 2050.
Below are their top five solutions – and what can make the biggest difference might surprise you!

  1. Refrigeration Chemistry
    Refrigeration and air conditioning units contain chemicals that enable chilling. Older, ozone-depleting chemicals (such as Freon) have been phased out, but were primarily replaced with hydroflourocarbons (HFCs) which spare the ozone layer but have 1,000 to 9,000 times more potential to warm the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. The newest and best replacements for refrigerants include propane and ammonium, which are both naturally occurring, making updated refrigeration technology an important step to fight climate change.
  2. Onshore Wind Turbines
    In many regions, wind energy is either competitive with or less expensive than coal energy, and it has no fuel cost nor pollution. Onshore wind farms use minimal land and still allow for alternate uses of much of the area, such as farming and grazing. On top of this, wind farms can typically be built in under a year, producing a quick return on investment. 
  3. Reduced Food Waste
    One third of food that is produced does not make it to anyone’s fork. Production of food consumes many resources including water, energy, land, and labor, yet industry standards lead to much food being left to rot. Wasting of food is responsible for nearly 8 percent of global emissions. In lower income countries, the solution is to provide better infrastructure for storage and transportation, and in higher income countries, retailers and consumers need to change attitudes toward what is commonly acceptable.
    After all, a misshapen carrot tastes the same as a “perfect” one.
  4. Plant-Rich Diet
    Shifting from a meat-heavy to a plant-rich diet leads to reduced emissions and a healthier body.
    Plant-based options are becoming increasingly prominent, and we need to shift the collective mindset toward taking advantage of these alternatives more often. Just as important, we must end government subsidies benefiting the livestock industry, as they distort the true cost of meat and encourage the over-consumption of meat.
  5. Tropical Forests
    In recent decades, tropical forests have suffered destruction. What once covered 12 percent of the world’s landmass now only covers 5 percent. Tropical forests are responsible for holding a significant amount of carbon in the soil and vegetation. They also contribute to the health of every aspect of the environment and support natural cycles that we rely on for food, water, and life as a whole. We need to let forests regenerate, but at the very least need to stop destroying them to make room for livestock and agriculture.

These five strategies can make a huge impact on the amount of carbon released into our atmosphere. Solutions involve not only taking advantage of the newest technology but also rely on changing habits on an individual level.
We are at a pivotal point when it comes to controlling climate change, and increasing awareness of simple solutions is crucial. Project Drawdown has dug in far deeper beyond these top-ranked issues to demonstrate more solutions. To learn more, visit www.drawdown.org
 Evan Bright is an intern with the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a Holland-area native, and a Hope College math major graduated in December 2019.

MORE ONLINE
Project Drawdown
www.drawdown.org
Refrigeration
hollandbpw.com/en/energy-smart-program
hollandbpw.com/en/customer-service/residential/residential-rebates
energystar.gov/productfinder/product/certified-residential-refrigerators 
Renewables
hollandbpw.com/en/14-category-en-gb/34-renewable-energy-rate 
Food waste
www.ottawafood.org/resources/reduce-food-waste/
Plant Based Foods
www.facebook.com/VegLakeshore/ 
Tropical Rainforests
wwf.panda.org/our_work/forests/importance_forests/tropical_rainforest/

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.

The Dutch have been putting wind to work for centuries, and now hundreds of wind turbines stand in and along Lake Ijessel near Urk, Netherlands, among the thousands of such turbines in that country. Onshore wind farms have the potential to make the second-largest impact on limiting climate change.

Living Sustainably: Less meat makes for more sustainability

By Jacob VanderRoest, Hope Advocates for Sustainability
With the onset of a new year, resolutions will inevitably be proposed. In my opinion, there are two characteristics of a quality resolution: The resolution has a positive impact, and it is easy to maintain.
I have a resolution that satisfies both of these requirements: Eating less meat. In addition to the health benefits, this slight change to your diet can profoundly benefit the environment. And it is easy to do.
As a Hope College student who is a member of the Hope Advocates for Sustainability organization, I am very concerned about protecting the environment and conserving our resources. Surprisingly, what we choose to eat can have a significant impact on the environment and place a considerable demand on our resources.
For example, producing one kilogram of beef emits 27.0 kilograms of carbon dioxide, whereas the production of one kilogram of potatoes emits only 2.9 kilograms of carbon dioxide.
In addition to carbon dioxide emissions, certain foods require more water to produce. The production of one kilogram of beef requires 15,415 liters of water! Comparatively, producing one kilogram of potatoes only requires 287 liters of water.

Overall, the production of meat, especially beef, generally emits more carbon dioxide and requires more water compared to the production of fruits, vegetables, and grains. So, eating less meat and transitioning towards a “plant-based” diet can decrease our resource consumption while simultaneously minimizing our carbon footprint.
The key here is simply eating less. You certainly do not have to become a vegetarian or vegan to have a positive impact. If you consciously decide to decrease your personal meat consumption, you are directly helping.
This idea could seem fairly challenging at first, but the process of reducing meat consumption can be gradual and easy. I know this to be true since over the pasts year, I’ve been slowly reducing how much meat I eat.
I recommend starting with choosing to not eat meat for one meal of the day. For me, I didn’t eat
meat during breakfast but continued my regular eating habits during lunch and dinner. After I adjusted to this slight alteration after a few weeks, I decided to not eat meat on a certain day of the week (which happened to be Sunday) in addition to not eating meat during breakfast. From there, I continuously removed meat from my diet in a gradual and fairly unnoticeable fashion.
So, if you are concerned about the environment, long to help conserve our resources, or are just looking for an easy New Year’s resolution, please try not eating meat for one meal a day.
 Jacob VanderRoest is a Hope College junior majoring in chemistry. He runs on the cross country and track teams and is a member of Hope Advocates for Sustainability who also is a proponent of a plant-based diet due to the benefits toward health and the environment.

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.

Eating more vegetables and less meat can have a positive impact on health and, particularly, a big impact on water use and carbon dioxide emissions.
Cutting down water use and carbon dioxide emissions in food production can start as simply as eating more vegetables and not eating meat once a day.

Living Sustainably: Holland is a leader in LED streetlight conversion

By Steve Bruinsma, Holland BPW
Ahh, with the winter solstice yesterday, it’s uplifting to have turned the corner on darkness. As the amount of daylight gradually increases each day, the time the streetlights are on gets shorter.

I bet you don’t think about it in quite those terms, as I do. You see, the Holland Board of Public Works electric crews and I are responsible for maintaining the street and pedestrian lights in the Holland area, as well as traffic signals at 100 intersections.
One might think it is expensive to operate all of those lights and signals. It is, but far less so for Holland. First and foremost, the investment in streetlights and traffic signals is for public safety.
Additionally, our city leaders have invested in better quality light output and energy efficiency by converting to light emitting diode (LED) technology. The typical LED streetlight is three times more
energy efficient than the orange-hued, high-pressure sodium light it replaced. LED streetlights provide better visibility and significant cost savings for the community. The cost savings come in the forms of less energy consumption and reduced maintenance.
Holland has been a leader in converting its public lighting to LED. It began in 2010 and was substantially completed by 2016. We have some small developments, associations, and private lots that we are working on today and plan to complete in the next three years.
The conversion was spurred by Holland’s commitment to be a world-class energy efficient city as detailed in the Community Energy Plan. Lowering energy consumption saves money, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and improves our carbon footprint per capita, a key metric in the plan. That means cleaner air to breathe and improved quality of life. The Community Energy Plan also helps to ensure our community’s economic competitiveness.
Are all of the lights in your home, indoors and out, converted to LED? If not, the Holland BPW encourages you to do so by offering a $3 rebate on Energy Star-certified LED light bulbs and a $5 rebate on Energy Star-certified LED flood lights and can or recessed lighting conversion kits. The rebate reimburses you for nearly the full, or sometimes the entire, cost of the bulb. To apply for a rebate, go to hollandbpw.com and click on the Ways To Save tab.

Enjoy the days getting longer!

Do you want to try an LED light bulb for free? Stop by the HBPW Service Center at 625 Hastings Ave. on Jan. 31, Feb. 7, Feb. 14, and Feb. 21, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. In the LED light bulb giveaway blitz on those days, you will have your choice of two 60 watt-equivalents or one indoor/outdoor flood light.

By the Numbers:
Holland Conversion to LED lights
 All traffic signals in 100 intersections
 3,600 streetlights (550 remain)
 600 decorative pedestrian lights (200 remain)
 The remaining 750 lights will be converted over the next three years

 Steve Bruinsma is electric distribution superintendent at Holland Board of Public Works. He oversees the safe and reliable delivery of power to Holland area homes, businesses, streetlights, and traffic signals.

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.

Dimmable LED lights in Centennial Park provide better lighting and are projected to
save $2,800 in yearly electricity costs, using 70 percent less energy, and last four to five times longer than old halide lights.
LED street and park lights around Holland offer better lighting and use about one-third the energy, while lasting longer than old high-pressure sodium lights.Holland has changed out 3,600 street lights in recent years to LED bulbs that provide better lighting at lower long-term cost.

Living Sustainably: Research gives residents a look at Lake Mac health

By Kelly Goward, Macatawa Area Coordinating Council
Area residents can track the health of our watershed thanks to the on-going work of the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council. That collaborative organization has been seeking improvement of the Macatawa watershed since 1996 and recently held its Macatawa Watershed Annual Meeting.
This year, new information about plastics and microplastic pollution, overall water quality, heavy metals in the lake, light pollution, and rainfall composition has been made available, along with updates on water quality monitoring.
 Research on plastics and microplastics found on West Michigan beaches, presented by Hope College Professor Brian Bodenbender, shows the majority of plastics and microplastics on beaches are found at the wrack line, the area where lake debris is deposited by the action of waves.
 Water quality monitoring in the Day1 Watershed program, conducted in the Macatawa Watershed for several years, shows that some parameters exhibit cyclical patterns (changing with the seasons) and that there are differences between lake and stream water quality patterns, according to research presented by Hope College Professor Aaron Best. This long-term, high-frequency monitoring is conducted by students and looks at chemical, physical and microbial parameters.
 And overall, while we are seeing improvements in water quality, Lake Macatawa is still not meeting desirable water quality goals, according to 2018 water quality findings shared by Maggie Oudsema, research assistant at the Grand Valley State University Annis Water Resources Institute. The Institute has been monitoring stream water quality near wetland restorations and lake water quality since 2015.

 In addition, groups of Hope College Advanced Environmental Seminar students presented findings about the composition of rainfall in relation to wind direction in the Holland area and quantifying light pollution in the Holland area, while another group presented research quantifying heavy metals in the tissue of Lake Macatawa fish.
The information was presented at the 2019 Macatawa Watershed Annual Meeting at Holland City Hall on Dec. 5. Area residents can access the complete research findings on the MACC website at www.the-macc.org.
The MACC also presented the 2019 Watershed Stakeholder of the Year Award to the Ottawa Conservation District. Since 2001, this award has been presented annually to a person(s), entity or organization who has been a particularly strong supporter of the Macatawa Watershed or played an important role in advancing water quality goals.
The Ottawa Conservation District OCD (http://www.ottawacd.org/) provides technical assistance to all county residents on natural resource issues. Current programs include tree and native plant sales, invasive species management, critical dune assurances, agricultural risk assessment and environmental verification through the Michigan Agricultural Environment Assurance Program, forest management assistance, and watershed projects in several sub-watersheds of the Lower Grand River.
In 2019, the Conservation District reached out to the MACC to collaborate on planning and hosting a farm field day and an Ottawa County conservation partner event. These efforts demonstrated the
Conservation District’s collaborative nature and their recognition of the importance of partnerships.
The MACC was pleased to have partnered with the District on these events, and we look forward to continued collaboration on these and other efforts in the future.
 Kelly Goward has been environmental program manager for the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council since 2012.

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.

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.

The community can access new research about the status of the Lake Macatawa
watershed thanks to research by Grand Valley State University staff and Hope College professors and students.

Living Sustainably: Celebrate a Simpler Homestead Holiday

By Sarah Irvin, DeGraaf Nature Center
This holiday season, families can travel back to a simpler time to celebrate a pioneer Christmas with DeGraaf Nature Center at Homestead Holiday. Enjoy spending time with family and friends as you explore all that the nature center has planned: sweet treats, fun crafts, and plenty of holiday cheer!
Throughout most of the year, our replica pioneer log cabin can only be enjoyed from the outside, but it would not be a true pioneer Christmas celebration without a crackling fire in the fireplace! Come experience what home life looked like for Holland’s earliest European residents, and enjoy some hot chocolate and cookies while you see the space that each family would have shared.
Inside the cabin, we will have many historic artifacts to investigate and toys to play with. Santa will visit us from 1:30 until 3 p.m., but don’t let him get too close to the cookie platter!

Inside our main building, we will have many different make-it and take-it crafts.
“Kids today don’t make a lot of material things that they can touch, feel and keep,” said Phil Oczkowski, chairperson of the nature center’s Heartwood Council and long-time volunteer. “Everyone goes home with something, and they made it!”
Children will get to choose between a number of craft projects including:
 hand-dipped candles (either for decoration or to be used as electricity-free lighting);
 cedar-filled and decorated sachets (that would have helped pioneers to keep insects from chewing holes in their clothing and blankets);
 biodegradable pine-cone bird feeders (to help the feathered friends who stick around for the winter);
 tin lid hand-punched ornaments (that pioneers would have brought to decorate their own tree).
“As a volunteer for this event, I get the biggest kick out of kids who come in and are a little shy about making an ornament, and who really get into it,” Oczkowski said. “Some of them suddenly realize that they can actually make something that’s cool, and I’ve had kids who say they want to do a better one and come back to do three or four.”
All of the crafts made at the event can be gifted to others or can be used as decoration around your home for years to come! This is a great event for young children with adult assistance.
While you’re here, feel free to visit all of the animals that live in our Helen O. Brower Interpretive Center. Our trails will also be open, and if the weather allows, snowshoes will be available for rent.
The Homestead Holiday celebration will be 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Dec. 14. No registration is required, and there is no entry fee. Crafts and treats can be bought with tickets purchased at the entrance. We look forward to celebrating together!
 Sarah Irvin is a naturalist at DeGraaf Nature Center.

If You Go
What: Homestead Holiday
When: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Dec. 14
Where: DeGraaf Nature Center, 600 Graafschap Road

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.

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.

Living Sustainably: Preparing for the Cold Weather Season with Home Energy Upgrades

By Ken Freestone, City of Holland
Anyone notice that it’s getting colder? That of course means it is time to get your furnace tuned up and to stop cold air from leaking into your house. Focus on places where you get icicles, feel drafts, and where you can improve comfort, health and safety.

Preparing for cold weather is more than putting up plastic on the windows and using door snakes. Breezes people feel in their homes are usually caused by poor insulation, lack of air-sealing around windows, and drafty doors, baseboards and the attic.

Most people think windows cause the worst conditions. Although windows contribute to poor conditions, improving a house’s air sealing and insulation will have the greatest impact on comfort,
energy efficiency and health. Air sealing and insulation are also some of the least expensive things a homeowner can do to conserve energy and provide the greatest return on investments.

To date, more than 250 homeowners in the City of Holland have completed Deep Energy Retrofits/Upgrades or some kind of energy improvements in their homes. Here are some statistics to illustrate the value to homeowners, to the city, and to reducing energy use:

  • $3.85 million invested by homeowners on Energy Efficiency upgrades,
  • $487,000 in grants provided to homeowners,
  • 20 percent average gain in home energy efficiency,
  • 50 percent of projects financed on home energy bills through Holland Board of Public Works. 40 percent financed through MichiganSaves.org.

Other benefits of home retrofits have included old knob and tube wiring replacement; remediation of asbestos, lead and mold; improved air quality and ventilation; and reducing our community carbon footprint and making good progress towards reaching our Community Energy Plan goals.

Here is what some homeowners have had to say about the benefits from energy upgrades:
 “We have a dining room that we can now use in the winter. Before having the retrofit it was too cold to use.” – R.G.
 “My third-floor office is now almost the same temperature as the rest of my house, all year long.” – K.K.

So, what can you do to make your home more efficient, comfortable, healthier, and safer? Here are some steps to consider:

  1. Get your furnace tuned up by a professional and check your filters every month. SEMCO offers a $50 rebate for tune-ups.
  2. Get a free home energy audit through the City of Holland Home Energy Retrofit program. Auditors will check air leakage, insulation, HVAC, appliances, ventilation and more. And the Holland Energy Fund offers $1,000 to $3,000 towards your Home Energy Upgrade. City of Holland residents should contact Ken Freestone for details and free consultation at k.freestone@cityofholland.com or (616)355-1364.
  3. Determine the age of your HVAC systems and appliances. Here are some general guidelines to consider for possible replacement: furnace over 20 years old? Water heater over 15 years old?Refrigerator older than 12 years? Is it ENERGY STAR® certified?
  4. Check for rebates and incentives for energy upgrades. Available incentives include light bulbs, refrigerators, dishwashers, freezers and more. The HBPW also will pick up old refrigerators, freezers, dehumidifiers and air conditioning units and properly recycle them at Padnos. The HBPW will give $50 rebates for large units and $15 for small. (Limit two large and two small appliances per customer per year.)

To learn more about rebates, look for the Residential/Rebates pulldown under Customer Service at hollandbpw.com. For those with SEMCO service, go to efficiencyunited.com/residential. Incentives include: furnace, programmable thermostat, insulation, windows and more.

Together we can help Holland become a World Class Energy Efficient community.

 Ken Freestone is Holland’s residential energy advisor, focusing on home energy retrofits for city residents, and is also co-founder of GreenMichigan.org, a nonprofit focused on sustainability.

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.

A furnace tuneup can be a quick way to save on energy costs, and some rebates might help cover the costs.
Holland residents can get help with costs for home energy retrofit services like better insulation or duct sealing.
Ice cascading from a roof is a sure sign of poor insulation and higher
than necessary energy costs.