Water is life. Our liquid reliance is embedded in 70% of our world’s geography and makes up 60% of our bodies, after all. Yet, nearly one billion people do not have access to safe water.

Boiled down: One in eight people worldwide cannot find clean, drinking water. 

And that’s exactly why the Hope College Engineers Without Borders (EWB-Hope) chapter traveled to Kenya in May 2017. Only 57% of Kenya’s population has sustainable access to clean water sources, according to the World Health Organization. By comparison, the United States measures 99%.

Read the full post at Stories of Hope.

Hope College Faculty and Student Research Project: Continent-wide analysis of how urbanization affects bird-window collision mortality in North America

Hope College Faculty and Student Research Project:  Continent-wide analysis of how urbanization affects bird-window collision mortality in North America

In the fall of 2014, Dr. Kathy Winnett-Murray and five Hope research students participated in an EREN ( collaborative research network project studying the effects of building size and urbanization on bird window collisions.  The Hope College research students that gathered data for the Hope College site were Michael Barrows (’15), Nicholas Gibson (’17), Emily Kindervater (’15), Courtney Lohman (’16), and Alexandria Vandervest (’15).

The bird-window collision project was replicated at 40 college/university sites across North America and the results of this continent-wide study were recently published in the on-line journal Biological Conservation.


Characteristics of buildings and land cover surrounding buildings influence the number of bird-window collisions, yet little is known about whether bird-window collisions are associated with urbanization at large spatial scales. We initiated a continent-wide study in North America to assess how bird-window collision mortality is influenced by building characteristics, landscaping around buildings, and regional urbanization. In autumn 2014, researchers at 40 sites (N = 281 buildings) used standardized protocols to document collision mortality of birds, evaluate building characteristics, and measure local land cover and regional urbanization. Overall, 324 bird carcasses were observed (range = 0–34 per site) representing 71 species. Consistent with previous studies, we found that building size had a strong positive effect on bird-window collision mortality, but the strength of the effect on mortality depended on regional urbanization. The positive relationship between collision mortality and building size was greatest at large buildings in regions of low urbanization, locally extensive lawns, and low-density structures. Collision mortality was consistently low for small buildings, regardless of large-scale urbanization. The mechanisms shaping broad-scale variation in collision mortality during seasonal migration may be related to habitat selection at a hierarchy of scales and behavioral divergence between urban and rural bird populations. These results suggest that collision prevention measures should be prioritized at large buildings in regions of low urbanization throughout North America. 

A link to the full paper can be found here 

Not surprisingly, bigger buildings are more deadly for birds, but the real beauty of this study is in elucidating a larger-scale pattern that only emerged by comparing many sites – that large buildings are especially bad if they sit in a less developed landscape that is more attractive to birds (i.e. one that has lots of greenspace and low structural density).  This insight allows for prioritization of collision prevention measures at buildings where impacts can be predicted to be greatest.

It is important to recognize not only that a project of this scale is only possible through a large-scale collaborative network of institutions, but that on-campus collaboration at the local level was equally important in the successful completion of the study here at Hope.  Thank you to the many people on our campus that allowed for us to participate and accomplishing this project!

Dr. Kathy Winnett-Murray
Professor of Biology – Hope College
Holland, MI 49423

Living Sustainably: Get up close with the Great Lakes

Get up close with the Great Lakes
By Michelle Gibbs, Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute

Asked where they’re from, Michigan residents know the drill: Hold up your hand and point.  We take pride in being from this amazing state with its state motto, “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.” We are blessed to be surrounded by such beauty.
Water is a part of our natural environment and a necessity for all living creatures; it’s also part of our culture. We depend on it economically, for farming, energy production, tourism, fishing, and movement of goods and people, and we rely on it for personal enjoyment and recreation.
We all live in a watershed to these lakes that hold 84 percent of North America’s fresh surface water, and our choices impact this precious resource. So, it is important to not take this resource for granted and to get to know it on a personal basis.
In 2009, Loreen Niewenhuis walked the perimeter of Lake Michigan and wrote the bestselling book, “A 1,000-Mile Walk on the Beach.” She wanted to put her boots to the ground and connect more with herself and the natural environment.
“Lake Michigan has always been my favorite place, and walking the edge where land meets water is where I feel most at home,” she says.
In 2012, Niewenhuis took another long journey, covering 1,000 miles of shoreline touching all five Great Lakes. The book about this latest adventure, “A 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Walk,” explores the entire Great Lakes system.
The Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute and Herrick Library’s “Booked for the Summer” Program are excited to present on July 31 at the library a discussion by Niewenhuis about her adventures.
Niewenhuis will take you along the shores of all five Great Lakes and many of the waterways connecting them. In words, photos, and video, you’ll explore the geology, hydrology, and natural history of the largest system of freshwater lakes in the world.
Niewenhuis also will illuminate the threats to this massive ecosystem: Invasive species, pollution, destruction of wetlands, and the gradual warming of the lakes.
As a tickler for the event, I encourage to you think about the following questions that she will answer. Also, come prepared to ask your own questions.
 What was her shortest day and longest days of hiking?
 How many pairs of shoes did she use?
 What stretch of shoreline was the most difficult to hike?
 Where does Lake Michigan rank in size compared to other freshwater lakes in the world?
“I reached a point in my life where I needed to take on a big challenge, something so big it scared me,” Niewenhuis said. “I looked to my favorite place, Lake Michigan, and decided to get to know it step-by-step, to record it in my muscles and bones.”
We invite you to hear about her exciting and inspiring adventure!

Fast Facts
 The Great Lakes represent 84 percent of North America’s surface fresh water
 The Great Lakes hold about 21 percent of the world’s supply of surface fresh water.
 People say no matter where you are in Michigan, you’re never more than six miles from a body of fresh water.

If You Go:
What: Free presentation by Loreen Niewenhuis, author of “A 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Walk.”
When: 7 p.m., Monday, July 31
Where: Herrick District Library, 300 S. River Ave.
 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.  Its mission is to foster collaborative efforts to infuse sustainability into the minds and practices of the greater Holland community.

NearSaug.jpg – Loreen Niewenhuis stands in awe of the power of Lake Michigan, which she walked around and wrote a book about.
Southernshore.jpg – Loreen Niewenhuis crossed the southern shore of Lake Michigan through from Illinois, through Indiana, to Michigan.
Lakestones.jpg – The beauty of stones from Lake Michigan helped inspire Loreen Niewenhuis as she walked around the lake.

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

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
institute for more information.

Living Sustainably: Standards help make spaces more healthy

Living Sustainably: Standards help make spaces more healthy

By Morna Hallsaxton, EcoCreative Design

When designing a building, most architects consider the functions of the building to determine the building structure and materials. However, the WELL Building Standard rating system v1.0, launched in 2014, has increased the consideration of human health in design and construction strategies.

Seven years of development helped formulate seven wellness concepts included in the WELL Building Standard. A WELL building certification must demonstrate specific thresholds of compliance within each of those concepts: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. The International Building Institute, which administers the voluntary WELL standard, is committed to balancing occupant health benefits with profitability.

Each concept in the WELL Building Standard has many features that focus on specific aspects of occupant health, comfort or knowledge. It also identifies specific aspects of human health it will impact.

As an example, consider the following about the first feature, Air Quality Standards.

Air pollution contributes to 50,000 annual premature deaths in the United States and about 7 million annual premature deaths worldwide. Indoor air quality is particularly important since the average person spends more than 90 percent of their time indoors.

Indoor air quality can suffer from a variety of sources, including material off-gassing, decreased outdoor air ventilation, indoor combustion sources, and surfaces that can accumulate airborne germs.

These conditions can contribute to negative health effects such as asthma, upper respiratory illnesses, allergies, headaches, and decreased work productivity.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulates indoor pollutant exposure and pollutant concentrations with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. These standards limit exposure to six major pollutants: carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, particular matter, and sulfur dioxide.

The WELL Building Standard incorporates these U.S. standards, as well as the World Health Organization requirements.

Those compliance requirements also limit exposure levels for formaldehyde and radon. A radon kit can be purchased for testing and then mailed in to obtain free results. Formaldehyde, a carcinogenic, can be released into the interior spaces from adhesives in new materials, called off-gassing.

There are three easy ways to remove indoor air pollutants.

 Increase outdoor ventilation by opening windows and/or doors as well as turning on exhaust fans.

 Purchase High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters that have different diameters of fibers that can retain smaller airborne pollutants.

 Avoid materials and products that might contain chemicals or produce chemicals such as those for which the National Ambient Air Quality Standards recommends limited exposure.

Another option is that certain plants can absorb chemicals. The gerber daisy and chrysanthemums are most effective at removing formaldehyde. Spider plants are best for removing carbon monoxide.

Good indoor air quality is important for everyone’s health. It is helps occupants live longer, feel better and be more productive.

 Morna Hallsaxton has degrees in interior design and environmental design and operates EcoCreative Design, an interior design business with an emphasis on healthy environments. Her work has included reviewing LEED projects, auditing BIFMA Furniture Sustainability Standard compliance and certifying products for environmental volatile organic compound emissions.


Healthy air.jpg Growing indoor plants helps make indoor healthier, with some plants known to reduce certain toxins.

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.


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 for more information.

Living Sustainably: Everyone is part of a watershed – celebrate yours!

Living Sustainably: Everyone is part of a watershed – celebrate yours!

We love our waterfront here around Holland, but did you know that, really, everyone lives on the water?

It’s true. We all live in a watershed. A watershed is an area of land that drains into a certain stream, river, or lake. It’s like a bathtub where all the water flows towards the drain because it’s the lowest spot. And if you live in the greater Holland area, you live in the Macatawa Watershed.

On Saturday, July 15, the Macatawa Water Festival will be back for its third year on Holland’s Windmill Island.

The festival is designed to help people of all ages learn about one of our most precious resources, Lake Macatawa and the Macatawa Watershed. The festival will feature hands-on activities and educational exhibits from more than two dozen local partners.

Activities will be available for all ages. Every young explorer will receive a Watershed Passport. As they learn from various vendors and participate in activities, they will receive passport stamps. Once their passport is complete, they will turn it in for a prize.

Why should you be at the 2017 Macatawa Water Festival? Here are seven good reasons:

1. Join in more than 20 hands-on activities;

2. Ride in a voyageur canoe or paddle a kayak around the island;

3. Build a rain barrel or wood duck nest box;

4. Fish for a trout, have it filleted and take it home for dinner;

5. Learn about recycling, composting, and upcycling;

6. Take a bike ride around the island or ride in a pedal cab;

7. It’s a great and free way for the whole family to unplug and get outdoors!

— Ashley Van Zee is the Community Outreach Coordinator at the Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway. The ODCMG is a local nonprofit with the mission to connect people, land and nature.

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 for more information.


Living Sustainably: Lessons from Washington for Local Efforts

Lessons from Washington for Local Efforts

By Kyle Funk, Hope College Green Team

Education is about taking in wisdom from different settings and applying it to communities you work for. While interning in Washington, D.C., for four months, I made some observations about how to work toward sustainability policies right here in Holland.

First, learn civics. Learn about how government works. That begins locally. Know who represents you. Know who sits on government bodies such as city council and school boards, and know how to communicate with them.  Then progress to understanding Lansing and Washington, D.C.

Also know the Constitution, the branches of government, and the different committees that your federal legislators sit on. For example, I took many calls about the House health care bill – something we could do little about because we were in the Senate.

Next, consider bipartisan effort. Learn how to work together, even with people of different philosophies, to find solutions to shared concerns.

For instance, Sen. Stabenow, a Democrat, and Sen. Portman, an Ohio Republican, co-chair the Senate Great Lakes Task Force. It is an issue that needs both parties to come together to find solutions.

This shared goal has carried over into a great friendship between the two of them. Together they are even stronger advocates for protection of the Great Lakes.

Last week, an Asian carp was found very close to Lake Michigan, a serious threat to the Great Lakes and the communities around them from environmental, recreational, and economical standpoints.  Recent policy development on stopping Asian carp was also a bipartisan effort between Rep. Bill Huizenga, co-chair on the House side, and Sen. Stabenow.

Third, appreciate community. In Holland, we have a strong community, and we need to value that.

Through many phone calls and letters I read while in Washington, I learned that is not the case everywhere. Communities across America are hurting. But that can be fixed by coming together, listening, and working on solutions.

Some things are better addressed locally than at the federal level, such as raising money for schools, addressing energy needs, encouraging sustainable business growth, and maintaining parks and recreation for all citizens. We also need to understand that some things will require public and private partnerships.

Consider the motto on Holland’s City Seal: “In unity is our strength, God be with us.”

Fourth, develop empathy. To accomplish any of this, we need empathy, a trait greatly lacking in our country right now. We need to listen and realize that sometimes when people say something or ask a question, it is not out of ignorance but out of anxiety for the future.

Lessons like these from Washington can be put to practical use. Coming together in empathy, we can build a resilient community, one that causes other cities to look to see what Holland is doing. One that that works towards a sustainable community through policy and practices that promote healthy citizens, economies, and ecosystems.

 Kyle Funk, a rising senior at Hope College and Hope College Green Team intern, interned in the spring semester on Capitol Hill with Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s office as part of the Hope Washington D.C. Honors Semester.


Kyle stabenaw.jpg Kyle Funk interned this spring in the office of Sen. Debbie Stabenow in Washington, D.C.

Kyle whitehouse.jpg Kyle Funk toured the White House during his internship in Washington, D.C., this spring.

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 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 for more information.

June 2017 Sustainability News

June 30, 2017 – Greenwashing a ‘Very Serious Issue,’ Leads to Poor Decisions, Says CEO of GRI

June 30, 2017 – Holland preparing for next phase of Civic Center work

June 30, 2017 – Four options to vacation close to home

June 30, 2017 – Holland Christian brings makers fun to Street Performers

June 30, 2017 – Holland says goodbye to former city manager

June 30, 2017 – Loneliness in Seniors: Like hunger Or thirst, loneliness can be eased

June 30, 3017 – Michigan League of Conservation Voters and the Michigan Environmental Council released a report recently detailing the implications of the proposed federal and state budget cuts for our Great Lakes, drinking water and natural resources.

June 29, 2017 – How to Reduce Energy Costs in Multifamily Buildings

June 29, 2017 – EPA to Publish Proposed Guidelines Clarifying Waters of the United States Rule

June 29, 2017 – Holland named one of America’s 11 best beach towns

June 29, 2017 – AT&T donates $15K to LAUP youth program

June 29, 2017 – Schuette calls for shutting down Mackinac pipeline

June 29, 2017 – High-Rise Buildings Use More Energy, Release More CO2

June 28, 2017 – Antarctic iceberg break ‘imminent,’ likely in ‘hours, days or weeks’

June 28, 2017 – Want to Retain Top Employees? Improve CSR Efforts, Survey Says

June 28, 2017 – Consumers Say Businesses Must Help Solve Water Crisis

June 28, 2017 – Michigan, rural American roads and bridges need help

June 28, 2107 – Natural selection: Live-edge wood in home design

June 27, 2018 – Smart Energy Storage Methods Helping Companies Save Money and Power

June 27, 2017 – Trump Says U.S. Will Dominate World Energy Production

June 26, 2017 – Living Sustainably: Eight Things to Know about Shopping at a Farmers Market

June 26, 2017 – Shift to Renewables Happening Faster than Most Business People Understand

June 25, 2017 – How food labels help us make better food choices

June 24, 2017 – Holland Youth Connections donations exceed matching grant by about $8,000

June 24, 2017 – Local Author: McCahan’s love of the lake inspires young adult novel

June 23, 2017 – Kids’ Food Basket receives $10K award

June 23, 2017 – Games, music, more coming at DeGraaf’s Summertime Jamboree

June 23, 2017 – Huizenga, Stabenow lead bipartisan effort against Asian carp

June 23, 2017 – Live Asian carp discovered near Lake Michigan

June 22, 2017 – Make the most of your gardening buck

June 22, 2017 – HBO, John Oliver Sued By Coal Company CEO Over Last Week Tonight Episode

June 22, 2017 – Visser Farms to provide strawberries to Ottawa Food

June 22, 2017 – Michigan implements hemlock woolly adelgid quarantine

June 22, 2017 – Environmentalist group files suit against Saugatuck Township for dune development

June 22, 2017 – According to a new study from the University of Colorado Boulder Groundwater Fees Prompt Farmers to Slash Water Use by a Third

June 22, 2017 – So Are We Wasting 40% of Our Food or Not? Study Says We Don’t Really Know

June 21, 2017 – Energy-saving tips for summer

June 21, 2017 – Michigan terminates contract for Enbridge pipeline study, citing conflict of interest

June 21, 2017 – Crisp Country Acres to sell fresh products at farm market

June 21, 2017 – Holland Public Schools preps for another enrollment drop in 2017-2018 budget

June 21, 2017 – Reptiles and amphibians take over Holland State Park

June 20, 2017 – Holland Coast Guard offering free boat washes

June 20, 2017 – Local farmers optimistic about crops heading into summer

June 20, 2017 – Zeeland Schools passes surplus budget, lunch prices to increase next year

June 20, 2017 – Letter: Remembering an environmental catastrophe

June 20, 2017 – ‘Living street’ concept taking shape on Elm Street in Zeeland

June 19, 2017 – Living Sustainably: Shopping locally sustains community

June 19, 2017 – Lead detected in 20 percent of baby food samples, surprising even researchers

June 19, 2017 – Thousands of wildebeests die in a river each year. Here’s why that’s a good thing.

June 18, 2017 – Trump’s shortsighted, ill-informed decision is one we’ll all regret

June 18, 2017 – Trump is right to withdraw from international sham

June 15, 2017 – Great Lakes water levels expected to be higher than average



June 14, 2017 – Consumers (Especially Millennials) Still Significantly Suspicious of CSR Motives: Harris Poll

June 14, 2017 – ‘No Matter the Industry, We’ll Collaborate & Get This Thing Done’: Quotes from the Conference

June 13, 2017 – “ACRE AgTech’s Newest Client Extracts Drinking Water from Manure”

June 12, 2017 – USDA to award 65 farm to school grants

June 9, 2017 – June 9, 2017 – Smaller metros take action to draw millennials fleeing bigger urban areas

June 12, 2017 – Living Sustainably:  Manage your house for more comfort and lower energy bills

June 9, 2017 – How to start composting, even in the city (video)

June 9, 2017 – Michigan DNR urges caution around snakes, whether deadly or not

June 9, 2017 – West Michigan sustainability efforts expected to continue, despite U.S. exit of Paris accords

June 7, 2017 – Simple upgrades and habit changes can yield big water savings in bathrooms

June 7, 2017 – From students to leaders: How today’s youth are preparing for the future

June 7, 2017 – Zeeland Criterium to kick off June 16

June 7, 2017 – Holland police unveil new Polar Patrol ice cream truck


June 6, 2017 – The Michigan Restaurant Association (MRA) has partnered with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and Michigan Ag Council to raise awareness of the economic impact of restaurants using Michigan manufactured products. This is a group partnership that will be working together to recognize restaurants with the 2017 Michigan GROWN, Michigan GREAT Restaurant Award. 

June 6, 2017 – California Looks to Set a 100% Renewable Standard and to Tie its Carbon Market with China

June 5, 2017 – Living Sustainably: Students make their own discoveries with air monitors

June 5, 2017 – Dropping Out of Paris Accord May Have ‘Done Us a Favor,’ Says Unilever CEO

June 5, 2017 – 80% Energy Savings from Single LED Installation Also Brings Higher Rents, Longer Leases

June 4, 2017 – DNR seeking stewardship volunteers for June

June 4, 2017 – Gov. Snyder names June Immigrant Heritage Month

June 2, 2017 – Trump withdraws from climate pact, world leaders push back

June 2, 2017 – Michigan School Board Says No to Power Purchase Agreement

June 2, 2017 – Net Zero Energy Buildings Popping Up Nationwide

June 1, 2017 – Snyder Commission unveils strategies for economic success

June 1, 2017 – Trump Will Withdraw U.S. From Paris Climate Agreement

June 1, 2017 – Like Others in Corporate Real Estate, LEDs Save Condo Complex 80% on Energy Costs in First Month

Living Sustainably: Eight Things to Know about Shopping at a Farmers Market

Eight Things to Know about Shopping at a Farmers Market

By Lisa Uganski, Ottawa Food

Thinking about a visit to the Holland Farmers Market? Here are eight things to know about why local farmers markets are much more than just places to purchase food!

1. Sustainability is the predominant theme at local farmers markets. Farmers engage in sustainable farming practices to produce healthy food to sustain the local community, and the community members provide the money necessary to support the farmers. Each shares in the success of the other.

2. Locally grown food has more nutrients. The longer fruit and veggies spend on trucks or in storage, the greater the loss of vitamins and other nutrients. Because local food is harvested and sold in a short time period, it often has a higher nutritional value than produce that has been transported long distances.

3. Locally grown food tastes great.  Fruits and vegetables at the local farmers market are often the freshest and tastiest you will find! Usually, the produce is picked just hours before being sold.

4. Shopping the market helps protect the environment.  Purchasing locally grown food helps maintain farmland and greenspace in your community. Food sold at local farmers markets is transported short distances, which reduces the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted.

5. Shopping at the market supports your local economy.  Money spent on locally produced food stays in the community longer. This money supports local farmers and stimulates local economic growth.

6. You can learn where your food comes from. A trip to your local farmers market is a great way to learn where your food comes from and how it was produced. Talk to the farmers and ask questions.

7. Connect with your community. Local farmers markets enhance quality of life by cultivating social interaction. Kids’ activities are available each Wednesday at the Holland Farmers Market from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. The market also participates in Double Up Food Bucks, a program that helps ensure that community members have access to healthy local food. When shoppers use their Bridge Card to buy SNAP-eligible foods at the market, they get free Double Up Food Bucks to spend on Michigan grown, fresh fruits and veggies. A variety of Holland market vendors also accept Senior Project FRESH and WIC Project FRESH vouchers.

8. Learn cooking tips and discover new recipes. Many farmers have tips about how to select, prepare, and store the foods they are selling. Ask questions! On Saturday mornings at 10 am at the Holland market, area chefs demonstrate how to use fresh, local grown ingredients to prepare healthy meals.

When people eat healthy food, support local businesses, and come together as a community, great things happen! For these reasons and many more, get out and visit your local farmers market.

 Lisa Uganski, RD, MPH, is the coordinator of Ottawa Food (formerly the Ottawa County Food Policy Council), a collaboration of local agencies and individuals working to ensure that all Ottawa County residents have access to healthy, local, and affordable food choices. Check out


Family Shopping.jpg Families can find fresher vegetables and talk to the farmers at the Holland Farmers Market. Contributed photo/Holland Famers Market

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 for more information.

Living Sustainably: Shopping locally sustains community

LIVING SUSTAINABLY: Shopping locally sustains community

By Dana Eardley, Local First

Local isn’t just a place on a map. It’s people. It’s your neighbors and their families, their businesses, farms, nonprofits, events, and recreational venues.

Local is a community and all of the opportunities we create together and the challenges we work to overcome. As an organization, Local First has a passion for encouraging people to live and work together in sustainable community.

Communities thrive when neighbors buy from locally owned businesses, and then those businesses invest in their neighbors as customers and employees. That’s part of a sustainable lifestyle that engages and enhances people’s physical environment.

Sustainability involves, in short, doing things that “meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

So, shopping locally becomes a sustainability action by strengthening the local economy, preserving it to better serve future generations. Shopping locally supports local investment and helps enrich families, homes, civic organizations and businesses.

A study showed that of $100 spent at locally owned independent stores, $68 returns to the community through payroll to local people, taxes and other spending. When $100 is spent at a national chain, only $43 remains in the local community.

Another study showed that if every person in Grand Rapids were to shift $10 per week to shopping locally, another 1,600 jobs would be created each year.

So, consider shopping locally! It’s important because it:

 Engages – It creates and deepens relationships within a community, which becomes more vibrant through collaboration and mutual investment.

 Humanizes – Physical and economic development occur on a scale that nurtures people and encourages beauty in natural and man-made environments.

 Preserves – When more citizens are genuine stakeholders, protecting local economic and environmental value is of mutual interest.

 Strengthens – When citizens and local businesses work together, it catalyzes positive development and the community has structural integrity to withstand economic downturns.

 Invests – Sustainable local economies and ecosystems grow into markets.

 Encourages – Intimate connections between customers and businesses facilitate innovation, interaction, and discovery, making for a more vibrant and resilient local economy.

 Enriches – Reinstating success in customers, employees, and the local environment makes the entire community wealthier.


Dana Eardley is project coordinator for Local First, an organization dedicated to encouraging and supporting people living and working together in sustainable community, preserving and strengthening the social and economic bonds of the community.


2016 Street Party.jPG – Holland residents celebrated at the 2016 Local First Lakeshore Street Party. The annual event celebrates local business, community and a vibrant local economy. This year’s party will be August 19 at Washington Square.


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.


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 for more information.


Living Sustainably: Manage your house for more comfort, lower energy bills

Living Sustainably: Manage your house for more comfort, lower energy bills

By Peter Boogaart, City of Holland Residential Energy Adviser

In the commercial/industrial sector, every building has a supervisor, someone who is responsible for managing the way it functions. When something is wrong — no heat, broken window, lights out — you call the “super.”

In the residential sector, every house – and there are 7,500 single family homes in Holland – has a “super” too. It just happens to be you, the homeowner. OK, true – but most of us never took a Building Management course, and the house didn’t come with an owner’s manual.

So, what should we do to manage our homes most efficiently?

First, monitor your building. Supers get reports. Today those reports are digital and happen in real time. Homeowners get reports too. They’re called utility bills. Yes, you have to pay it, but the real value is in the data. How many therms of gas, kWh of electricity or gallons of water are you using? How does your run rate compare with an energy efficient home? With a wi-fi thermostat, much of this information can be digital too. Some homeowners are installing dashboards which give them real-time monitoring.

Second, whatever your technology, begin with an audit. You need to know your baseline. The Holland Board of Public Works can help. Access their online tool (find the Home Energy Use Calculator in the pulldown at and calculate your energy use number. Think of it as the miles-per- gallon for your house; low numbers are better.

Third, take an inventory. Go room to room and write down everything that uses electricity. How many light bulbs? Are they LED? Are your electronics and entertainment equipment on smart surge protectors? Are your major appliances Energy Star rated? Ask yourself, “Do I need it? Could it be unplugged?” You may not need to change anything, but you won’t know that without an intentional review.

Next check your mechanical equipment. Do you have a high-efficiency furnace and a schedule for changing the furnace filter? Efficient air conditioning? Check your hot water tank – is it set for 120°F, the most efficient temperature?

Fourth, listen to the family. Complaints are data. Cold rooms? Big bills? Drafty? They’re telling you where the problems are!

If the problems are significant, you may need diagnostic help from a certified building analyst. The technician will check all your systems and run a pressurization test. Think of it like your checkup with your doctor. If you live in the city, Holland’s Home Energy Retrofit program can walk you through the process. There are incentives and funding available through the On-Bill Loan program. Go to to check out the options.

Buildings are as variable as people. Some are more efficient than others. Be a smart super for your house and keep it running efficiently.

 Peter Boogaart is the residential energy adviser for the City of Holland and assists homeowners with energy efficiency issues.


PETER TESTING.JPG – Peter Boogaart, Holland’s residential energy advisor, checks a furnace for leaking emissions.

EFFICIENT LIGHTS.JPG – Installing efficient light bulbs is one of the things a smart homeowner can do to cut back energy use.

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.


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 for more information.