By Michelle Gibbs, Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute
The City of Holland’s sustainability efforts were honored Thursday, Nov. 21 with a Gold Certification in our first submission to the 2019 Michigan Green Communities Challenge.
Holland was recognized along with other Michigan Communities during the annual Michigan Sustainability Conference held in Lansing. The three recognition levels – Bronze, Silver, and Gold –
acknowledge progressively higher levels of achievement.
Holland earned Gold in the first year that it participated in the challenge. While Holland made quite a showing, we certainly acknowledge there is still much to learn from our peer communities and more work to be done as part of our journey to become a more sustainable community.
“The Gold Certification is a very pleasant affirmation of the work of our community towards our sustainability goals,” said City Manager Keith Van Beek.
Progress toward those goals can be seen in Holland’s 2018 Annual Sustainability Report at hollandsustainabilityreport.org. (With a recent restructuring of the City’s website, some of the old links no longer work, but this will be corrected for the 2019 report.)
Holland also was recognized for our comprehensive Community Energy Plan and for offering homeowners a new way to pay for energy improvements with the Holland On-Bill Loan Program through Holland Energy Fund.
As the city’s vision statement says, Holland is “a vibrant, world-class community in a beautiful lakefront environment where people work together, celebrate community, and realize dreams.” We believe Holland is a great place to live, work, and play, and we are working hard to ensure this is true for generations to come.
The Michigan Green Communities Challenge is an annual program that guides communities and helps them measure their progress towards sustainability. This rating system is open to all local
governments in Michigan. Benefits of participating in the Challenge include:
Having a roadmap for sustainability initiatives
Earning Bronze, Silver, or Gold certification for the community
Benchmarking a community’s progress towards sustainability initiatives
Comparing and competing with other Michigan communities
“Michigan Green Communities is a statewide network of local government and university staff that collaborate with one another, through peer learning and information sharing, to promote innovative solutions and move sustainability initiatives forward at the local, regional, and state level,” according to the organization’s website. The network members learn and share together through webinars, monthly newsletters, meetings, and the Green Communities Challenge.
The Challenge began in 2009 and is operated by the Michigan Municipal League Foundation with funding from the C.S. Mott Foundation. It is a partnership of the Michigan Municipal League, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Michigan Townships Association, the Michigan Association of Counties, and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.
A full listing Challenge action items and reporting metrics can be found under the Take the Challenge pulldown at migreencommunities.com.
Michelle Gibbs is the director for the Office of Sustainability at Hope College and is also the director for the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a collaboration of Hope College, the City of Holland, and Holland Board of Public Works.
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.