Living Sustainably: Three Holland projects are finalists for state energy awards

By Anne Saliers, Holland Board of Public Works

The Holland Energy Fund, a finalist for the Governor’s Energy Excellence Award, is represented by (left to right) Holland BPW Community Energy Services Manager Anne Saliers, City Treasurer and President of Holland Energy Fund Tim Vagle, and Holland Residential Energy Advisor Peter Boogaart.

Holland’s leadership in energy efficiency could produce three winners in the Third Annual Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards that recognize people and organizations in Michigan that have taken firm, meaningful actions to improve energy efficiency.
Sandra Keirnan is a finalist for Best Residential Project. She had already begun renovating her 1891 home on State Street when she heard about Holland’s 40-year Community Energy Plan.
From that point on, Keirnan was “all in” on energy efficiency, making good use of the programs offered by the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Those included the Home Energy Retrofit Program incentive, rebates through Holland BPW and SEMCO Energy, and being the first to use the new On-Bill Loan Program.

Sandra Keirnan, one of the most active home energy savers in Holland and a finalist for a state energy award, is greeted by Mayor Nancy DeBoer.

Keirnan also competed in the Holland Energy Prize Biggest Loser Challenge and won “most improved” by doubling her U.S. Department of Energy Home Energy Score from 4 (out of 10) to 8. Her renovations ranged from replacing inefficient appliances to improving her home’s insulation and windows. She expects to save 802 kilowatt hours of electricity and 417 therms of natural gas annually.
Next, GreenHome Institute is a finalist in Best Communication or Education Program for its Biggest Loser Challenge held in Holland during the Georgetown University Energy Prize competition.
The year-long initiative encouraged Holland residents to reduce their electric, gas, and water usage in 2016 from the previous year. Cash, plus energy- and water-saving prizes, went to the residents who were the biggest overall “losers” in energy use. The program urged residents to become energy efficient at a level that fit their lifestyle and budget. The 118 residents who participated saved 10 percent on energy overall, with the Biggest Loser saving 36 percent.

Representing two of three Holland projects that are finalists for the Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards are, in front, homeowner Nancy Kiernan and in back, left to right, Mayor Nancy DeBoer, Holland Residential Energy Advisor Peter Boogaart, City Treasurer and President of Holland Energy Fund Tim Vagle, and Holland BPW Community Energy Services Manager Anne Saliers.

Third, Holland Energy Fund is a finalist for Innovator of the Year. Incorporated as a non-profit in 2015, Holland Energy Fund supports the Holland Community Energy Plan, a 40-year path to the city becoming a world-class leader in energy security, affordability, sustainability, and efficiency.
The Fund offers a 10 percent rebate to city homeowners for investing in deep energy efficiency upgrades. It also offers low, fixed-interest loans that residents can conveniently pay back on their Holland BPW electric bill. It’s the first on-bill financing program for improving home efficiency and comfort in Michigan. To learn more about Holland Energy Fund and its programs, visit
“Energy efficiency doesn’t mean doing less; it means doing as much or more, but using less energy to get it done,” Gov. Rick Snyder said in his special message on energy in 2012. “Energy efficiency is the best example of a no-regrets policy Michigan can have.”

The Governor’s Energy Excellence Award Categories:
 Best Residential Project
 Best Industrial/Manufacturing Project
 Best Public Project
 Best Commercial Project
 Best Agricultural Project
 Best Communication of Education Program
 Contractor of the Year
 Innovator of the Year
Learn More:

Award winners will be announced by Snyder in Detroit on Oct. 19.
 Anne Saliers is community energy services manager at Holland Board of Public Works and serves on the Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards steering committee.

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.