Living Sustainably: ‘Energy literacy’ is key for Holland’s future

By Peter Boogaart, City of Holland
The City of Holland has put down a marker. It’s well out there into the future – 40 years in the future.
Our intention is to become a world-class, energy efficient city. That’s an exciting, big goal, and it should fire your imagination. But, it’s equally important to see that the goal represents serious thought about the future. Energy security will be a defining issue in the coming decades. We need to begin positioning ourselves now for that future.
Holland began to position itself in 2011 by launching a Community Energy Plan. The plan outlines interactive and mutually reinforcing initiatives – each presupposing community engagement enlightened by energy literacy.

Holland’s new Energy Park features an informative Education Center to help increase the energy literacy of the community. Photo courtesy City of Holland

Expect technologies to evolve. Expect social structures to change. What won’t change is the need for energy. Holland will need citizens who understand energy related issues and feel confident in making strategic decisions.
The foundation for energy literacy is already being laid.
The new Holland Energy Park has a major interactive educational center. Community and school groups will be invited to tour the facility and learn about electric production and related energy issues. It’s anticipated that staffing will be in place for 2018. The Energy Park was designed to be a destination and you should put it on your agenda, right along with Windmill Island.
On another front, building labeling is one of the Community

Homeowners Cliff and Nancy Ponstein, with Holland Residential Energy Advisor Peter Boogaart (center), show their Energy Score Label, a way to raise awareness of energy efficiency in Holland’s homes. Photo courtesy City of Holland

Energy Plan’s initiatives. Labels advance the goal of energy literacy. Think of building labels as those placards you find on cars and appliances – miles per gallon and kWh per year. Building labels document energy performance and give us the information we need to make future-oriented strategic decisions.
The new Home Energy Retrofit program has begun the process of awarding labels for energy efficient homes. The process uses software from the Department of Energy to analyze a home’s energy performance. Homes are scored on a scale from one to 10. The labels are in “cling” format so that they can be applied to the front window. Each label features the number for that house.
In the Home Energy Retrofit program, each house receives an initial score and then the house is re-scored after the energy efficiency improvements are installed. Homes that receive a final score of seven or better are awarded a label.
Keep your eyes open – about 40 labels have already been awarded. To learn more about building labels and the Home Energy Retrofit program – or just for the fun of it – check out or call Holland’s Community & Neighborhood Services Department at (616) 355-1330.
 Peter Boogaart is the residential energy advisor for the City of Holland and assists homeowners with energy efficiency issues.

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.

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.