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For manufacturers, being green means more green in the bank

A recent Kettering University study found that manufacturers with green-oriented manufacturing companies with sustainable practices also enjoy sustainability in profits as well.

Excerpt:

"A team of researchers led by Kettering University's Dr. Thomas Ngniatedema from the Department of Business have presented empirical evidence  regarding the importance of corporate environmental consciousness and a company’s financial performance.

"This study is an invitation to corporate investment in innovative pollution prevention because we found that companies that score well according to objective environmental criteria realize stronger financial returns than their counterparts." Ngniatedema said...

The manufacturing industry included companies in sectors such as consumer products; vehicles; food and beverage; industrial goods; pharmaceuticals; technology; and utilities, while the service industry consisted of firms in sectors such as banking and insurance; financial industries; healthcare, media, travel and leisure; and retail.

"We found that firms in the manufacturing industry tend to be more green-oriented than those in the service industry," Ngniatedema said."

More here.

Ford Motor Co. headquarters to install state's largest solar array

As the Beatles sing it, "Here comes the sun," to Ford Motor Co. headquarters, which will house the state's largest solar array.

Excerpt:

"The solar array  will also serve as a parking cover to 360 spaces, equipped with 30 charging stations for plug-in electric vehicles. These covered spaces will be available to all employees, Ford spokesman John Cangany said today...

The solar canopy will generate up to 1.038 megawatts of electricity -- enough juice for 158 homes annually -- and will be the largest solar array in Michigan. It will eliminate an estimated 875 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually."

More here.

How green is your elected official?

The Michigan League of Conservation Voters has issued its report card on which legislators are mindful of the Mitten's natural assets and which are - ahem - no friend of clean air, water and responsible stewardship. 

Excerpt:

"House members from both parties were recognized by the group as advocates, with Reps. Joe Haveman (R-Holland), Sam Singh (D-East Lansing), Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City), Frank Foster (R-Pellston) and Sarah Roberts (D-St. Clair Shores) winning favor for sponsoring bills on environmental issues.

The lowest overall score went to the chair of the Senate natural resources committee Sen. Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba) scoring 0 percent. House natural resources committee chair Rep. Andrea LaFontaine (R-Richmond) scored at 30 percent."

Read the rest here.

Get the official scorecard for 2013-2014 here.
 

Michigan adds biofuels stations as part of I-75 Green Corridor Project

With two new biofuel stations near I-75, it's now almost entirely possible to make a green trip down I-75 from Michigan all the way down to Miami.

Excerpt:

"Thanks to a huge, six-state partnership, Michigan drivers now have greater access to the biofuels E85 ethanol and biodiesel in a B20 blend. One E85 station is now open at the BP station in Romulus and one B20 station located at the Oasis Trucking Center in Detroit.

The week of June 9-13, 2014 marks the celebration of this project that is five years in the making. In 2009, an ambitious, multi-state project started in Knoxville, Tennessee. Through a grant funded by the Department of Energy Clean Cities Program, the I-75 Green Corridor Project began with the goal of allowing any American driver to traverse any portion of I-75 and be able to make the entire trip running on either biofuel."

More here

Bike lanes, bike-friendly projects to get rolling in Metro Detroit this spring

Metro Detroiters should get a lot more mileage out of their bikes with all of the bike lane projects and infratructure planned for 2014. 

Excerpt: 

Warren, Detroit, Ferndale and the Grosse Pointes are among communities planning significant bicycle-friendly projects in the new year, with construction on several to start in the spring...

This year alone, Detroit added about 80 miles of bike lanes and sharrows — standard traffic lanes with shared lane markings. That brings the city's total to more than 150 miles, Scott said.

"It's pretty exciting, some of these bigger projects coming through," Scott said. Also, Ferndale is planning bike lanes on Livernois that should ultimately help connect Detroit to downtown Ferndale, he said.

More here.

GM's Detroit headquarters' landfill-free status sets green example for nation

Nothing in the waste basket goes to waste at GM's Detroit offices anymore.

Excerpt: 

"General Motors Co.'s downtown Detroit headquarters complex now recycles, reuses or converts all its daily waste to energy, with efforts at the  Renaissance Center  keeping 5 million pounds of trash annually from landfills..."

More here.

Macomb Comm. College students tool around in renewable energy-powered cargo trikes

Some enterprising students just gave junk a new green lease on life.

Excerpt:

Take 13 college students from diverse backgrounds, ask them to build something purposeful out of junk and voila! — the result is a pair of funky three-wheeled bikes, powered by renewable energy, that transport people and cargo anytime, anyplace.

The band of students at Macomb Community College collaborated for 14 weeks on the "trikes,”"which run on a combination of pedal power and an electric hub motor using a battery charged with solar power.

The students, who are earning certificates in Macomb’s renewable energy technology program, kept the designs environmentally friendly by incorporating the "reduce, reuse, recycle" mantra of the sustainability movement.

More here.

Detroit-area women digging up second careers as farmers

A new crop of farming careers is rising in Southeast Michigan, and women are filling many of these new positions.

Excerpt:

"No longer a safety engineer in the insurance industry after a 2009 layoff, Joannee DeBruhl asked herself, "Now what?"

She volunteered at a community garden, helped harvest 2,100 pounds of produce and had "the best summer of my life."

Now the 51-year-old is a full-time farmer at a certified organic farm in Brighton, which she co-owns with 24-year-old Shannon Rau and Rau's father, Tom Rau. The two women tend to 48 crops — from corn and cilantro to red mung beans and radishes — while providing fresh produce to 100 farm members and area markets."

More here.

Next-gen workers concerned with resource conservation, more humanistic outlook

Organizations and employers may want to take note of this interesting piece in the Miami Herald. Will the newest generation of workers expect even more socially responsible employers to choose from?

Excerpt:

"Drew Miller clearly remembers the day his father was laid off.

Miller, now 25, was a freshman at an Ohio college, full of hope and ready to take on the world. But here was this “red flag … a big wake-up call,” he says. The prosperous years of childhood were over, and his future was likely to be bumpier than he’d expected.

Across the country, others of Miller’s generation heard that same wake-up call as the Great Recession set in. But would it change them? And would the impact last?

The full effect won’t be known for a while, of course. But a new analysis of a long-term survey of high school students provides an early glimpse at ways their attitudes shifted in the first years of this most recent economic downturn.

Among the findings: Young people showed signs of being more interested in conserving resources and a bit more concerned about their fellow human beings."

More here.

At the Detroit Zoo, a smaller green footprint

This spring and summer, green at the Detroit Zoo will go above and beyond vegetation, alligators, and tropical parrots. Its big green project, energy-efficient building rehabs, solar and electric golf carts, and ditching the disposable plastic water bottles.

Excerpt:

"The Detroit Zoo has joined a handful of its peers nationally that are implementing green operational practices ranging from intense energy savings programs to green education.

It plans to invest about $4 million total in sustainable projects as part of a seven-year "greenprint" strategic plan during that time and in return to see zero waste going to landfills and a 25 percent reduction in the zoo's energy usage by 2020, COO Gerry VanAcker said."

More here.

Building for Baby Boomers forum set for Apr. 25

The Baby Boom generation has a significant presence in Metro Detroit. Public transportation and dense, affordable housing will be just a few of the amenities needed to keep Boomers in place during their retirement years. Area scholars and leaders will be discussing these and other options at the "Mayors & Managers Forum: Built for Boomers" to be held at the University of Michigan-Dearborn on Thursday, April 25, from 8:30-11 a.m.

Click here for more information and to register.

Dearborn, Farmington Hills, Novi awarded sustainability award

Little by little Metro Detroit communities are adopting sustainable practices. Huzzah!
 
Excerpt:
 
"The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments presented a Sustainable Community Recognition Program Award at the City Council meeting Dec. 4.
 
According to SEMCOG, “sustainability is about achieving economic prosperity while protecting the environment and providing a high quality of life for residents.”"
 
Read the rest here.
 

Popular Mechanics gazes into crystal ball, sees an amazing 2025 Detroit

You have to like an article that starts with "Detroit's comeback is not only inevitable, it's already underway." Makes you want to read more doesn't it? It's view of water and landscape is the stuff that dreams are made of.
 
Excerpt:
 
"Reemerging waterways and feral forests claim land left open by sharp population decline. Detroit goes green with planning that takes advantage of the city's unique ecology."
 
Read the rest here.
 

DTW wins award for turning cooking oil into fuel

Dread the thought of eating airport cuisine? Well, if it helps, Detroit Metro Airport just took home the “Best ‘Green’ Concessions Practice or Concept” award at the 2011 Richard A. Griesbach Excellence in Airport Concessions Contest. For what, you ask? Turning cooking oil into fuel. Yum.

Excerpt:

"The gateway primarily won the award for its initiative of powering its airport service vehicles with biofuels derived from recycled cooking oil.

With the help of its partner Bradford Airport Logistics, the airport recycles the waste cooking oil from its restaurants that would otherwise be discarded and uses it to power its airport service vehicles."

Read the rest of the story here.

Solar laundry in Warren lauded in green tech blog

You know the message of Metro Detroit's revitalization is getting out when tech blogs are writing about a solar-powered laundry in Warren.

Excerpt:

"Maybe we’re wrong, but is there a little buzz beginning that the Detroit area is coming back? There are signs popping up here and there. The car industry is certainly in better shape than it was a few years ago, and when you see a small operation like Big Bundle Solar Laundry starting up, well, that’s a good sign that hope and the entrepreneurial spirit still thrive despite the recent tough times."

Read the rest here.

New Detroit-Windsor bridge and clean-tech vital to boosting the international economy

...Or so says John Austin of the Brookings Institute. Covering last month's Great Lakes Summit, he talks about the importance of a second Detroit-Windsor bridge, and how Canada and the Great Lakes states need to jointly develop clean-tech technology.

Excerpt:

"Overall, two topics dominated discussion by delegates as ripe for international teamwork.

One was building the 21st century transportation infrastructure the region needs as a platform for enhanced exports--and in particular building a state-of-the-art span connecting Detroit and Windsor, the world's highest dollar international trade crossing point. Michigan Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, and Canada's Consul General Roy Norton were pitching hard for the Michigan Legislature to follow Governor Rick Snyder's call, and vote final approval for the new bridge.

The New International Trade Crossing has been 10 years in the planning, and is strongly backed by business leaders and governments on both sides of the border. It seemed a done-deal when Gov. Snyder announced that Ontario would pay cash-strapped Michigan's share of the project, and in turn the U.S. Department of Transportation would let the Canadian dollars stand-in as Michigan's match for federally-funded highway projects across Michigan.

The project keeps being sabotaged by the aging billionaire Mattie Maroun (born 1927), owner of the equally aging Ambassador Bridge (built 1929), fighting hard to keep a monopoly on toll traffic."

Read the rest of the story here.


Brookings Institute ranks Michigan highly for green jobs

"We're number 12" doesn't sound as good as "we're number one" but it's still darn impressive that Michigan is nosing its way toward the top 10.

Excerpt:

"Want to work in the clean, green economy? Come to Michigan.

Michigan ranks 12th among the 50 states in green consumer products, waste management and treatment, public mass transit, energy-saving building materials and organic food and farming, according to a study released today by think tank Brookings Institution."

Read the rest of the story here.

Check out the study here.



Metro Detroit airports to grow their own fuel sources

The Wayne County Airport Authority and Michigan State University are teaming up to grow, harvest and process canola and oriental mustard seed into bioenergy on land at Detroit Metro Airport and Willow Run. It's part of their plan to increase sustainable aviation.

Excerpt:

"The two airports have a total of about 1,700 acres of property potentially suitable for bioenergy cropping. Initially, WCAA has leased to MSUE three acres of airport-owned land on which biofuel crops, including canola and oriental mustard seed, have been planted and soon will be harvested, refined and tested. MSUE will be responsible for the overall management of the project grant, while WCAA will provide access to and use of acreage at its airports for a portion of the project, which is scheduled to be completed by February 2012."

Read the rest of the story here.

Read more on the subject here.



Solar panels power the silver screen in Royal Oak

It's one thing when a business decides to go green because it's good for the environment. It's another when they do it to improve their bottom line. Not only does Emagine's new theater / bowling alley have solar panels on its roof -- installing them made the business' finance packaging possible.

Excerpt:

"After seven years, the solar array will have paid for itself. With a 25-year guarantee on the panels and rising electricity costs, Glantz said, the investment will cut the 71,000-square-foot theater's annual electricity bill by about 20 percent.

But Glantz said the key to completing the theater project was the solar panel investment. As part of the financing package, Emagine was preapproved for a $3.5 million subordinated second mortgage with a 20-year Small Business Administration 504 loan."

Read the rest of the story here.

Ford looks to turn garden weeds into rubber components

You read that headline right. Ford is looking at dandelions, the bane to lawn care obsessives, as a possible source for natural rubber. How cool is that?

Excerpt:

"The dandelion-based rubber has the potential to find its way into any part that currently includes rubber, and Milewski said Ford might even try making parts completely from the natural rubber. The change would not only shift Ford away from petroleum-based synthetic rubber, but also use a plant source that can grow easily in the United States."

Read the rest of the story here.


Metro Detroit has 9th highest green building count in the nation

Detroit joined the top ten list for metropolitan regions with the most energy-efficient buildings for the first time in 2010, according to the Environmental Protection Agency's third-annual Energy Star report card.

Helping to shed our rustbelt image for greenbelt attractiveness, former governor Jennifer Granholm's policy of boosting energy-efficiency in state-owned buildings and encouraging K-12 schools to do likewise pushed us onto the list.

Energy Star certified buildings use 35 percent less energy and emit 35 percent less carbon dioxide than average buildings. To earn the Energy Star designation, buildings must out-perform 25 percent of buildings nationwide.


Excerpt:

"Total, the EPA estimates Metro Detroit's green buildings combined to save an estimated $18.7 million in energy costs and prevented greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the amount produced by 17,400 homes.

Those figures were up across the board in Metro Detroit, where only 62 buildings qualified for the EPA designation in 2010."

Read the rest of the story here. And here.

Michigan International Speedway could become test track for auto smart systems

A few weekends a year, the Michigan International Speedway is a showcase for the latest and greatest in automotive racing technology. Now it's trying to become a hub for automotive technology development year-round.

Excerpt:

In August 2006, Roger Curtis was two months into his job as head of the Michigan International Speedway and sitting in a helicopter hovering over the racetrack's parking lot. Nascar fans trying to exit had created a five-hour traffic jam that snarled below him. Curtis worked with state transportation officials to add lanes and change the flow of traffic, ultimately cutting the delay to 1.5 hours in time for the following race season.

Curtis, 44, now wants to turn the speedway into a test bed for transport innovation. The next generation of roads and automobiles will be more intelligent, talking to each other and wireless-data networks to help keep people safe and traffic flowing smoothly. A smart intersection, for instance, might be able to detect a vehicle about to run a red light and warn other cars, preventing collisions.

Read the rest of the story here.

Detroit's clean, green auto machine revs up

Businesses built around sustainability are showing some of the greatest promise to grow in Metro Detroit. That includes everything from exporting components to wind turbines to building the next electric-hybrid car.

Excerpt:

General Motors and Ford are now hiring hundreds of engineers to work on hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric vehicles like the 2011 Chevrolet Volt and the 2012 Ford Focus Electric.

And they're not doing it in Silicon Valley. They're doing it in Michigan, just where they always have: the GM Technical Center in Warren, and the Ford headquarters complex in Dearborn.

Sure, their designers and engineers visit Silicon Valley to do deals with startups in areas like apps that will connect their cars to the world of always-on information. But then they take the apps back home to where cars are built.

In other words, we suspect that the new, clean, green auto industry in the U.S. will be pretty much where the old, dirty, gas-guzzling one was.

That would be … Detroit.

Read the rest here and more about local leaders talking about the potential of green investment here.

Loving Detroit by the inch; welcome to the microhood

The people at Xconomy take a close look at Detroit's Loveland project and the ties its founders have to San Francisco's Silicon Valley entrepreneurial ecosystem. It's one of the more revealing pieces on this well-known story, even if it does call Detroit's most photographed ruin the "Michigan Central Railroad station."

Excerpt:

It would be easy to dismiss Jerry Paffendorf and his friends as a bunch of art-nerd carpetbaggers from San Francisco who see Detroit as the latest canvas for their airy-fairy ideas about virtual communities and social entrepreneurship.

In fact, that's how some locals reacted when reports surfaced in The Detroit News last year that Paffendorf had bought an abandoned lot on the city's east side for $500, renamed it Plymouth, and announced plans to resell it, one square inch at a time, on the Internet. "People brought up stuff like, 'Who does this hipster f*ggot think he is, moving in from San Francisco with stupid Internet ideas,' or 'It's illegal to represent that you are offering land for sale if it's not real,'" Paffendorf says. "And there was some skepticism that I would want to stay in the city."

Read the rest of the story here.

The Wall Street Journal talks oil independence with Ford chairman

The Wall Street Journal's Deputy Editor-in-Chief Gerard Baker sits down with Bill Ford Jr., chairman of Ford, for a series of videos to talk about a number of projects ranging from government bailouts to the role automakers can play in energy independence to becoming a truly global automaker.

See them here.

Or here...



Green schools in Michigan are through the roof

If you start the kids recycling at eight, by the time they are 16 it'll be like breathing. Same with energy efficient light bulbs or, really, any other types of green living. They, then, bring that home to the 'rent who might not be as savvy. So, the good news is that the Michigan Green Schools program is blowin' up.

Excerpt:

Michigan's schools are eagerly taking up a challenge to be more environmentally friendly. The Michigan Green Schools program designates schools as "green" once students have implemented specific changes and initiatives. During the first four years of the program, the number of schools participating has grown from a handful the first year to more than 550 schools in 74 counties.

Kristine Moffet, president of the Green Schools Foundation, says each school chooses up to 20 initiatives that help conserve energy and improve the environment.

"We're only one of several states in the whole country that have something like this. These things really help save the schools money, so there are a lot of different activities. And you can approach with a broad sweep or a narrow one, for just 10 points, which is what you need to qualify."

Read the entire article here.

Dearborn high school students compete to design dashboards that encourage fuel efficiency

Start 'em young. That's the idea here. Students from Dearborn's Henry Ford Academy have designed a "green-driving dashboard," and it was good enough to get them into the semifinals of a contest funded by the U.S. Energy Department. Green and sustainability will be the future so it's good these kids are starting early.

Excerpt:

A team of students from Dearborn's Henry Ford Academy are semifinalists in a competition to design a "green-driving dashboard" that encourages car owners to be smarter about their fuel habits.

Edmunds.com reports that Henry Ford Academy and two California schools are competing to present their ideas to automobile industry executives. The contest is funded by the U.S. Energy Department and sponsored by Progressive Insurance.

Read the entire article here.

Can Metro Detroit really go green?

--This article originally appeared on October 22, 2009

The race to green-tech supremacy is a competitive one but Michigan is making a push -- though it's a late start. Yet, despite the foot-dragging, it has a lot of weapons that other states don't -- a large, skilled workforce looking for jobs.

Excerpt:

But Detroit's transition to greener automaking is by no means assured. U.S. battery firms are late to the race. Even if their technology wins, there's no guarantee that Detroit would beat out California or other states vying for supremacy.

Michigan does retain one advantage: a skilled workforce that knows a thing or two about mass-producing cars and car parts. "Those folks are some of the best workers the world has ever seen, and they deserve to have jobs," says Keith Cooley, CEO of NextEnergy, a Detroit-based nonprofit research facility and business incubator for alternative-energy companies.

A six-minute drive from Ford Motor's original plant sits NextEnergy's 45,000-square-foot headquarters and research labs. The nonprofit is a key player in Michigan's efforts to reinvent the auto industry and, by extension, itself.

NextEnergy is working with nearby Wayne State University as well as Macomb Community College to train workers for advanced electric-drive work via a $5 million Department of Energy grant awarded in August. The organization has also helped state officials vet alternative-energy companies that want to do business in Michigan, such as A123 Systems Inc., which won $249 million in stimulus money to make battery packs for hybrid and electric vehicles at two Michigan locations. In September, the Watertown, Mass., company went public and saw its stock soar 50 percent on its first trading day.

Read the entire article here.

Dome Magazine looks at Detroit's potential to become America's biggest greenest city

--This article originally appeared on January 20, 2009

Dome Magazine's cover story explains how Detroit could be America's biggest greenest city.

Excerpt:

Keeping in mind first and foremost the quality of life of 900,000 people, I suggest that Detroit evolves, with much state and federal support, into a unique 21st-century American city. That it caters to those athletically and culturally inclined who wish to escape density and intensity of other large cities and have easy access to amenities and daily staples.

Detroit, in short, becomes a myriad of Central Parks: the greenest large city in America, indeed the world.

Read the entire article here.

Wanted: Sustainable cities

--This article originally appeared on September 24, 2009

Whether it's collapsible, stackable cars, or urban farming, or meat houses (yes, meat houses), a sustainable city will be the future for us all.

Excerpt:

By 2050, some 70% of us will live in urban settings, and it will ultimately be well-managed urban environments, with smart, energy-efficient buildings, power systems, transport and planning, that will save us from ourselves. Seeking better ways to do precisely that, a constellation of designers, architects and academics gathered at a conference on "ecological urbanism" at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design earlier this year.

Mitchell Joachim, who teaches architecture and design at Columbia University and was selected by Wired magazine as one of 15 people Obama should listen to, presented his vision for a collapsible and stackable electric city car, which would hang at public recharging stations, available for shared use.

He also explained "meat tectonics". Aiming to use meat proteins developed in a lab as building material, Joachim presented a digital rendering of an armadillo-shaped, kidney-coloured home. "It's very ugly, we know that," he said. "We're not sure what a meat house is supposed to look like."

Dorothee Imbert, associate professor in landscape architecture at Harvard, pointed to urban farming, a trend that has taken root in Detroit, New York, Milwaukee, and a handful of international cities. Imbert mentioned her own student-assisted organic farms in Boston, yet acknowledged that adequate food supplies for future cities "would require rethinking of landscape in the building process".

Read the entire article here.

Sustaining a local economy starts with PB&J

A panel was pulled together recently at the Ann Arbor library to discuss how to achieve a sustainable local economy. Speakers spoke on housing, food, the environment, and even providing a local currency. The Ann Arbor Chronicle breaks down what each one had to say.

Excerpt:

Hieftje spoke about various environmental initiatives undertaken by the city of Ann Arbor, including the installation of LED street lights, the addition of bicycle lanes and the goal of using 30% renewable energy for municipal operations by 2010. As an example of areas that are doing even more, he pointed to Ontario, Canada, which has large-scale wind farms and two major solar plants. Public policy in Canada and Europe – including the use of feed-in tariffs – makes it easier to promote renewable energy in those countries, he said.

One of the things that Michigan can do to promote economic recovery is to refocus on making cities the kind of places where people want to be, Hieftje said – the business will follow.

Read the entire article here.

Smart cities do not have to be LARGE cities

OK so Dubuque isn't in Southeast Michigan, it's in Iowa. But this small town, or smallish town, could serve a model for our smallish towns here in Southeast Michigan. To compete economically, Dubuque decided that it'd have to be smart and that meant putting together 11 principles for sustainability. The key to Dubuque is that its smallish size makes its population manageable. It is small enough that these points can be acted upon and a change physically noticed. Listen up cities -- you don't have to be large to be in charge.

Excerpt:

Dubuque is hoping that some of the things that it learns will serve as a model for other cities with fewer than 200,000 population. It has tapped IBM to help with some of its technology needs. The first phase of this partnership will focus on technology for smarter energy consumption and for water management, with the aim of reducing costs associated with both and with managing the overall carbon footprint of the city's power usage. IBM is building out a "Platform for Real-time Integrated Sustainability Monitoring" to handle this management task. Incidentally, here is a report outlining the technology company's vision for Smart Cities.

Read the entire article here.

Ypsi's Clean Energy Coalition offers tips to green up your home

So you've heard about this "greening" thing. You've done some research. You'd like to check it out, maybe apply some of it to your house. But, you don't know how or don't know what... Well, look no further than the Clean Energy Coalition. They've set up a boutique in the back of their non-profit offices to give you the knowledge and the opportunity to get what you need and what you want when it comes to greening your home.

Excerpt:

The Clean Energy Coalition has opened up a store and education outlet for homeowners interested in greening their houses.

The Ypsilanti-based nonprofit recently moved its offices to the back of the storefront and opened the "boutique" clean-energy store earlier this month.

Project manager Deb Heed said the goal is to showcase energy-efficiency products in a space that allows customer to ask questions of experts and make their purchase decisions that the same time. The Energy Outlet, located at 44 E. Cross St., has sections for lighting, insulation and sealing, water conservation, power use and more.

Read the entire article here.

Michigan's green energy plans get federal boost

Everyone needs a little help from their friends. And, well, it's not entirely sure how close Michigan and the federal government actually are but it looks as if they are getting a little help in the form of stimulus aid to boost our state's green energy plans.

Excerpt:

The money "reflects our commitment to support innovative state and local strategies to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy," Chu said.

Chu was in Battle Creek for an energy efficiency event and helped to assemble home efficiency kits and educational material.

The state will use the money to reduce energy consumption in public buildings 20 percent by 2012, help establish green communities, and create markets for renewable energy systems and jobs in energy businesses, according to a press release from the Department of Energy.

Part of the money also will be used in conjunction with utilities to perform energy audits of 500 homes and businesses.

Read the entire article here.

Clean tech is central to Michigan's reinvention

Michigan's recovery may lie in a number of different pots but one that has gotten a lot of attention lately -- no, not film -- is clean technology. Currently Michigan ranks No. 10 in clean tech jobs but state officials believe there is room to grow.

Excerpt:

"We need policies that define where we want to go as a society and that help us get there," said Bill Ford, Ford Motor Co.'s executive chairman.

The clean technology industry is one of the main avenues that Michigan is pursuing to diversify its auto-dependent economy. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said that 70% of the jobs in wind energy come from making the 8,000 parts that go into every wind turbine.

"Every single one of them can be made in Michigan, and we intend to do that," she said, drawing applause.

Read the entire article here.

Read another Freep piece about making Michigan a clean tech powerhouse here.

Additionally, Michigan ranks No. 10 in clean tech jobs. Read about it here.

Growing the green industry now rather than later

A great man once said: "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today." That great man was Wimpy, from the Popeye cartoons. That sentiment, in a way, can be applied to this one: If we invest now in green energy we will get paid in the future.

Excerpt:

Green jobs pay more than the average private-sector job, the report found. Some of the state's top greening industries, such as utilities and chemical manufacturing, paid more than $1,000 per week or $50,000 per year, well above the average weekly wage of $811.

"We have good jobs. We have a growing sector," said Andy Levin, deputy director for Michigan's labor growth department.

He said Michigan's renewable energy production -- jobs in areas such as wind and solar manufacturing -- added nearly 1,900 jobs from 2005 to 2008, a growth rate of 30 percent.

The industry's growth, however, isn't without challenges. A near-frozen credit market has stalled work orders for wind- and solar-energy equipment and stifled new green business ventures.

"There is a liquidity crisis even for good, solid companies working in this space," said Stanley Pruss, director of the Department for Energy, Labor and Economic Growth. "We're confident that once liquidity unfreezes and money starts flowing, things will pick up."

Read the entire article here.

Gardening issues? Ask Washtenaw County

Not sure how to dig a hole and put a seed in it? Or do you have more specific questions about horticulture? Give the Garden Hotline in Washtenaw County a call. The weather should be improving so get prepared for getting dirty.

Excerpt:

Area experts have a lot of tips on how to get started. There are so many resources right in your own backyard that even the brownest thumbs can push something out of the ground by fall.

And rest assured, if you come across a question or problem you can call the Washtenaw County Extension through October for advice from a master gardener.

The Garden Hotline in Washtenaw County is 734-997-1819. Master gardeners are available to answer questions Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. They will answer general gardening questions and household pest problems.

Read the entire article here.

Save the Rain

Rain water doesn't damper this Royal Oakian's spirits. He saves it. He uses it for his garden, his flowers, his shrubs, and, to top it all off, it helps reduce his water bill. Soon we'll all be saving our rainwater, maybe, after hearing from this guy.

Excerpt:

Collect the water that runs off one residential rooftop when it rains just a quarter of an inch, and you gain 55 gallons of water.

That's a lot of nutrient-rich, chlorine-free water that shrubs, flowers and vegetable plants love.

Each spring and summer the result can be up to 3,200 gallons of water that is saved and used. Royal Oak resident Jon Muresan said it can also save a lot of money on water bills.

"My girlfriend and I are avid gardeners; serious gardeners," Muresan said. "One summer we spent nearly $1,300 on watering our lawn, shrubs, potted plants and vegetable gardens."

Read the entire article here.

Rochester Hills-based Energy Conversion Devices builds a cheaper solar panel

The market for solar energy is hot (pun intended). Energy Conversion Devices in Rochester Hills offers commercial – and soon, residential – clients a ray of hope: less costly, thin-film solar panels that convert sunlight into electricity.

Excerpt:

Harin Ullal, a solar expert and senior project manager at the National Renewable Energy Laboratories in Golden, Colo., says he expects thin film's share of the solar-power market to increase to 25% by 2015, compared with the 10% to 15% market share thin-film manufacturers say they have now...

In addition to being cheaper to manufacture, thin-film panels perform better in low, diffuse light and in blistering hot  weather, when crystalline silicon panels can lose as much as 25% of their efficiency. Thin-film panel makers such as United Solar, a unit of Energy Conversion Devices of Rochester Hills, Mich., say that because their products work in partial shade, customers don't have to remove trees to generate electricity.

Read the full story here.

Ferndale lighting company offer free energy efficient light bulbs to nonprofits

Ferndale-based Lighting Supply Co. is offering free compact fluorescent light bulbs to nonprofits through a program called Bright Earth. CF light bulbs are not only energy efficient but also look to save you a pretty penny in light bulb costs in the long run.

Excerpt:

Lighting Supply is offering an overstock of 70,000 General Electric 22-watt CF light bulbs, which replace standard 75-watt incandescents and last 10 times longer. They also cost dramatically less to operate -- $22 per 10,000 hours versus $75 for 10,000 hours -- or $53 in savings over the life of the bulb.

Globally speaking, the 70,000 CFLs will save $3.7 million in energy costs and reduce the amount of coal burned by nearly 18,000 tons and the amount of carbon dioxide released in the atmosphere by 38,213 tons.

Read the entire article here.

GM puts focus for Volt battery production on Michigan

The electric car isn't exactly within reach, but it's getting closer, slowly, but getting closer. GM, who seems to be taking baby steps with the project, has announced that it will keep the production of the lithium battery -- the main source of the cars power -- in SE Michigan. However they haven't decided exactly where. The Volt itself will be built in the small Detroit enclave of Hamtramck while the generators for the engine will be coming from Flint.

Maybe the battery production will be somewhere between the two.

Excerpt:

In a symbolic boost to the state's sagging economy, General Motors Corp.'s confirmed today it will launch battery production in southeast Michigan for its upcoming Chevrolet Volt extended range electric car.

As part of a multi-pronged, $1 billion advanced battery development strategy to bring the Volt to market by 2010, GM Chairman Rick Wagoner unveiled several initiatives today.

They include the selection of Korean company LG Chem as the supplier of lithium-ion battery cells. LG Chem's subsidiary, Compact Power, based in Troy, will be involved in the battery supply chain as will A123 Systems, Hitachi and Cobasys.

GM expects work on the Michigan battery plant will start later this year, with production starting in 2010. The automaker is expected to use an existing company facility and hopes to disclose the site by June, pending the approval of government incentives.

Read the entire article here.

Ypsi non-profit is looking to rebuild the city one energy efficient light bulb at a time

It's time to change it up a bit. The old ways aren't working as well as they used to. Time to push for more clean energy technologies, more alternative energies, and longer lasting, energy-efficient light bulbs. And this is what Clean Energy Coalition, an Yspi non-profit, plans to do with their new project "Rebuild Ypsi."

Excerpt:

The project is intended to reduce energy costs by assisting in energy efficiency improvements for commercial buildings such as offices, retail, restaurants and multifamily residential.

“We're extremely excited to work right here in the community towards energy efficiency practices that will benefit building owners and renters financially because of the continuous increase in energy prices," said CEC Executive Director Sean Reed.

Rebuild Ypsilanti is part of a larger effort in the State of Michigan, not surprisingly called, Rebuild Michigan. The Michigan Energy Office, headed under the Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth, provided $102,213 to Ypsilanti’s CEC and four other communities as part of a start up assistance grant.

Read the entire article here.

Here comes the green revolution and NY Times columnist Friedman is kicking it off

So you want a revolution - a green revolution? Then you're in luck. EMU is hosting an alternative energy, green business event that focuses on Michigan's roll in what could possibly be the globes future industry.

Excerpt:

"Anyone who looks at the growth of middle classes around the world and their rising demands for natural resources, plus the dangers of climate change driven by our addiction to fossil fuels, can see that clean renewable energy -- wind, solar, nuclear and stuff we haven't yet invented -- is going to be the next great global industry,'' Friedman wrote in a recent column. "It has to be if we are going to grow in a stable way. Therefore, the country that most owns the clean power industry is going to most own the next great technology breakthrough -- the E.T. revolution, the energy technology revolution -- and create millions of jobs and thousands of new businesses, just like the IT revolution did."

Read the entire article here.

America's first sustainable building may find home in Rochester

Sustainability isn't cheap. But, really, what is these days? It's an estimated $2.6 million to develop an 8,000-square-foot building into a combination brewpub, organic eatery, and sustainable showplace. It would be the first sustainable restaurant in the country. That place, Mind, Body & Spirits, is looking for a September opening.

Excerpt:

"In a nutshell, it's an organic restaurant that specializes in local and organic products. And our goal is to make it a fully sustainable restaurant, which, if that's the case, will be the first fully sustainable restaurant in the country," Plesz said.

The nearly 8,000-square-foot building was constructed in the 1890s, opened as a dry goods and millinery store and most recently housed an interior design firm, said Ed Kelly, principal with Archiopolis.

An artist's rendering of the new restaurant.
It's being retrofitted with new, energy efficient windows and ceiling and attic insulation, a relocated elevator shaft and a three-story stair tower. A 2,000-square-foot addition will house a rooftop patio, greenhouse and new Energy Star kitchen facilities.

Read the entire article here.

'Green' jobs viable option for Michigan's idle workforce

You can't ignore the large number of manufacturing jobs that have disappeared from the Michigan economy. And you can't ignore the push for alternative energy the entire country is looking for. So, put the two of them together and viola...

Well, it's not that easy. But Michigan may, potentially, be in a prime location for alternative energy production. And that production requires workers with manufacturing experience. So, there you have it: 2+2=4.

To wit, Michigan's Green Initiative, a $6 million dollar investment for 'green' (solar, wind, biofuels, geothermal and other green industries) job training, is parterning up with the No Worker Left Behind program to prepare laid-off workers for alternative energy careers.

Excerpt:

“Michigan’s strong manufacturing history and geography make us a natural fit for the thousands of alternative energy jobs being created each year,” Granholm said.  “The Green Jobs Initiative in No Worker Left Behind will help make sure that those jobs are created right here in Michigan.”  

At Friday's event, Granholm heard from area businesses and workers who have benefited from the program.

Phil Hoyt of Biotech Agronomics said his 'green' company has already hired five No Worker Left Behind graduates.  Biotech Agronomics, which is located in Beulah, is a residual management company that works with municipalities and significant users to repurpose waste from wastewater treatment for use by Michigan’s farmers.

Read the entire article here.

Growing Hope growing roots in Ypsi

Growing Hope is an Ypsilanti-based nonprofit that promotes dirty hands. Ok, not really. But they don't mind if you do. What they really promote is community gardening and education, and they finally have a home on Michigan Avenue, west of downtown Ypsi.

They operate the Downtown Farmers Market and help members design and maintain gardens. Twenty-five gardens are now supported by Growing Hope in Washtenaw County.

Excerpt:

Edmonds said being in an area that hasn't experienced a lot of re-development attention is exciting for her organization. It's part of the "asset-based community development'' that is a mission for Growing Hope, she said.

The idea is to focus on available assets in a community and use them to help that community reach its full potential. Being closely associated with public housing residents is a great way to do that, Edmonds said. She also noted she's excited that neighbors have already been dropping to by to ask questions and, in some cases, ask for jobs.

Read the entire article here.

Shedding light on solar energy

It's almost time to bring out the sun chairs and the kiddie pools. It's going to be fun in the sun for the next handful of months. However, while you're all getting tan and barbecuing, maybe it's time to think about the sun in another light, so to speak. And if you live in Ann Arbor, this might be an easy option.

Solar power is being pushed by the city's website by giving a potential home buyers options for this technology.

Excerpt:

Ann Arbor residents and potential home buyers can now receive a free solar analysis by visiting the City’s Website, selecting “My Property Information”, and clicking on the “Solar Potential” tab.

Part of Mayor Hieftje’s 2005 Green Energy Challenge, which includes a goal of 5,000 solar roof installations by 2015, Ann Arbor Energy Commissioners and UM students assessed over 21,000 Ann Arbor roofs for their solar potential.

Read the entire article here.

Dearborn showcases environmental efforts and resources

Are you braggin' Dearborn? The city has started a feature called "Green and Clean" on its website that shines a light on the environmental and habitat preservation efforts of Dearborn.

And not only does it give information about the different efforts by city officials, schools, and businesses, but also allows you to take surveys on those initiatives, as well as offer up links to environmental resources.

The links are available through the WelcomeHomeDearborn.com website as part of a campaign to attract people to the city.

Excerpt:

"Historically, Dearborn has had a strong commitment to the environment that dates back to the early days of Henry Ford," Mayor John B. O'Reilly, Jr. said in prepared remarks.

"Although many people are aware of (Henry) Ford's automotive and manufacturing genius, few are aware of his regard for agriculture and the environment. His legacy is being furthered by partnerships among local government, business and industry, education and various agencies."


Read the entire article here.

Evironmentally friendly options at DTE Energy

DTE Energy, through a program called GreenCurrents, provides 2.2 million electric customers the option of choosing environmentally friendly renewable energy for their homes and buinessess. Right now, 8,000 customers have jumped on board since last April. GreenCurrents has become one of the fastest growing voluntary renewable energy programs in the country.

Excerpt:

Renewable energy is power created from sources that can be replenished naturally, including wind, solar and biomass. DTE Energy signed agreements last year with four Michigan-based firms to provide renewable energy for GreenCurrents. The RFP (Request for Proposal) issued today will provide additional renewable energy supply for GreenCurrents in 2009 and 2010.

Under the GreenCurrents program, DTE Energy's Detroit Edison electric customers can select a renewable energy option that best fits their budget. For as little as $2.50 a month, residential customers can purchase a 100 kilowatt hour block of renewable energy that's equal to 15-20 percent of a typical home's monthly electric use. Customers can also choose to match 100 percent of their home's electricity consumption with renewable resources for an additional cost of $10 to $15 per month for a typical household.

Read the entire article here.


3rd annual tree sale in Eastern Market

Ok, so, it's safe to say the snow is gone - just don't say it too loudly, you never know what could happen. And now, in celebration of spring and everything green, the Greening of Detroit will be holding it's 3rd annual tree sale in Eastern Market in Shed #6 on April 19, from 9 a.m. to noon.

Several species of trees will be available for purchase. Trees are priced at $20 and shrubs are $10 to members and $24 and $12, respectively, to non-members.

Time to get dirty... planting trees.

For more information contact Monica Tabares: (313) 285-1246 or monica@greeningofdetroit.com

Excerpt:

The Greening of Detroit is a non-profit organization working to grow a "greener" Detroit through planting and educational programs, environmental leadership, advocacy, and by building community capacity.

Visit the Greening Detroit on the web here.

GLUEing cities back together

The Great Lakes Urban Exchange is dropping in on the CAID on April 10 at 7 p.m. for a discussion on the future of the the area, asking what needs to be changed, and what could "glue" it back together.

GLUE began in the fall of 2007 to shed light on the idea of urbanism and regionalism through storytelling and network building.

Excerpt:

Much has been said about the future of the Great lakes region by academics and traditional stakeholders in public policy. Yet rarely have 18-40 year olds, the target of scores of "brain drain" research and attraction and retention efforts, been asked as a demographic what they envision, or how their day-to-day experiences in "declining" post-industrial cities inform that vision.

Visit GLUE here.

Gm Volt design takes shape

GM's lithium-ion battery powered car, the Volt, is moving right along. They've nailed down a design that looks a lot like their concept they showed at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

GM will also start road testing a vehicle equipped with the lithium-ion battery slated for the Volt. GM wants the battery to run for at least 150,000 miles, last 10 years, and provide sufficient vehicle acceleration.

The Volt's production is expected to begin by November 2010 in Hamtramck's old Poletown plant.

Excerpt:

Larry Burns, GM's vice president for research and development, told reporters this week that the vehicle’s design has been finalized and that its styling will be close but not identical to the concept.

GM is racing to prepare the Volt for launch by November 2010 -- ahead of archirival Toyota Motor Corp.'s own plug-in vehicle, slated to debut the same vehicle.

The Volt will be powered by a lithium-ion battery that can be partially recharged by a small combustion engine.

Read the entire article here.

From a cows stomach to your gas tank... potentially

MSU scientists may have found a easier way to turn corn plants into fuel, but it's not easy to get to. Inside the stomach of a cow is a bacteria and inside that bacteria is an enzyme and this enzyme is the key.

What it does is turns plant fibers - or cellulose - into energy. This step is huge when it comes to biofuel production. So, with this enzyme it simplifies this process. Traditionally, only the corn's kernels are used to make ethanol. However, with this enzyme, by injecting it into the corn plant, the entire plant can be utilized, thus producing more fuel.

Exerpt:

The enzyme that allows a cow to digest grasses and other plant fibers can be used to turn other plant fibers into simple sugars. These simple sugars can be used to produce ethanol to power cars and trucks.

MSU scientists have discovered a way to grow corn plants that contain this enzyme. They have inserted a gene from a bacterium that lives in a cow’s stomach into a corn plant. Now, the sugars locked up in the plant’s leaves and stalk can be converted into usable sugar without expensive synthetic chemicals.

Read the entire article here:

Going green could could bring in the green... cash

Michigan, unfortunately, ranks 47th in the nation in per capita spending on natural resource conservation. With the final report on Michigan's green infrastructure released by Michigan State's Land Policy Institute, a change in rank may be in store. The verdict:  Green spending could bring in green cash. Michigan's economy is a tad shaky these days and with people looking for news ways to strengthen it, going green might be that way.

Excerpt:

"The Land Policy Institute is spearheading a body of research to inform the public and policy makers on the role of green infrastructure in the transformation toward success in the New Economy," said Soji Adelaja, LPI director and John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor in Land Policy at MSU. "The protection and conservation of our natural resources and maintaining a green infrastructure in Michigan's communities will be key attracting and keeping the knowledge-based workers we need to build prosperity."

Read the entire article here.

Berkley jumps on board green boat

Going green probably had a different meaning 20 years ago. But these days it's an effort, and not an allusion to getting sick. Berkley has joined 21 cities statewide, and an even larger number across the nation, in making steps toward going green. In addition to that, Berkley is hoping to make their community more "walkable" and less dependent on vehicles.

Excerpt:

Like other communities, Berkley has joined the Sierra Club's "Cool Cities" effort aimed at reducing pollution from carbon-based fuels and other sources.

Cities such as Warren, Flint, Ann Arbor, Ferndale and Royal Oak are also part of the green effort.

Read the entire article here.

Commuter rails - coming to a city near you, maybe

Commuter trains are coming! Commuter trains are coming! At least that's the plan. A study just finished up that checked out the feasibility of a commuter rail from Ann Arbor to Detroit - and stops along the way.

As for Dearborn, they would be getting a brand new station, as long as everything goes according to plan. They'd call it the Intermodal Rail Passenger Station. Pretty cool, huh? Sounds like the future.

Excerpt:

The commuter transit system is planned ot have stops in Ypsilanti and at Detroit Metropolitan Airport in addition to Detroit, Ann Arbor and Dearborn, Murray said.

Until the station is completed, Murray said the commuter trains would go through the Dearborn Amtrak Station.

"Detroit is the last major metropolitan center without a local transit system," Murray said.

"We need a transit system in this region to be competitive. It's just something a major metropolitan area needs to have."

Read the entire article here.

Local students use Rouge River as classroom

More than 500 students from 10 Southeast Michigan schools will participate in this year's Rouge Education Project and will survey the Rouge River as part of their studies.

Excerpt:

"The Rouge Education Project is a hands on learning program for students in K-12 schools to experience real-world science in the field while learning about their local ecosystem and gaining respect for the community in which they live," said Emily Johnson, Rouge Education Project Assistant Program Manager.

Read the entire article here.

LTU "off the grid" house on display in DC

Lawrence Technological University is one of 20 schools from around the United State in Europe competing in the Solar Decathlon in Washington, DC this week. Each team had to build a home that was completely self-sufficient, or off-the-grid.

Excerpt:

"We want our house to be a stage for educating homebuyers about the possibilities for dramatically decreasing the carbon footprint of their homes," said team member Christina Span, who graduated from Lawrence Tech in May with a degree in architecture. "Making homes more energy-efficient is the single biggest thing we can do as a country to reduce our country's energy consumption and reliance on foreign oil."

Taken together, these 20 houses represent many of the best ideas for changing America's perception of housing. The structures demonstrate how pleasant it can be to live in a relatively small but well-designed space. The contest requires houses to be 800 square feet or less, and in most of the houses the actual living space is well under 700 square feet.

Read the entire article here.

Chrysler creates entreprenuerial engineering division geared towards hybrids

Chrysler has launched an engineering division charged with developing hybrids and electric vehicles.

Excerpt:

CEO Bob Nardelli has said he wants Chrysler to develop more environmentally friendly vehicles, in part to meet stricter fuel economy rules. The company’s existing lineup is heavily dependent on trucks and SUVs.

Last week Nardelli hired Jim Press, who spearheaded Toyota Motor Corp.’s aggressive hybrid push in the United States.

Read the entire article here.

Go Solar headed to Oakland County

The Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association is bringing its Go Solar program to Oakland County, utilizing bulk purchasing methods to lower to cost of solar products for homeowners.

Excerpts:

Program options include a solar domestic hot water system or a one-kilowatt photovoltaic solar electric system or both.

The systems in the Go Solar program are standardized. Therefore, as the contractor continues installing identical systems, they are able
to reduce labor costs. All of this translates into savings for the homeowner.

During 2007, federal tax credits are available to homeowners installing solar electric and solar water heating systems. In addition to savings, program participants get the satisfaction of working with a local business.

Read the entire article here.



Warren Civic Center and Kresge HQ nab real estate awards

The Warren Civic Center and Kresge Foundation headquarters in Troy have been awarded 2007 Impact Awards by the Detroit chapter of Commercial Real Estate Women.

The winners will be feted at a September 20 luncheon. Registration and more information are available at the CREW Detroit website.

Green Michigan works to better environment of Macomb County

Green Michigan has worked to improve Macomb County's environment for 30 years.

Excerpt:

Green Michigan Executive Director Brian Brdak said the idea is to keep the environment a priority in a county with Lake St. Clair, the snaking Clinton River and plenty of parks.

"Our goal is to educate the public about environmental issues," said Brdak, a county commissioner from New Baltimore. "We need to keep the environment a priority."

Read the entire article here.



Ren Cen honored for energy efficiency

General Motors received the Corporate Energy Management of the Year Award from the Association of Energy Engineer for commitment to energy efficiency and renewable energy, in part of the Renaissance Center, which was named one of GM's two "Energy Projects of the Year by the organization.

Excerpt:

"Constantly increasing the energy efficiency of our vehicles and the manufacturing plants that build them is an important goal for General Motors," said Thomas W. Neelands, global director, GM Energy and Utility Services. "This recognition from AEE means a great deal to us because our peers in the energy business – the people who manage energy for their livelihood – nominate and vote for the winner. It’s a great honor."

General Motors manages the energy used in its facilities on several fronts, including conservation efforts at its global facilities and the development of new renewable energy sources.

Read the entire article here.



Economics of greening of auto industry topic of August 17 breakfast

Timed to coincide with the Dream Cruise, MEDC and NextEnergy are co-sponsoring a breakfast that will discuss the economic implications of the greening of the automotive industry.

Excerpt:

The event features no less than three panel discussions on related topics. The first is called "Green Cruisers, Past and Future," and features executives and engineers from Vlkswagen of America Inc. and Ford Motor Co. The second panel is titled "Hybrids, Diesels or Ethanol: How Do We Power Future Cruisers?" It will offer comments from officials from BMW, General Motors Corp., J.D. Power and Associates and Robert Bosch LLC. The final panel, "Can Michigan Fuel the Future?", features comments from DaimlerChrysler, NextEnergy and Biofuel Industries Group LLC.

Read the entire article and link-though to the pre-registration here.

Progress continues on LTU's solar house

In three months, the solar house that Lawrence Technological University students are currently erecting on-campus will be on display on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. as one of 20 competitors in the National Solar Decathlon Competition.

Excerpt:

LTU's house - like those of MIT, Carnegie Mellon and other competitors - must collect and store enough solar energy to run air conditioning and other appliances and operate home computers. Extra power will power a lightweight vehicle.

Read the entire article here.

Ford will debut soy-based foam in 2008 Mustang

Ford and Lear have teamed up to develop soy-based foam for use in seats and will debut it in the 2008 Mustang.

Excerpt:

Ford has a rich history in incorporating soy based materials into its products. The Model T, for example, once contained 60 pounds of soybeans in its paint and molded plastic parts. Ford again showcased its industry-leading work with soy-foams in 2003 on the Model U concept, which featured soy-based seat cushions as well as a soy-based resin composite tailgate.

Ford was the first automaker in the world to demonstrate that soy-based polyols could be used at high percentage levels to make foam capable of meeting or exceeding automotive requirements. In 2004, Ford and Lear formed a partnership to commercialize soy-foam applications, with initial work concentrating on the molding of headrest and armrest components.

Read the entire article here.


"Dump the pump!" on June 21

Thursday, June 21 is the second annual "Dump the Pump" day that calls for the parking of cars and the riding of public transit as a way of calling attention to the environmental and economic benefits of using public transit.

A transit fact:

From 1995 through 2006, public transportation ridership increased by 30 percent, a growth rate higher than the 12 percent increase in US population and higher than the 24 percent growth in use of the nation's highways over the same period.

Find out more here.



A2 market owner supplies store with produce from his own local farm

Bello Vino Market owner Louis Ferris grows 30% of his store's produce on his own 85-acre farm located just miles away from the grocery store.

Excerpt:

What the store can't get from the farm it strives to buy as locally as possible, relying heavily on the Amish community around the town of Homer, said Jennifer Ferris, daughter of Louis Ferris and vice president of the store. In all, about 80 percent of the store's produce over the course of the year comes from what can fairly be called local sources, she said.

Bello Vino customer Judy Dyer said knowing much of the food she buys there is locally produced is important to her for reasons of ecology, even though she wasn't aware what farm may be producing it.

"I know that they sell local products, and I buy that,'' Dyer said.

Read the entire article here.



Oakland Land Conservancy hosts native plant sale

The Oakland Land Conservancy will host its annual native plant sale on June 3 in Auburn Hills and in Oxford.

A special purchase is a 32-plant balanced butterfly and bird garden, which is available as a package for $64.

Find out more at oaklandlandconservancy.org

Bike to Work down the Woodward Corridor on May 18

Detroit Bikes! is locally coordinating National Bike to Work Day on Friday, May 18 along the Woodward corridor between Royal Oak and downtown Detroit.

Excerpt:

From Royal Oak south to Campus Martius, with stops along the way in Ferndale, Palmer Park, New Center and Midtown, participants will roll into downtown just after 8 a.m.

Held both to draw attention to the viability of cycling as a means of transportation and to bestow a bit of group courage to the novice cycler, the event is free. Last year -- its first -- the Woodward Avenue Bike to Work drew 50 riders; event organizer Alexander Froehlich expects up to 75 this year.

Read the entire article here.

Michigan Growth Capital Symposium to be held May 15-16

The Midwest's largest venture capital gathering, the Midwest Growth Capital Symposium, will be held May 15 and 16 in Ypsilanti.

Excerpt:

A carefully screened group of 40 companies, representing industries ranging from information technology, life sciences, and alternative energy, will present in three tracks for an audience of venture capitalists, angel investors and institutional investors. These companies represent high potential deals in the Midwest and are seeking their initial investment, a first institutional investment or expansion financing.

Find out more and register here.

Community Foundation spreads $15.4M around SE Michigan

The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan announced the awarding of $15.4 million in grants.

Awardees include:
  • Detroit Zoological Society,
  • Eastern Market Corporation,
  • Washtenaw County, for support of the Food System Economic Partnership,
  • Brookings Institute, to study the region's transformation from rust belt to knowledge belt, and
  • Boys and Girls Club of SE Michigan
Read the entire article here.


Ford creates new executive position to focus on sustainability

As part of its strategy to tackle global warming, Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mullaly announced that the company has instituted a position of senior vice president in charge of sustainability, environment and safety engineering.

Excerpt:

"It's about sustainability, it's about mobility, it's about safety, it's about (being) stewards of our environment," he said. "This is the biggest agenda we have at Ford. I think it's going to be one of the most important considerations to the customers that buy our products and services going forward."

Read the entire article here.

Ann Arbor to host transportation public workshop Apr. 23

Ann Arbor will host two workshops on the future of its transportation system on April 23 -- one at 4 p.m. and one at 7:30, both at Huron High School.

Excerpt from website:

Each workshop will include information about the current state of transportation in Ann Arbor and will begin with a short presentation to help participants make informed suggestions. The presentations will be followed by the project team receiving public comments from groups formed from attendees. Those attending can express their opinions about the direction of transportation in the city and talk about their priorities with other participants.

The workshops are intended to gather information that will help the city set priorities for the rest of the transportation planning effort. Officials expect the City’s transportation planning process to take approximately one year.

Find out more here.

Dearborn Heights to add curbside recycling to its roster of city services

Dearborn Heights is considering adding no-fee curbside recycling to its list of city services as both an environmental benefit and a cost-saver.

Excerpt:

"Environmentally, recycling is the right thing to do — not just for our city, but for the planet," [Mayor Dan] Paletko said. "We take pride on being an environmentally sound city, and this is just another step in the right direction."

Marketplace-ready energy efficient vehicles eligible for millions of dollars in prizes

The X Prize Foundation is launching a multi-year competition to find fuel efficient production-ready vehicles -- that will ultimately award the most promising designs with millions of dollars in cash prizes.

Excerpt:

Although there have been many contests to design super-efficient vehicles, this one is unique because of its emphasis on market viability, according to Neal Anderson, senior director of the Automotive X Prize. Participating teams must develop a business plan for producing at least 10,000 cars per year. The contest is divided into two classes: the mainstream class, in which teams develop more conventional vehicles with four wheels and room for four or more passengers, and the alternative class, which allows for more innovation but is allotted a smaller share of the prize money.

Read the entire article here.

Green building consultant discusses local trends

James Newman, area green building consultant, talks with Crain's about local trends in green building and LEED certification.

Excerpt:

Interestingly enough, Michigan is eighth highest among the 50 states in terms of green buildings. Five of the states which are ahead of us — Washington, Oregon, California, New York and Pennsylvania — all have policies which encourage building green and sustainable. So we’re not doing too badly considering we have no help from our government or our utilities. The only available assistance at this time is from nonprofit organizations or foundations.

I would welcome comments from our legislators or our utilities.

Read the entire article here.

Farmington Hills boasts high recycling rate

Farmington Hills exceeded state and regional recycling rates in 2006.

Excerpt:

Mike Csapo, general manager at Resource Recovery and Recycling Authority of Southwest Oakland County, reported Farmington Hills' recycling rate is 33 percent and the city diverted about 11,000 tons of trash from landfills during 2006.

Read the entire article here.

Environmentalists call for expansion of bottle deposit law

Environmentalists are calling for an expansion of Michigan's bottle deposit law to account for water and juice containers.

Excerpt:

By most measurements, Michigan's law has been an unqualified success. Folks return more than 97 percent of the 4.3 billion bottles and cans of carbonated beverages sold here each year, according to state records. That tops the return rate of all other states and ranks Michigan's as America's No. 1 bottle recycling program.

Read the entire article here.

What's the story with wind power?

While not specifically written about Michigan, Salon's article on wind power is comprehensive and informative -- and, one might hope, instructive to the Third Coast state?

Excerpt:

Indeed, offshore wind could take us to a new energy future, free of carbon dioxide, or CO2 greenhouse gas emissions, faster than any other power source, say industry experts. Bye-bye, Saudi Arabia. So long, global-warming paralysis.

In the United States, wind represents less than 1 percent of all electric power generation, but that's still enough to power 2.9 million homes. The industry is growing fast -- wind-power production shot up 160 percent between 2000 and 2005, rising 27 percent just last year. For the past two years, wind has been the second-largest source of new power, after natural gas.

Read the entire article here. (Note: Will require watching a brief advertisement.)

Hazardous waste collection for Wayne County residents Mar. 31

Wayne County residents can drop-off household hazardous goods on March 31 from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Sumpter County DPS located at 23501 Sumpter Road.

Acceptable items include:

Household paints, stains, dyes

Floor wax, floor care products, carpet cleaner

Furniture polish, bathroom cleaners, stain removers

Medicine, nail polish, glue

Fertilizer, law and garden chemicals, pesticides
 
Antifreeze, motor oil, gasoline

Automotive batteries and dry cell batteries

Mercury-containing thermometers and other devices. Note that a special thermometer exchange program will be offered: bring a mercury thermometer and exchange it for a safe digital thermometer (limit one per car).
 
These electronic items will also be accepted for recycling: computer monitors, printers, scanners, keyboards, mouse, cell phones, fax machines, VCRs, cable boxes and televisions.
 
Passenger vehicle tires will also be accepted. Limit 10 per vehicle.

The following items cannot be accepted: commercial waste, industrial waste, smoke detectors, radioactive material, explosives, ammunition, 55-gallon drums, unknown/unlabeled wastes, shock sensitive materials, household trash, refrigerators, microwaves or other appliances and concrete.

For more information, call the Wayne County Resource Recovery Coordinator at 734.326.3936.


State's green energy future has potential to do more than just clean the air

With everyone talking about what direction Michigan's energy future should go, many are pointing out that the greener it goes, the better for the economy.

Excerpt:

"We could become the alternative energy state," says Mark Beyer, spokesman for the Detroit nonprofit NextEnergy.

When the facility opened, with its 80-seat auditorium and offices and research labs, the goal, said CEO James Croce, was to position both Detroit and Michigan at the "focal point of the emerging alternative energy industry."

Much of NextEnergy's efforts are focused on working with the Big 3 automakers to develop alternative fuels such as biodiesel, hydrogen and ethanol. But it offers alternative energy companies of all stripes research facilities, office space and access to government funding sources and private venture capital.

Read the entire article here.



Detroit's Avalon Bakery heads uptown to Bloomfield Hills

Detroit's Avalon bakery now stocks Bloomfield Hills' Plum Market with its 100% organic breads 7 days a week.

Plum Market is located at Maple and Lahser, and features organic and locally-grown and -produced products.

State's plan to raze abandoned homes is raising hopes in cities

Cecelia Smothers-Reese stood on her porch Thursday and looked at the burned-out shell of a home next door to her on Benson Street on Detroit's east side.

It's been like that for two years -- an all too common sight in Smothers-Reese's neighborhood and others throughout Detroit.

The previous owner, an elderly woman, moved, and a fire shortly afterward destroyed the house. Looters stripped the remains for scrap metal.

"Most of us that own the homes that we're in try our best to keep up the properties," said Smothers-Reese, 55, who has lived there since 1959. "It really adds to the deterioration of the neighborhood. They're dangerous, too."

Smothers-Reese would be among those helped by Gov. Jennifer Granholm's plan to tear down 5,000 blighted and abandoned homes in eight cities, including Detroit, over four years.

The $25-million plan, announced last month in her State of the State address, would be Michigan's most aggressive anti-blight initiative.

Read the entire article here.



Transit plans gain momentum

Mass transit initiatives gain speed, momentum as  the public and local officials get behind efforts. The Establishment of a commuter rail line between Ann Arbor and Detroit and north of Ann Arbor is moving forward.

Excerpt:

From proposed commuter trains to regional bus service, the long-failed effort to establish mass transit in car-crazy Metro Detroit is building steam, officials say.

Bringing the issue to the forefront are increasingly congested roads, soaring gas prices and the fact that Democrats -- who historically have championed public transportation -- now control the state House, governor's office and Congress.

Advocates say city after city has benefited from building a transit system, creating jobs and economic development along the routes. With the possible exception of Los Angeles, Detroit is the only major U.S. city without effective mass transit, critics say.

"I think it's really important that we develop an effective and efficient public transportation system if we're going to move ahead with economic recovery in this state," State Rep. Marie Donigan told a standing-room-only crowd at a public transit meeting last week in Royal Oak.

"We think there's an urgency in our work. We know the status quo's not working."

Read the entire article here.





Michigan favors more fuel efficiency, poll finds

Released by the Civil Society Institute in Washington, the phone survey of 1,000 Michigan adults was taken Feb. 15 to Feb. 18 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. Some highlights include:

• 60% cited the U.S. auto industry's biggest problem as lack of offering the best technology, including improved fuel efficiency.

• 84% agreed the U.S. auto industry is in major trouble and Michigan's economy will suffer if the situation for the Detroit automakers does not improve.

• 64% support federal incentives, such as lowering health care costs for the auto industry, in exchange for Detroit automakers investing in fuel-efficient technologies.

Read the complete article here.


Workers can't be complacent to survive in global economy

What is a standard practice one year may not be acceptable the next. When competing on a global scale, you can't take anything for granted. The lessons you learned a decade ago, even a year ago, may not be relevant to the world we live in today.

You must adapt your skills to the demands of the 21st-century work force. The same jobs that built the middle-class homes of your parents and grandparents are no longer available in the global marketplace.

Workers need to take advantage of every opportunity to learn the kind of skills needed for tomorrow's high tech jobs. Businesses need to support educational programs and initiatives as part of a regional economic development strategy.

The Road to Renaissance needs a foundation of educational excellence to reach future economic prosperity.

Read the article in its entirety here.


Granholm to head to Germany to stir up some investment

Governor Jennifer Granholm and state economic-development chief Jim Epolito will head to Germany on March to attract investment and jobs to Michigan.

Excerpt:

“Past investment missions have resulted in companies locating or expanding here, and we are stepping up our efforts to attract new high-tech firms that will create good-paying jobs in automotive R&D, advanced manufacturing, and alternative energy,” Granholm said in a news release.

Read the entire article here.

Ficano calls for Cobo Hall to be tax-free zone

In his State of the County address, Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano called for Cobo Hall to become a tax-free zone to stimulate purchases and give it an edge in attracting conventions and trade shows. He also touted a sales tax holiday for back-to-school shopping, biodiesel and the Wayne County Land Bank.

Excerpt:

[The sales tax holiday] would eliminate sales taxes on all clothing, books and supplies costing $100 or less per item, as well as on computers up to $2,000, and furniture, small electronics and computer software less than $500 per item. Michigan has never had a sales-tax holiday.

Read the entire article here.

E85 becoming more cost-effective as price of gas rises

As the price of gasoline continues to increase, ethanol blends are becoming increasingly cost-effective at the pump.

Excerpt:

In Michigan, ethanol is gaining momentum as a viable alternative to conventional gasoline. There are three stations already pumping out ethanol with one currently under construction.

Meanwhile, Gov. Jennifer Granholm recently announced plans to build 1,000 ethanol and biodiesel pumps across Michigan by the end of next year.

Read the entire article.

F. Hills OCC to host discussion on walkability

At noon on Feb. 21, The Farmington Hills campus of Oakland Community College will host a presentation and panel discussion on the area's walkability and transportation.

Excerpt:

Speaker will be Dan Burden, an authority on sustainable communities. Burden is the executive director of the nonprofit Walkable Communities Inc. and has 25 years experience developing, promoting and evaluating alternative transportation facilities, traffic "calming" processes and sustainable community design.

Read the entire article here.

Lawrence Tech sustainability summit to be held Feb. 20

Lawrence Technological University's Center for Sustainability will hold its third Seminar on Sustainability: SOS for the Environment on Feb. 20.

The event is co-sponsored by the America Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers and will include sessions on LEED certification, indoor air quality and ventilation and the energy policy act of 2005.

There is more information and a link to registration at LTU's website.

Detroit City Council task force recommends recycling implementation by 2009

Detroit City Council’s Solid Waste Recycling/Environmental Waste Task Force has released a plan that recommends curbside recycling, encouragement of composting, an education campaign and incentives for waste reduction.

A copy of the plan can be downloaded from the Ecology Center’s website.

Read the entire article here.

Ann Arbor considers expanding commercial recycling program

Ann Arbor City Council is considering expanding the city's recycling program with regard to commercial businesses at a cost of approximately $600,000 per year.

Excerpt:

Bryan Weinert, the city's solid waste coordinator, said one option could be an ordinance similar to the residential policy that has 90 percent participation by residents, who recycle about 50 percent of their waste.

"The expectation would be if you live in this community, this is what you do,'' he said.

Read the entire article here.



State grants Northville funds for nature area and linear park

The state of Michigan DNR has granted Northville Township over $300,000 that will be used to create Cold Water Springs Nature Area — Linear Park. The state grant is being matched by the township and Pulte Homes.

Excerpt:

This is an important project for the township and the entire region, [director of Parks and Recreation Tracy] Sincock said, because it will make better use of one of the county's natural resources.

"Johnson Creek is the only cold water creek or stream in the western Wayne County area," she said.

"It's a significant water feature not only because it's the only cold-water, spring-fed creek in the area but also because it's clean enough to hold fish habitat."

Read the entire article here.


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