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The most interesting billionaire in metro Detroit you've probably never heard of

Manoj Bhargava is the 62-year-old, ex-ashram monk creator and founder of 5-Hour Energy, a company headquartered in Farmington Hills. 5-Hour Energy's 2-oz. bottles, now ubiquitous at party stores and gas stations around the country, revolutionized the energy drink market and made Bhargava a very rich man (he estimates his fortune at $4 billion).
But what's most interesting about Bhargava, however, is what he plans to do with his wealth. In addition to pledging to give 90 percent of it away to charity, he also runs a $100-million private equity fund called Stage 2 Innovations, which, according to the Wall Street Journal, is "dedicated to advances in water and energy technology."
Read about Bhargava's investments, as well as his daily routine, in this recent profile in the Wall Street Journal.

In Detroit, a shipping container called home

GM is teaming up with a local nonprofit - Michigan Urban Farming Initiative - to provide homes made out of shipping containers. That's pretty dang cool.


Organizers hope the container project can lure millennials who don't want their grandfather's bungalow yet also provide predominantly poor, longtime residents with a low-cost housing alternative.

"Finding a place where both those communities can find common ground is beautiful," said Gersh, president and co-founder of the group that operates a farm and owns property in the North End, where blight and vacancy are common, but so are signs of residential and commercial renewal. "It's scalable, works for everyone and it's also not going to ruin the environment. It's easier to maintain and can repurpose existing materials."

Read the rest here.

DTE official says wind is the power of the future

When it comes to Michigan's energy options, it just may be that wind is the most inexhaustible.


"Justifying the utility’s push for wind energy to provide electricity rather than coal, nuclear or solar sources, Chriss said coal is “not going to be working” because of strict regulation set by the Environmental Protection Agency for cleaner emissions.

And nuclear is out of the question too, he said.

“By 2025, there’s not going to be many coal plants around, period … nuclear cost $7 to $10 billion, you don’t want to shove $7 to $10 billion into your rates — you’ll throw us out of the place. Our company’s only worth $8 or $9 billion. No one’s going to decide to build an $8 or $9 billion nuke plant. Where are we going to put that? Where are we going to take the spent fuel rods? Anybody want them in their area?”

Up next was solar energy.

“Solar is not working, it’s working but it’s not working as great as we would like. We can’t run this town on solar, but we’re doing our best. Technology’s not there, clouds are in the way, we’re trying. We have a natural resource of wind. It’s here. It makes sense. You can’t run and do the NIMBY — not in my backyard."

More here.

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.


"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.


"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. 


"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.


"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. 


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.


"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.


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.


"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?


"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.


"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!
"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.
98 Sustainability Articles | Page: | Show All
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