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Michigan Efforts to Lead by Example on Sustainability
Michigan Ag Connection - 08/12/2019

Governor Gretchen Whitmer and several state departments announced new efforts to lead by example on environmental sustainability across state government.

"I have directed Departments to implement more sustainable practices in state buildings and reduce energy usage where possible," said Whitmer. "These steps are a win-win for the environment and taxpayers. By improving our government's environmental footprint while lowering energy costs we're able to prove that sustainable practices can and will work across our state from rural, forested locations to downtown Detroit."

These pilot programs are the first step towards putting state departments on a path that will make government facilities more sustainable while addressing real-time issues like climate change. Specific actions to further sustainability include:

DTMB and partner departments have begun a sprint exercise to implement more sustainable practices in state facilities. DTMB has implemented many sustainability efforts in recent years throughout the 41 buildings it manages around the state, resulting in at least $6 million in savings and a 10 percent reduction in energy consumption. The department is now aggressively working with state agencies to deepen those efforts and spread sustainable practices to the hundreds of buildings and structures owned by state government. Michigan government will lead by example through efficient energy practices that benefit our environment and save taxpayers' money.

To identify immediate opportunities for energy-saving enhancements, a pilot program has begun to complete energy audits in the departments of Corrections, Health and Human Services, Natural Resources, and Transportation, departments with some of the largest facilities footprints in state government. These audits will provide the foundation for future energy-saving initiatives, identifying areas for improvement and setting a roadmap for projects to be completed. The current pilot efforts will help develop best practices and standardized methods for completing energy efficiency projects that can be used across all state departments.

Additionally, DTMB and partners across several departments will roll out a campaign this fall to engage all state employees in the sustainability efforts. The campaign will encourage state employees to reduce their energy use and waste.

A new pilot program within the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) aims to integrate renewable energy resources into the daily operation of state parks and state fish hatcheries. DNR will begin these efforts at two facilities, Seven Lakes State Park and Oden Fish Hatchery, and expand to additional facilities over time, using the lessons learned in each project to inform the next.

Seven Lakes State Park is a 1,500-acre park in Oakland County that annually welcomes 300,000-plus visitors to enjoy camping, boating, hiking, hunting, fishing and other activities. Oden State Fish Hatchery, in Alanson in the northern tip of the Lower Peninsula, rears about 650,000 brown trout and rainbow trout each year while welcoming about 32,000 visitors annually -- making it the state's second-most visited hatchery. A recent energy audit showed that the six state fish hatcheries account for 15 percent of the DNR's total energy consumption.

The department's goal for this pilot program is to produce (through a combination of solar arrays) enough renewable energy at each location to completely offset the electrical usage and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The proposed timeline has the requests for proposals being issued in September 2019 and aims for construction completion in December 2020.

The Department of Corrections (MDOC) is releasing a new request for proposals for solar panels and energy performance improvements at the St. Louis Correctional Facility, making it the state's first green prison. The MDOC has already implemented sustainability upgrades at prisons in Jackson, Ionia and Kincheloe, resulting in more than $15 million in annual cost savings due to lower energy and water use.

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