By Robert E. Mattler, Independent correspondent for GreeningDetroit.com, Attorney and Michigan Board Member, USGBC
I. Fourth Annual Energy Summit at JW Marriott in Grand Rapids MI – April 18 2018
The 4th annual statewide Michigan Energy Summit took place on Wednesday April 18th with over 250 participants and awards for those building owners and businesses who reduced their energy consumption in a statewide “Battle of the Buildings” competition. While a friendly competition, the year long effort to reduce energy consumption at buildings around the state actually awards not just building owners, but communities who benefit from cleaner air, more productive and comfortable buildings with enhanced building values.
The competition has become very successful in just a few short years and featured approximately 1,000 buildings signed up representing over 171,900,000 square feet competing to shrink their utility bills. Combined the buildings saved more than $7.6 Million dollars of energy during this year’s competition.
II. Utilities Opening Up to Renewable Energy
Michigan’s largest utilities (Consumers and DTE) played major roles at the Summit. John Broschak, Vice President of Generation Operations and Compression for Consumers Power, along with Tony Tomzak, Executive Director of Corporate Services and Chief Procurement Officer for DTE Energy, spoke about both organizations’ fundamental shift towards renewable energy in servicing their own customer base, remaining Title Sponsors of the event and otherwise supporting energy reduction initiatives by local government, private companies and non-profits. Some of the largest solar and wind projects are being built by these utility giants and their organizations are poised to meet state requirements for renewable energy production within the next several years.
III. Increasing Energy Efficiency Knowledge and Financing Options
There were two Breakout Session opportunities to learn about energy efficiency, the living building challenge, setting goals to reduce carbon and what’s new with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED ARC) program. One interesting session entitled Raise Capital, New Incentives and Pilot Programs provided information from the utility companies and others on their rebates and incentives programs.
The audience also heard about the Michigan Saves program, the PACE program and outsourcing energy needs from Luna Energy. Another breakout session in the afternoon entitled Setting Goals to Reduce Carbon provided an overview of initiatives currently underway in Grand Rapids to get to Net Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050 with a new program called the Zero Cities Project. The Detroit 2030 District was also discussed.
IV. From NFL Football Player to Clean Green Energy Advocate
The afternoon plenary was given by former NFL football standout, Will Allen, who spoke candidly of “life after football” and the metamorphosis from cornerback with the New York Giants to co-founder of Nascent Group Holdings llc. It was interesting to hear of a real estate developer who truly embraces the Triple Bottom Line.
Through his self described journey to learn about sustainability, green building and all the owner benefits derived from such a mindset, Allen learned a greater lesson as to how beneficial this is for the tenants and invitees of his projects. These lessons have been indelibly etched into Mr. Allen’s approach to each project he takes on. It was gratifying for the audience to hear of Mr. Allen’s passion for sustainability in his real estate business and how it truly opens up win-win-win scenarios for all stakeholders’ involved in such projects.
The event ended with networking, browsing through the Exhibitors area and the Ford Field / Detroit Lions happy hour, with craft beer provided by Founders Brewing Co. Looking forward to another successful Battle of the Buildings competition and the 2019 Michigan Energy Summit next April.
ROBERT E. MATTLER is Manager for Green Portfolio Solutions llc in Michigan. He speaks, writes and reports about emerging sustainable real estate and development issues in Michigan and elsewhere.. For more information, contact Bob at GPS (248) 762-4370; or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.