Lathrup VillageAugust 6, 2012
Lathrup Village pursues ‘100 percent’ participation in energy efficiency
By Jessica Strachan
C & G Staff Writer
LATHRUP VILLAGE — At just 1.5 square miles of land, Lathrup Village may be a small town, but with its dedication to energy efficiency, it may quickly become a green giant.
Though Lathrup Village has not yet signed on to participate with Lean & Green Michigan, which allows for the adoption of a citywide Property Assessed Clean Energy Program, it is making moves to get in on all the benefits.
Assistant City Administrator Matt Baumgarten explained that to get around Lathrup Village’s limited resources, they will seek to adopt the energy policy as a collaborative effort with other cities.
“We don’t have the staff to participate in the PACE program individually, but we have set ourselves up for energy-efficiency programs like this,” Baumgarten, a member of the Southeastern Regional Energy Office steering committee, said.
Lathrup Village is one of several local communities involved in an inter-governmental agreement between smaller municipalities that want to band together and get involved in programs like PACE.
By participating alongside such communities as Roseville and South Lyon, Lathrup Village can carry on in its commitment to being green without the restraints such small cities have.
Baumgarten said that any energy program adopted by the city will come with the “opt in” stipulation, so that business or homeowners may choose to take part.
Participation is no worry for the city, however, as residents have flocked to recent opportunities to become a more energy-efficient community. For example, the Better Buildings for Michigan program — which offers homeowners in select communities an energy audit with incentives for green upgrades — got off to a good start in the spring of 2011.
There were 433 eligible households in the area of Lathrup Village that were targeted, and out of the available houses, 178 households (41 percent) were contacted and 83 decided to take the base package, coming in at 19 percent participation in the first round, Baumgarten explained.
This year, even more suburbs were offered the opportunity to participate, and Baumgarten said they are optimistic about participation in Lathrup Village.
“Lathrup Village was a good city (to participate) because we have a diverse housing stock and income levels. Diversity of city allows for different options for energy savings, increasing the comfort of people’s home and taking advantage of incentives,” he explained. “It’s written into our strategic plan to pursue opportunities not only for the city, but its residents to be an energy-efficient community.”
The city led by example by going through the process of upgrading its own facilities over the last few years.
Jennifer Young, energy programs coordinator with the Southeastern Regional Energy Office, worked with the city to help secure grants for energy projects, and said that Lathrup Village’s upgrades to its municipal building were invaluable since it serves many different functions.
“It’s not your typical government building that opens and closes each day. They see a steady flow of traffic from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and as late as midnight most evenings,” she said.
The building not only serves as City Hall with administrative offices and City Council chambers, but as the community and recreation center, the Police Department, a banquet center and other uses.
“The building management system they have allows the city to program the temperature to fit the average changing building use, because so many activities are happening in the building at different times,” Young explained. “They are now able to regulate the energy through this system in a way that saves them energy and money.”
In addition to a steady temperature control, Lathrup Village’s grant-funded upgrades have included upgrading lights with energy-efficient bulbs, installing motion sensors on the lights and adding waterless urinals.
“Lathrup Village has shown a strong commitment to energy efficiency, so we’re excited to work with them. They go above and beyond,” Young said.
Baumgarten added that because the improvements were paid for through grants, the city was able to lead by example and show residents the benefits, hoping they’ll follow suit.
“It’s a good deal for everyone,” he said. “Our goal for energy efficiency is 100 percent of homes, and we’ll keep striving until we get there.”
As Lathrup Village is one of the participating communities with the Better Buildings for Michigan program, any property owner is eligible to apply to receive an energy audit and some funding for implementing low-cost improvements to their property to make it energy efficient.
For more information about the program or to schedule an appointment with a contractor, call the Regional Energy Office at (866) 402-1061 or email email@example.com. Information is also available at www.regionalenergy office.org and www. lathrupvillage.org.
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