Royal Oak approves Sustainability and Climate Action Plan

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published June 8, 2022

File photo


ROYAL OAK — On May 9, the Royal Oak City Commission unanimously approved an approximately 100-page Sustainability and Climate Action Plan, or “S-CAP.”

The three-year blueprint will guide the city with its objectives of decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and improving citywide sustainability.

The plan incorporates feedback from city department heads, residents, business owners and other city stakeholders, and it identifies six focus topics for actionable steps: energy and buildings, mobility, waste, water, green space, and quality of life.

Julie Lyons Bricker, grants coordinator and energy and sustainability manager for the city, said the city held four stakeholder-driven work group meetings on each topic, for a total of approximately 24 meetings, which were overseen by an S-CAP task force.

Lyons Bricker said the actions in the tables denoted in the plan are projects that department heads feasibly and realistically could achieve or at least get started within three years. Other projects that did not fit the time frame but are still a priority are included on the back page of the plan.

“Now we’re thinking about budgeting with budget time coming up,” she said. “In the budget, you’ll probably see some money for EV charging stations, municipal buildings’ efficiency and perhaps streetlights conversion to LEDS.”

Commissioner Patricia Paruch called the plan a “phenomenal piece of work.”

“This plan is going to have to be integrated with other planning processes that we’re going to be doing going forward, like the master plan and like the parks and recreation master plan,” she said.

Commissioner Kyle DuBuc made the motion to adopt the plan.

“I do want to be clear that the motion I’m making is not just adoption of the plan, but clear direction that we shall be making regular progress and taking substantive action with every decision we make on executing the elements of this plan,” he said. “It’s a guiding document for this city for real strategic action and (to) make a meaningful difference to address climate change.”

Mayor Michael Fournier said mapping out the plan was the “fun” part, but figuring out the best way to implement it will be the challenge, although he has confidence in the team that the city has in place.

“We’re going to have some headwinds and challenges, but we’ve solved lots of problems in this community before,” he said. “The most important thing is how do we inspire other communities to do this, because we’ll do our part in our four corners, but how do we make those four corners bigger, wider, longer?”

City Manager Paul Brake said the tricky part is working the S-CAP into the city’s complex financial system.

“It’s a $200 million budget, with 39 operating funds and 360 full-time employees,” Brake said. “Part of that trick is Ms. Lyons Bricker and myself had to go through all of these very complicated documents and to point the dots and say this is how this works within the system.”

A January 2021 city resolution commits the city to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 while striving to reach net-zero carbon by 2050.

According to a city greenhouse gas inventory report, citywide emissions totaled the equivalent of 918,287 metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2018.

Commercial electricity was the highest single emitter at 24.9%, followed by residential energy — electricity at 16.1% and natural gas at 15.8%. Staff calculated municipal operations emissions separately and said that they accounted for 1.4% of citywide emissions, or the equivalent of 12,478 metric tons of carbon dioxide.

For more information, visit or call Royal Oak City Hall at (248) 246-3000.