A walkway leads through the wetland at Marshbank Park. Preserving water quality and natural resources are part of the efforts the township was recognized for.

A walkway leads through the wetland at Marshbank Park. Preserving water quality and natural resources are part of the efforts the township was recognized for.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes

West Bloomfield achieves ’silver’ status for environmental actions

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published June 27, 2022

WEST BLOOMFIELD — West Bloomfield Supervisor Steven Kaplan recently stated that he is “elated” with recognition that the township received this past May.

As part of the 2021 Michigan Green Communities Challenge, 44 participating local governments were awarded gold, silver or bronze seals of achievement, reflecting community leadership in areas such as energy efficiency, climate adaptation and resilience, and recycling and environmental justice, with West Bloomfield achieving silver status, according to a press release from the township.

“West Bloomfield Township achieved silver status for exemplary action in multiple categories, including planning, energy efficiency, recycling, and water conservation and protection,” the release stated. “Over the past couple of years, West Bloomfield has established a Carbon Control Committee, amended ordinances to remove red tape for projects that incorporate sustainable design features, and approved the first township Brownfield plan and redevelopment project in 2021. The township also approved and constructed its first LEED certified multiple-family project in 2022,” it stated, referring to federal Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.

In an email, Kaplan explained that in order to reduce the township’s carbon footprint, the Carbon Control Committee’s role is to recommend policy changes to the township Board of Trustees.

He elaborated on the brownfield program redevelopment project.

“The township approved its first Brownfield plan to assist with the redevelopment of the former Cauley automotive dealership on Orchard Lake Road into a new five-story apartment building,” Kaplan stated. “The Brownfield plan offers the developer the opportunity to (utilize) tax increment financing to fund the removal of contaminated soils on the property.”

The Environmental Protection Agency’s brownfield program provides grants and technical assistance to communities, states, tribes and others to assess, safely clean up and sustainably reuse contaminated properties, according to the EPA’s website.

As for the first LEED certified multiple-family project in the township, that distinction went to the Town Court apartment complex on Orchard Lake Road, which achieved LEED Silver status in February, according to Kaplan.

West Bloomfield Planning and Development Services Director Amy Neary provided more details.

“It’s a certification that’s given by the U.S. Green Building Council,” she said. “There’s different levels of LEED certification, from silver to platinum. They have certain criteria that has to go into the construction of that building. … For Town Court, they achieved LEED silver status.”

Kaplan shared his perspective as to other steps the township has taken to be environmentally friendly.

“In addition to being one of the first communities in the state to create woodland and wetland protection ordinances, the township offers a community-wide residential recycling program involving shredding of documents and proper removal of hazardous waste materials,” he stated. “Additionally, the township’s ordinances have been amended to encourage new developments to incorporate sustainable design features such as solar panels, electric vehicle charging stations and LEED-designed buildings.”

It is Kaplan’s assertion that West Bloomfield is “moving in the right direction,” with respect to the environment.

“Our employees in the environmental, building, engineering, planning, development services and zoning departments, led by Amy Neary, are proponents of safeguarding the environment,” he stated. “With the recent amendments to our ordinances and the recommendations that will emerge from the Carbon Control Committee, I think West Bloomfield will continue to be a leader for years to come.”

Neary said it was nice to be recognized with silver status. She would like to continue with the efforts that she believes have already begun in the township.

“Our goal is to continue to evaluate our policies and our requirements to encourage the community to continue to be a leader in environmental preservation and sustainability,” Neary said.

Kaplan has given some thought to aiming for an even higher status than silver going forward.

“Our goal is to continue to balance the needs of our residents and business owners, while preserving and enhancing the township’s natural environment,” he stated. “I think as we continue to implement new ordinance requirements and identify new ways to reduce our carbon footprint, we should be able to achieve gold status in the next few years.”