GRAND RAPIDS — Grand Valley State University faculty and staff members can save money and conserve energy in their homes by participating in a unique partnership between the university and the City of Grand Rapids.

Funded by a grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the federal stimulus, the Better Buildings for Michigan initiative provides a home energy assessment and other services, incentives and upgrades that improve home energy performance and lower utility bills for residents in the City of Grand Rapids. The partnership allows faculty and staff to participate for $100, which is normally a $300 to $500 value.

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“Participating in this program is a no brainer,” said Bart Bartels, project manager for Grand Valley’s Sustainable Community Development Initiative. “The energy assessment will point out problems in the house and provide a list of resolutions, giving our faculty and staff members a chance to learn ways to increase energy efficiency in their home.”

One goal of the program is to reduce energy consumption by 20 percent in each living space, said Selma Tucker, contract administrator and regional coordinator for Better Buildings for Michigan in Grand Rapids.

“Program participants who maximize incentives can save from $5,000 to $7,000, not to mention what they will save long-term on energy costs,” he said. “Understanding where your home is wasting energy is invaluable to any customer. Whether or not you decide to act after the assessment, having the information is critical.”

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During an assessment, a qualified contractor will uncover where and how much energy a home is wasting, install energy-saving measures such as efficient light bulbs, pipe wrap and new thermostats, and provide a customized report with recommendations for improvement.

Faculty and staff members living in the City of Grand Rapids will benefit from incentives that include access to a zero-interest  home energy loan up $20,000, utility rebates from energy companies and 20 percent off any improvements from the program. Faculty and staff members living outside of the City of Grand Rapids will receive utility rebates and low-interest financing options to make home improvements.

In Grand Rapids, the Better Buildings for Michigan initiative is administered through a partnership of the West Michigan Environmental Action Council, the City of Grand Rapids and the state Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth. The partners aspire to improve energy efficiency and slash utility costs for approximately 2,500 Grand Rapids homes by December 2012.

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The offer for Grand Valley faculty and staff members will begin Jan. 18 and continue through the end of the winter semester. Learn more at