WARREN — Greener buildings mean a greener Earth and more green in the owner’s bank account.
That’s the multiple-bottom-line message of “All Things Green,” the Macomb County Chamber’s fifth annual green technologies conference, which attracted a crowd of well over 100 people Thursday.READ MORE: Michigan School District Makes Masks Mandatory After Community Vote
The conference venue was appropriate too — the Electrical Industry Training Center jointly operated by Local 58 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Southeast Michigan Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association.
To listen to a podcast with Macomb Chamber CEO Grace Shore about the event, visit this link.
The opening panel focused on lessons learned in real-world green projects. Paulette Alioa, a consulting specialist at Novi-based Greenspace Consultants LLC, described her company’s work to bring Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification to General Dynamics Land Systems’ operations in Macomb County — work that saved the company $1.4 million a year and has the defense contractor now using 100 percent renewable power.
David Gassen of Mt. Clemens-based Partners in Architecture described how his firm transformed a 1909 fire station in downtown Mt. Clemens into a beautiful, energy-efficient office building, including major replacement of lighting and heating equipment, work with a four- to five-year payback.
Al Hildreth, in charge of all things green at General Motors’ buildings, described a just slightly larger project — getting GM to 125 megawatts of renewable energy by 2020, and cutting the auto giant’s power use and carbon emissions by 20 percent by that date (and cutting water use 15 percent, too). Included are everything from replacing 1,000-watt mercury and sodium vapor factory lighting with 200-watt LEDs to major improvements in auto painting technology.
New Haven High School was at the event in force, bringing in about 30 students who are taking a high school renewable energy course that also gets them credit at Macomb Community College. Felisicia Holifield, renewable energy coordinator of the program, described how the school district starts its renewable energy education in first grade and continues through giving seniors a chance to get a valuable college certificate from MCC.READ MORE: Gov. Whitmer To Propose Tripling Michigan's Tax Credit For Low-Wage Workers
A second panel covered planning for renewable projects and new technologies.
Eric Hansel, a lighting expert who’s worked with Ford Land and DTE Energy through the Green Team Coalition, described how lighting is the low-hanging fruit in making industrial and commercial buildings more efficient. David McKinney, founder and CEO of Clean Light Green Light, described how his company has been designing and manufacturing LED products in Michigan since 2003.
Sheldon Wardwell, principal and president at EcoGreen Energy, talked up his company’s SunTracker lighting tubes, which route sunlight into buildings to maximize the use of natural sunlight in building lighting. (The system also uses light sensors to automatically blend room lighting with sunlight to achieve the desired level of illumination.)
Robert Feldmaier, director of the Center for Advanced Automotive Technology at Macomb Community College, covered the rise of green fleets, including compressed natural gas, hydraulic hybrids, electrics, and hybrids.
And Kathleen Klein, community relations representative for Waste Management, described how the nation’s largest waste hauler is getting more involved in the recycling business and is converting its fleets to clean-burning natural gas.
A final panel covered financial incentives for environmental projects. Included were Andy Levin of Lean and Green Michigan, David Kirk, energy rebate and incentive expert from Consumers Energy, and Alden Hathaway, senior vice president of business development for Sterling Planet, an energy efficiency consultant.MORE NEWS: Oxford High School Reopening Jan. 24 For First Time Since Shooting
Closing keynoter Jim Saber, vice president of business development at NextEnergy, described how the state’s energy industry accelerator is helping build Michigan’s renewables industry. Included are internal research on data center efficiency, office lighting, heating and more.