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Sustainability : In the News

99 Sustainability Articles | Page: | Show All

The Urbanwood Project turns wood waste into valuable resources

Between the emerald ash borer, landfill-bound wood waste, and mill rejects, a whole lot of timber egst overlooked or discarded.  Enter Recycle Ann Arbor, which teamed with the nonprofit Southeast Michigan Resource Conservation and Development Council and the Genesee Conservation District to develop a one-of-kind organization to turn wood waste into a usable resource.
"The project grew out of a happy accident in 2005 when Recycle Ann Arbor was looking to put some new flooring in one of their conference rooms and sought out a sustainable option. They had heard some local sawmills were creating products from ash trees, and the Southeast Michigan RC&D Council put them in touch with those producers, Simons explained. Eventually, people began asking about the new flooring, which led Recycle Ann Arbor to sell a small amount of the urban wood in their reuse center. Out of those small beginnings, Urbanwood has grown into a project that involves half a dozen sawmills and two retail outlets, one at Recycle Ann Arbor's ReUse Center and the other at a Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Flint, Mich."
Read the rest here.

Ypsilanti ok's DTE plan to build $4M solar array on landfill

Revenue for Ypsilanti, clean energy for DTE customers, a productive use of landfill space. This smells of win-win.  
"The proposed Ypsilanti project would cover about 4.5 acres of the 7-acre property near Spring Street and 
just north of the westbound Interstate 94 Huron Street exit.
The city would lease the property to the company for $9,778 per acre, or $44,000 a year. A one-time construction payment of $20,000 must be made within 30 days of the execution of the lease.
The city receives $35,000 per year for the lease of the existing, large digital billboard that is currently on the property. City officials said the billboard would not be affected by the solar project. Both leases together would generate about $75,000 per year for the city."
Read the rest here.

Ann Arbor Muni Center gets LEED Gold

Say what you will about the new city hall's aesthetics, at least it's more sustainable than its predecessor.
"The municipal center project includes the new Justice Center, landscaped municipal plaza rain gardens, green roof promenade, and porous pavement in the parking lot. It obtained a total of 44 LEED points. Quinn Evans was the architectural firm for the Ann Arbor Municipal Center. The landscape architects were InSite Design Studio Inc. with Conservation Design Forum."
Read the rest here.

For locavores, Grange offers meal grown within 50 miles of home

Well, actually 52 miles. We're rounding up a bit. Ann Arbor's Grange Kitchen is offering the ulitimate in locavore dining.
"You’ve heard of 100-mile dinners? Chef Brandon Johns of Ann Arbor’s Grange Kitchen & Bar (118 W. Liberty) is planning a 52-mile dinner Nov. 7, in which he’ll prepare courses based on ingredients sourced from no more than 52 miles away."
Read the rest here.

Arbor Brewing gets more praise for going green

Having one solar-powered, green-minded brewpub in your community is pretty awesome. Having two is twice the awesome.
"The Corner Brewery’s $250,000 “Green Brewery Project” includes solar-thermal, photovoltaic, and geo-thermal technologies along with new windows, awnings and energy-efficient chiller equipment. It is expected to provide almost all of the brewery’s hot water needs and up to 15 percent of its electricity, while knocking $20,000 each year off energy bills."
Read the rest here.

U-M solar car wins 4th straight title

Looks like U-M's solar car team is like the Yankees of sun-powered competitors. Since 1990 they've raked up a nine wins at the 2012 American Solar Challenge, four in the last four years.


"The Ann Arbor-based university's car Quantum won the eight-day solar vehicle competition on Saturday. The 1,650-mile event started July 14 in Rochester, N.Y., and ended in St. Paul, Minn.

Michigan's Quantum crossed the finish line about 2:30 p.m. CDT, with cars from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, and Principia College in Elsah, Ill., coming in second and third. There were 18 teams in all."

Read the rest here.

Ann Arbor is a finalist for national Green Cities award

If you're an avid reader of Waste & Recycling News (all 12 of you) you might have noticed that The Deuce made it into the Top 3 mid-sized Green Cities for its residential recycling program. Cool beans. Now, if we could only show as much dedication to commercial recycling, which accounts for 50+% of waste.


Nearly 100 municipalities across North America — a record — entered the contest, according to a press release from the city. Ann Arbor is among Anaheim, Calif., and Bellevue, Wash., as one of three medium-sized city finalists.

The Green City Award recognizes communities that have shown exceptional leadership in successfully communicating and promoting their residential recycling programs.

Read the rest here.
Read Waste & Recycling News here.

How green is your Ann Arbor home?

Green building gets some high profile attention from the Freep as a local insulation demonstration draws crowds and Matt Grocoff's greener-than-thou homestead produces excess electricity. Both stories are guaranteed to make you feel sustainably inadequate.


"Imagine a home so green and energy-efficient that it produces enough electricity that you can skip paying a utility bill.

In fact, the power company pays you for the excess electricity that your house generates. Matthew Grocoff imagined it and made it happen at his 111-year-old west-side Ann Arbor home."

Read all about the wonder of insulation in the Behind The Drywall article here (with photo essay).

Read all about the Grocoff home here (with photo essay).

U-M researchers seek to make buildings smarter, more energy efficient

Buildings are cited as accounting for 72% of electrical consumption in the U.S.. Seems like a pretty good place to start looking for conservation strategies.


"A team of computer, environmental and computer scientists; architects; and natural resources specialists starts work this fall at the Ann Arbor school.

Their 2-year project seeks ways to sharply cut the carbon footprint of the power demands that buildings place on the electrical grid."

Read the rest here.

U-M Solar Car movie premiere tonight at Michigan Theater

We've written about U-M's solar car team before. Now, you can watch their efforts on the glorious silver screen. Tonight at 7 p.m. the documentary, Racing With The Sun, will be screening at the Michigan Theater. Members of the Solar Car Team will be on hand to answer questions afterward. Best of all, it's free!


"Students from disciplines across campus put their heart and soul into the October 2011 race that included a smoldering brush fire and wind-shearing road trains. Quantum placed third behind teams from Japan and The Netherlands. It wasn’t the first-place finish they were hoping for, but no other U.S. team has had back-to-back top-three World Solar Challenge finishes."

Read the rest here.

U-M students' waste-to-energy startup looking to raise $2M

A quartet of University of Michigan students came up with an idea for a bioreactor that could use methane to heat water. After winning several business plan competitions, the founders of ReGenerate are finally being asked to turn their concept into a real-world technology.


"Having proven adept at winning business plan competitions, it's time for waste-to-energy company ReGenerate Solutions LLC to win some actual customers. The Ann Arbor-based startup, founded by four University of Michigan students, is in the midst of raising a seed round of up to $2 million to move it from proof-of-concept stage to commercialization."

Read the rest of the story here.

Downtown geothermal project: Harbinger of greener things to come?

Even with its big upfront costs, more and more businesses and municipalities are seeing the economic and sustainable virtues of going geothermal. Could the system currently being installed in the Marketplace Building signal a shift in downtown building practices?


"The geothermal system at the Marketplace Building starts underground in a lot north of Argiero's Restaurant, running under the brick pavement of Detroit Street to reach the building.

Aspects like crossing a public right-of-way with the underground pipes, liability and ongoing maintenance of the pipes under roadways concerned city staff as they researched and finalized the agreements, Harshe said.

The Downtown Development Authority, which funded part of the effort through its Energy Program, also played a role.

“I’m intrigued about its potential to make downtown even more of a sustainable center,” said Susan Pollay, executive director of the DDA."

Read the rest of the story here.

In Ann Arbor, the bride wore green

Here's another thing for bridezillas to worry about: whether their wedding is green enough. All kidding aside, if sustainable funerals are possible, why not weddings? An Ann Arbor couple proves it can done.


"It was in August 2010, the Ann Arbor couple (Engel and Dyer) were married in a “green” outdoor wedding ceremony and reception near the Huron River fit to pay homage to their shared love of the planet and the outdoors.

The trend toward green weddings certainly isn’t new, but researchers say it has evolved to allow lovers to incorporate their personal preferences and still afford their marriage."

read the rest of the story here.

Can The Big House go solar?

Ann Arbor's Ecology Center, along with 3,000 petitioners, are trying to convince U-M to turn the largest sports stadium in North America into the largest sustainable sports stadium in the world.


"In 2009, University of Michigan students completed a feasibility assessment of a stadium solar project, estimating that an installation could divert 776 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The Ecology Center's campaign is asking University officials to move beyond feasibility assessments by engaging with Michigan's solar manufacturers and developing a project to offset some of the stadium's electricity use and feed it back into the grid during times when the stadium isn't used."

Read the rest of the story here.

Forbes ranks Ann Arbor CEO Ann Marie Sastry in "Top 12 Women of Cleantech"

Clean tech is all the rage in start-up culture and Ann Arbor is making its mark. Or rather, Ann Marie Sastry, president and CEO of Sakti3, is. Forbes just ranked her amongst the "Top 12 Women of Cleantech." Nice timing to go along with the company's recent plans for expansion.


"Men invented, engineered, invested in, and presided over the technologies and companies that made oil, coal, and natural gas the dominant fuels of our time. And now men appear to be running the show at most of the firms pushing renewables, efficiency, clean cars, and the smart grid. (The Wall Street Journal's recent list of the top ten cleantech enterprises, for instance, is essentially a men's club.)

Look a little closer, though, and you see that women are gradually, quietly permeating clean-energy industries. Some are engineering new technologies. Some are climbing the ranks in big companies. Some are investing tens of millions in start-ups, or founding their own. Women are still a small minority in this sector, to be sure, but there's good reason to believe that they will play ever greater and more influential roles in the fast-evolving cleantech sector than they ever have in fossil fuels."

Read more here.
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