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Young Ypsilanti entrepreneur thriving in housing market

Stewart Beal's role in redeveloping Ypsilanti is growing. And so too is his company.


While some are saying that we are facing an economic meltdown, others call it an opportunity.

Stewart Beal, the 25-year-old Eastern Michigan graduate who owns Beal Properties and Beal Inc., is one of the latter.

With the deeds to 20 Ypsilanti buildings in its possession, Beal Properties rents out 120 apartments and saw its sales nearly triple from 2007 to 2008. Beal Inc - a multifaceted company providing services from waste hauling to building maintenance to asbestos abatement - saw its sales almost double $1.4 million in 2007 to $2.5 million in 2008.

Read the rest of the story here.

Governor Granholm tells Ann Arbor audience that alternative energy push is all about jobs

Gov. Jennifer Granholm continues to emphasize how important developing green industries is to Michigan's growth.


Gov. Jennifer Granholm wanted to be clear about it.

Green is a good, but all the buzz lately in Michigan about battery powered cars and alternative energy is really about one very practical thing.

"In Michigan, we don't even use the words global warming or climate change," Granholm told an audience at an environmental summit in Ann Arbor on Thursday. "This is all about jobs. I just want to be really pragmatic about it."

Read the rest of the story here.

Ann Arbor LED streetlights star in web TV program

Ann Arbor's LED lights project is starting to get noticed.


A very interesting video discussing the Ann Arbor, Michigan LED street lighting installation can now be viewed on the ElectricTV.net web TV program.

The video describes how the city is applying the latest in LED technology to light its streets and reduce power consumption by 50%.

Across the United States, local governments are slashing budgets, presenting significant challenges to those entrusted with providing services to the community. The city of Ann Arbor suffered a 60% reduction, spurring the search for areas to cut costs, including the city’s power consumption. Just to light the streets, the city was spending more than $1.4 million a year.

Says Andrew Brix, acting director of the city’s energy program, “We’re talking about taxpayer dollars, and the money we spent on streetlights every year was a big chunk of change.”

Read the rest of the story here.

Removal of Argo Dam in Ann Arbor could mean dramatic change for Huron River

Should Argo Dam stay or go? This question is becoming a hot topic in Ann Arbor.


Ann Arbor officials are expected to make a major decision about the Huron River by June that could result in a dramatic change to the waterway.

A key factor in the river management plan under development - which citizens can learn about and have input on later this month - is whether to remove an aging city-owned dam that generates little revenue.

The issue is likely to have both vocal opposition and support within the local boating community. Kayakers are interested in a whitewater course in the area, while rowers want to save Argo Pond, where many individuals and teams practice the sport.

Read the rest of the story here.

U-M saves energy, cash with green computing

The University of Michigan is trying to make its computers as green as their motherboards with an environmental mission that is expected to save the university hundreds of thousands of dollars.


Spurred into action by a phone call from Google cofounder Larry Page, the University of Michigan is on its way to becoming a leader in green computing, hoping to save money and the environment.

The campus-wide volunteer effort, which officially kicked off in March, involves a number of initiatives designed to save hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy used to power the school's 80,000 desktop computers, half a dozen data centers and more than 100 server rooms.

Teams of more than 90 U-M students, faculty and staff members are working to purchase more energy-efficient computers and other technological devices, reduce the number of server rooms on campus and get everyone to turn off computers and printers when they are not using them and print only necessary documents.

One group set up a program that allows people to use computer equipment that others no longer want. Another is looking at switching to systems that allow one computer to do the job of multiple ones. And one plan involves certifying university departments that meet energy efficiency standards.

"There is such a groundswell of support," said Bill Wrobleski, the director of U-M's technical infrastructure operations who is leading the effort. "A lot of little things make a big thing."

Read the rest of the story here and how U-M is highlighting its green efforts here.

Ann Arbor's greenbelt grows, but falling land values may make acquisitions harder

Ann Arbor's greenbelt is moving ahead at full speed but there might be a bump or two in the road ahead.


Ann Arbor's greenbelt farmland preservation program added more than 330 acres this month, increasing its size by more than one-third, but falling land values have cast some uncertainty on the initiative's future.

Declining values combined with historically high crop prices have greenbelt officials concerned that their offer to purchase development rights from farmers may not be as attractive as it used to be.

The gap between the value of farmland in itself and the development rights is what made the sale of those rights alluring in the first place, and that gap is narrowing, said Peg Kohring of The Conservation Fund, a contractor managing the greenbelt program for the City of Ann Arbor.

"I think the traditional farmer is not going to be motivated at all to sell their development rights," she said. "When you had the development rights higher, it really helped with the farmers' income."

Read the rest of the story here.

Green building gains momentum in Ann Arbor

The Ann Arbor building landscape is becoming more and more eco-savvy as green building takes root in Tree Town.


Green building continues to gain momentum locally, as area professionals organize new initiatives to bring attention to the field and an established construction firm opens an Ann Arbor office focused on environmentally conscious project development and execution.

Ryan Stoianowski of Willis Building Co. in Saline is co-chair of the Emerging Green Builders Committee of the Detroit regional chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. In May, Stoianowski was the only active member, but it has since grown to include chapters at the University of Michigan and the University of Detroit Mercy.
He said the goal is networking and education.

"We want to reach out to teach sustainability to young professionals and college students," Stoianowski said. "We're trying to get mentorship opportunities off the ground."

A local network of people interested in green building and development could help stop the "brain drain" of younger people to places like Chicago and San Francisco, Stoianowski said.

Read the rest of the story here.

University of Michigan student leader promotes energy conservation

Ann Arbor's townies aren’t the only ones trying to save the planet. The city's students are also making some big headway in that effort.


Leaning forward at a table in a coffee shop near the University of Michigan Central Campus, Leslie Zaikis gazed at the screen of her laptop.

Zaikis sat among a throng of other young people, some of whom seemed so engrossed in what they were doing they appeared oblivious to the sunshine outdoors, too busy in their work to notice.

Zaikis admits she often feels as if she is always using her computer.

She uses it a lot as president of the U-M College of Literature, Science and the Arts. Among her duties, she helps coordinate some of the college's projects, including collaboration with the Climate Savers Computing Initiative.

To connect with students and university administration as well as promote energy awareness, the LSA student government helped plan the current energy-themed semester at the college.

Read the rest of the story here.

Bottled Water at Issue in Great Lakes

Once again, Ann Arbor is mentioned as one of the leaders in the U.S. environmentalism trends. This time its all about water.


Even as a 10-year campaign to block wholesale export of Great Lakes water came to a successful conclusion in Congress last week, some legislators and environmentalists vowed to continue their fight to close a "bottled-water loophole," a campaign that taps into a national debate over sales of H2O in disposable containers.

A provision of the Great Lakes Compact allows water to be diverted from the basin if it is in containers holding less than 5.7 gallons. The question is whether bottling water from the aquifers that feed the lakes, the largest repository of fresh water on Earth, should be seen as ordinary human consumption, commercial production, or export of a treasured natural resource.

In August, Nestle Waters North America was granted permits for a new well and pipeline at its Ice Mountain facility in Mecosta County, Mich., where it bottles 700,000 gallons a day. Nestle also recently renewed permits for its plant in Guelph, Ontario. Both have sparked vocal opposition from those who say the industry is privatizing a public good and harming the environment.

Americans drank 8.8 billion gallons of bottled water in 2007, up 7 percent from 2006, according to the Beverage Marketing Corp. But bottled water has drawn increasing criticism, leading San Francisco, Salt Lake City and Ann Arbor, Mich., among other municipalities, to ban buying bottled water with city funds.

Read the rest of the story here.

Oil drain will only get worse; oilman Pickens tells U-M audience

You know things are dire when a billionaire oilman says we've got to do something about our dependence on oil. With a plea to tap new alternative sources of energy T. Boone Pickens addressed an audience at the University of Michigan.


Billionaire T. Boone Pickens brought his national campaign for wind and natural gas power to Ann Arbor Wednesday, telling a nearly full house at the Power Center that Americans will have a reduced standard of living unless they reduce their dependency on foreign oil.

Pickens lamented the fact that the U.S. imports 70 percent of its oil at a cost of $700 billion a year. He said the country hasn't had an energy plan in 40 years, but it better get one soon because he predicts oil will be $300 a barrel in 10 years.

Read the rest of the story here and how you can buy ultra cheap CFL light bulbs here.

U-M battery spinout gets $2.5M, Ann Arbor to become "center of energy excellence"

Ann Arbor is about to literally become a power center for Michigan's emerging new economy with the creation of the "center of energy excellence".


Michigan's economic development agency today is creating a "center of energy excellence" in Ann Arbor in an effort to capitalize on the region's burgeoning battery technology expertise.

Sakti3, a startup battery company led by University of Michigan scientist Ann Marie Sastry, will receive $2.5 million from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. to become an "anchor" company. U-M will receive $500,000 to conduct battery research, said Elizabeth Parkinson, director of marketing and public relations for Ann Arbor SPARK.

The state's objective is to stimulate the growth of major alternative energy companies with the idea that those firms' decisions to operate in Michigan would attract related companies and technology suppliers to locate here.

Read the rest of the story here.

Local dining spots buying more from local farmers

Ann Arbor restaurants are taking eating local to a whole new level, tapping local farms and dairies for their menu selections. It's a trend that's good for the environment, good for the economy and oh-so tasty! 


If Brandon Johns has his way, never again will a semi-truck pull up to the back of the Vinology Wine Bar and Restaurant in downtown Ann Arbor to deliver bulk food from a faraway place.

Instead, Johns will fill his customers' plates with fare similar to what he's been making recently - squash blossoms grown in his own Ann Arbor garden, cheese aged at the Four Corners Creamery in Tecumseh, potatos grown at Tantre Farm and chicken raised at Back Forty Acres, both near Chelsea.

"It's just the natural way to eat. What's best now is what's best now - the closer you get to when it was pulled out of the ground or when it was picked, the better it's going to be," said Johns, the former executive chef at The Chop House who's now head chef and part owner in Vinology.

Read the rest of the story here.

Ypsilanti fair showcases alternate transportation

Bicycling and buses are already synonymous with downtown Ann Arbor, but now Ypsilanti's leaders are looking to do the same thing.


Assane Koulibali used to ride his bicycle a few times a year.

But two weeks ago, Koulibali parked his car and began riding his bike to work and running errands to offset the high price of gasoline.

"I'm saving money, and it's good for me," said Koulibali after trying on a helmet at the alternative community fair at the Downtown Ypsilanti Farmers Market Tuesday. "The helmet will keep me safe."

Read the rest of the story here.

University of Michigan team to study greener land use

If the devil is in the details then the University of Michigan is trying to find new ways to exorcise the environmentally unfriendly demons in exurban business practices.


University of Michigan scientists are undertaking a study to explore how choices like how you landscape your property could make a difference in the environment.

Through a detailed analysis of the science, policy and design of land use, researchers are looking at how so-called exurban areas - the farthest suburbs - can absorb more carbon from the atmosphere.

The research could lead to changes in how developers, residents and planners think about and create landscapes. And it could influence policy designed to encourage greenhouse-gas friendly development, researchers say.

Read the rest of the story here.

"Solar taxi" pulls into Ann Arbor

Vehicles usually use extra energy to pull trailers but one car that recently stopped in Ann Arbor depends on its solar trailer to give it the energy to go.


For Louis Palmer, traveling around the world in a solar car is "the experience of a lifetime."

Palmer, of Lucerne, Switzerland, rolled into the parking lot of the Whole Foods Market on Washtenaw Avenue in Ann Arbor on Thursday afternoon in his two-passenger all-electric "solar taxi." The taxi was pulling a 16-foot-long trailer covered with 65 square feet of solar cells to supply power.

Read the rest of the story here.
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