Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and several state departments announced on Thursday that they will be rolling out several green initiatives in an effort to demonstrate sustainability to the rest of the state.
The state will be implementing pilot programs that include an audit of multiple departments across the state, converting state parks and fish hatcheries to renewable energy sources and creating the state’s first green prison.
“I have directed departments to implement more sustainable practices in state buildings and reduce energy usage where possible,” Whitmer said in a statement. “These steps are a win-win for the environment and taxpayers.”
The Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget has reduced energy consumption by 10 percent and saved at least $6 million in recent years by implementing sustainability efforts throughout the 41 buildings the department owns, according to a press release from the governor’s office. The DTMB will now be “aggressively” working with other agencies to implement sustainable practices in other government buildings.
The department will also be encouraging state employees to reduce their energy consumption and waste.
The state plans to begin converting its six fish hatcheries to renewable energy, using a combination of solar arrays to offset the electrical usage and greenhouse gas emissions. The hatcheries account for 15 percent of the total energy used by the Department of Natural Resources. The program will launch at Seven Lake State Park in Oakland County and Oden Fish Hatchery in Alanson in the northern tip of the Lower Peninsula. Oden Fish Hatchery is the state’s second-most-visited hatchery.
The state aims to be completed with the project in December 2020.
The Michigan Department of Corrections will also be making steps toward sustainability. The department has recently requested solar panels and other energy performance improvements for the St. Louis Correctional Facility. These improvements would make it the first “green prison” in the state. The MDOC has also installed sustainability upgrades in prisons in Jackson, Ionia and Kincheloe, saving more than $15 million by lowering its energy consumption and water use.
Whitmer said the state hopes to lead by example when addressing issues like climate change while simultaneously saving taxpayer money.
“By improving our government’s environmental footprint while lowering energy costs we’re able to prove that sustainable practices can and will work across our state from rural, forested locations to downtown Detroit,” she said.
– – –
Jordyn Pair is a reporter with Battleground State News and The Michigan Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair. Email her at [email protected]