Sustainability has been a global concern for at least a quarter of a century, and many countries are focusing on greener living now more than ever. Though U.S. sustainability is undoubtedly a nation-wide effort, each state contributes to the movement in its own way. Michigan comes in as the 19th most sustainable state, but looking to 2014 and beyond, the Wolverine State is on track to improve that rank, according to Site Selection.
There are many initiatives in Michigan that indicate how bright a future the state could (and will) have. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development—along with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency—has partnered with the Mid-Michigan Program for Sustainability, a consortium of community organizations working on various projects ranging from a community reinvestment fund to an energy audit of built structures. The MMPGS’s overall goal is to “spread awareness and interest about the sustainable development of our region.”
Higher education in the state is also doing its part to develop not only the next generation of workers—but a “greener” state as well. The Western Michigan University’s Office of Sustainability, which seeks “to advance responsible environmental stewardship,” joined the Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment and Rating system in November of 2013.
STARS, a program administered by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, publicly reports an institution’s sustainability performance, and more than two hundred colleges and universities across Canada and the U.S. are participants. Saginaw Valley State University has partnered with The Dow Chemical Company Foundation to create a Dow Science and Sustainability Education Center. The center, which will be up and running during the summer of 2014, will educate students and teachers in the Great Lakes Bay Region in advancements made in science, technology, and engineering.
One non-profit organization that’s been receiving a lot of attention over the last few years is The Empowerment Plan. Originally started as a class project by Veronika Scott, it eventually grew into something much bigger. The group creates waterproof, self-heated coats that can also be used as sleeping bags, which it then donates to the homeless on the streets of Detroit. It is clear initiatives aren’t just spreading to where we live, but the people who live in our area as well.
Plenty of great work is being done by many different people and organizations in Michigan to raise the state’s level of sustainable development. Whether the aid comes from the federal government, universities, large multinational corporations, or non-profits, the joint effort results in a net positive that promises to bring even better days in the years to come.
See how we’re involved with sustainability initiatives in our area by checking out our website and Facebook page.