City pushes forward with green initiatives

DEARBORN – The city continues to push forward with the green movement, making significant strides in 2010.

The city’s sustainability initiatives included a variety of new green and environmentally-conscious programs to help push toward the city toward its goal of eliminat-ing waste and promoting energy efficiency.

Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. signed the United States Conference of Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement, promising that the city will work to lessen carbon dioxide emissions in the next few years.

Dave Norwood, the city’s sustainability coordinator, highlighted some of the other “green” accomplishments for 2010. The city:

• Introduced its enhanced residential curbside recycling program — After a test program of 700 homes showed that providing large trash carts doubled residents’ recycling habits, the city decided to provide resi-dents with 96-gallon recycling carts, which in turn have taken recycling efforts to a 30 percent in-crease since July 1.

• Included significant green elements in the city-owned parking structure at the Dear-born Town Center — The parking structure has LED lights on the roof, outdoor solar panels, indoor “smart lighting,” and eight electric vehicle charging stations, which were installed at the mayor’s direction and with the help of partners involved in green initiatives.

• Carried out a Waste-to-Energy Feasibility Study — The city hired Resource Recycling Systems to analyze waste streams and look at tech-nologies for capturing the energy from Dearborn’s wastes and using it to create power. It is looking at plans to implement a waste-to-energy facility that will possibly be used by Ford Motor Co. and SeverStal Steel Co. The current site being consid-ered for this is the former powerhouse site on Miller Road.

• Received a State of Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Pollution Prevention Grant — The grant has allowed the city to create a climate action plan. The plan proposes a communitywide green-house gas emission inventory, municipal facilities greenhouse gas facility, “bike-ability” and “walk-ability” surveys of the city, and the creation of the Mayor’s Environmental Commission to advise on sustainability issues, which would review and recommend changes to development processes of the city to encourage lasting practices.

• Received a private grant as a member of the Urban Sustainability Directors Network — A $20,000 grant was issued for the city to partner with Ann Arbor for the Michigan Network of Sustainability Staffs to encourage the best practices and share performance strategies, while discussing successes and failures.

• Applied for a Fordson Island Land Acquisition Grant — If accepted, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment will provide $400,000 for the city to purchase several lots on Fordson Island and restore them to their natural habitat. In the long term, the island will be made a publicly-accessible part of the Rouge River system. Notification as to whether the grant application has been accepted will be available in mid-spring.

• Applied for the National Clean Diesel Grant — This will retrofit 30 trucks by putting new ex-haust systems on them to reduce diesel emissions and install new motors in a semi-truck. The city hopes to find out in mid-April if the funds will come in order to carry this out.

• Joined the Department of Energy’s Municipal Solid-Street Lighting Consortium — The group of cities in this consortium receives data and information on LED lighting testing and training on LED street lights.