The Michigan State Parks System has an expansive network of outdoor spaces, forests, and lakes that offer numerous recreational opportunities to Michiganders. The parks system has been facing increasing costs for over a decade to keep up with maintenance, improvements, and shifting demographics. The current funding sources are enough to cover operational costs, but not the increasing cost of capital maintenance projects due to park usage trends. Working with The Nature Conservancy, a Dow Fellows team examined short- and long-term solutions that could be implemented to increase park revenue generation so the parks can be more self-sustaining. They helped reassess the parks system’s revenue model. A short-term recommendation includes implementing a fee-for-service business model, such as charging park goers for sunscreen or camp showers. A long-term solution includes investing in more urban parks for those who live in metro Detroit.
Opportunity zones are designed to spur economic development and job creation in underserved communities by providing tax benefits to investors. They are designated by state governors and approved by the federal government in an attempt to address poverty. A Dow Fellow team conducted an analysis of how states engage with and capitalize on opportunity zone incentives. They completed five case studies, focusing on California, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Arizona, and Ohio. They found that each state varies in its strategy to attract investment and in the opportunity zone policies. Some state governments actively seek opportunity zone investment, while others passively allow the market to govern what types of investments will occur. Non-profits in some states also support opportunity zone use through various community engagement measures. However, it is unclear how much money is actually funneled into opportunity zones.
Carbon sequestration is the process by which carbon dioxide is removed or stored to reduce the effects of climate change. Forests are considered an important factor in storing carbon, and the carbon sink potential, the degree to which carbon dioxide is absorbed through natural processes, of Michigan forests can be quite large. A Dow Fellows team worked with the Michigan Chapter of The Nature Conservancy to explore the possibility of selling sequestered carbon in the form of carbon credits from improved forest management strategies in the Michigan State Forest system. The team completed multiple interviews to gain a baseline knowledge of how carbon offset markets work. They developed a set of recommendations for the state of Michigan to pursue carbon offsets. This work can serve as a template for other states to implement carbon offsets.
The Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan is rural and residents are experiencing significant food insecurity. A Dow Fellows team worked with the Western Upper Planning and Development Region (WUPPDR) and the Western UP Food Systems Council to advance sustainable food systems planning in the region. To develop a comprehensive plan for the region, the team created individual community health profiles to better understand the needs of the community concerning access to food. The Dow team also developed a food systems planning tool kit for local municipalities. They created a Master Planning Addendum Template that can serve as a prelude to a food policy section of a city or county master plan. They also developed a Food Policy Master Planning Catalog to assist WUPPDR in engaging with local food systems planners who wish to incorporate aspects of sustainability into their food systems.
Many utility companies, such as DTE and Consumers Energy, are looking to expand solar energy production on brownfields to reach Michigan’s renewable electricity standard of 15% renewables by 2021. Brownfields are contaminated land areas that are difficult or impossible to use for farmland, residential, or commercial development. While there are benefits to using brownfields, several challenges exist with renewable energy development on brownfields. Working with the Michigan Land Bank Authority, A Dow Sustainability Fellows student team developed some potential solutions to recognize the environmental and economic benefits of solar development on brownfields. The team performed interviews with key stakeholders that hold a wide range of knowledge related to the electricity sector, brownfields, and solar energy development in Michigan.
This case study describes a 1.3 MW solar energy installation located in Coldwater, Michigan, on the site of a demolished foundry. A prime example of brownfield redevelopment for renewable energy, it is a 7-acre project that deploys nearly 5,000 solar panels—generating enough electricity to power roughly 150 homes. The project became operational in February 2018. The case study is one of four produced by a 2019 Dow Fellows team.
This case study describes a 430,000 kW solar energy installation located in East Lansing, Michigan, on the site of a retired, capped landfill. A prime example of brownfield redevelopment for renewable energy, it is a 1-acre project on a 2.7-acre site that deploys 1,000 solar panels—generating enough electricity to power roughly 60 homes. The project became operational in December 2018. The case study is one of four produced by a 2019 Dow Fellows team.
This case study describes a ½ MW solar energy installation located in Cadillac, Michigan, on the site of a manufacturing facility destroyed by fire in 2013. A prime example of brownfield redevelopment for renewable energy, it is a 5-acre project on a 20-acre site that required remediation of rubble, lead, PCE, and asbestos. The project is expected to become operational in 2020. The case study is one of four produced by a 2019 Dow Fellows team.
This case study describes a 2.44 MW solar energy installation located in O’Shea Park, in the Grandale neighborhood of Detroit, Michigan. The site is a 20-acre park housing a 9.6-acre project. It will produce enough electricity to power roughly 450 homes. The case study is one of four produced by a 2019 Dow Fellows team.
This fact sheet compares the impacts of two renewable energy projects—one solar, one wind—proposed for the same area: Shiawassee County, Michigan. The county ultimately developed zoning regulations that would permit the solar project as proposed, but would not allow the wind project as proposed. Some of the most important factors they took into consideration are presented in this fact sheet.