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.
The Laurentian Great Lakes are vulnerable to aquatic invasive species (AIS) which can affect native species by out-competing them for food and destroy their habitat. Historically, AIS have also impacted commercial and recreational activities in the region causing significant monetary costs. To date, approaches to managing invasive species have most often been reactive, rather than proactive, and implemented inconsistently across jurisdictions. In order to have an effective invasive species response, the authors conclude that agencies must have a plan that's coordinated with and integrated into a regional approach, possess or have access jointly to the necessary infrastructure and equipment, and be authorized and prepared to act collectively at appropriate scales. | Project Website
Mexico City is in a water crisis due to frequent flooding from increasingly intense storms during the rainy season. This water crisis poses imminent health, economic, and cultural consequences for the residents of this region. A Dow Fellows student team participated in a stakeholder mapping project in partnership with their client, Isla Urbana, a social enterprise in Mexico City dedicated to water sustainability through rainwater harvesting, to capture perspectives of those impacted by the City’s water crisis. The team finalized a sustainability strategy for Mexico City’s water sector that Isla Urbana will use to advise the Secretary of Environment.
Working with Doing Development Differently in Metro Detroit, a Dow Fellows student team assessed how the social, economic, and environmental benefits have developed from Detroit’s Community Benefits Ordinance (CBO). CBO’s are tools that ensure that developers confirm the community benefits from a project to prevent harmful development and planning decisions. The team researched large-scale development projects and compared two projects from before and two from after the passage of Detroit’s CBO. They analyzed their data and determined recommendations are needed to improve the CBO process with additional resources being allocated to improve the quality of public participation.
In order to build a more sustainable and socially-just community, decisions regarding urban planning should engage diverse stakeholders. Working with the Eastside Community Network, a non-profit community development organization, a Dow Fellows student team co-designed a green infrastructure plan with community members along the Mack Avenue Business District. The team is utilizing Land.info, a three-dimensional urban design visualization software tool, to aid in designing community green space. The project focuses on empowering the community members through a series of workshops to learn how to use the visualization tool and co-design community space. They hope to use the software to provide a common language for collaborative designing and decision-making and hope the software can be expanded for use in other cases.
The struggle for environmental justice in California began decades ago and continues today. Environmental justice results from community level actions that build power and models; influence the political process and secure unprecedented legislation; and implement cutting-edge programs. Progress has not been easy. Many challenges had to be overcome, and political opposition has been consistent. The resources described in this compilation are the result of leadership from many communities, sometimes in collaboration with public agencies and sometimes in tension. There have been some significant successes at the local, regional and state-wide levels. However, much more is needed to address the many challenges related to environmental injustice and the climate crisis if we are to build truly equitable, healthy and sustainable communities for the 21st century.
The University of Michigan (U-M) Graham Institute Undergraduate Sustainability Scholars Program provides unique opportunities to expand and explore your interests in sustainability while engaging in leadership training. In addition to taking a nine-credit sequence of courses and participating in co-curricular activities, students can receive up to $4,000 to pursue a field-based sustainability experience. This fact sheet provides an overview of the program requirements and application process. Learn more about the U-M Undergraduate Sustainability Scholars Program.
Keywords: Sustainability scholars, interdisciplinary, sustainability leadership, field-based experiences, co-curricular activities
Undergraduate Sustainability Scholars Program Fact Sheet:
The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is a quiet, rural area where you can escape the busyness of urban cities. Population density is low in the Upper Peninsula (UP), making energy transmission costs high and causing electricity rates to be among the highest in the United States. In Baraga, 33.2% of residents live below the poverty line, and a reduction in electricity rates would make a significant difference to them.
Joan Iverson Nassauer, Natalie R. Sampson, Noah J. Webster, Margaret Dewar, Shawn McElmurry, G. Allen Burton Jr., & Catherine Riseng.
A summary of refereed literature that addresses social and environmental performance and governance of GSI, and results of NEW-GI’s analyses of the performance of bioretention garden pilot sites in Detroit’s Warrendale neighborhood. This report integrates assessments of water quality, stormwater flows, residents’ preferences, neighborhood well-being, and the maintenance characteristics of 18 different design alternatives for GSI on vacant property in residential neighborhoods.