The UniverCities Story, Part 3: The Energy Savings Protocol

On the heels of the June 2009 inaugural meeting, the Millennial Mayors Congress adopted fiscal and environmental sustainability as its first official focus. The issue exemplified the benefits of partnership between young people and elected leaders. City officials sought to save their town money, while Millennials voiced their generation’s growing consciousness of climate change and enthusiasm for solutions to environmental crises. Both proved more than ready to jettison the old notion that these causes were somehow at odds. “The economic future that young people want,” said Madison Heights Millennial Andy Wakeland, “is one in which environmental sustainability and economic development go hand-in-hand.”

To bring about that future, the Congress drafted an Energy Savings Protocol that would commit participating cities (above) to reduce municipal energy consumption from non-renewable sources 15 percent from 2005 levels by 2015, and sought a 5 percent reduction from the community at large. The previous year, the State of Michigan had adopted its own energy efficiency goals, requiring a 25 percent reduction from 2002 levels in state buildings by 2015. As of 2010, the state had already hit the 23 percent mark. Since local governments have limited staff to implement energy conservation programs, however, meeting our goals is a bigger challenge than it’s been for the state.

That’s where this summer’s UniverCities Connection interns come in. Now that cities have less than four years to generate substantial energy savings, the interns are racing to advise metro Detroit governments on how best to do the job. They’re crunching the cities’ energy data to check out their performance so far, reviewing conservation and climate protection strategies implemented by other communities, and consolidating energy program management in the City of Southgate.

This concludes our three-part UniverCities history series. It’s time we learned more about the interns themselves.

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