Posts Tagged ‘Jordan Eizenga’

Interns’ Labors Leave a Stronger, More Sustainable Metro Detroit

August 22, 2011

Southgate was just one of the cites where interns made their mark...

Threescore and some days ago, our interns entered the ranks of the UniverCities Connection program. Now, as the days grow shorter, they’re bidding us adieu and headed back to school or, in Jordan Eizenga’s case, moving on to post-college life. The offices of the Suburbs Alliance will be a little emptier without them.

Don’t shed too many tears, though, for there’s much they’ve accomplished. Their regional climate and energy work this summer testifies to the power of tapping young minds from Michigan’s universities to take on the challenges of its cities.

...leaving them greener (hoop house, Highland Park)...

Stephanie assembled a strategy library that the cities of Ypsilanti, Southgate and Hazel Park will use to build individualized climate action plans. It includes more than two dozen entries on everything from A (anaerobic digesters) to W (wind power), detailing energy savings, ancillary benefits, funding and implementation mechanisms, and real-life examples for each strategy.

Jordan Eizenga tunneled through reams of municipal energy bills to assemble data on total energy consumption for the nine cities that have adopted the Millennial Mayors Congress Energy Protocol. Now, for the first time, this data gives them a yardstick to measure their progress towards the Protocol’s 25%-by-2015 energy use reduction goal.

Jordan Garfinkle used his energy expertise to write policy briefs describing how the cities can meet that target. Do they need to know the relative merits of community-based and corporate energy strategies, or learn what conservation strategies have been working for other Michigan cities? It’s all here.

Michael participated in what sometimes seemed like every aspect of Southgate city government. Whether digging up energy records, manning City offices, discussing regional initiatives, or directing traffic, Michael reveled in the “extreme glut of things that need to be done,” and did them with gusto.

...and more vibrant (Crossroads Festival, Ypsilanti, outside MSA office).

The interns’ work struck at “the real meat of environmentalism in local policy,” in Jordan E.’s words. These young people have made the region’s first collaborative effort to curb energy use possible. Putting their university training to work outside the ivory tower, they’ve done what cities couldn’t accomplish on their own. The Millennial Mayors Congress and Regional Energy Office will ensure their work doesn’t sit on a shelf, but reverberates far into the future, as cities establish mechanisms for meeting the Energy Protocol and pilot local climate plans.

Just as important, though, is how the summer’s work has sustained and strengthened the interns themselves. Don’t go yet; we’ll be checking in on them later this week!

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Electric Detective: In Hazel Park and Madison Heights, Intern Finds That Energy Efficiency Pays

July 29, 2011

Eizenga: bringing energy to account in metro Detroit.

Energy data intern Jordan Eizenga has been on the hunt for weeks. His quarry? Metro Detroit cities’ electrical bills of years past. It’s taken plenty of sleuthing to find them, but the search is finally bearing fruit. Data from Hazel Park and Madison Heights show that energy conservation measures undertaken by these cities are reaping big rewards for city budgets—and the planet.

In Madison Heights, the baseball field lights at Rosie Park and Huffman Park got swapped for more efficient models as part of a $124,000 federal energy efficiency grant secured by the Southeast Michigan Regional Energy Office. City officials hoped the upgrade would give them “a good start” towards meeting the 25%-by-2015 conservation goal of the Millennial Mayors Congress’s Energy Savings Protocol.

Rosie's Park, Madison Heights. (Bill Walsh)

Jordan’s research shows that the new lights are paying off. Electrical use in Rosie’s Park has fallen by more than 25%, from 96 to 71 kilowatt-hours per day. That adds up to $435 in savings in one year. In smaller Huffman Park, the City cut energy use 15%, for nearly $100 in savings. That’s nothing to sneeze at, and it’s just the initial return.

To the south, the City of Hazel Park also took advantage of the energy grants. There, efficiency improvements at the fire station netted 12% reductions in electrical consumption. The money saved by these upgrades could help the City hold on to its force of firefighters instead. We’d certainly choose that over heating up the atmosphere!

Fire station, Hazel Park. (Jordan Eizenga)

Once it’s collected and analyzed, Jordan says, energy savings data can help cities decide how to direct their future investments and secure the 15%-by-2015 energy reduction outlined in the Protocol, “so the benefits of doing this work and being diligent with it really compound over time.” His hard work has been essential. “With all the challenges that cities are facing right now, it’s difficult for them to focus on activities with long-term payoffs like collecting data for energy efficiency,” he says, and assistance from interns working on a regional level “really helps take a load off local governments.”

Now that Jordan’s shed some light on the subject for them, these cities will ultimately be able to lighten their energy load, too.

In Highland Park, A Region Raises a Hoop House

July 6, 2011

A barn-raising in the heart of Detroit? That’s certainly what it felt like as activists from across the region gathered in Highland Park on Sunday, June 26, to construct a 2000-square-foot hoop house from plastic sheeting and metal tubes. This solar-powered greenhouse can grow food year-round—even in Michigan winters. Armed with the right equipment, it doesn’t take more than a day to construct one. As UniverCities Energy Data Intern Jordan Eizenga and other Suburbs Alliance staff found, it does take a number of willing hands.

Jordan Eizenga is framed by the house's metal structure.

Jordan (not to be confused with Energy Policy Intern Jordan G.) found lending his hands easy enough. He moved to Ferndale this summer to be near the Suburbs Alliance main office, and biked the few short miles along Woodward Avenue from Ferndale to help build the house. The site was behind the Green Economy Leadership Training (GELT) house near Woodward and McNichols. A branch of a national youth network organizing for solutions to global climate change, GELT seeks to give young people a holistic understanding of the transition to a sustainable, community-scaled economy through neighborhood projects like the hoop house.

Things heat up in the hoop house's interior.

By late morning, most of the metal hoops that formed the hoop house’s structure were already in place, and the lot was a hive of activity. Builders included master hoop-house mechanic Jeff McCabe, co-founder of Ann Arbor’s SELMA Café, Margaret Lewis, publisher of the Highland Park-based Legacy News, and scores of others from the block, the neighborhood and the greater region. Now that’s metropolitan cooperation in action! While at rest, the group traded farming tips and enjoyed impromptu rapping from the youngest attendees.

The plastic sheeting has been hauled into place.

“Billow it!” As the sun sank lower, the team gathered on either side of the curving metal frame to push and pull the plastic walls of the house into place, sending ripples through the giant sheets to carry them over the top. Slowly, under the careful hands of Jordan and two dozen others, the double sheets slid down to meet the wooden frame near the ground. What had been empty space open to the elements at dawn became a warmer interior where plants will grow come winter.

Collective celebration with the help of a timpani.

There’s much more to be done before the hoop house produces its first crops. For Jordan and the other six Suburbs Alliance staff on hand, though, the day was an inspiring confirmation that people from all over the area can come together to build a healthier, greener and tastier future. Working cooperatively, the group built in one day what a single person couldn’t have constructed alone. Metro Detroit needs to bring that lesson to a regional scale: we’re stronger together.