Posts Tagged ‘Jordan Garfinkle’

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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Revolving Energy Loan Funds Pay It Forward in Michigan Cities, and Could Go Regional in Detroit

August 5, 2011

Ka-ching! Ann Arbor's fund proved a sure bet. (City of Ann Arbor)

As Jordan Eizenga’s data mining showed us, energy efficiency upgrades can save cities big money. The initial investment required can be an obstacle, though. Those lighting upgrades in Hazel Park and Madison Heights were paid for by federal grants, but how can cash-strapped cities sustain their energy efficiency campaigns after outside funds run out? Energy policy intern Jordan Garfinkle’s research has turned up an answer.

Revolving loan funds are a simple financial device for recapturing the savings recouped by energy efficiency projects. For a certain period of time, the money saved gets shoveled back into an account that will fund additional energy conservation or renewable energy initiatives, helping cities overcome the up-front costs. The money saved in the next round gets put back into the fund, too, where it can be used for more projects, so the sustainability action never stops – at least not until atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide are back to normal and our cities are net generators of electricity.

How UM fund recycles the green. (University of Michigan)

Some places in metro Detroit are already climbing on board the revolving loan fund bandwagon, according to Jordan’s research. Ann Arbor started its Municipal Energy Fund with a $100,000 allocation in 1998. 80% of the subsequent energy savings went back to the Fund, and in five years it was self-sustaining. The City of Farmington Hills just made the first deposit in its Energy and Sustainability Account. And the University of Michigan’s Energy Conservation Measures Fund has been around for almost a quarter-century.

Since many of Detroit’s older suburbs are relatively small, they could see the greatest gains by joining forces to create a shared revolving loan fund. “In general,” Jordan writes, “the larger, regional funds with numerous member communities offer many of the benefits of smaller funds without the administrative burden associated with managing a revolving loan fund,” while also offering “augmented purchasing power.” Could the Michigan Suburbs Alliance’s Regional Energy Office get such a regional fund started before long? It’s too early for us to say now, but stay tuned.

Jordan Garfinkle Wants You to Get Empowered: Join Us This Thursday for Energy Action

August 2, 2011

For more than two months, you’ve been reading about our interns’ work to define a new energy future for metro Detroit. Are you ready to stand up and join them?

Jordan shows off Ypsilanti's solar panels, drawing on an energy source that never runs out of juice.

This Thursday, August 4, energy policy intern Jordan Garfinkle is hosting an open discussion about the energy challenges facing metro Detroit, policy options for local governments and how young people can make their voices heard to define a greener, more prosperous future. It’s happening at the ultra-mod Ferndale Public Library, 222 E. Nine Mile, from 7:30-8:30 pm. Find the event page here.

The event will describe ways that young people can help Millennial Mayors Congress cities work to achieve their 2015 energy conservation goals. “Our region’s youth,” Jordan states, “are in a remarkable position to effect change.” Collective action by Millennials may be the force we require to re-energize the region. Given Jordan’s years of experience with climate advocacy, and the knowledge of the region he’s gained this summer, we could hardly ask for a savvier guide.

While there are no official plans for an afterparty, Jordan notes slyly that while the event is scheduled to end at 8:30 pm, he’s reserved the room until 9, so you might not want to leave too soon. “The organic juice tap will be flowing,” he says. Meet us there to make yourself a part of the solution!

Ypsilanti Rising: Jordan Garfinkle Finds Local Flavor at Farmers Market

June 30, 2011

UniverCities Connection intern Jordan Garfinkle believes that southeast Michigan’s communities have “enormous potential,” potential that we can fulfill by recognizing that “economic and environmental issues are often inextricable.” Studying at the UM School of Natural Resources & Environment, he didn’t find many chances to get away from campus. This summer, researching energy policy at the Ypsilanti office of the Michigan Suburbs Alliance, Jordan has found that interest in a green economy exists well beyond the books.

No "loafing" for this intern.

Last week, Jordan spotted the crate brought to work by Richard “Murph” Murphy, transportation programs director at the Suburbs Alliance, and realized there might be a farmers market in the vicinity. Murph confirmed that he had just picked up some produce from the Downtown Ypsilanti Farmers Market. Like any good student of sustainable food systems, Jordan decided to follow his example and walk over to Ferris Street.

The market operates 2-6 pm each Wednesday.

While not as large as its Ann Arbor counterpart, the Ypsilanti market excels in other ways. Garlic farmers Dick and Diana Dyer summed up the friendly, relaxed atmosphere, calling it “the most fun farmers market that we go to.” And who wouldn’t have fun presiding over 14 different varieties of garlic scapes?

Garlic scapes from Dyer Family Farms.

Jordan returned to the office with bread made from 100% Michigan ingredients and baked at the nearby Ypsilanti Food Co-op across the river. “Good things come in small packages,” he observed. Like Jordan, lots of Michigan’s young people are looking to live simply and sustainably, enriching their communities and their environment through what University of Michigan professor Thomas Princen calls the “logic of sufficiency.” UniverCities Connection is helping them find that older cities like Ypsilanti, once a hub for aircraft and auto manufacturing, offer a bountiful harvest of opportunities to redefine their American dreams.