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This project set out to understand key barriers to expanding compost programs in Ann Arbor, and to identify best practices to support the city in expanding these programs most effectively.
Ann Arbor’s composting facility, operated by WeCare Organics, has the capacity to expand composting to all current residents and businesses. However, if service were to be expanded to all households, the current mechanism for financing city composting programs is not sustainable. Under its current millage system, the city’s financing structure for composting does not facilitate opportunities for increased revenues. Additionally, low land ll tipping fees, challenges with the city Material Recovery Facility (MRF), and funding restrictions have further hindered the expansion of services.
Keywords: Composing, waste management, solid waste system, zero waste
Oroeco, a website and application-based service that allows users to track the climate impacts of their everyday decisions, recently launched a beta version of a new, interactive social platform that features sustainability ratings of individual publicly-traded companies. The Dow Sustainability Fellows team worked with Oroeco to develop a go-to-market strategy and improve the beta version of the platform. The goal of the platform is to promote sustainable corporate practices and to unlock more informed decision- making by mobilizing the interests of a range of stakeholders, including consumers, investors, and experts (including scholars and non-governmental organizations).
Keywords: Information management, carbon footprint, behavior, decision-making, climate impact assessment
Like many post-industrial cities, Detroit has an outdated and overburdened combined sewer system. In a combined sewer system, heavy rains overwhelm the city’s water treatment system, resulting in increased flooding and discharges of both sewage and stormwater into local rivers. In order to reduce combined sewer overflows (CSO), stormwater must enter the sewer system at a slower and steadier pace without high peaks caused by heavy rain events. In addition, Detroit has vast amounts of impervious surface, much of which is abandoned or underused, further contributing to stormwater runoff concerns.
Our project, in collaboration with Michigan Community Resources (MCR) and Eastside Community Network (ECN), explores whether a collective, place-based approach to green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) installations can result in joint stormwater credits towards fees in residential neighborhoods.
Keywords: Urban infrastructure, combined sewer system, flooding, sewage, stormwater, green infrastructure
Soy production has led to deforestation in multiple regions of Brazil, including the states of Mato Grosso and Pará. A combination of laws, such as the Forest Code (1965), and voluntary agreements, such as the Soy Moratorium (2006), have been implemented to slow the rate of deforestation due to soy production in the Amazon. Although the overall deforestation rate has declined in Brazil from 2004 to 2013, it has increased along the BR-163 highway, also known as the “Soy Corridor.”
Keywords: agro-industrialization, soy, deforestation, Brazil, Mato Grosso and Para region, rainforest
Urban, poverty-stricken, and disinvested communities are struggling to reliably and affordably secure the energy services they need. At the same time, the moral and economic case for distributed renewable energy technologies promises transformative change for how electricity is created and consumed. Soulardarity, a grassroots community organization centered in Highland Park, Michigan, is working to make this vision of energy democracy a reality. The Dow Sustainability Fellowship team partnered with Soulardarity to assess the feasibility of installing a community-owned and operated solar project in Highland Park.
Keywords: Solar energy, community, community power purchase agreement, solar co-op
Our Dow Sustainability Fellowship Program team (the Dow team) partnered with the Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) to investigate drinking water quality and affordability issues at the community level to better inform statewide efforts to empower citizens and address water access concerns. The locality of focus, Benton Harbor, Michigan, shares similarities to Flint, Michigan – a city thrust into the spotlight when lead contamination was discovered in its drinking water. Benton Harbor, like Flint, has experienced an economic depression, a strained city governance, and aging infrastructure.
Keywords: water, infrastructure, Michigan Environmental Council, City Planning
Fellow Mary Jones and Lanfei Liu from the U-M School for Environment and Sustainability share the team’s idea for a communication tool for the government and residents of Washtenaw County, MI to provide affordable housing recommendations for all income brackets.
The project team includes other fellows from U-M School of Public Health, School for Environment and Sustainability, U-M School of Information, U-M School of Social Work and U-M Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.
Keywords: Dow Sustainability Fellows Program at the University of Michigan, The Dow Chemical Company Foundation, fellowships, housing
Fellow Kenneth J. Fennell Jr. from the U-M Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy shares the team’s idea to increase accessibility to shared use mobile technologies for high risk, low-income communities in Detroit, MI by enacting Caravan, a social platform tool allowing users to find and access transportation.
The project team includes other fellows from Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, U-M School for Environment and Sustainability and U-M School of Social Work.
Keywords: Dow Sustainability Fellows Program at the University of Michigan, The Dow Chemical Company Foundation, fellowships, Detroit, transportation
Fellow Harry Wolberg from the U-M Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy shares the team’s idea for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and organic waste at U-M through a biodigester, a facility that captures the methane gas from decomposing waste to be used to generate renewable energy.
The project team includes other fellows from the U-M School for Environment and Sustainability, U-M Law School and U-M Stephen M. Ross School of Business.
Keywords: Dow Sustainability Fellows Program at the University of Michigan, The Dow Chemical Company Foundation, fellowships, waste reduction.
This article about the Crow House project highlights the effort to address both the need for energy efficient housing and access to healthy food. A University of Michigan (U-M) team of graduate students interested in urban socioecology developed the Crow House project. Inspired in part by the settlement house tradition popular at the turn of the 20th century, students began implementing a plan that focused on creating common ground for community and college collaboration among local activists, agencies, and scholars living in neighborhoods. Also, see the project summary.
Keywords: Dow Sustainability Fellowship Program, University of Michigan, Detroit