New Ann Arbor 2030 district will cut energy use in half for participating properties

An effort to establish a collaborative, energy-saving district among Ann Arbor's commercial properties is moving forward with plans to launch by the end of the year.

Modeled after similar districts in cities including Seattle, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Austin, Ann Arbor's 2030 District is a private-public partnership aimed at reducing energy and water use and vehicle emissions by 50 percent districtwide by the year 2030.

"The district creates an ongoing engagement led by the private sector, so [members] can direct efforts where they feel they need it most," says Bonnie Bona, project manager with the Ann Arbor nonprofit Clean Energy Coalition (CEC).

CEC is overseeing the district's formation and recruiting property owners, service providers, and community stakeholders to officially launch the district, currently classified as "Emerging," by December 2017.

Participation is voluntary, and Bona says all parties stand to gain from involvement. Service providers like architects, engineers, contractors, and suppliers can anticipate new business opportunities; property owners, managers, and developers can benefit from increased competition among providers, offering more solutions and competitive pricing; and tenants will get upgraded spaces with lower utility bills.

Participating property owners and management companies so far include QR Management, Sun Baths, Jones Lang LaSalle, Bivouac, Shaffran Companies, and MAVDevelopment.

While other 2030 Districts have been launched with the help of grants from federal programs and large local foundations, Bona says Ann Arbor's model is a little different.

"The interest by local professionals providing many small contributions was a more viable approach after attempting the larger sources without success," she says.

The district recently received a $15,000 matching grant from Architecture 2030 and Summit Foundation after securing local commitments from several local contributors.

Some of those committed funds are from partnering service providers, which must become district members and pay membership dues to be eligible to work on enhancing member properties.

A series of events is also being planned throughout the year to highlight properties that are already making progress, as well as the the teams behind them.
Eric Gallippo is an Ypsilanti-based freelance writer.
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