Staying Warm: Largest Energy Efficiency Standards in History

For Friday, Jan. 22, 2016

1 – State policies to spur renewable energy have billions in benefits.

A new study estimates $2.2 billion in national benefits from reduced greenhouse gas emissions due to state renewable portfolio standards, like one in Michigan that ended in 2015.


Find the report here

Another $5.2 billion in benefits came from national reductions in other air pollution.

The U.S. Department of Energy report looked at policies in effect during 2013.

Michigan’s 10 percent by 2015 standard for renewable energy was signed into law in 2008, and resulted in the construction of numerous wind farms, primarily in the Thumb region.

The report also shows national water withdrawals were reduced by 830 billion gallons and consumption was cut by 27 billion gallons.

Although the study takes a national view, the authors say many of the associated benefits and impacts were highly regional.

For example, the economic benefits from air pollution reductions were associated mostly with reduced sulfur dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants and were concentrated primarily in areas including the Great Lakes.

– Fact Sheet

2 – Up to $5 million is available for local governments, nonprofits and other organizations to restore and enhance habitat in the Great Lakes basin.

Sustain Our Great Lakes, a public-private partnership, is taking pre-proposals until Feb. 17 for the funding.

Full proposals are due by April 21.

The program will award grants for on-the-ground habitat improvements.

The focus in this round is on improving the quality and connectivity of streams, riparian zones and coastal wetlands.

Preference will be given to projects designed to improve populations of species of conservation concern, including … native migratory fish such as brook trout and lake sturgeon, and marsh-spawning fish such as northern pike.


Northern pike. Credit: Kelly Sikkema

Preference will also be given to projects that reduce sediment and nutrient loading to streams and other waters.

Up to $5 million is expected to be available for grant awards in 2016, with funding from partners including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

3 – It’s important to keep buildings warm in the winter.

And the cost and environmental impact of winter warmth will decline in coming years.

A U.S. agency has launched the largest energy efficiency standards in history.

They apply to commercial air conditioners and furnaces, used in buildings such as schools, restaurants, big-box stores and small offices.

It’s estimated that the changes will save more energy than any other standard ever issued by the U.S. Department of Energy.


Staying warm. Credit: Jeff Kart

Over the lifetime of the products, businesses will save $167 billion on utility bills and carbon pollution will be cut by 885 million metric tons, the energy department says.

The new air conditioning and furnace standards will occur in two phases.

The first will begin in 2018, with a 13 percent efficiency improvement in products.

Five years later, an additional 15% increase in efficiency is required.

The standards were developed in a rulemaking process with industry, utilities, and environmental groups.

– Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

Follow @jeffkart on Twitter #MrGreatLakes


Beat the Micro Bead, Register for the Great Lakes Bowl, and Comment on the Clean Water Act

The Environment Report, with Mr. Great Lakes (Jeff Kart). As heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM. For Nov. 1, 2013:

1- Wash your face, but don’t pollute the lakes. 

great lakes microbeads 5 gyres study


One of the latest threats to the Great Lakes are microplastics, or those tiny beads found in household beauty products.

They may help clean your complexion, but they are apparently ending up in the lakes, bypassing steps taken to treat wastewater, because they slip through the screens. Not only are they unsightly, but they can accumulate toxic substances and be mistaken as food by fish.

So what’s a skin-caring person to do?

Enter “Beat the Micro Bead.” It’s a free app for your smartphone. It lets you scan barcodes. It tells you if the product you want to use contains microbeads, and whether the maker of the product has vowed by phase out the plastics.

The app was released this week in conjunction with a Great Lakes plastics study from the 5 Gyres group.

The study found high concentrations of microplastics in the Great Lakes, more than most ocean samples collected worldwide.

2 – Dec. 1 is the registration deadline for the Great Lakes Bowl.

This isn’t a football game. It’s a science question-and-answer competition, for high school students.

Standish-Sterling Central High School was on the list of teams in 2013. The Bowl is a regional competition that’s part of the Nation Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB).

In 2014, the Great Lakes Bowl will be held on Feb. 1 at the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment in Ann Arbor. The national competition is in Seattle in May.

The Great Lakes Bowl is limited to 16 high school teams. The deadline to register, again, is Dec. 1.

3 – The Clean Water Act needs comments.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released a draft science advisory report on protecting streams and wetlands.

The National Wildlife Federation has put together a tool to allow people submit comments directly to the Federal Register on the Clean Water Act rules.

The public comment period ends Nov. 6.

The campaign is aimed at strengthening protections for streams and wetlands that surround the Great Lakes.

Streams and wetlands are important because they help support healthy ecosystems and filter out pollutants.


Solar Shingles Expand Home Market, BaySail Nears Milestone, and New Life for Coastal Wetland

Mr. Great Lakes. As heard Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM Friday Edition, at 9 a.m. Eastern …

Photo by Eric Dobis

Photo by Eric Dobis

1 .
Dow Solar has announced a major expansion in the availability of its Powerhouse Solar Shingles.

Homeowners can now purchase the shingles through Kearns Bros., based in Dearborn, and Cobblestone Homes, based in Linwood, according to the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association.

Powerhouse shingles protect like a standard shingle, but also have embedded solar cells to help power a home. They are made in Midland by Dow Solar, a business unit of the Dow Chemical Co.

Cobblestone is featuring the shingles on new model homes in the mid-Michigan region.

According to Dow, Kearns Bros. in Dearborn will service the re-roof market.

Homeowners who need a new roof can upgrade to a Powerhouse roof. The system costs more than a standard asphalt roof, but pays for itself over time through energy savings, and adds to the value of a home.


BaySail in Bay City is nearing a milestone.

The nonprofit, which offers sailing and environmental education aboard to two Appledore schooners, has hosted nearly 40,000 students in 15 years of operation.

BaySail launched its Science Under Sail program in 1998, and since then has educated 37,969 students, according to leaders.

That amounts to 1,186 classes from elementary through high school that have come aboard two tall ships operated by program staff and volunteers.

The ships are docked on the Saginaw River and journey to Saginaw Bay and other parts of the Great Lakes.

A goal of BaySail is to activate the passion of the next generation by helping young people make direct connections to the natural world.

Students who come aboard the ships for science-based programs are often experiencing the Great Lakes for the first time.

BaySail also offers a regular schedule of public sails.

You can find out more at

3 .

A new pump is giving new life to a large coastal wetland in Pinconning.

The pump replaces a failed pump structure at the Nayanquing Point State Wildlife Area in northern Bay County.

The new equipment can be used to manipulate water levels in a 298-acre marsh at the site.

Nayanquing Point consists of about 1,400 acres of coastal marsh and associated upland habitats along Saginaw Bay.

It provides habitat for thousands of migratory birds in the spring and fall. The 298-acre marsh area is managed to provide waterfowl hunting opportunities.

Ducks Unlimited received a nearly $200,000 federal grant for the project from the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.


What’s in Your Water? & How Wetlands Help (Video)

As heard on Friday Edition, Jan. 27, 2012, at @9 AM Eastern. A radio transcript with video? Yes!

photo documentary coastal wetlands great lakes video capture

Screen capture

Glass Half Full?

What’s in your drinking water?

If you live in this region, your tap water most likely comes from Saginaw Bay, via a water treatment plant.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has just released a tool with information about pollutants that are released into local waterways.

The Discharge Monitoring tool allows you to search and map water pollution by local area, watershed, company, industry sector, and pollutant.

Searches using the tool result in “Top Ten” lists that identify facilities and industries that are discharging the most pollution, and what water bodies are impacted.

So to answer the question, top pollutants discharged to the waters in Bay City include ammonia, chlorine and phosphorus.

You can search your city at

WaterLogged Wetland

Michigan researchers are the subject of an environmental documentary.

Film crews recently followed scientists from Central Michigan University and the University of Notre Dame as part of a documentary on efforts to preserve and restore Great Lakes coastal wetlands.

Wetlands serve as a filter for pollution before it enters the Great Lakes.

They also provide breeding and migratory habitat for wildlife, and can be crucial for flood control.

About half of the historic coastal wetlands in the Great Lakes have been lost, according to CMU’s Institute for Great Lakes Research.

The university is leading a $10 million federal research project to protect coastal wetlands in the lakes.

CMU and other universities involved are measuring the ecosystem health of every coastal wetland in the Great Lakes basin, and searching for trends in health and water quality.

Researchers from a total of 10 universities have been collecting samples of water, vegetation, invertebrates, fish, amphibians and birds.


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