GVSU faculty, staff get energy saving incentive

Samantha Belcher

Now that winter is in full swing, the West Michigan Environmental Action Council is partnering with Grand Valley State University to provide local homeowners an in-home energy saving assessment, which will help conserve energy and save money on heating bills.

“The goal is to cut energy bills by 20 percent,” said Bart Bartels, project manager for GVSU’s Sustainable Community Development Initiative.

A contractor will assess homes to determine where homeowners can save energy. After the assessment, the contractor will give suggestions on how the residents can reduce their energy bills, as well as provide energy efficient light bulbs and faucet heads for homes that need them.

Selma Tucker, contract administrator and regional coordinator for BetterBuildings for Michigan, said the incentive was made possible by a nationally competitive $30 million federal grant, which was awarded to Grand Rapids by the U.S. Department of Energy.

“Grand Rapids has a strong commitment to sustainability,” said Tucker, a GVSU alumnus.

He added that BetterBuildings came to GVSU because it is a leader in sustainability.

BetterBuildings intends for these assessments to show the people of West Michigan how to spend less on their energy bills so they can spend more on other items.

“The goal is to build the energy efficiency market,” Tucker said, adding that he hopes to see more than 1,000 GVSU employees make their homes more efficient.

He advised residents to start lowering their energy bills by using programmable thermostats in their homes and turning down the temperature of hot water heaters. Homeowners can also close vents in unoccupied rooms and turn of electrical devices, such as televisions and lights, when they are not in use, he said.

For $100, GVSU faculty and staff members can have their home assessed by a private contractor hired by the city of Grand Rapids any time between Jan. 18 and May 1. In addition to the incentive, residents can send in a $75 rebate after the assessment.

Homeowners in certain Grand Rapids communities such as Oakdale, East Town and Riverside Park are also eligible for home assessment incentives based on where they live.

GVSU employees can sign up for a home assessment at www.bbmgr.org or by contacting Bart Bartels. Information tables will also be set up from Jan. 24 to Feb. 28 on the Allendale and Pew campuses. Tables will be at the University Club on the Pew campus from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. from Jan. 18 through 20. On the Allendale campus, tables will be available on Jan. 23 and 24 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and on January 25 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

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