In an effort to increase their presence as a green building, Michigan Energy Options, a local non-profit organization dedicated to environmental and energy conservation, is updating its amenities and attempting to become more beneficial to the East Lansing community.
The building, located at 405 Grove St., is leased to Michigan Energy Options by the city of East Lansing, and a lease renewal for the building was approved at East Lansing City Council’s Aug. 23 work session, said Lori Mullins, community and economic development administrator for the city of East Lansing .
The structure is a demonstration house, offering both walk-in and scheduled tours to give community members ideas for how to make their own homes greener, said Bruce Wheaton, commercial and residential energy programs manager for Michigan Energy Options.
Wheaton said improvements will include many different changes to both the interior and exterior of the building, such as creating a “green roof” display showing examples of environmentally friendly roofing, shading and protecting the windows, improving accessibility, adding bike parking and installing a rain garden to capture water from the rain to use for plant watering.
Mullins said the organization is looking to obtain certification from an internationally recognized green energy certification system entitled Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. The certification would place the structure on the national map as an energy conscious building, Mullins said. The certification is based on a 100-point scale, grading buildings on sustainability, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources and indoor environmental quality.
The organization was started in East Lansing in the 1970s and has a second demonstration office in Marquette, Mich., Wheaton said. About 30,000 people come through the East Lansing location each year.
Michigan Energy Options has received more phone calls and visits than usual in the past year and attributes this increase to new interests in bringing environmental sustainability to the home.
“I think the interest in becoming more energy efficient and becoming more environmentally friendly is rising,” Wheaton said.
Mullins said having such a unique offering in the East Lansing community was beneficial to students and residents because the amenities offered by Michigan Energy Options not only help people become more environmentally friendly but also saves them money on home energy costs.
“It’s about conserving energy and also about saving money. … If you can save money on energy costs, housing is more affordable,” she said. “(Michigan Energy Options is) a great asset to the community.”
Karl Brunsman, a general management senior, said he had never heard of the building before but thought the concept of Michigan Energy Options was a good commodity for East Lansing to have. Because of an increased interest in energy conservation, Brunsman said it might become a greater interest to MSU students as time goes on.
“I can see it becoming more of a big deal over the years because of the way Michigan State promotes green energy,” he said.