The City of Holland hosted a city commission meeting last Thursday, May 5. This meeting included a presentation by Peter Garforth, hired by the city of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works to present his findings in regards to Holland’s energy future. Garforth, former Owens Corning executive and head of an energy consulting firm, developed the Community Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy Plan (CEP) in response to the need for a sustainable future for the lakeshore community. He emphasized that the ideas in the CEP are just that, ideas. They are very much preliminary and only suggestions in the process of Holland’s decision.
Goals of energy competiveness, security and the environmental impact were discussed in regards to the estimated future residential growth of Holland, forecasted from a current 33, 100 to 41,100 over the next 40 years.
The estimated population growth will inevitably increase energy demands, which will cause greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to rise, as well. According to projected data, the GHG evolution for the City of Holland in 2050 would be about 38 metric tons per capita, which is higher than the United States and EU projected average. The plans proposed by the CEP would drop these levels to as low as 9 tons per capita.
The CEP’s official mission is to:
“Enhance City attractiveness to investors, businesses and residents through cost effective, reliable clean energy supply.”
Providing residents with local, reliable energy is the goal of CEP. More specifically, creating energy that is cheaper than neighboring communities, making sure it is compatible with the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, keeping the industry flexible to changing market legislature, technologies and fuel costs, and striving to be leaders in forming regional energy productivity strategy.
The framework of CEP takes a sensible approach of don’t fix it if it isn’t broken, and if it is, try to find a carbon-free solution.
Three Future Scenarios
Garforth proposed three scenarios for Holland’s future, each focusing on efficiency and detailing the allocation of energy standards and regulations to increase sustainability for the community.
Scenerio A focuses on homes and buildings. This proposal includes energy efficiency packages for Holland Single Family homes, energy performance labeling similar to current Energy Star labels, supporting alternative fuel usage and more efficient transportation requiring new construction be sustainable, and considering district-wide heating.
Scenerios B and C include the benefits of scenario A as well as various ways of increasing alternative fuel production and usage.
If Garforth’s plans are implemented, the Holland community would see not only reduced GHG emissions and positive environmental impacts, but higher property values, lower utility costs, competitive energy services and the addition of high-quality industrial jobs, just to name a few.
Holland would also gain a competitive advantage from neighboring towns and cities, which would come with any type of energy efficiency implementation. Since the popular ‘less is more’ benefits are mostly seen in the outcomes, starting the process earlier will net more business and revenue sooner.
Garforth’s ideas will help the city decide which direction to take Holland, but energy solutions and implementation will ultimately lie with the Holland City Council, the Board of Public Works, and the people of Holland.
Public Outreach and Plan Dissemination
Spreading the word about this plan and beginning new, sustainable energy innovations needs to begin in the community: at local churches, schools, watering holes and town centers.
In light of Garforth’s significant findings, the City of Holland should begin a community discussion about a cleaner and more sustainable energy future.