U-M survey finds sharp increase in energy efficiency steps among Michigan local governments

Half of Michigan’s local governments have taken steps to improve energy efficiency in their facilities-more than double the 22% who reported similar efforts a decade ago, according to a survey by the University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy.

Local governments also describe other efforts they’re taking to promote environmental sustainability, including 40% who say they have implemented sustainability programs targeted at their residents and another 40% who report changing their own work practices to improve sustainability.

"And they’re not done yet,” said Natalie Fitzpatrick, research area specialist at the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP) at the Ford School of Public Policy. "Among those who have already taken steps on energy efficiency, 72% say they will take further actions in the next couple of years.”

The data come from the Michigan Public Policy Survey, an ongoing survey of Michigan’s 1,856 local governments conducted by CLOSUP since 2009. The most recent survey received a 73% response rate from 1,364 jurisdictions.

"As we’ve tracked a range of policy topics over the last decade, one thing that has stood out is a pretty fundamental commitment to sustainability among Michigan’s local governments,” said said Tom Ivacko, interim director of CLOSUP. "But the magnitude of increased efforts we found in 2019 still surprised us.”

Among the survey’s other key findings:

  • Among a range of energy topics that local governments are actively discussing, the most common are utility-scale solar facilities (under discussion by 25% of jurisdictions statewide), utility-scale wind farms (22%) and rooftop or small-scale solar installations (21%).
  • Only 9% of jurisdictions have sustainability programs targeted at businesses, and just 13% are developing or purchasing energy from renewable sources.
  • A majority of Michigan’s local government leaders agree that promoting environmental sustainability and "being green” are important aspects of local government leadership, consistent with findings from 2013 and 2010.



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