The office of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce literally looks out over what Tim Daman, its President and CEO, believes will be an important part of his region’s future. In the park behind the chamber’s building, the Lansing Board of Water and Light recently finished expanding its solar array for a total of 817 energy panels that will triple the generating capacity.
The utility is not alone in investing in renewable energy. Several of the chamber’s other member companies are driving advanced energy practices, responding to increased demand from their customers. “We’re seeing a situation where business demand will help drive innovation in public policy on energy,” Daman said.
Daman says the trend toward energy innovation began several years ago when General Motors built a LEED gold assembly plant in Lansing Delta Township. At the time, the plant was the largest facility and the most complex manufacturing site to receive LEED certification.
Since then, the trend has accelerated with other leading chamber members engaging in clean energy work. Examples include the Christman Company, which is the general contractor for a $100 million LEED specified Energy Star rated expansion of a corporate headquarter building for Jackson National Life Insurance Company.
Additional energy efficient/LEED projects are being led by Granger Construction and Wieland-Davco Corporation, both national construction companies headquartered in Lansing. Clark Construction Company recently finished work on Michigan’s first LEED platinum net zero school, which will produce as much energy as it uses.
And Consumers Energy, the region’s largest utility, is nearing completion of a 105-megawatt wind farm that will allow the utility to meet a state requirement that it obtain a minimum of 500 megawatts of new capacity from renewable energy resources by the end of 2015.
All of this activity is leading Daman and his chamber colleagues to begin to think in new ways about how to refocus the region’s branding. Having moved past the “Rust Belt” characterization of the past, Lansing can now promote a new story of how area businesses are revitalizing the region’s world-renown manufacturing infrastructure.
“As energy infrastructure ages and coal plants go offline across the country, it is critically important to have new and diversified sources of power to provide for a stable business environment,” Daman said. “As chamber member companies build better infrastructure and install more diversified sources of energy, Lansing can better recruit new businesses to the area.”