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SoundOffSignal investing in $6.1 million expansion, adding 100 Jobs

By: Ivy Hughes

Emergency vehicle product provider SoundOff Signal, is investing $6.1 million over the next seven years to expand its Jamestown Charter Township facility.

The expansion will accommodate SoundOff Signal’s new project, which involves the production of Hilux LED lighting systems. SoundOff Signal plans to provide Hilux for parking lights, streetlights and municipal lights, among other markets.

“Our experience with emergency vehicles and LED technology combined with our experience in design lighting, propelled us into this new area of green lighting,” says Mark Litke, president and CEO of SoundOff Signal.

SoundOff Signal plans to add 100 jobs over the next seven years to accommodate the new project. The state approved a $1.4 million tax credit over seven years to help SoundOff Signal defray project costs. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) will also provide a $25,000 job-training grant.

“I would say the talent here is good,” says Thomas Roe, SoundOff Signal CFO. “It’s an emerging industry so we’re doing things people haven’t done.”

Roe says SoundOff Signal was looking to move to China.

“We’re trying to launch a product quickly and it helps using in house talent to do that,” Roe says about SoundOff Signal’s decision to stay in the state.

Source: Chelsea Nimiac, DP Company

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains, a sister publication of Rapid Growth covering growth in Lansing, Michigan.

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com.


Right Place brings $460M capital, 8,400 jobs to West Michigan; increases planned through 2013

By: Deborah Johnson Wood

Every five years throughout its 25-year existence, Right Place Inc. sets a five-year strategic plan outlining goals for regional economic development and jobs retention/creation. The Strategic Plan 2009-2013 unveiled recently, if successful, will establish unprecedented capital investment in West Michigan and create thousands more jobs.

Here are the measurable accomplishments of the most recent strategic plan that wrapped up in 2008:

  • Capital investment, goal $340 million. Actual: $467 million.
  • New-payroll, goal $75 million. Actual: $228 million.
  • Jobs created/retained, goal 4,500. Actual: 8,366.
  • Companies assisted, goal 2,000. Actual: 2,332.

The 2009-2013 strategic plan (A.K.A. the West Michigan Action Plan) sets the bar even higher with new five-year targets:

  • $500 million in new capital investment
  • 5,000 new/retained jobs
  • $175 million in new payroll
  • Right Place assistance to 7,500 companies.

“We have to be very agile to stay ahead of the competition, we’re going into new businesses like life sciences and aerospace, and we’re looking at clusters where we think we have strategic advantage,” says Birgit Klohs, executive director. “We’re already working on diversification plans with 25 companies straight off the Automotive Diversification Summit held February 18th.”

The strategic priorities for the next five years are to:

  1. Lead West Michigan business development efforts to retain and expand existing businesses; attract new businesses from global and national markets; and promote sustainable land and building use.
  2. Identify and develop emerging growth opportunities, including life sciences with special emphasis on medical devices and biotechnology; advanced manufacturing; sustainable practices including renewable products, services and technologies; renewable energy sources and suppliers of solar, wind and biomass power; aerospace and defense.
  3. Strengthen the global competitiveness and innovation of our existing regional manufacturers by supporting commercialization of regional, national and international intellectual property; develop and implement innovative products and services to support best-in-class manufacturing.

Source: Birgit Klohs, Right Place, Inc.

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Automotive Diversification Summit brings aerospace, other growth potential to region's manufacturers

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com.


North Ottawa Health System adds first-ever chief marketing, communications officer

By: Deborah Johnson Wood

As health care becomes more competitive and patients have more choices, the 90-year-old North Ottawa Community Health System (NOCHS) will use a newly created position to help strengthen community awareness of the hospital’s services. Jen VanSkiver is NOCHS’ first-ever chief communications officer and director of external affairs, charged with developing growth strategies and strengthening the system’s core competencies.

NOCHS employs 750 throughout the system: the 81-bed hospital at 1309 Sheldon Road in Grand Haven, the attached Harbor Dunes professional building, nearby Heartwood Lodge with its 8-bed Hospice Care center, an urgent care center downtown, and labs and physical rehabilitation sites throughout the area.

“Our talent and services are competitive with not only lakeshore hospitals, but larger health systems in surrounding cities,” says Shelleye Yaklin, president and CEO. “Bringing communications leadership to North Ottawa enables us to tell our story at the same level and with the same intensity as our competitors.”

To support NOCHS’ focus on effective communications, a new user-friendly web site helps patients find answers to their health related questions and become leaders of their personal health care plan.

“We have to be communicating regularly with new information; it’s absolutely a critical tool in patient care,” VanSkiver says. “Hospitals are looked to as portals of information, centers of technology. The web has influenced that and patients looks at themselves as the leaders of their health care. There are more choices than ever before, so for a neighborhood hospital that was founded based on proximity, we have to evolve.

“Putting marketing and communications in the room when decisions are being made recognizes that communications is a key component of health care,” she adds.

Source: Shelleye Yaklin, Jen VanSkiver, North Ottawa Community Health System

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com.


Manufacturers report MMTC-West increased bottom lines by $33M, created 51 jobs

By: Deborah Johnson Wood

Surveys conducted in the last two quarters of 2008 revealed that 20 manufacturers assisted by the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center-West (MMTC) in the previous year improved their bottom lines a total of some $33 million and created 51 new jobs. In addition, the MMTC assistance helped those manufacturers retain 123 existing jobs.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology hired an outside company to conduct the surveys measuring the effectiveness of the MMTC programs.

“The mission of the MMTC is to increase the competitiveness of Michigan manufacturers,” says Brian Walquist, outreach manager of MMTC-West at Right Place Inc. “We can bring them the expertise they need to compete in this incredibly difficult market we’re in. We might have five to 15 companies that we work with each quarter.”

The programs can include customized projects to teach manufacturers how to implement lean manufacturing techniques, diversify their manufacturing, or obtain quality systems certification for ISO and other standards required for specific industries (aerospace, medical device manufacturing). Some programs help them reduce their environmental footprint and costs.

MMTC programs show manufacturers ways to increase and retain sales and create and retain jobs, Walquist adds. Specific processes can help them determine if new equipment is really needed, or if, by running the plant more efficiently, they can operate with existing equipment.

“More often than not we’re helping manufacturers compete against companies across the U.S., Mexico and even China.” says Walquist. “It benefits West Michigan because more competitive manufacturers can create new jobs that employ the people who support the economy by buying and spending here in West Michigan.”

Source: Brian Walquist, Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center-West at Right Place, Inc.

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com.


West Michigan group helps manufacturers replace harmful chemicals with green substitutes

By: Deborah Johnson Wood

The recently formed Green Materials and Chemicals Users Group is working to reduce or eliminate harmful chemicals in West Michigan manufacturing processes and products. Last year the adoption of the BIFMA  E3 Sustainability Standard for furniture manufacturing encouraged the formation of the group by identifying the chemicals most harmful to humans and the environment.

Bill Stough and Clinton Boyd of Grand Rapids-based Sustainable Research Group (SRG) led the charge on the development of the BIFMA E3. Now they’re leading the green materials users group, which is a partnership between the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (MMTC) and Right Place Inc.

“We want to move away from petroleum-based products as fast as we can,” Stough says. “Our goal is that, at the end of a product’s life, it should be able to be reused for something else because it contains no hazardous chemicals, or it can be composted and used to grow plants to produce new raw materials.”

The group is just beginning to market itself with the aim of attracting product designers, design for the environment specialists, materials purchasers, and chemists from a wide spectrum of industries.

“This group will give West Michigan a head start in the marketplace on offering environmentally safer products to their customers,” Stough says. “This whole evolving area of green chemistry affects all of us; whatever you do during a day, you’re interacting with purposefully designed chemistry—your keyboard, your phone, your office furniture. We’re sure our work will lead to innovation and new products.”

Source: Bill Stough, Sustainable Research Group; Brian Walquist, Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center

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Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com.


Hanon McKendry's growth creates six Grand Rapids jobs, more expected

By: Deborah Johnson Wood

In the past year, Grand Rapids marketing and public relations firm Hanon McKendry merged two companies, Justice & Monroe and Mindscape, and their 16 employees into the company.

The influx of new people prompted the December appointment of the company’s first-ever human resources director. And that was recently followed by the hiring of five more people, including a programmer, web designer, copywriter and director of account services.

“We’re projecting continued growth through 2009,” says Bob Blanchard, CEO. “Part of that growth is because we have a pretty diverse portfolio of services, including design, PR, media and digital interactive.

"The other part is that we have a diverse portfolio of clients, including nonprofit and for-profit. And we service a lot of different industries, we’re not just tied to the auto industry or the furniture industry, and that helps us not be economically affected if one industry isn’t doing well.”

The company is also part of Gravity Six, an alliance of six West Michigan design, brand consulting and ad firms that collaborate on larger projects to attract a larger customer base to Michigan.

With 15 years under its belt, last year Hanon McKendry logged its highest revenue ever--nearly $10 million. With over 50 percent of its clients located outside of Michigan, the company is also responsible for regularly hosting clients who, in turn, stay at downtown hotels and are entertained at downtown restaurants and other venues.

“I think Mindscape is in a position to continue growing this year,” Blanchard adds. “Hanon McKendry could be in a position mid-year to add more staff because of adding new clients and our existing clients who are growing.”

Source: Bob Blanchard, Hanon McKendry

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Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com.


WorkLife Alliance aids in attraction, retention of Millennials and Baby Boomers

By: Deborah Johnson Wood

Employers face the challenge of retaining experienced workers who aren’t quite ready to retire, while, at the same time, running a shop that meets the needs and expectations of young college grads.

A new Grand Rapids group, West Michigan WorkLife Alliance (WMWLA), might be the first in the area to bring employers together to discover best practices aimed at keeping talent, Baby Boomers and Millennials alike.

“Millennials are coming into the workforce saying ‘I’m not sure I want to have a 60-hour workweek like my parents,’” says Alison Brown of Encompass LLC and founder of WMWLA. “That’s particularly true for employers who are faced with attracting and retaining talent in competitive sectors like technology, health care and medical research—the talent can go anywhere they want and get a job.”

A structured work/life benefits portfolio is a key component to attracting and keeping talent of all ages. The portfolio might include flexible work hours, tuition reimbursement, mentoring for individuals new to the area or an option for parents/grandparents to take time off for a child’s school or athletic event.

“An important tenet of stress management is control,” Brown says. “Employees want more control over their quality of life. Research shows that if they have some input on things like their work schedules, education, or Teleworking, employers get increased loyalty, all other things being equal.”

Knowing you need a work/life package and providing one that works are two different things. The WMWLA meets monthly and features discussions led by companies that have successfully implemented work/life options.

“At the end of a year, members will have a good overview of work/life benefits, how to provide them and where to get help setting up programs,”  Brown says.

For more information, contact Brown.

Source: Alison Brown, Encompass

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com.


City of Grand Rapids named one of EPA’s top 20 ‘green’ energy purchasers nationwide

By: Deborah Johnson Wood

This week the City of Grand Rapids announced its induction into the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Leadership Club. The induction recognizes organizations that have significantly exceeded the EPA’s minimum purchase requirements of green energy.

The EPA’s requirements range from 20 percent clean energy to 60 percent, depending on the overall total kilowatt hours used. Grand Rapids qualified by purchasing 20 percent of its power from green energy sources; and that goal was reached in November 2007, one year ahead of Mayor George Heartwell’s initial goal.

Mayor Heartwell has since set a goal of obtaining 100 percent of the City’s electrical power from renewable sources by December 31, 2020.

“We’re really excited about this,” says Haris Alibasic, assistant to the city manager and a three-year member of the Mayor’s Renewable Energy Team. “Renewable energy is really huge all over Europe. I lived in Europe and I saw that [renewable energy] really creates new jobs and huge environmental savings.”

The Renewable Energy Team began in 2005 and consists of city commissioners, higher education leaders and city staff.

“We developed a renewable energy business plan which we are following very closely, with short-term, medium-term and long-term goals, and we are achieving them in a business-like manner,” says Alibasic.

The team has six focus areas: developing green power sources and purchasing that power; being fiscally responsible with those purchases; providing the City with power options; improving energy efficiencies in city-operated buildings and providing Grand Rapids homeowners with help on green energy options; legislatively advancing the agenda for green energy; and determining possible options for wind and green energy zoning.

Source: Haris Alibasic, City of Grand Rapids

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Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com.


Automotive Diversification Summit brings aerospace, other growth potential to region's manufacturers

By: Deborah Johnson Wood

A February 18 summit for automotive manufacturers aims to bring potential growth opportunities in aerospace, homeland security/defense, medical devices and wind energy to West Michigan manufacturers. The summit, developed by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s (MEDC) Keep Michigan Working coalition and hosted by Right Place, Inc. and the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, is one of 12 summits statewide.

Each manufacturer attending the summit receives a detailed questionnaire that will help state experts determine if the company is poised for diversification and which of the four industries is the best choice.

Those that qualify could receive a $10,000 matching grant from the MEDC, part of a $4 million state fund set aside for job training, and the ongoing assistance of an expert in the industry the manufacturer wishes to pursue.

“We anticipate being able to help 400 manufacturers to diversify over the next year, and another 100 to receive certifications needed for the aerospace and other industries,” says Jennifer Owens, MEDC director of Michigan retention and growth.

“Diversification is a big hurdle for them,” she adds. “Some can barely pay the utility bills and now may have to invest a significant amount in retooling and retraining. We’re offering a life rope to them; a team of experts to coach and mentor them through the process, the potential training grant, education on the new industries and OEM contacts to help them move forward.”

Right Place’s Tim Mroz says over 200 attendees are already registered for the summit, and attendance will be capped at 300. The summit runs from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and costs $65 per person.

Source: Jennifer Owens, Michigan Economic Development Corporation; Tim Mroz, Right Place, Inc.

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com.


With 400,000 global clients, Grand Rapids firm launches green U.S.-made product line

By: Deborah Johnson Wood

Last month, the launch of a new line of eco-friendly products made entirely of U.S.-made materials was a strategic business shift for Grand Rapids-based Baudville. The company, an employee recognition and award firm, normally sources its products globally to serve its 400,000 customers worldwide.

The new line, dubbed g-thanks, specializes in thank-you gifts that recognize day-to-day achievements of employees or associates. The gift selection includes travel mugs made from PolyLactic Acid, a recycled-paper notepad that doubles as a mouse pad, and note cards of birch veneer.

“Other recognition companies are set up to recognize five years, 10 years, etcetera,” says Kristy Sherlund, vice president of product development, “but Baudville designs day to day recognition. These products are for managers to recognize employees every day, or peers to recognize peers. We wanted the products to be really beautiful things with the simple message of ‘Thank You.’”

Baudville’s in-house product development department created all 10 gift items with the focus that they be made from recycled materials, or be recyclable or consumable, and that all materials would be sourced within the United States. Baudville turned to local printers for all the printing needs and contracted with a tree farm in Rockford to produce the birch veneer for the note cards.

“We wanted to differentiate the product line so it tells the eco story,” Sherlund adds. “Our business lends itself to a very global perspective, but this line we determined had to be made in the U.S. as part of our sustainability initiative to support local commerce. We really wanted to capitalize on it.”

Source: Kristy Sherlund, Baudville

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Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com.


Walker’s Avastar Park primed, ready for clean energy development

By: Deborah Johnson Wood

Last week, the Michigan State University Land Policy Institute chose Avastar Park as the location to unveil a groundbreaking study that could revolutionize the growth of Michigan’s alternative energy sector by rebuilding Brownfields as energy parks.

John C. Buchanan Sr., developer of Avastar Park, 2150 Alpine, Walker, sees Avastar Park as a catalyst for generating alternative energy, a manufacturing center for energy components, and the centerpiece of a sustainable urban community.

The 41-acre Brownfield development is part of a re-use plan: a portion of the 700,000-acre former Lear manufacturing facility, once abandoned, now houses a Haviland division and Grand Rapids Spring and Stamping. The City of Walker spent millions on a new access road. Developers plan to build shops and restaurants on front property along Alpine.

“We have a very large plant with acres of roof where we can put a lot of solar collectors and wind turbines,” Buchanan says. “We can not only power the plant, but can put power back into the grid for the community.”

Avastar Park is the largest parcel in GrandWalk, a 1,200-acre sustainable development located between Grand Rapids and Walker.

“We would like to work with the state and see if we can make at least part of our plant available in the manufacturing of green products, such as, solar collectors, recycling machinery, electric batteries and electric cars,” Buchanan says.

“If we can attract some companies, it may need some subsidizing. We restored the building to better than new at half the cost of building a new one,” he adds. “We can bring businesses and people back into the urban area. We need to stop talking and get on with it.”

Source: John C. Buchanan, Sr., Alpinist Endeavors LLC; Andy Guy, Wondergem Consulting

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Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com.


Developing eco-energy parks on Michigan’s Brownfields means 17,500 jobs, $15B in investment

By: Deborah Johnson Wood

The potential impact of converting Michigan’s Brownfields into clean energy parks could create some 17,500 short- and long-term jobs and generate some $15 billion in investment.

A groundbreaking study unveiled Tuesday by Michigan State University’s Land Policy Institute (LPI) estimates Michigan’s 44,000 acres of Brownfields could become wind and solar energy parks that could generate enough electricity to power 1.8 million homes—nearly half the homes in the state.

Building the plants could create over 16,000 construction jobs and $1.6 billion in construction wages.

“The key issue is to understand, through a more precise inventory of Brownfields, what the energy creation capacity is,” says Soji Adelaja, LPI director. “Based on this we can determine what needs to be amended in the Brownfields’ current legal structure. It’s possible elements of the Brownfield legal structure could be fast tracked and targeted toward alternative energy.”

The LPI unveiled the study at Avastar Park in Walker, a Brownfield site consisting of 45 acres and a 750,000-square-foot former Lear factory under redevelopment as several smaller state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities.

Adelaja estimates Michigan has 2,400 Brownfield sites similar to the Avastar Park site. Those sites, generally proven to be antiquated behemoths that developers shy away from, could be catalysts in simultaneously ramping up alternative energy production, the development of blighted properties and creation of high-wage jobs.

“Similar sites [to Avastar] have the infrastructure, but we haven’t connected them with the opportunities,” Adelaja says.

That infrastructure includes proximity to existing transmission lines and energy consumers, service from existing transportation systems, and existing financial incentives for revitalizing the properties.

“The new way of converting these sites,” Adelaja says, “is for us to recognize the potential, name the potential sites and let the entrepreneurs decide if it’s something they can develop.”

Source: Soji Adelaja, Michigan State University Land Policy Institute; Andy Guy, Wondergem Consulting

Photo by Brian Kelly

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com.


American Seating’s environmental initiatives promote sustainable leadership, clean waterways

By: Deborah Johnson Wood

American Seating recently announced two environmental initiatives that have changed how the company does business: the development of a sustainability manager position, and the elimination of iron phosphate from the company’s powder coating process.

After 20 years as a product market manager, Brock Hesselsweet became the company’s first manager of sustainability last summer.

In September, the company discontinued the use of iron phosphate in one of two metal coating plants; the second plant will eliminate it in March.

Before metal can be powder coated it must be prewashed. The prewash recipe combined iron phosphate and 160-degree water. When the factory drained the water, the iron phosphate went with it to the Grand Rapids wastewater treatment facility. But wastewater treatments cannot remove iron phosphate, so it continued into nearby waterways where it promoted algae growth.

“Algae depletes the oxygen level of water and that kills the fish and other organisms and upsets the environmental balance,” Hesselsweet says. “You can have areas where there’s no oxygen and nothing lives there.”

To help prevent this destruction, American Seating replaced the iron phosphate with zirconium.

And while zirconium is more expensive, it works in water at ambient temperature. That eliminates the need to heat the water, reduces the use of fossil fuels and keeps production costs down.

“We switched from wet coating to powder coats about 10 years ago to get away from VOCs (volatile organic compounds),” Hesselsweet says. “We want to leave the environment as pristine as possible for our children and their children.”

Source: Brock Hesselsweet, American Seating; Molly Klimas, Intent Public Relations

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com.


New hybrid solar geothermal system saves Portage greenhouse thousands

By: Deborah Johnson Wood

A Portage organic grower is the first to heat its greenhouses using a new hybrid solar/geothermal system invented by Holland-based GMB Architects-Engineers. Last summer, GMB installed the solar/geothermal system at Elzinga and Hoeksema Greenhouses. The system incorporates 200 eight-foot by four-foot ground-mounted solar collectors.

The greenhouse, which covers four acres, is heated by 60,000 gallons of 180-degree water circulated through a closed-loop pipe system. Heating the water using a natural gas boiler costs $400. In extremely cold weather, the heat may last only a couple of hours and then the water must be re-heated.

By comparison, the electricity to run the hybrid geothermal system is just $67 for 60,000 gallons, but the water only reaches 120 degrees.

“We need to supplement it using the gas boiler,” says Mark Elzinga, greenhouse owner. “But we’re only heating the water for that extra 60 degrees instead of 180 degrees.”

Typical geothermal systems pull heat out of the ground and put it in the building. In the summer it does the opposite, putting the heat back into the ground.

Because greenhouses need heat about 10 months a year, very little heat is re-deposited in the ground in the summer. To pull enough heat the following winter, the system requires a large heat exchanger—which carries a large price tag.

“With our hybrid system, solar collectors capture the sun’s energy in the summer and heat the ground,” says Steve Hamstra, vice president. “The ground holds the heat until it’s needed in the winter, acting as a huge thermal battery. We can store millions of BTUs. One advantage is that the system uses a smaller, less expensive heat exchanger.”

Mark Elzinga adds, “I’m excited about this system. We spent a lot of money on it and we feel that alternative energy is definitely part of our future.”

Source: Steve Hamstra, GMB Architects-Engineers; Mark Elzinga, Elzinga and Hoeksema Greenhouses

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Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com.


Holland company to propose groundbreaking renewable energy certificate standard

By: Deborah Johnson Wood

Thanks to Michigan’s new renewable energy portfolio standard, Michigan nonprofits, businesses and residents who install clean energy devices could generate some unexpected income by selling renewable energy certificates (RECs).

In preparation for that possibility, a first-ever standardized process for calculating an REC could be in the hands of the International Standards Organization within weeks—submitted by Holland-based Viability Energy LLC.

An REC is a paper that, theoretically, documents the number of megawatt hours of electricity generated through renewable resources. Utility companies can purchase a limited number of RECs to help them meet the renewable energy mandates of the state's portfolio standard, a practice similar in form to cap-and-trade carbon models. Developers could purchase RECs for LEED certification points, or companies might buy them as part of a corporate sustainability initiative.

Certificates could sell for prices ranging from $1.50 to $30 per MWH.

“It’s easy to say a wind turbine generated one megawatt hour of power, and that can be measured and documented” says Steve Hamstra, vice president of GMB Architects-Engineers. GMB, Viability LLC and GDK Construction formed Viability Energy earlier this year.

“But geothermal heat pumps have also been defined as renewable energy systems by the Federal Government,” he notes. “How shall we measure their performance? Because there’s no industry standard, the problem is how much energy did you really generate?”

And that sets up the potential for error and fraud.

Viability Energy’s proposal uses the internationally recognized ASHRAE Standard 90.1 that compares energy use in buildings using a computer model. Similarly, computer models could compare the energy use of a building powered by renewable energy to one powered by non-renewable energy. The difference in carbon emissions between the buildings can then be converted to RECs.

“The RPS has created a significant market in Michigan for RECs,” Hamstra says. “Because it’s a very new thing in Michigan, it will be interesting to see how it all comes together.”

Source: Steve Hamstra, GMB Architects-Engineers

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Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com.

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