The City of Sterling Heights has a new initiative under the brand name, Think Sterling Green, that will create opportunities for residents and businesses to prioritize the health and sustainability of their community.
The first of the initiatives include a grant program for residential clean energy improvement projects and a free residential rain barrel program.
“Think Sterling Green, including these new grants and rain barrels, is a vital step toward creating a sustainable and resilient community,” said Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor in a news release. “By working together with residents, businesses and partners like Michigan Saves and MI Rain Barrel, we can make a significant impact in preserving the environment for future generations.”
This new initiative is supported by $1 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds that the city received in order to create a Go Green Grants program in partnership with Michigan Saves, the nation’s first nonprofit green bank for clean energy projects for more than a decade.
The City’s ARPA funds combined with private funds used for energy efficiency improvements will generate an economic impact of $2.76 million that supports area contractors while saving Sterling Heights residents money on future utility bills.
The program features three levels that give all homeowners access to funding for clean energy home improvement projects that reduce energy use and ongoing utility costs.
• The first level is an income-based full grant up to $7,500 in energy improvements with no out-of-pocket costs.
• The second level is a 20 percent grant for all homeowners up to $5,000
• The third level comes in the form of low-interest, unsecured loans for all homeowners who can be combined with either of the other levels.
With a statewide network of authorized contractors, Michigan Saves connects consumers to cost efficient lending as they work to make their homes more energy efficient.
“Sterling Heights appears to be the first (city) ever to use ARPA funds to directly benefit residents,” according to Michigan Saves Program Director Todd Parker.
“We commend Sterling Heights leaders for making this million dollar investment to improve the health, safety and comfort of homes in Sterling Heights, while saving residents energy and money on their utility bills,” Parker said.
The grant program can be accessed at sterling-heights.net/gogreengrants.
Another piece of Think Sterling Green is the ARPA-funded rollout of free rain barrels to Sterling Heights residents. An initial 400 rain barrels were offered in the first phase of the project through a partnership with MI Rain Barrel and were claimed by residents.
Rain barrels capture water from a roof and hold it for later use such as on lawns, gardens or indoor plants. This process helps conserve water and provides free water for use in landscapes.
Free rain barrel kits include everything needed including a 58-gallon barrel, a stand made from reclaimed wood and a package of mosquito dunks to keep captured water fresh and clean. Installation is easy, but for residents with special needs, a $50 installation can be added on.
Interested residents can sign up for their free rain barrel at sterling-heights.net/rainbarrel.
There is also a distribution event scheduled for Friday, June 2 at Sterling Heights City Hall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“Together with the help of the city of Sterling Heights, we are aiming to deploy 400 hundred rain barrels, totaling a yearly average of over two million gallons of water that will be held back from the sewers, reducing stormwater runoff and stress on Sterling Heights’ water infrastructure while also helping residents save money and reduce their carbon footprint,” said Joshua Rubin, MI Rain Barrel founder and CEO. “The plants, of course, will also love the precious rainwater!”
Other sustainability initiatives that are, or will become, a part of Think Sterling Green include:
• The City’s new WaterSmart website allows residents to save money by monitoring and managing their water consumption.
• An upcoming opportunity to add curbside recycling for every resident.
• An ARPA-funded initiative to add 2,000 neighborhood trees across the City over the next two years.
• The Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, a long-term financing tool available to commercial property owners to pay for energy/water efficiency and renewable energy upgrades without incurring any up-front costs.
• A cooperative initiative between the Arts and Sustainability Commissions to stencil street drains, reminding residents not to discharge anything but water down these drains that lead directly to lakes and streams.
• City administration will be providing regular updates on the progress of Think Sterling Green and encourage residents to get involved in the initiative now by applying for a Go Green Grant, acquiring and installing a free rain barrel and implementing other sustainable practices in their daily lives.
“I’m proud we are working to help our residents adopt energy-efficient technologies, reduce energy consumption, conserve water and recycle. It’s time to Think Sterling Green,” Taylor said.