ROGERS CITY - In an effort to encourage businesses, residents and the city government itself to be more energy wise and environmentally friendly, Rogers City has enacted three new policies.
In its Tuesday meeting, city council adopted a policy covering city employees, as well as two programs aimed at supporting sustainable and energy-efficient practices, City Manager Mark Slown said.
"From a strategic point of view ... the more properties that are energy efficient, the better the community is," he said. "If people have to spend less money on heating bills, or are more comfortable in their homes, they're going to have a happier life. They can spend the money on something else."
The sustainable business program aims to promote healthy growth of the city's commercial sector as well, Slown said. It's focused on helping willing business owners, both current and prospective, to stay strong and competitive through energy conservation, using new technology and being good environmental stewards.
As shipping by waterway is one of the most fuel-efficient transportation modes, the sustainable business program also aims to support businesses that develop and expand the use of ports, according to the policy. Among the other encouraged practices are using affordable renewable energy, staying strong and competitive through wise energy use and using local renewable resources.
City employees will help in a number of ways to help meet these goals for businesses as their work load allows, according to the policy. On a first-come, first-served basis and when possible, the city will help business owners find and apply for sustainability grants. They'll also direct owners to the proper department for building and zoning permits required for any project.
Four local businesses have agreed to provide free advice on how to make other businesses more energy efficient as their resources allow, Slown said. They are Rogers City Ace Hardware, Rogers City Do-It Center, John's Plumbing and Heating, and Zgorski Micketti Plumbing. The list is available by calling city hall at 734-2191, and other local businesses wishing to give free energy efficiency advice should call to be listed as well.
The community energy conservation education program aims to help all interested building owners, including commercial and residential properties, to save money on energy, Slown said. The program consists of tips for weatherization, repairs and upgrades for which the property owner is responsible. Some funding for those who qualify is available through Northeast Michigan Affordable Housing, Inc. More information is available online at www.nemah.org, or by calling the Rogers City office at 734-4822.
While the programs are meant to help businesses and homeowners save money on energy, they're suggestions, not mandates, Slown said.
"It's not like we're legislating that everybody has to do this or that," he said. "We're just trying to encourage" sustainable practices.
Rogers City is leading by example through a policy to reduce the environmental impact of city operations, he said. The policy covers a variety of practices for city employees, including recycling in the workplace, reporting any leaky water fixtures and walking or riding a bicycle to work when possible.
Ultimately, the new policies should serve as practical guidelines and advice for those who seek it, Slown said.
"We're just trying to do what we can to move the community forward without going off any wild cliffs," he said.
Jordan Travis can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5688.