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Posted on: August 6, 2020

The Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners makes Significant Investment in Sustainability

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MEDIA RELEASE

August 6, 2020


For Immediate Release


Contact: Crystal S. Campbell

BOC Communication and Operations Manager

[email protected]

734.478.1856


The Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners makes Significant Investment in Sustainability

Accelerates Carbon Neutrality Goal to 2030


Ann Arbor, MI – In a pair of resolutions passed at their August 5, 2020 meeting, The Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to recommit to its environmental efforts by moving the county’s carbon neutral goal to 2030 from 2035. They will also allocate funds to a large-scale LED light project. 


In the first resolution, the board approved 2.5 million dollars for a comprehensive LED lighting project. The project, developed by the Office of Infrastructure Management (OIM), will replace all county light fixtures and switches to LED. It is estimated that the project will reduce carbon emissions at county facilities by 5 million pounds, or 30% of total emissions. Although the project borrows resources from the county’s capital improvement fund, it will be repaid over seven-years. Once completed, the LED project will essentially pay for itself by saving the county $412,000 annually in energy costs. This project is also the first to implement the county’s new responsible contractor policy. Construction is expected to begin in early 2021 and take 12-18 months to complete. 


The second resolution is the “2020 Washtenaw County Carbon Neutrality Plan” which directs the county administrator’s office to bring the framework for completing a Climate Action Plan (CAP) to the board by year’s end. The resolution, co-sponsored by board chair Jason Morgan (District 8) and working session chair, Sue Shink (District 2), accelerates the county’s carbon neutrality goal from 2035 to 2030. The county’s Environmental Council supports the new goal date and several residents, including four high school students, shared their support for the resolutions during the public participation portion of the meeting. 


“It’s safe to say that everyone on this board recognizes that climate change is an immediate and very real threat.”, says Sue Shink, “We have weather that’s too cold when it shouldn’t be, too hot at other times. We get too much rain. Our farmers feel the effects of it. Our vulnerable populations, like those without a home bear the brunt of it. We need to be doing everything we can, as quickly as we can to try and preserve this lovely place where we live. The LED project is a conservative way to make an impact, immediately. The carbon neutrality plan is a way to mitigate climate change in the long term. It’s aggressive but achievable.”  


In addition to moving up the carbon neutrality goal, the plan affirms the LED lighting project and directs county government to consider solar installations in bids for future construction. Together, the resolutions demonstrate the board’s commitment to long term, environmental action. 


“This is the biggest step Washtenaw County has taken toward accelerating our efforts to address climate change and reducing our carbon emissions,” said Jason Morgan, Chair of the Board of Commissioners “Our initial target of 2035 was decided because we wanted a truly achievable goal rather than just something aspirational. Given the significant progress we’ve made over the last two years and the substantial action steps laid out in this resolution, I believe that 2030 is now a realistic target for Washtenaw County to achieve carbon neutrality. If Covid-19 teaches us anything, it’s that we must be prepared for major global crises to affect our own communities. Unlike with COVID, though, we can see climate change coming. We’ve declared climate change and racism to be emergencies for our residents and given the disproportionately devastating impact climate change has on Black and Brown communities, we know we need to take action immediately. Lastly, in true Washtenaw County fashion, this is not only a boldly progressive action, it is also very pragmatic -- the short payback window and use of internal reserve funds allow us to move this project forward immediately without taking funds from other critically-needed areas.”


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