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Catalyst Communities Webinars

Michigan has 1,856 local jurisdictions, ranging from the big cities to the small villages and townships, and each community may have different resources, staffing or departments they manage. Catalyst Communities webinars and events are free to communities, recorded and then posted online for future viewing, which takes out the constraints of time, travel and cost for communities.

Upcoming Webinars in this Series

How to Plan For, Apply For, and Manage Federal Grants
September 28, 1:00  – 2:30 PM
This webinar focuses on how communities can identify priority projects and plan for funding, how to apply for federal grants using Grants.gov, and how to manage and report on grants that are awarded. 

Federal Funding Success Stories for Local and Tribal Government
October 13, 1:00– 2:30 PM
This webinar features communities and tribes using federal grants to fund climate and energy projects and will discuss new funding opportunities, lessons learned, and tips on federal grants.

Additional webinars coming soon. 


Recorded Webinars in this Series

Catalyst Communities Kick-off (recorded 11/19/20, 121 min)

Communities across Michigan are experiencing high water events, extreme temperature, increases in rainfall, and changes in agricultural and natural systems which are impacting the welfare of our State's residents and upending everyday business. Though these events span the state, localized impacts have--and will continue to--profoundly affect health, safety and quality of life in every local community. To help communities better prepare for increased frequency and ferocity of weather disruptions, we have launched the Catalyst Communities initiative, which provides information, training, and resources to suit every community's unique needs.   

Funding 

Understanding IIJA: How Local & Tribal Governments Can Access Federal Funding (recorded 9/21/22, 62 min)
This webinar provides an overview of IIJA, IRA, and the Justice 40 Initiative, go over some promising grants programs, and share resources and technical assistance available.

Climate

Resources and Guidance for Enhancing Local Urban Forestry Programs (recorded 5/19/22, 61 min)
Urban forestry, or the management of trees in city settings, can improve community and environmental health. In this webinar, the Department of Natural Resources will discuss urban forestry best practices and upcoming grant funding opportunities. The City of Grand Rapids will also provide insight on how to incorporate resiliency, equity, and sustainability into tree planting and maintenance initiatives.

Lessons Learned in Creating a Municipal Climate Action Plan (recorded 4/26/22)
Local governments play an essential role in paving the path toward net-zero carbon emissions, but navigating this task isn't easy. This webinar will help local governments understand how to get started on their decarbonization journey. The City of Royal Oak will lean on their recent experience to provide tips for developing a community-wide greenhouse gas inventory and sustainability action plan.

Energy

Fundamentals of Energy Savings Performance Contracting in Michigan (recorded 7/12/22, 112 min)
Energy Savings Performance Contracting (ESPC) offers states, localities, public infrastructure, and institutional facilities an opportunity to finance energy efficiency investments by leveraging the energy, water and operational cost savings that projects achieve over time. While ESPC projects have already financed over $50 billion in energy-saving investments, estimates by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory show there could be over $300 billion in additional cost-effective ESPC projects nationally. Facilities such as state and municipal buildings, universities, K-12 schools, and hospitals, as well as highway, street, and parking lot lighting are particularly well suited to these investments.

This workshop will gather key stakeholders for ESPC projects throughout Michigan with a particular emphasis on reaching underserved communities, provide an overview of how to apply this financing mechanism in Michigan, and hear from facility managers who have implemented these projects.

Rental Home Energy Programs and Policies for Cities (recorded 1/13/22, 53min)
RMI and EcoWorks recently supported a cohort of 10 cities in Michigan working to address energy use and equity in rental housing. These cities modeled best practices from leading examples across the country to develop policies and programs in partnership with local community-based organizations. All resources and content produced by this cohort are being made freely available to other Michigan municipalities. RMI and EcoWorks will review the curriculum of this engagement, reflect on outcomes and lessons learned, and detail the resources that other municipalities can use to inform and accelerate their own efforts.

How to Become a Solar-Friendly Community Through SolSmart (recorded 10/08/21, 61 min)
SolSmart is a national designation program that provides technical assistance and recognition to local governments who take action to promote solar energy growth. In this session, learn about the basics of SolSmart and how your community can achieve SolSmart designation. Additionally, hear from SolSmart designees in Michigan to gain insight on how to navigate the program. 

Experiences with Michigan Community Solar (recorded 9/23/21, 61 min)
Community solar is a hot topic in Michigan, but do you know what it actually entails? In this session, learn about the various definitions of community solar, what’s been done in Michigan thus far, and how low-income community members can benefit. Also hear from experts who helped establish some of the state's early community solar projects as they share their experiences and lessons learned. 

EPA Climate and Energy Resources for Local Governments (recorded 8/11/21, 60 min)
The State and Local Climate and Energy Program from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers a multitude of tools and publications to help local governments reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy efficiency, and explore renewable energy options. In this session, hear from EPA representatives as they walk through key resources for Michigan local governments to help formulate cost-effective, energy saving strategies and achieve cross-cutting community benefits.

Sustainable Wastewater Infrastructure and Energy Savings with SWIFt (recorded 7/13/21, 58 min)
The Department of Energy's Sustainable Wastewater Infrastructure of the Future (SWIFt) Accelerator is partnering with the state of Michigan to help reduce energy consumption and adopt next-generation technologies at local wastewater treatment facilities across the state. Learn about the various opportunities provided by SWIFt, including a new Wastewater Energy Management Toolkit, to help municipalities engage with their water utility and find ways to save energy.

Clean Energy Financing Through Michigan Saves (recorded 6/17/21, 58 min)
In this session, learn about the nation's first nonprofit green bank, Michigan Saves. Originally established through a Michigan Public Service Commission grant, this now independent bank provides energy consumers with low-interest financing for their efficiency improvements through partnerships with private-sector lenders. Hear the details from a Michigan Saves expert as well as real community experiences from a local municipality and their partners.

Financing Energy Efficiency Improvements Using Energy Savings Performance Contracts (recorded 5/13/21, 56 min)
While clean energy improvements save utility customers money over time, some property owners find it challenging to finance the upfront costs of energy efficiency upgrades or renewable energy projects. Local governments can help building owners overcome this hurdle by creating a PACE (or Property Assessed Clean Energy) district, which allows building owners to access longer-term loans through a voluntary special assessment on their property tax bill. In this webinar, learn about PACE financing from Lean & Green Michigan, a public-private partnership that serves as the statewide administrator of the PACE program for 47 local governments around the state. Elise Matz and Todd Williams of Lean & Green Michigan are joined by local county treasurers, Eric Schertzing of Ingham County and Bob Robinson of Eaton County to share their experiences using PACE.

Planning & Zoning for Utility-Scale Solar (recorded 4/27/21, 60 min)
Have you heard of solar farms in other communities, but don’t know if your community would be interested or a good fit? Perhaps you have already started zoning and want to share your experiences? In this session, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about planning and zoning for utility-scale solar energy (projects spanning at least 20 acres) and provide practical tools to help accomplish your local government's goals. 

Planning & Zoning for Utility-Scale Wind (recorded 4/13/21, 62 min)
Wind energy technology has changed in the last decade, and many zoning ordinances haven’t kept pace. Does your ordinance need an update? In this session, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about planning and zoning for wind energy and provide practical tools to help accomplish your local government's goals.  

Introduction to Planning & Zoning for Wind and Solar (recorded 3/30/21, 60 min)
From wide-open rural areas to compact cities, Michigan is beginning the transition to alternative energy. To prepare for the development of wind and solar in your community, Dr. Sarah Mills and Hannah Smith from the University of Michigan’s Graham Sustainability Institute discuss the positives and negatives, and why planners - especially those in rural communities - need to start planning and zoning for renewable energy now. This webinar is the first in a three part mini-series geared towards helping local Michigan governments on determining whether, how, and where clean energy fits within their community.

Helping Facilitate Rooftop Solar in Your Community (recorded 3/17/21, 60 min)
The cost of solar panels has dramatically decreased over the last few years, making rooftop (or small ground-mounted) solar energy accessible to more Michiganders. But many homeowners may be unaware of this changing landscape or unsure where to start. Julie Roth of Ann Arbor’s A2Zero discusses Solarize, a bulk-buy solar program and a new toolkit to help bring the benefits of distributed generation to more households.

Facilitating Community-wide Clean Energy Improvements Using PACE Financing (recorded 3/2/21, 60 min)
While clean energy improvements save utility customers money over time, some property owners find it challenging to finance the upfront costs of energy efficiency upgrades or renewable energy projects. Local governments can help building owners overcome this hurdle by creating a PACE (or Property Assessed Clean Energy) district, which allows building owners to access longer-term loans through a voluntary special assessment on their property tax bill. In this webinar, learn about PACE financing from Lean & Green Michigan, a public-private partnership that serves as the statewide administrator of the PACE program for 47 local governments around the state. Elise Matz and Todd Williams of Lean & Green Michigan are joined by local county treasurers, Eric Schertzing of Ingham County and Bob Robinson of Eaton County to share their experiences using PACE.

Conducting Energy Audits on Municipal Facilities (recorded 2/21/21, 56 min)
Conducting an energy audit--reviewing utility bills and physically inspecting facilities--can help communities identify opportunities to reduce energy use and save money. An energy audit can be conducted on a specific system (e.g., HVAC system) or can include an entire building to help determine which improvements are the best investments for your community. In this webinar, Tracey Laitinen (Operations Manager, Sault Ste. Marie), Eric Witte (Deputy Director of Public Works, Dearborn), and Dave Norwood (Sustainability Coordinator, Dearborn) share their experiences and tips conducting energy audits.

Using EZMT Online Mapping to Plan for Clean Energy: Presentation (recorded 1/21/21, 14 min)
Developed by the US Department of Energy, the Energy Zones Mapping Tool (EZMT) is a publicly available online resource which provides data, models, and reports for nine different energy categories (i.e. wind, solar, coal). It is a one-stop-shop for understanding a community’s existing energy infrastructure and its potential for future clean energy infrastructure. Users can draw boundaries, overlay land characteristics, plot electrical substations and transmission lines, and model potential power generation. This session provides an overview of the tool, focusing on features of greatest interest to land use planners, with Jim Kuiper of the Argonne National Laboratory.  

Using EZMT Online Mapping to Plan for Clean Energy: Demo (recorded 1/21/21, 52 min)
Developed by the US Department of Energy, the Energy Zones Mapping Tool (EZMT) is a publicly available online resource which provides data, models, and reports for nine different energy categories (i.e. wind, solar, coal). It is a one-stop-shop for understanding a community’s existing energy infrastructure and its potential for future clean energy infrastructure. Users can draw boundaries, overlay land characteristics, plot electrical substations and transmission lines, and model potential power generation. This session provides a live demonstration of the tool, focusing on features of greatest interest to land use planners, with Jim Kuiper of the Argonne National Laboratory.   

Energy Benchmarking for Municipal Facilities (recorded 10/22/20, 60 min)
Benchmarking is a process that gives municipalities the ability to track the energy use of their buildings and compare them to similar existing buildings nationwide. Whether your community has just one municipal building or dozens, this session gives information about the multiple tools and programs that can be used to determine and track the energy your facilities are using. April Avigne, Energy Coordinator for Washtenaw County and Bob LaFave, Manager in the Village of L’Anse share their experiences with benchmarking in their respective municipalities. The webinar begins with the two guests providing overviews and then transitions into a conversation with question and answer.

The Michigan Energy Code Adoption Process (recorded 10/15/20, 59 min)
The Michigan Energy Code sets the minimum energy efficiency requirements for new construction and major renovation projects in the state. With an update to the state Code about to begin, this session teaches you how the code adoption process works and the ways in which local governments can participate in that process. First, hear from EGLE’s Jake Wilkinson who provides an overview of what the energy code is intended to do. Then Jon Paradine of the Bureau of Construction Codes at the Department of Licensing & Regulatory Affairs (LARA), talks more specifically about the Michigan Energy Code. Lastly the Bureau’s Attorney, Tony Snyder, shares how that code gets updated and the opportunities for community involvement.

EGLE’s Energy Efficiency Programs for Communities (recorded 10/7/20, 51 min)
Join the State Energy Program Specialist, Julie Staveland, and the EGLE Community Programs Coordinator, Miles Biel, as they introduce EGLE’s wide variety of Energy Services and Community Energy Management programs. Dedicated to promoting healthy communities, economic growth, and environmental sustainability through energy efficiency and renewable energy, EGLE Energy Services offers programs to catalyze growth and jumpstart Michigan entities to reach their own energy goals. To assist in these efforts, Community Energy Management meets communities wherever they are on the energy management spectrum. Hear what programs and levels of assistance are available, including success stories from across the state.

Recycling

Building Community Resilience Through Recycling (recorded 11/15/21, 60 min)
This presentation is a panel discussion with local leaders on how and why communities have structured recycling programs to be a sustainable pillar amid a multitude of competing social, economic, and environmental pressures.

Recycling, Composting, and Circular Economy Solutions for Your Community (recorded 11/2/21, 62 min)
This presentation brings together two exciting EGLE initiatives - Catalyst Communities and Michigan NextCycle - to highlight the important role of the circular economy in tackling climate change. While many climate solutions are daunting, food waste reductions, composting, recycling, and green purchasing are all under Michigan communities' control and accelerate our low carbon economy. NextCycle Michigan has grant and technical assistance solutions to support your community's (and public and private partners) success. Please join us to hear more about NextCycle, Michigan's growing Circular Economy, and the role of local governments.

Mobility

Electric Vehicle Planning Resources for Communities (recorded 3/2/22, 63 min)
As the transportation sector continues to shift towards electrification, now is the time for local governments to prepare for the influx of electric vehicles (EV). In this webinar, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) will highlight their EV Resource Kit and Planning Hub - a one-stop destination for EV information, charging infrastructure data, planning tools, and funding sources. Additionally, several communities from Southeast Michigan will speak to their experience using this resource and offer advice on how other communities can become EV-ready.

Decarbonizing Your Commute (recorded 10/15/21, 61 min)
Your commute - it's one of the most stressful parts of the workday. Not only does it cost time and money, but it is also a major source of carbon dioxide and air pollution. Decarbonizing your commute is good for your wallet, health, and the environment. In this webinar, learn from transportation experts in Ann Arbor about how to reduce vehicle miles traveled, strategies for achieving carbon neutral mobility, and tips for using a free survey tool to benchmark and track greenhouse gas reductions associated with commuting.

You'll Never Walk Alone: Using Tools & Resources for Local Government Clean Fleets (recorded 9/24/21, 46 min)
Now is a great time to start planning for and taking steps to procure clean fuels and vehicles. A number of tools and resources exist to help local governments lower fleet emissions and use domestic fuels.  Learn from Michigan Clean Cities representatives on how to leverage these tools and resources to best meet your community's clean transportation goals.