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Grand Rapids, Michigan is taking a bold step towards reducing its carbon footprint. Grand Rapids is one of 12 cities that was selected to participate in the Zero Cities Project, which aims to reduce net carbon in the cities to zero by 2050.

Having zero net carbon means that buildings are either producing their own on-site energy, or they are purchasing enough renewable energy to meet the consumption demands of that building. In other words, they would no longer will be relying on energy that produces a lot of carbon as a result.

One great way to reduce one’s carbon footprint is using solar power, which is a major part of this project’s plan. The total solar power capacity in the United States reached up to 47.1 gigawatts in the middle of 2017. That is enough power to give electricity to 9.1 million homes. In the years to come, solar panels will be installed on several buildings in Grand Rapids in order to power them with the natural energy that is produced by solar panels.

Ultimately, the goal for Grand Rapids is to create a policy road map that will help work toward achieving a zero carbon building sector. First, city planners need to assess the city’s current sustainability projects and create a long-term plan for achieving its ambitious zero carbon goals. To do that, businesses will need to be incentivized to reduce their carbon footprint.

Alison Waske Sutter is Grand Rapids’ sustainability manager, and she described the city’s plan in an interview with Michigan Radio:

“The goal long term is to create a policy road map that will help us work toward achieving a zero carbon building sector. It’s really laid out, kind of in a three year plan, with this first year really focused attention on kind of evaluating our current policies, what type of incentives we have in place, and getting a handle on what is the carbon footprint of Grand Rapids’ building stock, so that’s our immediate focus right now.”

The city does not yet have a funding plan 100% put together for the project. They do know, however, that they plan on working in economic incentives to hopefully get business owners on board with the project.

While 2050 may seem far away, to meet their goals new policies will have to be put in place as soon as possible.

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