Marshfield is getting a needed facelift of the environmental variety.
City officials and local professionals are linking arms with the city’s clean-energy advocates to make the community a more eco-friendly place to live, while putting a portion of residents’ energy costs back into their pockets.
For example, Sustainable Marshfield is a committee composed entirely of private citizens that was established by the city council in early 2007 and focuses on three avenues of improving the environment: earth-friendly building and developing, carefully monitored water quality and energy-efficient transportation.
“You want to do things that can, as much as possible, work within the natural ecosystem,” says Amber Miller, Marshfield’s Director of Planning and economic development, who assists the committee.
Successfully Backing Legislation
Sustainable Marshfield has already successfully backed legislation that protects the quality of the city’s groundwater and is currently pursuing initiatives encouraging the 11,000 out-of-town commuters to carpool to work, as well as to offer shuttle service between major employers in the city, Miller said.
The city has also adopted one of Sustainable Marshfield’s recommendations that called for the replacement of its 49 fleet vehicles with ones that run on alternative fuels such as ethanol, Miller says.
“I guess what we’re trying to do is find the most sensible use of natural resources possible and at the same time continue to grow and keep our taxes at a manageable, stable level,” she says.
Green Energy in Homes
Indeed, the marriage of financial advantage with environmental consciousness is a very happy one, according to Dan Helwig, developer of the Prairie Run complex, which houses both condominiums and businesses around a small lake.
The development will be entirely heated and cooled by geothermal power, using the energy in the water to heat or cool air, depending on the time of year, before returning the water to the lake to be reused.
“All the condos in the development will have the option to utilize the tremendous energy savings supplied by the lake’s 5-acre, 20-foot-deep reservoir of water,” Helwig says. “Through the use of heat exchangers and heat pumps, the condo owners could be staring down savings of up to 50 percent on their combined heating and cooling costs.”
Helwig added that the beauty of this technology is that this energy-saving method will be virtually invisible.
“To be perfectly honest, I don’t want to see a windmill or a solar panel on my neighbor’s house as I’m out in my backyard,” Helwig says. “As an architect, I want to create a beautiful environment, so I’m hoping to give people the lifestyle without the (architectural) consequences.”
Other Marshfield establishments, including the local dental practice Dental Crafters, are following suit and employing various environmentally sound aspects in their design. The push to go green has been so successful, Miller said, because the effort is born out of citizens’ desire to make a change, not a litany of new regulations by the government.
“You can have the best program in the world, but if no one follows it, it doesn’t work,” she says.
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