Michigan Saves team, Mary Templeton and Todd Parker pose for a photograph with their new award

If Oscars were given out for energy waste reduction, Michigan Saves would play the role of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences — working diligently behind the scenes to identify energy champions and reward them for their extraordinary efforts. In January, however, the organization was forced out of its comfortable backstage reality and into the spotlight when it was given an Inspiring Efficiency Impact Award by the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA).

“It’s pretty rare for us to receive this type of recognition,” explains Michigan Saves executive director Mary Templeton. “Usually, we’re the ones acknowledging and celebrating the successes of others — the homeowners, businesses, nonprofits, schools and organizations that are taking control of their energy costs, consumption and production.”

The MEEA started its awards program in 2004 to recognize people and entities in the Midwest that were making groundbreaking energy-efficiency advancements in five categories: Leadership, Education, Impact, Marketing and Innovation. The Impact award, which Michigan Saves won, shines a light specifically on organizations that have made measurable contributions to market transformation, either through the implementation of a specific program or through a policy change.

Since its inception in 2009, Michigan Saves has, indeed, transformed Michigan’s energy-efficiency market by enabling more than $80 million in private investments, which were used to make energy upgrades in more than 7,255 homes and commercial buildings. With the organization’s low-interest financing, customers have successfully lowered energy costs, improved health and safety and ensured sustainability. But Michigan Saves is quick to point out that it hasn’t made this market conversion alone.

“Over the years, we’ve developed a wonderful network of dedicated lenders and qualified contractors who take important and necessary steps every day to empower others to make energy improvements,” says Templeton.

Those improvements include everything from small projects like installing LED light bulbs, insulation and furnaces to big projects, like revamping entire refrigeration and HVAC systems.

The annual energy savings from projects implemented with Michigan Saves financing are considerable. In 2016 alone, they helped save the equivalent of 2.1 million therms of natural gas, 60.8 million kilowatt hours of electricity and 53,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide.

“We’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished at Michigan Saves in a relatively short period of time,” says Templeton. “And, while helping Michigan residents implement energy waste reduction projects is reward enough, we’re especially happy to be recognized by the MEEA because it provides us a perfect opportunity to recognize and thank our partners, lenders and contractors.”