As your skis slide along the fresh powder, faster and faster as you gain speed down the mountain—turning left then right—energy efficiency may not come to mind. But if you’re enjoying Thompsonville’s Crystal Mountain, it’s certainly has been on the minds of the leadership and staff for the resort and spa attraction. From using wind energy credits to cover the power used by its chairlift to its LEED-certified spa and public electric vehicle charging stations, Crystal Mountain president and CEO Jim MacInnes is taking energy-efficiency matters into his own hands.

While our state strives to be more energy efficient, we not only need to have conversations about eliminating energy waste but need take action for the cause. Individuals and organizations that are leading the way in this arena, like Crystal Mountain, were recently recognized at the first-annual Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards (GEEA). They are role models and their leadership demonstrates what’s possible for others in the state—our job is to recognize and celebrate their accomplishments.

The awards, distributed during a ceremony on September 22, paid tribute to those who have performed exceptional energy-efficiency work.

Nominations were accepted in eight categories based on how energy efficiency can be achieved and promoted by economic sector, programmatic initiative, and sheer inspiration.

This year’s winners were:

Innovator of the Year: Jim MacInnes of Crystal Mountain, Thompsonville
Best Project—Residential: Mike and Jackie Miller, Fenton
Best Project—Agriculture: Jeff LaBar of LaBar Poultry Farm, Manistique
Best Project—Industrial/Manufacturing: Michigan Rubber Products, Cadillac
Best Project—Commercial (Private): Marquette Food Co-Operative, Marquette
Best Project—Public: Roseville Community Schools, Roseville
Contractor of the Year: Bartholomew Heating and Cooling/Energy Saving Services, Kalamazoo
Best Communication or Education Program: Michigan Battle of the Buildings, Greenville

A full list of finalists and descriptions about their projects can be found on the GEEA website.

Finding new and innovative ways to be energy efficient

“Reducing energy waste doesn’t have to mean scaling back or doing less. You have demonstrated that it’s possible to do as much or more by finding new and innovative ways to get things done,” said Gov. Rick Snyder in his address to the attendees. “This is important because reliable and affordable energy fuels Michigan’s economy, and continuing to reduce our energy waste is one of the main ways we are going to keep energy prices affordable in Michigan.”

In addition to recognizing the practical benefits of reducing energy waste, the event seeks to create a platform where others feel empowered to participate.

“We wanted to create an event where reducing energy waste could be acknowledged and celebrated for the powerful tool that it is,” says Selma Tucker, director of marketing and communications for Michigan Saves, “A number of people are realizing these benefits, but their stories aren’t being told—it’s our job, as a community, to lift them up as examples for what’s possible so they can hopefully inspire others to follow suit or even raise the bar.”

Implementing a “no-regrets” energy policy

The awards were sponsored by the Michigan Agency for Energy.

“The Michigan Agency for Energy is honored to sponsor the first Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards,” says Valerie Brader, the agency’s executive director. “These awards signify the innovative efforts undertaken by Michiganders when it comes to reducing energy waste in the state and are just one step in implementing an adaptable ‘no-regrets’ energy policy—one built on affordability, reliability and environmental protection.”

Additional sponsors included CLEAResult, Consumers Energy, DTE Energy, Dow and the Michigan Municipal Electric Association.