By: Matt Hendrian & Carin Tunney

This past spring, pollinator seeds took root on the site of a retired coal plant in Michigan’s thumb. In June, 18 endangered Blanding turtles waddled through their new wetland home near Detroit. In July, a team of volunteers collected trash long the Au Sable River to prepare for a 120-mile canoe marathon. And in September, 14 rehabilitated fawns bounded from a trailer, ready to explore a section of land we own in southeast Michigan.

These are only four examples of how we’re protecting the planet. In September, we surpassed our 5-year goal to enhance, protect or restore 5,000 acres of land. It was more than a year early. No one was more excited than Consumers Energy environmental engineer Lindsey Johnson.

“This is an incredible accomplishment for our company,” she said. “It started with cleanups and volunteerism and morphed into a companywide goal to improve construction practices, making them greener for the people and wildlife that we work around daily.”        

Johnson said our company’s co-workers worked with community volunteers to make it happen.

Looking Toward a New Land Goal

Johnson and our environmental team are looking to the future toward an even larger land goal. Involvement at every level of the company is just the beginning, Johnson’s vision for the future includes focusing on the importance of key habitats.

“While the land goal is currently tracked in acres, not every accomplishment is equal in those terms,” she said. “Saving one small wetland that might amount to only a quarter acre toward the goal can impact biodiversity in a way that is immeasurable.”

We’re adopting a holistic approach that preserves every environment’s unique qualities. That’s a major part of protecting the balance in our ecosystems – a concept we extend to our sustainability efforts focused on people, planet and the prosperity of our communities and our company.

Each project we undertake also contributes to positive environmental and economic outcomes for the state. This includes ecologically minded construction techniques, more environmentally friendly energy production – including retiring our coal-fired plants – and researching the best ways to interact with the environment when we find opportunities to protect wildlife and enhance or restore our lands, which includes hundreds of thousands of owned property and areas along our right of ways.  

Johnson said the resounding response from companywide efforts opens the door for even more ways to get involved and improve Michigan’s lands, waters and air.

“I hope the land goal touches every department in the company, from the smallest project to the largest,” she said. “It’s important for designers, crews and project teams to think in terms of what we can do to make our work greener, what type of products are best for the environment and how can we implement them in a way that reduces our footprint.”

We also set water reduction and waste elimination targets as part of our planet goals. We reached both this year through a 35% reduction in waste and 31% reduction in water since we set our 5-year goals in 2018.