Those driving down the Lodge Freeway in recent weeks might have noticed a few changes to the roof of 1-800-LAW-FIRM.
Thanks to the privately funded Property Assessed Clean Energy project, or PACE, 1-800-LAW-FIRM, located at 26700 Lahser Road, recently debuted new wind turbines, carport and rooftop solar panels, high-efficiency lighting, and electric vehicle charging stations.
In 2012, the Southfield City Council voted to become the first city government to join Lean and Green Michigan, a public-private partnership facilitating economic development, the creation of good jobs and environment improvement.
Southfield’s membership allowed for the adoption of the citywide PACE program, which enables property owners to take on voluntary special assessments in order to finance improvements or construction projects that reduce energy and water use or utilize renewable energy sources, such as geothermal, solar and wind power.
1-800-LAW-FIRM, which is headquartered in Southfield, has offices in 50 states featuring bar-certified lawyers for legal help over the phone.
CEO and founder of 1-800-LAW-FIRM Ari Kresch said the solar panels generate enough energy to run the entire firm — and then some — producing about $40,000 worth of electricity each year.
“It generates electricity we can use for our own purposes, so if we have too much, we can sell it back to the grid,” Kresch said.
Kresch said that, hopefully, the new improvements to the building will inspire other property owners to think twice about the way their business affects the environment.
“Doing this doesn’t deplete the resources of our planet,” Kresch said. “Four hundred thousand cars pass by our building every day. I’m trying to inspire others to do similar types of things.”
A project of Levin Energy Partners LLC, Lean and Green Michigan is the brainchild of Andy Levin, former deputy director and acting director of the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth.
Mark Bennett of the law firm of Miller Canfield, which serves as PACE counsel to jurisdictions participating in the effort, also had a hand in the initiative.
According to Levin, the program is now not only limited to Southfield. Nine counties and three other cities in Michigan have joined the effort, and there is even more to come.
“I think it’s really important to know Southfield was the first city to join Lean and Green Michigan,” Levin said.
Levin attributed the city leading the effort in green energy to Southfield’s leadership.
“I have to zero out Fred Zorn and Rochelle Freeman. They have just been tireless champions of this new model,” Levin said. “They really get it. They really see the future. They have really played a big role in getting us to this point.”
Levin also singled out Mayor Brenda Lawrence’s efforts, hoping she will bring the drive for green energy with her to Washington.
“I think that will be a feather in her cap when she gets to D.C., not to show off but to show a concrete example of how innovative policy can help drive economic development,” Levin said.
Kresch said 1-800-LAW-FIRM plans on creating its own energy for as long as possible.
“These units are not designed to run out,” Kresch said. “As long as the wind is blowing and the sun is shining, I’m going to have them on my building.”
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