Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians - 2011 Project

Project Overview
Tribe/Awardee: Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians
Location: Sault Ste. Marie, MI
Project Title: Training in Building Energy Audit Technologies
Type of Application: First Steps (Planning)
DOE Grant Number: DE-EE0005048
Project Amounts:
DOE: $55,748
Awardee: $0
Total: $55,748
Project Status: See project status
Project Period
of Performance:
Start: September 2011
End: December 2012

Summary

Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians ("the Tribe") will obtain training in the use of Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) cameras for its staff, delivered in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. In addition, the Tribe will seek out a training program to provide training in blower door technology applications and building systems.

Project Description

Background

Since its formal recognition in 1975, the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe has embarked on a sustained and ambitious effort to increase the programs and services it provides to the membership. The overriding concern in this sustained effort is to maximize the Tribe's and its members' ability to achieve long range social and economic self-sufficiency. The Tribe's current enrollment is 39,385 members. Most of these members reside off reservations in the recognized tribal service area, which covers seven counties of the Eastern Upper Peninsula. About 937 residents reside in tribal housing developments within the service area, and the balance of the population resides in other areas of Michigan and the United States.

Since its formal recognition in 1975, the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe has embarked on a sustained and ambitious effort to increase the programs and services it provides to tribal members. The overriding concern in this sustained effort is to maximize the Tribe's and its members' ability to achieve long-range social and economic self-sufficiency. The Tribe's current enrollment is 39,385 members. Most of these members reside off reservation in the recognized tribal service area, which covers seven counties of Michigan's eastern Upper Peninsula. About 937 residents reside in tribal housing developments within the service area, and the balance of the population resides in other areas of Michigan and the United States.

The Tribe now owns some 36 buildings, which house the tribal government administration, services, and enterprises. Some of these are newly built but many are older buildings purchased by the Tribe to operate services such as elderly programs, women's shelters, recreational facilities, etc.

The Tribe has received a grant to carry out energy audits on 20 buildings and is currently undergoing the RFP process to identify the contractor(s) to do the work. Subsequent plans will be made to undertake energy-conservation retrofits, and there will be a need to analyze the effectiveness of these actions. Most of the work to retrofit and to evaluate the effectiveness will be done in house by the existing tribal staff.

Furthermore, the 508 housing units in Tribal Housing are in need of energy conservation work. Many are older units, some are former Air Force Base housing, and most are occupied by low-income tribal members who struggle to pay utilities in the cold climate. The thousands of tribal members living off-reservation in the seven-county service area face similar challenges.

At present, all of the energy consumed in tribal buildings and tribal members' homes (except for wood heat) is provided by local utilities. The Tribe is interested in expanding its role in energy services, including developing renewable power for tribal use and perhaps contribution to the grid. Renewable power, whether solar, wind, or geothermal, is widely understood by the Tribe to be a gift from Mother Earth in a way that fossil and nuclear energy are not—digging and drilling to extract energy means it is not a "gift" freely given in the way that the sun's rays and the wind blowing are.

Reducing the energy demand from tribal buildings will allow the Tribe to move forward with scaling renewable energy production to the appropriate and necessary size. For example, some buildings can be outfitted with solar roofs or vertical axis wind turbines, ground source heat pumps for heating, and passive solar heating and cooling. Reducing the energy demand from tribally owned or member-owned housing will increase homeowners' ability to be self-sufficient, either through wood heating or more affordable utility costs.

Energy conservation is the first step in a comprehensive energy plan for the Tribe—it is necessary to plug the leaks before developing new ways to fill the basin. Wasting and losing less means that future developments can be appropriately sized for actual needs, leading to energy self-sustainability for the Tribe.

Project Objectives

The Sault Tribe's Environment Department purchased a forward-looking Infrared radar (FLIR) camera to assist with promoting energy conservation awareness and carrying out and analyzing building retrofits. The Tribal Housing Authority also owns two of these cameras. To date, advanced training in use of the cameras has been unavailable and this has prevented the Tribe from making best use of the technology.

The Tribe will obtain advanced training in the use of infrared cameras and interpretation of results for staff in Tribal Housing, in Environment, and in Facilities Maintenance. Economies of scale point to bringing the trainers to Sault Ste. Marie to deliver this training. Housing staff will put their cameras to use to develop a plan to carry out the most cost-effective and energy-efficient retrofits on tribal housing, starting with the oldest structures. Environment will employ its camera in cooperation with Facilities staff, providing analysis before/after energy retrofits to the governmental buildings subject to audits under the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant. On request, Environment will also use its camera to assist with indoor air quality problems in member homes referred by the Tribal Health Center physicians. These cameras can be useful to identify hidden water leaks that contribute to mold, triggering allergies and asthma.

Specific objectives for this project include providing tribal staff with the following:

  1. FLIR camera training
  2. Blower door analysis and Building-as-a-System training and certification
  3. Building envelope training and certification.

Project Scope

The project will be managed by the Environmental Program Manager for the tribe, in consultation with the Facilities Manager and the Housing Director, and with assistance from the Purchasing Department, which will help with the bid/award process. The Sault Tribe will contract with a subcontractor to provide a training program for tribal staff, delivered in Sault Ste. Marie. In addition, the Tribe will seek out a training program to provide training in blower door technology applications and building systems.

The 10 or more staff members to receive the training will be selected by their supervisors, the Environment and Facilities Managers, and the Housing Director. If there is room in the on-site training class, other departments, such as Health, that have their own building managers will be invited to send a staff person to attend and be certified.

A training center will be contracted to provide the Level I Thermal Imaging for Energy Audits course at in Sault Ste. Marie. The remaining two types of training will be obtained through the Tribe's procurement process. The Environment Manager will work with Purchasing to develop a request for proposals (RFP) specifying the training and outcomes, the RFP process will be carried out, and a training organization will be contracted to provide on-site building analyst training and certification.

Project Location

The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians is part of the Anishnabe or Chippewa people; this culture has spread over a vast area of the Upper Great Lakes in the United States. Of the tribal members in Michigan, the majority live in the seven easternmost counties of the Upper Peninsula (Alger, Chippewa, Delta, Luce, Mackinac, Marquette, and Schoolcraft), with the largest concentrations in the cities of Sault Ste. Marie and St. Ignace. The Tribe has reservation or trust lands over which it exercises governmental powers in a number of locations within the seven counties.

Project Status

The project was competitively selected under the Tribal Energy Program's fiscal year 2011 funding opportunity announcement "First Steps Toward Developing Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency on Tribal Lands" (DE-FOA-0000422) and started in September 2011.

The November 2011 and March 2014 project status report provides more information.

For current project status or additional information, please contact the project contacts.

Project Contact

Kathleen Brosemer
Environmental Program Manager
523 Ashmun Street
Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783 
906-632-5575
kbrosemer@saulttribe.net

William Connolly
Comptroller
523 Ashmun Street
Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783
906-635-6050
Bconnolly@saulttribe.net