BCBSM Goes "Green:" A Closer Look at Downtown Detroit’s Largest Solar Energy System
by John Jakcsy
| 2 min read
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is powering a portion of its Detroit campus with renewable energy that preserves clean air and protects natural resources. BCBSM is one of the first organizations in Michigan to participate in DTE’s SolarCurrents, one of the largest solar energy programs in the country. “Use of solar energy supports the Blues Go Green initiative,” said Ray Warner, director, Facilities and Support Services. “Participation in the SolarCurrents program puts us in the forefront of using green energy technology to help power an urban campus setting.”
Decreasing our Carbon Footprint
As a company, BCBSM recognizes the health of its members is impacted by a clean environment. Through its “Blues Go Green” initiative, emerging environmental issues, opportunities to reduce the environmental impact of company activities, products and services are identified wherever possible. The SolarCurrents program is one example. SolarCurrents compliments two other unique technologies used at the downtown Detroit campus — the green living roof on the Congress Street parking deck and the rain water collection systems used for irrigation located behind BCBSM's headquarters on Lafayette.
Pursuing Sustainability in Downtown Detroit, Partnering with DTE Energy
DTE has installed the 200-kilowatt solar energy system on the roof of BCBSM’s four-story parking structure located at the corner of Congress and Beaubien. “The solar energy system is capable of providing enough power for about 40 homes a year, plus 20 percent of the base load energy requirements for the Detroit Tower,” said Chris Meyer, manager, Facilities and Support Services. One of the major benefits is the contribution made toward preserving a green environment. “Since last August, the solar energy system has produced more than 91,000 kilowatts of power,” Meyer said. “That’s enough power to avoid producing 65 metric tons of carbon dioxide and protect 24 acres of trees.” The best view of the 31-000 square-foot solar energy system is from the Detroit People Mover. Each month thousands of people can see the system capturing renewable energy from the sun during their ride. “It’s the largest solar energy system in downtown Detroit,” Meyer said. “It’s good use of urban space, and adds an attractive look to our campus.”
Investing in Michigan's Future
What’s more, BCBSM is providing DTE a platform for solar energy research to develop clean energies for commercial use throughout Southeastern Michigan. A SolarCurrents display located inside BCBSM also allows employees to view real-time energy output and learn how solar technology helps the environment. More information on the project is available on DTE Energy's website.