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April 15, 2009 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2009-04-15

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

'U' researchers, local business
owners tout geothermal energy

From Page 1A
ment. To first cover the upfront cost
of the system, the Grocoffs took out
a rehabilitation loan to be paid back
over the 30-year life of the geother-
mal system, adding $40 to their
monthly mortgage payment.
"The payback was immediate,"
he said. "As soon as the geothermal
started running in March (of2006),
it cut our utility bill by 200 bucks."
What may be more remarkable,
however, is that the Grocoffs paid
$350 for heating, cooling and hot
water for the month of January
prior to installing the system. After
the geothermal system became
operational, the Grocoffs spent
around $550 in total for 2007 - a
monthly average of about $45.
With the savings in mind, Gro-
coff said everyone looking to pur-
chase a new furnace in the next
five years should instead invest in
a geothermal system. Grocoff cited
the 30 percent tax credit incen-
tive guaranteed for implementing
a geothermal system as outlined
in the energy rebate section of the
recent stimulus plan as one major
reason to install one.
In its simplest sense, geothermal
energy relies on extracting heat
from the Earth's interior to gen-
erate power. Current geothermal
systems come in two types.
In one form, deep boreholes are
drilled into the ground and fluids
are run through a system for direct
exchange of heat. Generators
that use this form often rely upon
hydrothermal resources like hot
springs to produce electricity.
The second type of geother-
mal systems, like the one in Gro-
coff's home, take advantage of
the Earth's static temperatures at
shallow depths of 20 feet or more
where seasonal variation is not
felt. At about 50 degrees Fahren-
heit year-round, the ground is an
effective heat sink in the summer
and a heat source in the winter.
Consideringhis original motiva-
tions to pursue green renovations,
Grocoff echoed the sentiments of
environmental pundits, saying that
current levels of energy consump-
tion are unsustainable.
"It has become obvious with
automobiles, and it's soon becoming
obvious with our homes," he said.
Henry Pollack, professor emeri-
tus of geological sciences, said the
new appeal for geothermal systems
has come from the rising price of
carbon-based fuels. The initial
installation cost of the system is
paid back over a number of years,
and the savings have always been
relative to the cost of natural gas.
"When carbon-based fuels

From Page 1A
uniting to urge the U.S. Senate to
pass the Development, Relief and
Education for Alien Minors Act to
help undocumented young people,
who arrived to the United States
as children, become citizens by
either completing two years of
military service or attend college
for two years. The bill would also
allow universities to offer these
students in-state tuition at state
schools and make them eligible
for financial aid. Currently, it is
unclear if state universities can
offer in-state tuition to undocu-
mented immigrants.
At itsweekly meeting last night,
the Michigan 'Student Assembly
passed a resolution supporting a
federal DREAM Act in a vote of
17-5-10. It was authored by Rack-
ham Rep. Kate Stenvig and LSA
Rep. Robby Saldafia.
The resolution includes sup-
porting a march for the act that
will be held on May S in southwest
Detroit. The march will begin in
Patton Memorial Park at 10 a.m.
and end at Clark Park with a rally
at noon. Organizations contribut-
ing to the march and rally include,
Migrant and Immigrant Rights
Awareness, By Any Means Neces-
sary and Latinos Unidos/United
de Michigan.
"Many of these (undocumented
immigrants) have attended ,U.S.
schools for most of their lives,
but their immigration status bars
them from opportunities that
make a college education afford-
able, including in-state tuition
rates, loans and grants, most pri-
vate scholarships and the abil-
ity to work legally," the resolution
The resolution states that MSA
will send a copy of the resolu-
tion to President Barack Obama,
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelo-
si, The Michigan Daily, The Ann
Arbor News and the Detroit Free
Several supporters of the
DREAM Act addressed the
assembly about the issue at both
last night's and last week's meet-
ings, encouraging representatives
to vote in favor of the resolution.
Laura Sanders, a lecturer in
the School of Social Work and
founder of an interfaith coalition
for immigrant rights, stressed the
importance of the cause at MSA's
meeting last week.
"The whole issue of immigra-
tion is really at the forefront of
our human rights and civil rights
movements right now," she said.
"We don'treally realize how under
attack our immigrant community
is, and you can really change that.
You can really have a voice as
Michigan students."
The proposal was originally
brought before the assembly last
week but was tabled until this
week because the meeting ran too

Wednesday, April 15, 2009 - 7A
The DREAM Act applies to
students with "good moral char-
acter" who arrived in the United
States before turning 16, lived in
the country for at least five years
and graduated from high school
or earned a General Education
Development diploma. After high
school graduation, individuals are
required to serve in the military
or attend college for at least two
years, according to the Library of
Congress website.
LSA senior Christine Rhee,
president of Migrant and Immi-
grant Rights Awareness (MIRA),
said the DREAM Act would help
to provide financial relief for
undocumented immigrants.
"So far a lot of undocumented
students are just stalling or are
deferring their acceptance let-
ters or aren't even considering
going to higher universities just
because of the fact that they have
undocumented status and the fact
that they can't pay for out-of-state
tuition, granted their whole lives
were practically in the states that
they wanted to apply to," she said.
Mohammed said if the DREAM
Act were to pass, it would help him
finish college and earn a degree in
social work.
"The one personal thing is that
it would enable me to go to school
and finish my degree, my master's
and bachelor's, and then actually
be able to give back to the commu-
nity that I've pretty much grown
up in my whole life," he said.
Mohammed said he believes in
students' potential to make a dif-
ference in the passage of the leg-
"One big role is just as a sign of
unity. Everybody coming together
and voicing support for it is one
big definite step," he said. "And
another one would be going and
actually lobbying on behalf of it
as students and as people from the
Stenvig echoed this sentiment,
saying that universities play a
critical role in passing this legis-
"In particular, universities can
play a big role because students
are coming to administrations,
who can say, 'We need to do this
to make it possible for (undocu-
mented) students to be able to
come here,'"she said. "And I think
that's really important."
Even though several repre-
sentatives who spoke against the
resolution said they favored the
overall concept of the DREAM
Act, there was opposition due to
the unstable nature of the bill.
Rackham Rep. Michael Benson,
who did not vote in favor of the
resolution, said he would encour-
age the assembly to follow the bill
as it might change and to read-
dress the act in the fall.
"My main objection was the
fact that we just approved some-
thing that we don't know what the
final form will be," Benson said.

The geothermal energy unit in the basement of Matt Grocoff's century old house on Seventh Street in Ann Arbor.

were cheaper, the payout [for geo-.
thermal] was eight, 10 or even 12
years," he said. "Now, with the
payoff in seven or fewer years,
geothermal has become an attrac-
tive alternative."
Pollack has spent most of his
research career measuring sub-
surface temperatures across the
globe in an effort to map heat loss
from its interior.
He said the expense of drilling
boreholes and the scarcity of loca-
tions with "hot rocks" puts deep
mining for heat far behind wind
power as an established source of
energy. And despite the low effi-
ciency of solar panels, Pollack said
the Earth's interior only generates
four-thousandths of the sun's heat.
"I just don't think we'll see the
mining of the heat as a large-scale
replacement for other sources of
energy," he said.
While deep mining for heat may
not be viable in the near future,
shallow heat exchangers have
already made their way into more
than 15,000 Michigan homes,
according to the Michigan Geo-
thermal Energy Association.
Pollack's only concern with the
personal geothermal system is that
a large amount of fluid exchange is

From Page 1A
Brooks said the worst case sce-
nario would be staff and salary
cuts. But programs like free Shab-
bat dinner, free chicken soup for
sick and overwhelmed students
and the Golden Apple Award -
which honors outstanding teach-
ers at the University - aren't in
immediate danger, though.
Many of the 6,000 Jewish stu-
dents on campus frequent Hillel
on a fairly regular basis.
Directors began to detect finan-
cial problems over the past couple
months, leading the organization
to take measures to turn the situa-
tion around.
On April 5, Hillel launched a
Facebook campaign and mobi-
lized other efforts to raise money
for the organization.
Officials are trying to expand
From Page 1A
state Senate.
Both Gov. Jennifer Granholm
and many Republican senators
are opposed to raising taxes after
recently increasing the state
income tax, according to The
Associated Press.
Matt Marsden, spokesman for
Republican Senate Majority Lead-
er Mike Bishop, said that after the
recent income tax raise, any pro-
posal to raise sales taxes the Sen-
ate would likely reject.
"We've made it clear, and the
governor made it clear back in
February, that revenue through
fees and taxes is not something
we are willing to support," Mars-
den said.
Marsden said that while he
thinks it is a hearty attempt at
raising funds for their cause, tax-
ing various goods will not solve
the state's economic issues.
"We have a $1 billion debt and a
nickel of beer is not going to cover

the organization's base of donors
who may be able to contribute
larger sums to the Hillel. Students
are also being asked to reach out
to family and friends who have
University connections and set-
ting their Facebook profiles and
pictures to encourage supporting
the organization.
Neal Ashinsky, chair of Hillel's
student board, is hoping students
'will support the group and that
Hillel will be able to continue to
provide the same levels of service.
Though it's possible Hillel may
have some tough choices, Brooks
said he is happy with the support
the organization has received
since announcing the campaign.
"It's thus been all the more
gratifying to see so many stu-
dents, parents and alumni rallying
to help Hillel not only sustain its
level of service to U-M students
but to help it continue to grow," he
wrote in the e-mail.
that," he said. "We've had these
problems with the deficit for eight
Mike Lashbrook, president
of the Michigan Wine and Beer
Wholesalers Association, a trade
association in Lansing, said that
state taxes on beer are already rel-
atively high. He said an increase
would not only hurt the beer
industry in Michigan, but also
"The current tax on beer is
already significantly higher than
neighboring states," he said.
Lashbrook said he believed the
proposed tax increase is simply
an attempt to find financial sup-
port the state government will not
provide, though the ramifications
of such a tax could reach everyone
in Michigan.
"Right now the tax increase is
just a suggestion from a private
task force to find funding," he
said. "But an increase that more
than doubles the current rate
will hurt the economy, the jobs in
Michigan, and the low-income tax

necessary for heating and cooling,
potentially limiting widespread
use in homes.
to have a sufficient loop of pipe, or if
you have a small place, you would
have to go deeper to get an equiva-
lent vertical loop," he said.
Meadowlark Builders, a local
design and building firm for
Washtenaw County, has sought to
address the typical constraints for
installing geothermal heating and
cooling systems - especially in
context of historic renovations.
DougSelby, presidentof Meadow-
lark Builders, founded the company
five years ago with sustainability
in mind. He said green renovations
have been a means to counter rising
natural gas prices, which excused
poor buildirg practices in the past.
"When energy was cheap, the
workmanship wasn't good, but
you could throw extra energy at it
knowing it would work," he said.
Stressingthe importanceofinsu-
lation, Selby said heating and cool-
ingenergy losses can be reduced by
up to two-thirds with a well-sealed
home, allowing geothermal sys-
tems to operate at lower costs.
"Our goal is to build zero energy
houses," he said. "That's difficult
From Page IA
said. "That's a moving target right
When Coleman opened the floor
for questions, students asked her
whether she expected a tuition
increase next year and how much
the increase could be. Coleman
told students it was too early to
know whether an increase would
be necessary, but said she would
know what the tuition rates would
be in June, when the budget is sub-
mitted to the University Board of
Several students asked Coleman
what the University was planning
to do to help students deal with the
burden of rising tuition levels that
have made it difficult for some stu-
dents to afford tuition.
Coleman didn't offer specifics on
any new programs at the Univer-
sity, but told students that several
federal initiatives will help make
tuition more affordable next year.
Coleman said the American
Opportunity Tax Credit, which
will offer a $2,500 higher educa-
tion tax credit to individuals nak-
ing less than $80,000 a year or
couples making less than $160,000
a year, will help to make tuition
more affordable.
Additionally, Coleman said
increases to work study programs
will create 440 new job opportu-
nities for University students and
give an additional $1.6 million to
students over the next two years.
Finally, Coleman said the $619
increase to individual Pell Grants
would benefit as many as 3,300
students on campus. The increase
will make the average Pell Grant
award $5,050 for the year.
Several students also asked
Coleman what the University is
doing to cut costs or increase rev-
enue streams so that tuition rates
don't need to be increased.
Coleman responded that every
year the deans of each school
submit budget plans that would
eliminate 1 percent, 3 percent and

in our climate and especially dif-
ficult in retrofitting situations, but
we keep trying to push toward that
An attendee of annual green
building conferences, Grocoff, the
homeowner with the geothermal
unit, admitted it is difficult to find
resources to make decisions about
insulation, heating, cooling, light-
ing and water conservation.
"Even with all of the talk of
green, there's not a really good
resource where homeowners can
go to and learn how to do this," he
To address the issue, Grocoff
has started an Internet TV channel
project called GreenovatinnTV.com.
Set to launch on Earth Dav next
week, the website will offer free
on-demand access to videos about
green building and renovation with
support from social networking
sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Grocoff said he hopes Greenova-
tionTV will serve as "a space where
homeowners can come together
and share ideas." And given his
recent success with implement-
ing a personal geothermal unit, he
anticipates the site will attract an
audience looking to both live green
and save money.

University President Mary Sue Coleman discusses financial issues with students during her fireside chat yesterday.

5 percent of their budget. Based on
the plans, administrators can then
determine how much to cut from
each budget.
"My own office, I've got to cut
1 percent out of my budget this
year," Coleman said. "I don't know
yet how I'm going to do it, but I'm
going to do it because we have to."
One student raised concerns
that with that process, deans may
have an incentive to pad their
budgets with extra money, so
that their cuts aren't as fully real-
ized. Harper told the student that
because of the process in place
and the level of detail required in
budget proposals, that wouldn't
be possible.
A different student recom-
mended to Coleman that she and

other University executives take
pay cuts to help cut expenses at
the University. Coleman didn't say
she was planning to take a cut, but
avoided the question by saying she
couldn't speak for other Univer-
sity executives. Though she has
donated pay increases back to Uni-
versity causes, Coleman accepted
the salary boost she was awarded
by the regents in September. At
about $760,000 in total compen-
sation, Coleman currently ranks
fifth among the highest-paid pub-
lic university presidents, according
to The Chronicle of Higher Educa-
She continued byexplainingthat
competitive salaries are required
to attract quality employees, both
for administrators and faculty

Students raised other concerns,
including the amount of money
spent on faculty retention incen-
tives and the lack of transparency
in the University budget. Students
also gave Coleman recommenda-
tions, which ranged from more
socially responsible investment
practices to higher payouts from
the endowment.
Before the meeting ended, Cole-
man told students a new web-
site will launch Monday that will
include information about the Uni-
versity's budget, in an effort to bet-
ter inform students and members
of the University community about
what the University is doing to pre-
vent additional financial burdens
on students and their families.

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