Detroit Sustainability Director Talks Equity, Environment, and Economy at NASEO Annual Meeting

On September 24th, NASEO kicked off the 2018 Annual Meeting with keynote Joel Howrani Heeres, the City of Detroit’s Director of Sustainability, who addressed how sustainable energy and transportation can help cities and states address pressing challenges and priorities.

Howrani-Heeres emphasized the need for resident engagement. “How do we enable Detroiters to produce less waste, use less water, conserve energy, and interact with their government? How do we make the government a partner rather than an inhibitor? How do we train Detroiters to participate in this green economy?”

His presentation had a large focus on inequality in Detroit as well. “We need to talk about the triple bottom line… but equity is most important. Then after that, we have economy and environment.  We know the city is growing economically, but is it equitable growth? Is it inclusive growth?”

The city of Detroit has 14 sustainability ambassadors who engage residents (over 16,000 thus far) through town halls and in-person visits. These ambassadors have also analyzed over 600 existing locations in Detroit to identify trends and gaps in existing sustainability actions in Detroit in order to work on ways to improve these issues.  A large focus of this effort is on improving housing.

To learn more about Detroit’s sustainability efforts and get involved in the conversation, visit