The Detroit SUN Project: SUN = Sustainable Urban Neighborhood (2011)

Project Location : 
Detroit, MI
Summary of Project Idea: 

This project serves as a pilot project to be used as a model for other low-income urban areas. This project focuses on educating residents of a low-income urban community about urban environmental issues while promoting positive behavior changes. The purpose of this project is four-fold: 1) to identify environmental education knowledge gaps in a low-income area of Detroit, 2) to provide residents with local resources that promote positive behavioral changes in order to meet their environmental needs, 3) to increase awareness about resource use in order to conserve energy and reduce utility costs, and 4) to put residents in contact with services and programs that can help meet environmental needs. A series of workshops, led in partnership with several local organizations, were conducted in the focus neighborhood. A home was rented in the neighborhood to serve as a venue for the workshop series and as a demonstration house for home energy and water efficiency techniques. Surveys were administered to workshop participants in order to assess knowledge of selected environmental topics. The topics included recycling and illegal dumping, water use efficiency and responsibility, home weatherization, local food and human health concerns, and storm water management. An environmental education booklet was created based on workshop content and distributed to community residents in order to promote the concept of sustainability and serve as a lasting resource within the neighborhood. Our project history, the planning process and implementation of the workshop series, and interacting with residents of our target area inform our recommendations for future urban environmental education programs and policies directed at urban sustainability in low-income areas.

SEAS Program Areas: 
Environmental Policy and Planning
Sustainable Systems
SEAS Faculty Advisor: 
Kerry Duggan
Master Students Involved in Project: 
  • Karyn Boldys, MUP/MS Sustainable Systems
  • Lauren Cooper, MS Environmental Policy
  • Michela Gentile, MS Sustainable Systems
  • Melinda Morang, MUP/MS Sustainable Systems
  • Elizabeth Senecal, MS Sustainable Systems
Project Status: 
Past Project