CELEBRATING 40 YEARS

Michigan Energy Options (formerly Urban Options) has reached a milestone in our work: 40 years of being in business! MEO will be celebrating this achievement with a party at our headquarters in East Lansing on Thursday, June 14 from 4-8pm. Join us in celebrating!

Over the decades…

Our work has reached every county in Michigan and helped millions of people. View some of our highlights by clicking through our timeline.

The 1970s
The 1970s
The 1970s
The 1970s
The 1980s
The 1980s
The 1980s
The 1980s
The 1980s
The 1990s
The 1990s
The 1990s
The 1990s
The 1990s
The 2000s
The 2000s
The 2000s
The 2010s
The 2010s
The 2010s
2010s and Beyond
2010s and Beyond
2010s and Beyond
2010s and Beyond

The 1970s

“ENERGY USE, ALTERNATIVES AND RELATED SUBJECTS”

Urban Options is born in 1978.

The 1970s

“ENERGY USE, ALTERNATIVES AND RELATED SUBJECTS”

“The Energy House” is conceptualized in the late 1970s.

The 1970s

“ENERGY USE, ALTERNATIVES AND RELATED SUBJECTS”

Early Urban Options staff and volunteers fashion a solar greenhouse as part of the first Energy House.

The 1970s

“ENERGY USE, ALTERNATIVES AND RELATED SUBJECT”

The original house located on Linden Street. Next door to it is the second “Energy Demonstration House,” which is still the organization’s headquarters today.

The 1980s

A TIMELY MISSION THEN AND NOW

Urban Options defines its purpose and much of the work it would do in subsequent decades: energy efficiency, renewable energy, education and local sustainability. Services offered by Urban Options and remembered fondly by some people still today include a home and garden tool-lending program and a community library.

The 1980s

A TIMELY MISSION THEN AND NOW

For decades, the Pretty Shaky String Band holds weekly jam sessions at Urban Options.

The 1980s

REDUCE. REUSE. RELOCATE.

Despite the efforts of Urban Options staff and supporters, they, in fact, do not save the original house from the wrecking ball.

The 1980s

REDUCE. REUSE. RELOCATE.

Urban Options strikes a deal with the City of East Lansing to relocate the Dutch Colonial Revival house next door to its existing spot at 405 Grove Street. At the time, energy upgrades to this historic building include a passive solar addition, double-pane casement windows, insulation and eventually a solar roof.

The 1980s

REDUCE. REUSE. RELOCATE.

One of the early editions of The Sundial newsletter, November 1981.

The 1990s

NEW TECHNOLOGIES AND CLASSIC COMPOST

Urban Options increasingly becomes known for introducing new energy-saving technologies into the marketplace—including compact fluorescent light bulbs. Back in the day, CFLs were more expensive than incandescent lights.

The 1990s

NEW TECHNOLOGIES AND CLASSIC COMPOST

Urban Options is also known for teaching people how to do worm composting.

The 1990s

NEW TECHNOLOGIES AND CLASSIC COMPOST

Urban Options cultivates the worm compost to help grow the flourishing garden.

The 1990s

THE FIRST SOLAR ROOF IN THE STATE

Urban Options is an early adopter and demonstration center for solar power, including its innovative solar roof in the late 1990s.

The 1990s

THE FIRST SOLAR ROOF IN THE STATE

Today this 2-kilowatt solar roof is still providing the building a source of clean, renewable electricity. Paired with an additional 1.2 kilowatts of solar panels added in 2011, nearly 40 percent of electricity needs are met on site.

The 2000s

NORTH AND A NAME CHANGE

In 2005, Urban Options opens an office in Marquette called Northern Options, becoming the first energy nonprofit to have a presence above the bridge.

The 2000s

NORTH AND A NAME CHANGE

Volume 26 of The Sundial newsletter announcing the Northern Options office in the Upper Peninsula.

The 2000s

NORTH AND A NAME CHANGE

In 2009, Urban Options and Northern Options undergo a name change to Michigan Energy Options, in part, to signify the expansion of work across the entire state.

The 2010s

THE GREENEST OF THE GREEN

In 2012, Michigan Energy Options achieves the greenest of designations for a green building: the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum Certification.

The 2010s

THE GREENEST OF THE GREEN

Among the new features that earn the highest of certifications is a sustainable site design that includes a rain garden which helps to capture 80 percent of the storm water on site.

The 2010s

THE GREENEST OF THE GREEN

Current and former directors of Urban Options and MEO celebrate the LEED Platinum certification.

2010s and Beyond

GROWING FROM OUR 40-YEAR-OLD ROOTS

Today, Michigan Energy Options operates utility energy efficiency programs throughout the state. Our work includes pioneering appliance recycling programs across the state and working with over 25 utilities. Over the years our work has reached all 83 counties and touched millions of people.

2010s and Beyond

GROWING FROM OUR 40-YEAR-OLD ROOTS

We are helping to create community solar parks in the Lower and Upper Peninsulas.

2010s and Beyond

GROWING FROM OUR 40-YEAR-OLD ROOTS

We are working with national experts to design these community solar projects to include pollinator-friendly habitats and pioneering models for future solar developments across the state of Michigan.

2010s and Beyond

GROWING FROM OUR 40-YEAR-OLD ROOTS

Perhaps even more so than when we were founded in 1978, our continued mission to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and increase usage of clean, renewable energy is critical for our communities, our state and our planet.

Share your story!

If you have a remembrance of working at or working with Urban Options/MEO, please share your story through the form below. We’ll be posting these stories, as they’re received, on this webpage.

When SEEDS was just a twinkle in its founders eye, a foundational meeting was held at Urban Options that led directly to submitting incorporation papers. Thanks for hosting!

-Sarna

What a treat it was for me to be able to visit Michigan’s premiere energy efficiency and renewable energy organization back in the late 70’s when a group of us were trying to duplicate the model in Flint, MI. Then I was double-blessed to revisit Urban Options in the early 90’s with my fellow classmates from our Western MI University Environmental Studies Program. My crown jewel moment happened in 2000 when the Board of Directors chose me to lead the next chapter of Urban Options history as the next Executive Director following LeRoy Harvey’s decision to complete his Masters degree at Michigan State University. Although I subsequently moved on at the beginning of 2004, I was so pleased to see the continued evolution of Urban Options/Michigan Energy Options, the increasingly visionary leadership, the spread to the “great U.P.”, and the enhanced programs addressing meaningful energy efficiency, renewable energy and environmental stewardship principles. Congratulations to the great people who have made this journey long and more powerful than ever. Hats off to the past & present energy nerds of Urban Options/Michigan Energy Options!

-Patrick Hudson

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