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Regional Businesses Building a Sustainable Future in Northeast Indiana

January 10th, 2022

A Regional Push Toward a Healthier Climate

As countries and cities around the world pledge to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, regions including Northeast Indiana are making the shift towards more sustainable practices to mitigate further climate change. As the global conversation and practice around sustainability and climate action grows, regional businesses and communities in Northeast Indiana are developing methods to reduce carbon emissions, build more solar farms and reduce plastic use. From a 55-acre solar-energy farm to a shift to non-petroleum utensils, the region is proving no step is too small toward a sustainable future.

In June of this year, the 55-acre Auburn Renewables Solar Array project gained approval and will be operational in 2022. Delivering a sustainable and safe project, the solar field will produce 11.25 megawatts of alternating current, which will be sold to the city-owned Auburn Electric utility. In addition to providing renewable energy, developers are planting 414 trees around the farm in addition to protecting an existing wooded area on the property. Auburn Renewables is also in conversation with Michigan State University and Purdue University, discussing the potential of pollinator-friendly gardens around the panels.

Sustainability isn’t new to Steel Dynamics. The company is one of few steel producers using Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) technology, which uses less energy than traditional furnaces. They reintroduced 33 million tons of recycled ferrous scrap materials into manufacturing production from 2017-2019, and they have the goal to be carbon neutral by 2050. Swiss Re Group is accelerating business to push toward net zero emissions. As leading providers of reinsurance, insurance, and other forms of insurance-based risk transfer, the company is working hard to make Northeastern Indiana – and the world - more resilient.

Other small businesses throughout the region are also taking steps toward sustainability that are worth celebrating. Hop River Brewing Company, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, has joined forces with Plastic Free Restaurants to transition from plastic to non-petroleum utensils. Plastic Free Restaurants has a simple mission: to eliminate single-use plastic from one restaurant and school at a time. Serious about their commitment toward the future of their community – and beyond – the brewery has embraced the use of compostable utensils, recycled paper products, and glassware.

“On a mission to reimagine waste,” Brightmark Energy is transforming organic waste into renewable natural gas and approaching plastics renewal in new, innovative ways. One pioneering effort includes a boat shrink wrap collection recycling program near the Ashley, Indiana plastics renewal facility. The pilot program will turn the boat wrap into boat fuel with support by the Northeast Indiana Solid Waste Management District. Program expansions to additional marinas are in the works, as are future innovations at Brightmark.

The Future of Sustainability Starting in Northeast Indiana

The former General Electric campus is getting an innovative and sustainable face-lift. Thanks to the massive Electric Works redevelopment project already underway, the 39-acre GE campus is in the process of being converted into a 1.2 million sq. ft. mixed-use district with Indiana hardware company Do it Best Corp. as the project’s anchor tenant.

Aside from the ample green space throughout the project, 60% of material from the old campus was reclaimed with construction expected to be completed in the Fall of 2022. From office space built with LEED Gold Standards, green spaces and innovative programs, Northeast Indiana is strategically positioned for a multitude of sustainable efforts.

With these innovations crossing industries and scale, Northeast Indiana’s strong history of innovation makes the region more than ready to host new and established businesses alike as they incorporate sustainability into their bottom line. Interested in learning more about our sustainable capacity? Chad Ruston, Senior Vice President of Economic Development is here to help.

Categories & Tags Business Climate