With 36 certified wildlife programs in 25 Michigan counties and earning the Wildlife Habitat Council’s Corporate Conservation Leadership Award, DTE has quite a sustainability story to tell. And there’s even more to the narrative. DTE is also enlisting suppliers to launch conservation projects of their own.

Mission accomplished: A honeybee at work on a coreopsis (tickseed) wildflower at Ferndale Electric’s pollinator garden.

“Improving our planet embodies our commitment to be a force for growth in the communities we serve,” said Greg Chiesa, supplier performance management lead for DTE’s Major Enterprise Projects group. “We’re encouraging our top-tier suppliers to launch conservation projects and we include sustainability metrics in their performance reviews.”

So far, 11 DTE suppliers have created conservation projects in five counties, including Ferndale Electric, which converted strips of lawn at its headquarters into a pollinator garden attracting bees, butterflies and other wildlife.

“We’re in an industrial area without much green space but we used what we have to restore lost habitat for an important part of our ecosystem,” said John Hillock, president of Ferndale Electric. “It’s a great example of a worthwhile conservation project using limited space. It’s a continuing process, too. We make small changes here and there, spread seeds grown from the plants and keep records of the garden’s growth.”

According to Robert Richard, DTE senior vice president of Major Enterprise Projects and Customer Service, recruiting suppliers to start on-site conservation programs fulfills one of the company’s value statements to “see our work through the eyes of those we serve.”

“DTE has been a leader for many decades in sustainability, reduced emissions and environmental excellence. Increasing wildlife habitat ourselves and with our suppliers brings that commitment to life for our shareholders and our community,” said Richard.

Richard also talked with leaders at the Barton-Malow construction company about starting a conservation project at their building in Southfield. The firm now has an 11,600 square-foot rain garden packed with Michigan-native plants in place of a lawn that soaked up water, fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides.

The rain garden at Barton-Malow’s building in Southfield replaced the standard turf surrounding many suburban offices.

“When we constructed our building, we conserved a wetland area to absorb storm water and runoff,” said Matt Lentini, a Barton-Malow vice president. “For years, we thought of doing more, then Bob Richard suggested converting a grassy berm into an area for wildlife. Our quarter-acre rain garden has eliminated watering all that grass, it’s attracting wildlife and because it’s highly visible, it’s a big hit with employees, clients and visitors.”

Chiesa, a Dearborn resident with 25 years at DTE, feels those are perfect outcomes.

“Corporate conservation is companies working together on common conservation and education programs to benefit communities and attain meaningful environmental stewardship objectives,” said Chiesa.


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