Detroit has myriad challenges that can make focusing on sustainability a hard sell. Joel will speak candidly about the challenges and opportunities working in sustainability in a city like Detroit. He will talk about current work in the City of Detroit’s Office of Sustainability and things coming down the pipeline.
SEAS ALUMNUS JOEL HOWRANI HEERES is Detroit’s first Sustainability Director and he leads a new Sustainability Office charged with strengthening the economic, social and environmental well-being of Detroit’s residents, neighborhoods, and businesses. Joel brings a wealth of experience on urban sustainability to this position, having served in multiple roles in the municipal, non-profit, and corporate sectors. Most recently he has been leading efforts to improve operational outcomes through data sharing and to provide greater public access to City information as the Director of Open Data and Analysis in the City’s Department of Innovation and Technology.
Prior to this role, Joel worked at DTE where he led metrics development and continuous improvement efforts to better manage the utility’s operations. He also contributed to the production of DTE’s first Corporate Sustainability Report. As a staff member at EcoWorks, Joel lead Sustainability and Climate Action Planning processes in 11 communities in Southeast Michigan and played a key role in the development of the Detroit Environmental Agenda, which was released in 2013.
Joel also previously served as the Managing Director for the Southeast Michigan Regional Energy Office, where he provided technical assistance to more than 40 local governments on a variety of sustainability-oriented issues, including building energy audits and retrofits.
Joel has lived in Detroit for more than 15 years and holds a Masters in Urban Planning, an MS in Natural Resources and Environment (Environmental Policy and Planning), and Arts (Education) from the University of Michigan, where he also received his Bachelors degree in Economics and Anthropology. When he is not working on sustainability or data issues at the City, he can be found spending time with his kids Theo and Ruby, his partner Ana, going to Eastern Market, gardening, cycling, cross country skiing, working on the house, and volunteering with local neighborhood organizations.