Inspiring A Greener Lansing
Once Denny Duchene was determined to focus his business on energy efficiency consulting, he became RESNET and BPI certified to effectively learn more about the physics and science of green construction. He then developed the company’s process. “It starts with the utility company, namely Consumers Energy
in this area,” says Denny. Free Energy Saving Kits is the first step, followed by Home Performance Assessments and Retrofits as needed. Initially, Denny focused heavily on the company delivering its goals, but quickly realized the importance of fostering a sense of leadership in his staff as well.
Investing in Others
To jumpstart Inspired Green
, Denny hired 29 people. It wasn’t long before the company began quickly losing its employees. “The reason they were leaving was because they felt like they were part of a campaign, not a team,” he explains. “We knew we had to invest more in our staff to help them be the best employees – and people – they can be.”
Inspired Green’s business model now includes extensive leadership training, and nearly 80 percent of their employees are trained daily. They have 110 employees, are hiring for 30 more, and have a high retention rate. In an industry that, according to Denny, hasn’t been great at creating jobs thus far, Inspired Green is proud to be adding new positions regularly. This doesn’t come without challenge, though. “Lately we’re finding it difficult to acquire good talent,” he says. “We work with community colleges and Capital Area Michigan Works!
, but we’ve had to get more creative with how we recruit, too. Around town, we pay attention to people who seem to have good, energetic personalities.”
Community and Energy Efficiency
Along with developing an efficient training system for staff, Inspired Green began forming partnerships with neighborhood, community and faith-based organizations as a platform for outreach. “Once we reach homeowners, they are generally receptive to the work we’re doing; but often that’s the tough part – figuring out how to reach them,” explains Denny. Proactive community involvement has proven a successful tool for the company. Since its inception, Inspired Green has helped nearly 50,000 families in Michigan achieve energy reduction in their homes. They have conducted almost 1,000 energy audits in 2011, and estimate about 3,000 homes in the Lansing area that still need to be looked at before the year’s end. “Energy efficiency drives the process of our work, but it’s also very much about the health and comfort of the people living in the homes,” he says.
Basing his company in mid-Michigan was a natural decision for Denny Duchene. Originally from Metro Detroit, Denny moved with his wife to her hometown of Grand Ledge in 1998. “The Lansing area is so family-friendly. It’s a nice cultural hub and being so close to the capital and Michigan State University has its advantages,” Denny says. “The innovation sector is robust, and will likely become more so in the future.” Visible impact is another benefit of being in the Lansing area, he explains. “It’s a big small community, so you can see the results of the work you’re doing.” Denny is also trained as a pastor, so he finds it satisfying to be able to integrate his professional work in faith-based organizations.
Michigan and Beyond
Although Inspired Green is based in Grand Ledge, their geographical scope includes most of southern Michigan from Grand Rapids to Detroit. In February of 2011, they expanded into Ohio and have plans to expand into Illinois as well. Competition in the area has never been much of a deterrent. As Denny explains, “There is so much work to do. Roughly 85 percent of homes in Michigan need the services that we offer, so the industry tends to cooperate well.” He also notes that they try to differentiate themselves from their competitors through their mission.
So, what’s next? “Well, the good news is that the energy efficiency sector isn’t going anywhere and will keep growing as needs are realized,” Denny answers. He emphasizes that Consumers Energy facilitates diverse programs in the community that will continue to raise awareness. “The fun thing about the industry is that it’s always changing, and we are always taking on new challenges.” As Inspired Green continues to grow in Michigan and expand to Ohio and Illinois, their goal is to increase their staff from 110 to 500.
Denny recalls what one of his longest employees said to him recently. “He told me that he came to the company for the opportunity, but stays for the environment. It felt inspiring and rewarding to hear that the investment we make in our people is having an impact.” The company will be expanding their headquarters in Grand Ledge, doubling their office space by occupying a 4,000 square foot building across the street that is currently vacant. “I love the historical buildings and offices in downtown Grand Ledge,” says Denny. Looking forward, Denny refers to their mission statement. “The key is getting people what they need, but our mission statement is very much how we run our business. It’s not something we aspire to be, it’s a declaration of who we already are.”
So what does, Inspired Green stands for? “Solid ethics. Unparalleled quality. Steadfast unity. Candid dialogue.” Denny is confident that continuing to prove their mission every day is how Inspired Green will continue to prosper.
Payal Ravani is a freelance writer for Capital Gains
is the managing photographer for Capital Gains. He is a freelance photographer and owner of Trumpie Photography.
Denny Duchene at his Grand Ledge office
Installing a blower door in a customer's home
An infrared camera
Inspired Green employee Jacob Sebrell
Inspired Green in a Charlotte neighborhood
Photos © Dave Trumpie