Sustainability Projects & Initiatives


The Mayor and City Council have a long history of preserving green spaces and enacting ordinances that protect the environment. To that end, the Mayor formed the "Keep Southfield Green" Committee to address this important issue.

As a proud Tree City USA Award recipient for the past 40 consecutive years, Southfield is committed to protecting green spaces with nearly 800 acres of park land including 380 acres of woodlands and wetlands set aside for preservation. Protection of natural areas, such as those along the Rouge River and its tributaries, help to maintain water resources by filtering and slowing storm water, minimizing flooding and erosion caused by storms. Natural lands provide recreational open space, protect our wildlife habitat and provide refuge for migratory birds traveling over our city.

The City of Southfield has won several awards for its green, environmentally-friendly policies, programs and projects. Southfield has also been recognized by the Sierra Club as a “Cool City,” the environmental organization’s national campaign to ‘Solve Global Warming One City at a Time.’

Southfield Green Initiatives


  • Woodland ordinance
  • Wetland ordinance
  • Landscaping ordinance
  • Historic Preservation ordinance
  • Septic system ordinance

    Encourage Low Impact Development

    Regional Center zoning

    • Land bank of parking
    • Walkable environment

    Low Impact Development Manual

    • Impervious parking surfaces
    • Bio-swales

    Energy efficient lighting and controls at outdoor facilities

    • LED Holiday Lights
    Bio-swale in the South Parking Lot at the Southfield Municipal Complex
    Bio-swale in the South Parking Lot at the Southfield Municipal Complex

    Green Incentives

    Southfield Green Fast Track Review is available to anyone wishing to build an environmentally sustainable or "green" project. Your plans may be moved to the "front of the line" for review.

    Recycling Program 

    The City of Southfield makes every effort to utilize recycled and environmentally-friendly products, materials and construction methods when and where possible. For example, the safety surfacing at most of the City's play areas is made from wood fiber manufactured from lumber production waste. The play equipment is also manufactured from at least 50 percent recycled metals. The City also has an active internal recycling program to encourage employees to reduce, reuse and recycle.

    Urban Forestry Renewal, Landscaping & Tree Planting Programs

    As a Tree City USA, the City's tree planting programs help to reduce urban temperatures, air pollution and slow water flows into waterways. City planners make every effort to save (or replant) as many trees as possible with every proposed site plan. Over 1,000 new trees have been planted along streets and highways in Southfield. Southfield residents may also take advantage of the Trees for Southfield program where shade, flowering, or evergreen trees may be purchased at-cost by Southfield residents and delivered right to their home. Southfield landscape maintenance programs are also “Earth-Friendly” in an effort to minimize surface water pollution, including mowing high, recycling turf grass clippings, using integrated pest management, and low phosphorus and slow-release nitrogen fertilizers.

    Permeable Pavement Parking Lots

    Southfield installed two new permeable pavement parking lots: One is located in the south parking lot of the Municipal Complex and the other is located at the new Carpenter Lake Nature Preserve. Porous asphalt was used at the Municipal Complex while the Carpenter Lake parking lot is constructed of permeable pavers. Both systems allow storm water to drain directly through the pavement into a stone layer below that then peculate into the ground water, filtering pollutants and reducing storm water run-off. Surface water is also drained into bioswales, where deep rooted native plants filter pollutants from the runoff before it reaches groundwater. The native plantings are tolerant of our wet weather in the spring and fall and dry weather in the summer so watering is never necessary. Any excess water is carried by perforated pipe set in the stone bed or bioswale.

    Carpenter Lake Nature Preserve 

    Carpenter Lake Nature Preserve includes many earth friendly features such as native landscaping, recycled lumber boardwalks and Michigan-made materials. The preserve features 42-acres of mature Oak-Hickory woodlands, forested wetlands and native meadows overlooking the five-acre Carpenter Lake. The City’s Parks & Recreation and Public Works departments worked in partnership with environmental consultants and contractors to replace the existing dam, dredge the lake to restore it to its original size and to establish fish and wildlife habitat features. Recreation enhancements included trail development, interpretive signage, public parking, shoreline stabilization and habitat restoration for new public access to fishing. The use of porous paving and other storm water management features including a bioswale were incorporated in the parking lot to provide control of runoff. This method greatly reduces flooding and pollution of the Rouge River.

    Rouge Green Corridor

    The City has partnered with Beverly Hills, Birmingham, Oakland County, SOCWA, and non-profits to develop both a public education program and a conservation management plan for the main Branch of the Rouge River. The effort is intended to preserve and protect the resource for water quality and also for public enjoyment.

    Water Conservation

    The City of Southfield Water Department offers free energy audits, rebates and equipment that can lower your water bills. Southfield’s Water Conservation Program is designed to reduce demands on our water supply by increasing the efficiency of water use within Southfield. The City's award winning programs are comprised of various components including both indoor and outdoor conservation efforts. We encourage residents who have ditches not to enclose them. Open ditches allow filtration of road runoff and infiltration of water into the ground.

    Residents may install rain barrels at their downspouts to capture rain water that can then be used for watering their outside landscaping. It’s amazing how quickly the barrels fill up! This saves money on your water bill, too.