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Green Grand Rapids

Visit Green.

Check out eco-friendly lodging, dining and entertainment options.

Meet Green.

Download a guide to planning eco-friendly meetings.    

If sustainability is important to you, you’ll be happy to know that it’s also a priority for Grand Rapids. Named “America’s Greenest City” by Fast Company magazine, Grand Rapids has received worldwide recognition for its sustainable efforts.

Our City Commission defines sustainability as "living today without jeopardizing the ability of future generations to live equally as well or better." Grand Rapids is blessed with abundant natural resources, and we are committed to protecting and preserving this very special environment.

City Leadership

The Office of Energy and Sustainability coordinates the city's green efforts, guided by a five-year Sustainability Plan that sets specific environmental performance targets such as:

  • Reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions to 25% below 2009 levels by 2021.
  • Double water reuse and recovery by June 30, 2021.
  • Increase energy use from renewable sources such as wind, solar, bio-gas and geothermal from 30% today to 100% by June 30, 2025.

Other goals in progress include growing the urban tree canopy, evaluating a bike-share program, conducting a major forestry initiative, developing a strategic master plan for parks & recreation, establishing a bio-digestion system and converting an abandoned landfill to a solar facility.

Our FY2017-FY2021 Sustainability Plan builds on the significant progress of the past decade. In 2009, Grand Rapids became the first U.S. city recognized by the United Nations as a Regional Centre for Sustainable Development. Other recognitions include:

  • Nation’s Most Sustainable City, US Chamber of Commerce
  • 1st Place, Mayor’s Climate Protection Awards
  • 1 of 5 Model Cities for Sustainability, Earth Day Network
  • 1 of 8 inaugural cities for the Climate Resilient Communities program
  • 1 of 12 Cities Leading the Way in Sustainability,
  • 1 of EPA’s Top 20 Local Government Purchasers of Green Power
  • Most Progress on Water Conservation Award, Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative

Community Support

The city's sustainability efforts are assisted by the active support of the world’s first Community Sustainability Partnership, formed in 2005 as a means to share sustainable experiences and aspirations. Today, more than 270 local partners – private, public, service and academic organizations - are working together to advance sustainability in Grand Rapids.

Sustainability Highlights

  • Grand Rapids is  one of 12 U.S. cities participating in a project to develop a policy roadmap toward a zero net carbon building sector by 2050.
  • Our public transit system, The Rapid, features hybrid buses and the first “green roof” installed on a transit facility in the U.S.
  • The West Michigan Battle of the Buildings, a program to encourage energy use reduction, was so successful that it morphed into a statewide competition.
  • Downtown Market Grand Rapids earned the 2015 Sustainability Project of the Year Award from the Association of Retail Environments.
  • Grand Rapids has been named America’s Best River Town (Outside magazine), Best Town for Mountain Biking (Outside magazine) and #6 Fishing City (Field & Stream) – a recognition of the natural resources we work hard to preserve.
  • The CityFlatsHotel in downtown Grand Rapids was designed to achieve LEED Gold Certification featuring 28 conceptually unique guest rooms. It is Grand Rapids' only Green Hotel.

LEED by Example

Our local building and design industries have long been at the vanguard of environmental progress with their dedication to LEED principles. An acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, LEED spells out in detail what constitutes a "green building."

Among our LEED accomplishments:

  • World's 1st LEED Gold art museum (Grand Rapids Art Museum)
  • World's 1st LEED-certified YMCA (Downtown YMCA)
  • World's 1st LEED-certified transit station (Rapid Central Bus Station)
  • World's 1st LEED-certified school (Goodwillie Environmental)
  • World's 1st LEED-certified Habitat for Humanity Home
  • World's 1st LEED-certified residence (St. Anthony of Padua rectory)
  • World's 1st LEED-certified church (Keystone Community Church)
  • World's 1st LEED-certified healthcare project (Lacks Cancer Center)
  • World's 1st LEED Double Gold building (East Hills Center of the Universe)
  • World's 1st LEED-certified municipal building (Water & Environmental Building)
  • World's highest LEED rating (Catalyst Partners/M Retail Solutions, 2012)
  • America’s 1st LEED Silver production brewery (Brewery Vivant)
  • Michigan’s 1st LEED Platinum library, one of 24 total LEED structures on campus (Grand Valley State University)