Green Grand Rapids
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If sustainability is important to you, you'll be happy to know that it's a priority for Grand Rapids, too. 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.
The Office of Energy and Sustainability coordinates the city's efforts in sustainability, energy efficiency, conservation and renewable energy. These efforts are guided by a unique, multi-year Sustainability Plan that sets 200+ specific targets such as:
- Achieve at least 30% of energy use from renewable sources by June 30, 2013 (on the way to 100% by 2020).
- Increase participation in recycling to at least 45,000 households by June 30, 2013.
- Increase the percentage of tree canopy in the city to at least 37.5% by June 30, 2015.
- Increase the purchase of sustainable goods and services by 30% by June 30, 2015.
The city has made great progress in many areas since the original plan was developed in 2006 - from implementing a neighborhood energy audit program, to installing electric vehicle charging stations in downtown parking ramps, to adding miles and miles of bike lanes to city streets.
These and other achievements have reduced energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, resulting in significant cost savings and numerous social and environmental benefits.
- The Downtown Market has been given the 2015 Sustainability Project of the Year award from the Association of Retail Environments for its dedication to sustainable design and local food innovation, education and experimentation.
- The U.S. Green Business Council (USGBC) recognizes the Greater Grand Rapids area as having the most LEED Fellows per capita (as of Fall 2014).
- Grand Rapids' Downtown Market is the first project in the country to receive the U.S. Green Building Council's Urban Agriculture credit and one of the first urban markets in the country to receive LEED gold status (2014)
- 1st U.S. city recognized by the United Nations as a Regional Centre for Sustainable Development (2009)
- 1 of 12 cities leading the way in sustainability (BillMoyers.com, 2013)
- 1st place, Mayor's Climate Protection Awards (2012)
- 1 of 5 model cities for sustainability (Earth Day Network, 2012)
- 1 of top 20 local government purchasers of green power (2013)
- Michigan's most successful and innovative waste reduction and recycling program (Michigan Recycling Coalition, 2012)
- 1 of 8 inaugural cities for the Climate Resilient Communities program
- Bronze-level bike-friendly community (League of American Bicyclists, 2009)
The city's sustainability efforts are assisted by the active support of area businesses and individuals. In 2005, an innovative Community Sustainability Partnership was formed as a means to share sustainable experiences and aspirations. Today, more than 200 endorsing partners - including private, public, service and academic organizations - are working to together to advance sustainability.
In 2014, over 60 buildings in West Michigan are competing in The Battle of the Buildings. The program is a way to encourage energy-efficient practices in buildings across West Michigan and to instill a spirit of friendly competition among the area’s building owners and operators.
Grand Rapids Public Schools are even involved with creating a Green Grand Rapids with nine green built schools six of which are LEED certified. They also offer environmental focused classes at the Center of Economicology.
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:
• #1 in LEED-certified buildings per capita for mid-size U.S. cities (2010)
• #5 in LEED-certified buildings per capita for all U.S. cities (2010)
• 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)
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