Green Grand Rapids
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 region is blessed with abundant natural resources, and we are committed to protecting and preserving this very special environment for future generations to enjoy.
Grand Rapids Named Top Metro Area for Sustainable Development
The City of Grand Rapids identifies sustainability as one of six core values in its Strategic Plan. The Office of Sustainability helps ensure that environmental impact is factored into all decisions made by the city while working to achieve continued measurable progress toward five key objectives – including reducing carbon emissions, protecting and preserving water resources, and minimizing waste generation.
These environmental initiatives build on a record of significant progress over 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. Ten years later, Site Selection Magazine ranked Grand Rapids the nation’s #1 metro for sustainable development on the basis of such criteria as LEED and Energy Star buildings, renewable energy generation and green industry projects.
Other recognitions include:
- Nation’s Most Sustainable City, U.S. 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, billmoyers.com
- 1 of 12 Cities Connecting Children to Nature
- Michigan Sustainable Development Goal Award, Greater Lansing United Nations
by Experience Grand Rapids
photo by Experience Grand Rapids
5 minute read
Adam London had a challenge. As a board member of the National Environmental Health Organization, he…
Grand Rapids 2030
The city has partnered with local professionals, building owners and community organizations to achieve 50% net carbon emission reductions by 2030, and zero net carbon by 2050. The Grand Rapids 2030 District encompasses 14.5 million sq. ft. of building space and 1,600 community stakeholders working together to reduce carbon and increase economic viability.
Battle of the Buildings
Community Sustainability Partnership
From its inception in 2005, the Community Sustainability Partnership has grown from five founding partners (Aquinas College, Grand Rapids Community College, Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids Public Schools and the City of Grand Rapids) to more than 280 endorsing partners. All have committed to work together to restore environmental integrity, improve economic prosperity and promote social equity in the community.
Other local sustainability groups include the Center for Sustainability at Aquinas College, the Office of Sustainability Practices at Grand Valley State University, the West Michigan Community Sustainability Partnership, the West Michigan Environmental Action Council and the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum.
- The Rapid, our public transit system, features hybrid buses and the first “green roof” installed on a transit facility in the U.S.
- The Grand Rapids Downtown Market, the first LEED-certified market in the U.S., earned the 2015 Sustainability Project of the Year Award from the Association of Retail Environments.
- The owners of Brewery Vivant and Broad Leaf Brewery & Spirits – who release annual sustainability reports on their operations – have signed on to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Climate Challenge and Better Plants programs.
- In 2022, the city of Grand Rapids opened a new biodigester that turns bio-waste from Founders Brewing Company and other sources into renewable energy and fertilizer.
- Also in 2022, Calvin University became the first university in Michigan to pursue solar power to aid its transition to clean energy.
- Grand Rapids was named America’s Best River Town (Outside magazine) and the #6 U.S. Fishing City (Field & Stream) – and it is currently designing a project to enhance community engagement with the Grand River that runs through downtown.
- Outside magazine recognized Grand Rapids as the Best Town for Mountain Biking – and the city has implemented a Bicycle Action Plan to support year-round bicycling.
Sustainability in the event industry is more than a trend. It is becoming an industry standard. In…
Eco-Friendly Options “Going green” is all about making choices that minimize your…
The people of West Michigan have a deep love for the Great Lakes, the surrounding watershed and the…
Craft breweries, especially in Grand Rapids, are leading a sustainability movement. Each brewery has…
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:
- Most LEED buildings per capita in the U.S. (American Institute of Architects)
- 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 certified microbrewery (Brewery Vivant)
- America's 1st LEED certified market (Grand Rapids Downtown Market)
- Michigan’s 1st LEED Platinum library, one of 25 total LEED structures on campus (Grand Valley State University)
- Michigan’s 1st (CityFlats Holland) and 2nd (CityFlats Grand Rapids) LEED Gold-certified hotels.
- 90+ LEED-certified homes built by Habitat for Humanity of Kent County.
- America’s 1st affordable LEED-certified home (Habitat for Humanity Kent County) and 190+ LEED Habitat homes since