Dynamic Variation:

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.

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Grand Rapids Named Top Metro Area for Sustainable Development

City Leadership

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

Meet Green in GR

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.

Sustainability Highlights

Stories of sustainability

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.

Walkability in GR

Walkability in GR