The City of Grand Rapids identifies sustainability as one of six core values in its Strategic Plan. The Office of Energy and 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. Other recognitions include:
- Nation’s Most Sustainable City, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
- #1 U.S. City for Sustainable Development, Site Selection
- 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
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
Launched in West Michigan as a way to encourage energy-efficient building practices, this friendly competition was so successful that it morphed into a statewide initiative. In its first five years, Battle of the Buildings competitors reduced 137 metric tons of CO2e and put $14 million back into local economies via energy savings.
- The Rapid, our public transit system, features hybrid buses and the first “green roof” installed on a transit facility in the U.S.
- Downtown Market Grand Rapids earned the 2015 Sustainability Project of the Year Award from the Association of Retail Environments.
- At least five city restaurant/breweries are certified B Corps, meaning they meet third party standards for social and environmental performance.
- Grand Rapids was named America’s Best River Town (Outside magazine) and the #6 U.S. Fishing City – and it is currently in the midst of a river restoration project that will return our namesake rapids to downtown’s Grand River.
- 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.
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)
- Michigan’s 1st LEED Platinum library, one of 25 total LEED structures on campus (Grand Valley State University)
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