FYI, Member News

On-Bill Financing Bill Passes, Opening Door for Holland Home Projects

In a show of full bi-partisan support for a no regrets energy policy, the Michigan Senate voted unanimously to allow Michigan municipal and coop owned utilities to offer on-bill financing programs to customers for installation of energy efficiency improvements in residential projects.

Outgoing House Appropriations Chair Representative Joe Haveman (R- Holland) introduced this bill in May of this year at the request of the City of Holland wanting to provide such financing products to customers of the Holland Board of Public Works as part of its comprehensive community energy plan.

WMSBF partner the Michigan Energy Efficiency Contractors Association (MEECA) also provided unanimous support from its members for HB5397 – The Municipal Utility Residential Clean Energy Program Act.  Other WMSBF member supporters included the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council, City of Holland, and West Michigan Environmental Action Council, among others.

MEECA’s executive director, Brindley Byrd testified before the Senate Energy & Technology Committee on September 16, 2014 citing two specific reasons MEECA supported this legislation:

  1. Assurances of savings are made via compliance with nationally recognized auditing standards.  This is done via the definition of a Home Energy Audit, which is the first step a homeowner takes when determining what energy efficiency improvements to install.
  2. The debt from loans provided by an on-bill financing program are associated with the property/meter, not the individual.  This will unlock energy efficiency gains and closes the split-incentive of non-owner occupied properties.
Member News

Herman Miller, Steelcase, Recognized at 2014 EPA Green Power Leaders

WMSBF members Herman MIller and Steelcase are among 19 Green Power Partners and four suppliers across the country honored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with its annual Green Power Leadership Awards, recognizing achievements in advancing the nation’s renewable energy market and reducing greenhouse gas emissions fueling climate change.

“By using more than 7.6 billion kilowatt-hours of green power annually, these communities, businesses, and organizations are leading the way in cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, reducing the impacts ofclimate change, and protecting public health,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “These partners demonstrate that green power is not only a smart business investment, but it’s affordable, accessible and it reduces emissions while growing the renewable energy market and spurring innovation.”

Green power is electricity that is generated from renewable sources, including solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, and low-impact hydroelectric sources. Green power does not produce fossil fuel-based greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change. The award winners below are being recognized for their efforts in expanding the domestic renewable energy market. From using enough green power to meet more than 100 percent of electricity needs to installing solar arrays on-site or entering long-term power purchase agreements, these organizations are demonstrating that green power is both accessible and affordable.

The award-winning partners were chosen for their exemplary use of green power from more than 1,300 partner organizations that comprise EPA’s Green Power Partnership. Utilities, renewable energy project developers, and other green power suppliers are eligible to apply for the Green Power Supplier award.

Both Herman Miller and Steelcase were honored in the Green Power Purchasing category.!OpenDocument

Member News, Upcoming Events

Hopcat East Lansing Hosts Issues and Ale on Fracking

WMEAC, Barfly and Michigan Radio will be hosting a Fracking in Michigan Issues and Ales at the East Lansing Hopcat the night before Fracking in Michigan conference, December 2 from 7 pm – 8:30 pm.

Hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” is a drilling method that pushes water and chemicals into wells to force out oil and gas deposits. Fracking has led to cheaper prices for natural gas and less dependence on foreign sources for energy, but many people have concerns about its environmental impact…from the chemicals and amount of water used in the process, to its impact on ground water and the disposal of fracking waste. Join Michigan Radio’s Lester Graham as we talk about the concerns, economics and impact of fracking in the state.

Issues and Ale is an event series from Michigan Radio designed to engage people in conversations about important issues facing Michigan…in an informal atmosphere. Stop by, have a drink, and join in the conversation.

RSVP for Issues and Ales here.

Learn more about the Fracking in Michigan Conference here.

Past Events, WMSBF Monthly Event, WMSBF News

November Meeting on Sustainable, Local Food Purchasing

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum presented a luncheon program on local and sustainable food purchasing for businesses and institutions at its November monthly meeting. The meeting was presented by Unidine and Metro Health.

Hillary Bisnett, Healthy Food in Health Care Director for the Ecology Center, talked about statewide efforts to promote local food sourcing for Michigan institutions and farmers, including the Cultivate Michigan campaign, the new Michigan Farm to Institutions Network and other efforts.

Cultivate Michigan is designed to help ramp up Farm to Institution programs and track progress. It is a campaign of the Michigan Farm to Institution Network, a group of practitioners, supporters and advocates all sharing common goals to help Farm to Institution programs grow. The network is a statewide forum for learning and sharing that uses shared capacity to overcome the challenges of getting more Michigan food into institutions.

View her presentation here.

Alison Sutter, Senior Sustainability Consultant for Key Green Solutions, and Ryan Reynolds, Executive Chef for Metro Health Hospital, shared lessons from Metro Health’s efforts to make its food service operations more sustainable, and in tracking such efforts.

View Reynolds’ presentation here.

View Sutter’s presentation here.

Upcoming Events, WMSBF Monthly Event

December Meeting Featuring Whirlpool and Pace


The next monthly meeting will be a luncheon program on Whirlpool’s sustainability and residential energy efficiency programs, plus Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing, on Monday, December 8 at Kendall College of Art & Design in downtown Grand Rapids from 12 to 2 pm.

For the past several months, Whirlpool Corporation and Purdue University have been working together to transform a 1920s vintage home in West Lafayette, Indiana, into a net-zero energy structure: the ReNEWW House. It is the company’s hope that the research underway in this living laboratory will lead to valuable insights on resource sustainability that will inform future appliance designs and remodeling methods.

Maureen Sertich, North American Sustainability Lead for Whirlpool, will talk about the ReNEWW project and Whirlpool’s efforts to improve energy and environmental performance in its products and operations. In her role at Whirlpool, Sertich manages the sustainability initiatives for products under the Amana, Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid, and Jenn-Aire Brands. Previously, she developed sustainability standards for products in the building industry, managed a university’s sustainability program, provided sustainability and risk assessment services for large industrial and commercial clients, and managed hazardous waste remediation projects.

Also on the agenda is Andy Levin of Levin Energy Partners and Lean & Green Michigan, who will talk about his firm’s work to develop PACE financing in Michigan. PACE financing allows longer payback periods with lower annual amortization and better terms, making many energy projects financeable that otherwise would not be. A PACE district allows a property owner to use the property tax mechanism to finance energy improvements.

Learn more and RSVP here.


Consumers Energy Smart Energy Challenge in Final Stretch

The Consumers Energy Smart Energy Challenge is wrapping up this month and it looks like there are still plenty of home energy packages, free in-home assessments and rewards left for the taking.

Now through November 30, when you participate in Smart Energy Challenge activities online at, you’ll learn new ways to reduce energy costs while you earn coins that you can redeem for rewards or contest entries.  Of perhaps greater value, the contest had given away hundreds of home energy packages such as the one pictured above, as well as in-home assessments.  As supplies last, a $25 gift card to an assortment of retailers can be earned in just a few minutes through activities such as logging onto your Consumers Energy smart energy portal or visiting a web page about the utility’s appliance recycling program…or claiming your home energy package.

Prizes and packages are running out quickly during these last few weeks, so sign up now.  Learn more and register at




Biomimicry Institute Announces $100,000 Competition for Scalable Design Solutions

Several years ago, the Biomimicry Institute founder Janine Benyus brought a question to West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum, “How can nature-inspired design solve the world’s most pressing problems?”

One of the more notable of the forum’s early keynote speakers, Benyus has had a lasting impact on the local market, and perhaps this will make local professionals and students more competitive in the new Biomimicry Design Challenge,  which will award a $100,000 Ray C. Anderson “Ray of Hope” Prize designed to bring commercially viable solutions from the design lab to the market.

Sponsored by the Biomimicry Institute and Ray C. Anderson Foundation the first two years of the challenge will focus on solutions to global food security. Interface Founder Ray Anderson, who served as co-chair of the Presidential Council on Sustainable Development from 1997-1999 under President
Clinton, was famously inspired by biomimicry. His carpet company was one of the first to invite biologist Janine Benyus to the design table, resulting in the company’s number one selling carpet tile product, Entropy. Designed to mimic a forest floor, Entropy revolutionized carpet tile manufacturing and installation, resulting in little to no waste.  Interface had a local division until recently, and examples of the product can be found in offices throughout West Michigan.

The Biomimicry Design Challenge aims to accelerate market-ready, scalable solutions with a unique approach:  “In Year One, we will seed biomimetic design concepts with awards of up to $10,000 to approximately five entrants,” explained Beth Rattner, executive director of the Biomimicry Institute. “Awardees will be invited to return to demonstrate prototype solutions and compete for the $100,000 “Ray of Hope” prize to scale the solution and bring it to market.  At the same time, another five design concepts will be seeded, and the cycle will begin anew.”

The new Biomimicry Design Challenge, open to students and professionals alike, will launch in January 2015. In August 2015, up to five solutions will be selected to receive up to $10,000 and an invitation to return in May 2016 with a commercially-viable prototype that is designed to be scalable.

For more information, visit the Biomimicry Design Challenge site.

Upcoming Events

Resiliency in Health Care: Disaster Preparedness Seminar at GVSU

Learn what West Michigan Health Providers are doing to prepare for natural disasters

Join a panel of local experts exploring the book “Five Days at Memorial” by Sheri Fink as part of the Community Reading Project.

This free event will take place from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on November 19 at Loosemore Auditorium on the Grand Valley State University campus. It is open to the public.

“Five Days at Memorial” recounts the emergency management planning leading to events at Memorial Hospital during Hurricane Katrina. The panel will discuss what is being done in West Michigan to ensure emergency preparedness for local disasters. Author Sheri Fink will be visiting Grand Rapids in March.

The Panel includes:

  • Karla Black – Preparedness Coordinator for the Kent County Health Department
  • Julie Bulson – Spectrum Health’s Director, Emergency Preparedness
  • Todd Chassee – Emergency Care Specialist, Medical Director KCEMS, Assistant Professor MSU
  • Jamie Crouch – Safety and Security Office at Metro Health
  • Mark Iverson – Integrity/Security Director at St. Mary’s Health Care
  • Jack Stewart – Kent County Emergency Management Coordinator, LEPC
  • Mary VanDyke – Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for Spectrum Health

To learn more about this event, contact the Brooks College Office of Integrative Learning and Advising at 133 Lake Michigan Hall, or visit

FYI, Upcoming Events

Michigan Advanced Lighting Conference

Join the advanced lighting community at the  2014 Michigan Advanced Lighting Conference taking place from November 19 in Lansing.The agenda offers a forum for representatives from government, academia, industry and the built community to learn, share ideas and case studies, conduct business, and explore the latest technology in advanced lighting and controls. Last year, the event gathered nearly 300 attendees, 34 exhibitors and 20 speakers.

This one-day informative and dynamic event provides the ideal forum for attendees to:

  • Explore a showcase of Michigan’s advanced lighting products, services and solutions
  • Gain insight about the latest trends, technology developments, and financing options from industry experts
  • Make valuable connections with manufacturers, contractors or customers
  • Earn credit toward USGBC and BOMI International continuing education

Register today!

Printable flier available here.