Help Policy Makers Understand Impact of Great Lakes Water Level Changes on Business

You may have heard about or experienced some of the impacts caused by low or high water levels. These impacts are felt across the region, and they create challenges for protecting our homes, businesses, and lifestyles.  The University of Michigan’s Graham Sustainability Institute and the U-M Water Center are launching an assessment of the causes, consequences, and options for adapting to water level changes on the Great Lakes. The central goal of this water levels assessment is to help shoreline communities, residents, and businesses make informed decisions about dealing with these changes, contributing to economic and environmental prosperity in the Great Lakes region.

The research team would like to invite you to contribute to the water levels assessment by participating in a 15-minute online survey, through which you will have the opportunity to share your experiences with, concerns about, and knowledge of Great Lakes water level changes. Your input is crucial for us to better understand the needs of the residents and business owners impacted by water-level changes, and it will ensure that the water-levels assessment addresses those issues that are most important to people in our region. 

CLICK HERE to access the survey.

Please complete the survey by November 2, 2014. If you have any questions about the survey or about the water levels assessment, contact Rachel Jacobson at the Graham Institute via email at or phone at (734) 763-0747. Thank you in advance for contributing to this project.

Upcoming Events, WMSBF Monthly Event

November Meeting: Sustainable Food Purchasing for Businesses, Institutions


West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum will present a luncheon program on local and sustainable food purchasing for businesses and institutions on Monday, November 10 at Metro Health Conference Center in Wyoming from 12 to 2 pm. Presented by Unidine and Metro Health.

The meeting will feature an introduction to local and sustainable food purchasing for business and institutions with lessons for health care, education, food service vendors and any business that buys or sells food.

Learn about the Cultivate Michigan campaign, the new Michigan Farm to Institutions Network and other efforts to improve connections between Michigan institutions and farmers, distributors and other food vendors. Metro Health food services personnel and consultant Key Green Solutions will discuss how the health care system is progressing toward its sustainable and local food goals.

Featured speakers include Alison Sutter (pictured), Senior Sustainability Consultant for Key Green Solutions, Metro Health Hospital Executive Chef Ryan Reynolds, and Hillary Bisnett, Healthy Food in Health Care Director for the Ecology Center.

Sutter is an expert in sustainable healthcare and passionate about helping organizations increase profitability while decreasing environmental and human health impacts. As Key Green Solutions’ Senior Sustainability Consultant, she utilizes her analytical and managerial skills to help hospitals achieve their sustainability goals and objectives in sustainable program development, operations, food programs, education, and purchasing.

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.

Learn more and RSVP here.

Member News

Welcome New Member: Bank of America – Merrill Lynch


Bank of America provides a full range of banking, investment management and other financial and risk-management products and services to three groups of customers – people, companies and institutional clients – through eight lines of business.

A leader in transformational finance and low-carbon investments, Bank of America has committed $70 billion in environmental business over the course of 16 years – the largest commitment among its peers. In 2012 it completed its first commitment of $20 billion in environmental business that was set in 2004 – four and a half years early. In 2013, the firm launched a new $50 billion environmental business commitment and has already delivered $5.5 billion towards this new 10-year goal. Over the past three years, it has quadrupled its renewable energy business, issuing the first ever corporate “Green Bond” in late 2013 — raising $500 million to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

Within its own organization,Bank of America is working toward meeting several aggressive energy, waste and water reduction goals by 2015, including:

  • Reducing our global water consumption by 20%
  • Reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 30%
  • 20% LEED certification within our corporate workplace portfolio

In 2013, Bank of America was added to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, the first WMSBF member with that distinction.

Learn more about Bank of America – Merrill Lynch on its member page here.

Upcoming Events

Registration Open for Michigan Green Chemistry Conference

Check out this year’s GreenUp Conference  November 12 on the campus at Michigan State University at the Kellogg Center at Michigan State University in East Lansing. The 2014 Michigan Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference will provide excellent opportunities for sharing information, networking, and learning.


  • The 6th Annual Michigan Green Chemistry Governor’s Award Ceremony
  • Keynote speakers:Student poster contest with a $500 prize
    • Eric Beckman, University of Pittsburgh, Co-Director of the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation and a Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge award winner
    • Bruce Dale, Michigan State University, Professor of Chemical Engineering, University Distinguished Professor; MSUAgBioResearch.
    • Deanna Cullen, chemistry teacher at Whitehall High School in Whitehall, Michigan.
  • Breakout sessions and panels

Green chemistry and engineering is revolutionizing the way we work and live, by employing less toxic materials and processes in the manufacture and design of the products we use every day while protecting human health and the environment. New regulations and consumer demand are pushing green chemistry and engineering principles to create new markets, reduce costs, increase safety, and gain a competitive edge. The 2014 Michigan Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference is a fantastic platform to unify business leaders, engineers, chemists, researchers, teachers, and policymakers to move green chemistry and engineering forward in Michigan.

Designed for anyone interested in innovation and sustainability in Michigan, attendees will have the opportunity to hear from leading experts and share solutions to “green up” Michigan through green chemistry and engineering. Presenters will be talking about designing, innovating, and manufacturing what’s next by developing less hazardous, more effective materials, processes, and products.

This conference qualifies for 5 Continuing Education Hours (CEHs) for Professional Engineers.

Learn more here.

Upcoming Events

Last Kent County Farm Bus Tour of 2014

The last 2014 free Kent County Farm Bus Tour will be held on Friday, Nov. 14th from 9 – 2:30 and includes a free lunch. Visit local farms and processor. Learn how agriculture impacts and supports our local economy and relies on environmental stewardship. We have more than 3,000 Kent County agricultural jobs, providing a market value of more than $2.3 million. Maintaining local farmland helps support our renowned farm to table restaurant movement, keeps urban environments dense, and maintains property values.

More information available here (PDF).

Also, save the date for December 10th for a conference on the Kent County Ag Economy, sponsored by the Wege Foundation and the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. More information available soon.

Upcoming Events

Pew “Clean Economy Rising” Event This Week

Michigan’s success in developing its clean energy economy stems from state policy, a skilled workforce, manufacturing expertise, and global access from Great Lakes port cities.  This Thursday join Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council, 5 Lakes Energy and The Pew Charitiable Trusts for a discussion on new research on Michigan’’s growing clean energy economy.

WHEN: Thursday, October 23, 2014 10 a.m. –to 11 a.m.

WHERE: Van Andel Arena, Main Entrance Hall, 130 W. Fulton St., Grand Rapids, MI

Hon. George Heartwell, mayor, City of Grand Rapids
Rick Chapla, vice president for business development, The Right Place
Jim Monterusso, general manager, Veolia Energy
Richard Vander Veen, president, Mackinaw Power
Scott Viciana, vice president, Ventower
Tom Swanson, manager, The Pew Charitable Trusts

After the conclusion of the panelists’ discussion there will be a site visit at Veolia Energy’s District Energy Plant.  RSVP to Jamie Scripps at or 517.897.4649


Member News

DEQ honors WMSBF Members as Neighborhood Environmental Partners

Earlier this month the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Neighborhood Environmental Partners program honored several WMSBF member facilities and their community partners who have worked together to implement ongoing environmental and social projects at a ceremony at Herman Miller’s GreenHouse Facility in Holland.

The four businesses receiving an award were:
• ADAC Automotive
• Haworth
• Herman Miller, Inc.
• Holland Board of Public Works

DeWitt Barrels Inc. was also honored for its work with West Michigan Environmental Action Council’s rain barrel program.

Upcoming Events, WMSBF Monthly Event

Leading URP Researcher, Author of USGBC Climate Resiliency Report, Speaking in Grand Rapids Monday

This Monday’s West Michigan Climate Resiliency Conference will open its afternoon plenary sessions with a presentation from the lead author of the US Green Building Council’s Climate Resiliency Study.  Her presentation will introduce participants to the concept of vulnerability assessments and how their organizations should evaluate potential climate-related impacts.  Individuals only interested in this talk may attend without registering for the full conference, space permitting.

Larissa Larsen is an associate professor in the Urban and Regional Planning Program at the University of Michigan. She teaches graduate classes in environmental planning, land use planning, and urban design theory. She regularly oversees graduate community-based capstone projects in Detroit neighborhoods. Larissa is the PhD Coordinator for the Urban and Regional Planning Program and the Physical Planning and Design Concentration Coordinator for the Master of Urban Planning Program. Larissa holds an appointment in the School of Natural Resources and Environment.

Larissa’s research focuses on identifying environmental inequities in the built environment and advancing issues of urban sustainability and social justice. Some of her past research has examined urban heat islands, water consumption, and neighborhood mobilization against environmental problems. Most of her current work involves climate adaptation planning and urban heat island studies. In the past year, she and her students worked with the US Green Building Council to write a publication entitled, Green Building and Climate Resilience. Working with five other scholars on campus and the Graham Institute, Larissa is involved in a multi-year project investigating how the changing climate will impact cities in the Great Lakes Region and how planning can enhance their resilience.

“When you anticipate how the climate might be changing in the next 50 to 100 years in the life of buildings, you may reorder your priorities for green building strategies,” Larsen says. “You may say, ‘this now becomes really important.’ ”

The USGBC report divided strategies into two categories: “no regrets” and “resilient.”

“When we were coming up with the most inclusive list we could [develop], we started to notice that some were just good practices, no matter what,” Larsen says. “We thought by calling them out in that way—that there are ‘no regret’ strategies and ‘resilient’ strategies—it helps to let people realize the number of things they could do and not even really, if they didn’t want to, call them responses to climate.” The resilient strategies, on the other hand, are designed to absorb disturbances while maintaining the building’s integrity.

Read the USGBC report here.

Register for the conference here.


Upcoming Events, WMSBF Monthly Event

Leading Green Infrastructure Consultant Speaking in Grand Rapids Monday

One of the nation’s preeminent voices in green infrastructure and stormwater management will be speaking at the West Michigan Climate Resiliency Conference this Monday, October 6 at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in the Pantlind Ballroom from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Individuals only interested in this presentation may attend without registering for the full conference, space permitting.

Widely recognized as one of the nation’s leaders in the promotion of sustainable land planning and design, Jim applies his training and experience as a landscape architect, environmental planner, hydrologist, and restoration ecologist in the design and development of natural resource-based solutions that integrate state-of-the-art green building and site infrastructure measures to restore historical ecosystem functions in both built and natural environments.

Prior to founding CDF in 1994, Jim served as design lead and project manager on some of the Chicago region’s most noted early examples of sustainable site planning and development including such award winning projects as Sears Prairie Stone, Tellabs Research and Development Facility, and AT&T/ Lucent Technologies.  Each of these projects showcased the integration of native landscapes with innovative green infrastructure measures.

Looking to further develop his ecological philosophy and “green” development focus, Jim founded Conservation Design Forum in an effort to establish a visionary collaborative environment that draws on the expertise of a wide range of planning, design, science, and engineering professionals.  As President of CDF, Jim oversees and participates in a broad range of CDF’s planning and design projects, with particular emphasis in the areas of sustainable site planning and development, the advancement of innovative water resource management techniques, the integration of native landscape systems, and the promotion of ecological restoration strategies.patchett

“Water is a resource, not a waste product,” said Patchett.

In addition to his duties as Founder and President of Conservation Design Forum, Jim is co-founder and President of the Board of Conservation Research Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to furthering applied research and educational outreach in the areas of sustainable design, ecological restoration, and systems management for both built and natural environments.

A noted speaker and educator, Jim routinely travels throughout the country to conduct lectures, educational workshops, and design charrettes that promote an increased understanding and awareness of the scientific foundation and practical applications of diverse “green” design and development strategies, while at the same time pointing out with humor and remarkable clarity, the many liabilities associated with conventional land use practices.  Jim’s ability to communicate this understanding to a broad variety of practitioners, educators, students, decision makers, and the general public is what sets him apart in the field.

Register for the full conference here.

FYI, Upcoming Events, WMSBF Monthly Event

Climate Resiliency Summit for Sustainable Business Monday October 6


West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum and partners will host the West Michigan Climate Resiliency Conference on Monday, October 6 at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in downtown Grand Rapids. The capstone of the West Michigan Climate Resiliency Framework Initiative, the full-day event will introduce participants to national and local thought leaders on climate resiliency in the public and private sectors, a line-up of experts in climate change adaptation, emergency preparedness, stormwater management, organizational vulnerability and energy innovation.

The conference will also serve as the pilot for a Toolbox for philosophical intervention to communication issues inherent in climate change adaptation and related topics, designed for the National Science Foundation’s Research Network for Sustainable Climate Risk Management and developed through a series of meetings with West Michigan stakeholders hosted by WMSBF earlier this year. This part of the summit will help define shared opportunities for local organizations to respond to the key issues associated with climate change.

Keynote speaker is David Titley, Director of the Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk at Penn State University. The center helps organizations and citizens prosper and succeed in today’s and tomorrow’s weather and climate environment by taking advantage of all the skill in weather and climate forecasts. Dr. Titley is a nationally known expert in the field of climate, the Arctic, and National Security. He served as a naval officer for 32 years and rose to the rank of Rear Admiral. While serving in the Pentagon, Dr. Titley initiated and led the US Navy’s Task Force on Climate Change.

After retiring from the Navy, Dr. Titley served as the Deputy Undersecretary of Commerce for Operations, the Chief Operating Officer position at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Dr. Titley has spoken across the country and throughout the world on the importance of climate change as it relates to National Security.

Selected other plenary speakers include: Larissa Larsen, University of Michigan Associate Professor and co-author of the U.S. Green Building Council climate resiliency study; Dan Scripps, president of Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council; Michael O’Rourke, Michigan State University Professor, Director of the NSF-Sponsored Toolbox Project; Chuck Lippstreu, Michigan Agri-Business Association; Haris Alibasic, Director of the City of Grand Rapids Office of Energy & Sustainability; Jim Patchett, Founder and President of Conservation Design Forum; Aaron Ferguson, Project Manager & Health Educator, Climate & Health Adaptation Program, Michigan Dept. Community Health; and Dale Sands, Senior Vice President & Global Practice Director, AECOM.

The conference is presented in partnership between West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum, Penn State University’s Rock Ethics Institute, Michigan State University, Amway, Grand Rapids Community Sustainability Partnership, U.S. Green Building Council West Michigan and Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council.

Registration includes all program materials, continental breakfast, lunch and one complimentary drink during post-conference reception. Cost is $35 if paid online, $45 via invoice and at the door. Half day options available.