Upcoming Events, WMSBF Monthly Event, WMSBF News

West Michigan Sustainable Business Conference Features Global Green Business Leaders in Half-Day Event

Kaplan_Rob photoWest Michigan Sustainable Business Forum will present its 2015 Fall Conference on Monday, October 19 from 12 pm to 4:30 pm at The Ballroom at City Flats in downtown Grand Rapids.

Featured speakers include Rob Kaplan, Managing Director of the Closed Loop Fund, Janelle Kearsley, Senior Director of Stakeholder Engagement for Walmart, Bill Stough, Founder and CEO of Sustainable Research Group, Jeff Terry, Manager of Global Corporate Social Responsibility for Amway, and Liese Dallbauman, former Director of Water Stewardship for PepsiCo. The event is sponsored by Amway.

Kearsley played a key role in launching Walmart’s sustainability initiative.  She will discuss the retailer’s approach to social and environmental sustainability, including case studies on food, energy, and waste. Kaplan, until recently the Director of Product Sustainability for Walmart, will also share his perspective during a joint question and answer period.

Founded in 2014, Closed Loop Fund is a social impact investment fund that provides cities access to the capital required to build comprehensive recycling programs. The fund aims to invest $100 million by 2020 with the goal to create economic value for cities by increasing recycling rates in communities across America. It brings together the world’s largest consumer product, retail, and financial companies committed to finding a national solution to divert waste from landfills into the recycling stream in order to be used in the manufacturing supply chain. It was recently cited by the Harvard Business Review in its review of the 10 Most Important Sustainable Business Stories of 2014. This fall, it made its first significant funding announcement, a total investment of up to $25 million split between three projects.

Until recently, Liese Dallbauman was Director of Water Stewardship for PepsiCo’s global food and beverage businesses. Her responsibilities included in-plant water conservation training, water use analysis, and global water risk assessment and mitigation. These programs made major contributions to PepsiCo’s success in reducing its operational water use ratio by 20% from a 2006 baseline – four years ahead of the 2015 schedule.

Also on the agenda is the announcement of results from the Michigan Municipal Solid Waste Characterization and Valuation Study and the Kent County Zero Waste Feasibility Study.

Registration cost for members is just $35 if paid online by October 15, $45 for non-members.  Learn more and register here.

Member News

MIEIBC Demonstrates for Solar Choice

On Wednesday, WMSBF partner Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council and partners co-hosted the Rally to Save Solar Choice. Joined by dozens of solar companies and solar purchasers in Michigan’s net metering program, many spoke out against SB 438, which would eliminate the renewable portfolio standard, the energy optimization standard for electric utilities and the net metering program. Under the bill, purchasers of rooftop solar on the grid would not be allowed to use any of the electricity they produced. Instead, all electricity would be sold to the grid at wholesale price, and then the household would have to purchase all energy at the increased retail price.


The rally was followed by testimony in front of the Senate Energy and Technology Committee.  Contact Michigan EIBC to weigh in on the issue.

Member News, Past Events, WMSBF News

WMSBF Hosts Special Briefing On Water Strategy


West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum hosted a special briefing on Michigan’s Water Strategy for its members and guests last Thursday at the Grand Rapids offices of Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber, Inc.  Jon Allan, Director of the MDEQ’s Office of the Great Lakes, discussed the plan with local business and community leaders and listened to their concerns and suggestions.

His presentation is available for review here: Water Strategy PPT


Learn more about the Water Strategy and read its full text online here.

Comments on the draft are due to the DEQ by Friday, August 28, 2015.

Upcoming Events

September Meeting to Feature Harley-Davidson

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum’s September membership meeting will feature a spotlight on sustainability at Harley-Davidson as a luncheon at the Annis Water Resources Institute in Muskegon from 12 to 2 pm.

The leading brand in an industry not traditionally known for sustainability, Harley-Davidson has made it one of the strategic pillars of its organization, directly linking its environmental and social impacts with its customers’ dreams of personal freedom and to the motorcycling experience. Its Renew the Ride initiative is effectively translating corporate social responsibility to an outlaw culture.  Among other accomplishments, Harley-Davidson is a nearly zero-landfill manufacturing operation (9.4%), has set sustainability goals for its supplier network, and last year unveiled a prototype electric vehicle, Project Livewire.  It was honored as the Sustainability Leader of the Year this past year by the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council.

Rachel Schneider is Director of Sustainability and Strategic Planning for Harley-Davidson Motor Company, a position she has held since 2010.  Previously she was a partner in the environmental law group of Quarles & Brady LLP.  She is an AAEAAQAAAAAAAAMmAAAAJDQ5MDBiZTY4LTVmNWQtNDlhMC04NmVjLWRmNmQ5Yzk4Y2M3Mwactive member of the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation and a board member of the Alliance for the Great Lakes.

Other speakers to be announced.

WMSBF September Meeting
Monday, September 14, 12 pm to 2 pm
Annis Water Resources Institute
Lake Michigan Center
740 W. Shoreline Dr.
Muskegon, Michigan 49441

Registration open after August 10.

FYI, Member News, Upcoming Events, WMSBF News

Special WMSBF Briefing On Michigan’s Water Strategy August 13

Image of Water Strategy Cover

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum will host a special briefing on Michigan’s Water Strategy for its members and guests on Thursday, August 13 from 1 pm to 2:30 pm at the Grand Rapids offices of Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber, Inc.  The briefing will feature a presentation from Jon Allan, Director of the MDEQ’s Office of the Great Lakes, and an opportunity for local businesses interested in sustainability to learn more about the plan and provide direct feedback on its recommendations.

Seating is limited in order to provide for a more intimate conversation, so please RSVP below.

Governor Rick Snyder two years ago called upon the Office of the Great Lakes to develop a comprehensive water strategy for the state that takes an ecosystem approach, enhances our economic opportunities around water and strengthens connection to place.  Released earlier this summer, the draft Water Strategy was developed through an extensive engagement process that involved a wide array of individuals, communities, organizations, academia, businesses, industries and tribal and local governments across the state.  It provides a a 30-year vision to ensure Michigan’s water resources support healthy ecosystems, citizens, communities, and economies. It is designed to protect, manage and enhance Michigan’s water resources for the benefit of current and future generations.

The OGL will also be hosting six Water Strategy Community Conversations across Michigan this month for general community audiences, including one that evening at GVSU’s Eberhard Center.Learn more about the Water Strategy and read its full text online here.

Comments on the draft are due to the DEQ by Friday, August 28, 2015.

Michigan’s Water Strategy: Special Briefing for Sustainable Business
Presentation and Discussion with Jon Allan, Director, Office of the Great Lakes
Thursday, August 13, 1 pm to 2:30 pm
Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber, Inc., 1515 Arboretum Dr SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546
Space limited, please RSVP below.
Past Events, WMSBF Monthly Event

WMSBF July Meeting: Sustainability at Spectrum Health and GR Bikes Launch

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum’s July membership meeting featured a discussion on sustainability issues at the region’s largest health care provider and the launch of the region’s first commercial bike-share program.  It was held at Grand Valley State University’s new Seidman Center and presented by Spectrum Health.

Featured speaker was Steve Heacock, Senior Vice President for Public Affairs at Spectrum Health System, and President of Spectrum Health Innovations, L.L.C.  View Steve’s presentation here: CSR July Presentation1

Jay Niewiek and David Bell of the newly formed GR Bikes shared plans for this month’s launch of the pilot phase of a bike share program in Grand Rapids. This private venture aims to leverage learnings from other bikeshare models with the technology that’s already in your pocket. A bike share program in Grand Rapids will equitably increase mobility, add to the vitality of the urban core, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

More information on GR Bikes will be posted as it becomes available.


WMSBF In the News

Earlier this summer, West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum spent eight weeks at Michigan landfills and transfer centers for the Trash Research Project, the field operation of the Michigan MSW Characterization and Valuation Study.  Read about it in The Grand Rapids Press/mlive here, or in The Grand Rapids Business Journal here.

May’s Green Labs Workshop was featured in the monthly newsletter of the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories.

FYI, Member News

Spectrum Health Seeking Sustainability Program Manager

Spectrum Health is hiring a Sustainability Program Manager to support the Regional Hospital Network of non-owned facilities and in collaboration with our existing programs. More information regarding position and how to apply can be found at this link:


Upcoming Events

Mayoral Forum on Conservation Issues

GR Mayoral Forum Flier (2)

The Michigan League of Conservation Voters is partnering with Michigan Radio and the Grand Rapids Press to host a Mayoral Candidates Forum on July 22 at 6:30 pm at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. The event will provide an opportunity for the public to engage with the entire field of candidates in the Grand Rapids mayoral race. 

Grand Rapids residents want to know: what are the candidates’ positions on key conservation issues facing the city and region?

This exciting event will be the foremost opportunity this election cycle for candidates to showcase their positions. We want to showcase your commitment to conservation, too!

As Michigan’s second largest city, Grand Rapids is the economic and cultural capital of West Michigan. We have been fortunate to have wonderful Mayor George Heartwell as a national leader on climate, conservation and sustainable urban development. Due to newly enacted term limits, however, Mayor Heartwell is retiring. With his retirement comes an opportunity to raise the profile of conservation issues through the electoral process and ensure each candidate makes commitments to the electorate on environmental issues.

The Mayoral Forum will be the best way for Grand Rapids residents to learn about and understand the positions of candidates for the mayor’s office. It will also be the best way to showcase how you and/or or your company values the protection of Michigan’s air, land, and water!

Learn more here. 

Upcoming Events

Sustainability Presentation at Women Entrepreneur Group

Sustainable Research Group’s Tera Fowler will be presenting on how to incorporate sustainability into the business models local  entrepreneurs involved in Hook A Sista Up, an organization committed to helping women entrepreneurs launch their business ventures faster and sustain them longer through collaboration and mentors.

Date: Tuesday June 28,  2015
Time: 5:30- 7:30pm
Place: Baker Book House
Address: 2768 East Paris Ave
Grand Rapids, MI 49546

Learn more here.

The goal of this session is to provide sustainable business background knowledge to help each participant understand the functioning of a sustainability program and how it can be applied to their organization; helping participants develop an understanding of the business, environmental, and social foundations of sustainability.

Typical, resulting benefits of incorporating sustainability into your business model:

  • Improved operational efficiency
  • Reduced operating costs
  • Reduced carbon footprint
  • Increased innovation
  • Enhanced reputation
  • Strengthened customer relations
  • Strengthened community ties
  • Ability to attract and retain the best employees