FYI, Member News, WMSBF News

WMSBF Members Highlighted in Grand Rapids State of City Address


George Heartwell at 2015 State of the City Address. (mlive photo) Pictured with representatives from WMSBF member Consumers Energy.

Mayor George Heartwell highlighted three WMSBF members in his State of the City Address this morning as he introduced his new climate change initiative.  Excerpt shown below.

“Many businesses are taking this seriously. The West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum consists of over 100 members all of whom are committed to operating sustainably in their economic sector. This means, among other things, reducing GHG emissions. Let me give you three quick examples:

  • Steelcase has worked hard to reduce its global GHG emissions by 60%  since 2001. In early 2014 Steelcase announced it would purchase renewable energy credits equal to 100% of its global electric use.
  • Spectrum Health prevented 5.9 million pounds of carbon dioxide  from entering the atmosphere in a one-year period through lighting upgrades and energy conservation at its Butterworth and Blodgett campuses.
  • Barfly Ventures which operates Hopcat and Grand Rapids Brewing Company is making major energy conservation investments for reducing GHG emissions and will divert 90% of its waste stream from the landfill.”

Heartwell also introduced the Grand Rapids 2030 District Planning Project.  The municipal Office of Energy and Sustainability is partnering with the Institute for Energy Innovation, the West Michigan Chapter of the US Green Building Council, WMSBF and a broad range of private sector leaders to create the Grand Rapids 2030 Energy District Challenge, a high performance building efficiency district.

Learn more about 2030 Districts here.

FYI, Past Events

Luncheon Sustainability Report for January

The January luncheon at Prince Conference Center catered by WMSBF member Creative Dining Services incorporated products from several local companies, including Living Foods, Grassfields Cheese, Gavin Orchards, Momma Mucci, Otto’s Chicken, RW Bakers and Victory Farms.  The event also earned significant points for its use of reusable utensils and place settings, finishing with a sustainability score of 23.


The first two-course meal at a forum lunch in quite some time, CDS offered attendees an exceptional value for the price, sponsoring a portion of the food cost in order to deliver a higher quality sustainable option. Approximately 70% of attendees answering the feedback survey indicated the lunch was better or much better than previous forum luncheons they had attended.

The menu:  Michigan Apple Cheddar Salad or an alternative vegan salad.  Maple Pecan Gouda Airline Chicken Breast with Michigan Four-Bean Medley and Beets with Bleu Cheese Crumble, or Roasted Bell Peppers stuffed with Rice, Vegetables, and Beans with a Balsamic Glaze, Roast Tomatoes, and Beets.

This is the third month that WMSBF has tracked the sustainability of its luncheons using its Green Lunch Scorecard.  The high score to date was the December luncheon at Kendall College of Art & Design, which earned significant additional points by featuring an all-vegan menu.

View all scores here.

Past Events

Presentations from January Meeting

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum’s January meeting was a luncheon on energy efficiency and internal green revolving funds featuring case studies from Calvin College and Spectrum Health.  This month’s meeting sponsored by Consumers Energy.

Presentations available for review below.

Spectrum Health Energy Program – Jim Karas, Energy Management Coordinator, Sarah Chartier, Sustainability Coordinator, Spectrum Health.  View here: Spectrum Health Sustainability FUnd and Energy Program (1)

Saving Money and Energy with Green Revolving Funds – Matt Heun, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Calvin College.  View here: Heun CERF for WMSBF small (1)

Past Events

Lean & Green Michigan Presentation

At the December meeting 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. The property owner voluntarily takes on a Special Assessment, which it pays off as part of its property tax bill. A fundamentally different arrangement than a traditional bank loan, Levin believes the financing package can transform an energy efficiency or renewable project from an engineer’s great idea that a company CFO will not approve into a clear bottom line winner for the company.

Levin has been an innovator and leader in state and federal energy, workforce and labor policy and practice for many years. Throughout his career, Levin has created new organizations, initiatives and programs that have had transformative effects on companies, nonprofits, unions, and thousands of individuals’ lives.  He was previously leader of the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth (DELEG), an organization with a one-and-a-half billion dollar budget and over 4,000 employees that combined functions of an Energy Department, a Labor Department, and a Commerce Department.

View his presentation here: Lean and Green Michigan West MI Sustainable Biz Forum 2014-12-08 (1)

Member News

New Video, Web site for Greener Grads

Greener Grads has a new web site and animated PSA.  For nearly 30 years gowns have been manufactured with synthetic petroleum-based, non-biodegradable material and are either located in the back of closets or in landfills.

The graduation industry has been controlled by three industry giants with virtually no competition. Mass producing polyester gowns is inexpensive, but the destruction to the environment and financial burden for students and families can’t be ignored. Greener Grads has figured out a clever way to recover, reuse, repurpose and recycle gently worn graduation gowns.

See more at:


New Tool Measures Corporate Progress Towards Safer Chemicals

A group of corporate and NGO leaders have released a new tool for assessing leadership in corporate chemicals management.  The Chemical Footprint Project (CFP) provides the first-ever common metric of its kind for publicly benchmarking corporate chemicals management and profiling leadership companies.

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” said Dr. Mark Rossi, Co-Director of the nonprofit Clean Production Action and Chair and Founder of BizNGO, who released the Chemical Footprint Project with the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production and Pure Strategies.  “The CFP finally establishes a meaningful measurement of overall corporate performance to safer chemicals in products and supply chains.  We look forward to engaging business leaders in tracking and disclosing their Chemical Footprints.”

Business leaders are moving ahead of regulations to avoid chemicals of high concern to human health or the environment in their products and supply chains. They are meeting the needs of customers large and small who are concerned with toxic chemicals in products. From health care to retail, purchasers are seeking products made with inherently safer chemicals. Now these purchasers will have a tool to quickly compare and benchmark suppliers. In addition, socially responsible investment firms can use this new tool to evaluate companies on their chemical management and select companies for investment.

Similar to Carbon Footprinting, Chemical Footprinting can apply to any business sector. Retailers, health care organizations, governments, and investors all see value in a comprehensive measure of business progress to safer chemicals. “CFP is a market differentiator and provides a competitive advantage for business leaders,” said Roger McFadden of Staples, Inc.  “This new tool will add a level of transparency and help companies mitigate reputational and regulatory risks and exploit opportunities afforded by moving to safer chemicals.”

The CFP will enable purchasers to preferentially select suppliers and investors to integrate chemical risk into their sustainability analyses and investments. The CFP results enable brands to market their progress and success in using safer chemicals.

The CFP Steering Committee members include representatives from: Boston Common Asset Management, ChemSec, Dignity Health, Environmental Defense Fund, Investor Environmental Health Network, Kaiser Permanente, Partners Healthcare, Staples, Inc., Target Corporation, Trillium Asset Management, LLC, and the U.S. Green Building Council, among others.

The CFP is the first initiative to publicly measure overall corporate chemicals management performance by evaluating:

  • Management Strategy
  • Chemical Inventory
  • Progress Measurement
  • Public Disclosure

For more information about the Chemical Footprint Project, see

A webinar to introduce the tool is scheduled for Wednesday, January 21 at 1 p.m.

FYI, Member News, Upcoming Events

MIOSHA Update 2015 at Safety and Environmental Network Meeting

You are invited to join the Lakeshore Safety and Environmental Network for its monthly lunch meeting at Tommy Brann’s Restaurant (4157 Division Avenue S) in Grand Rapids on Tuesday, January 13th.  Lunch will start at noon with a presentation by Ms. Martha Yoder, Director of MIOSHA, on the MIOSHA Update 2015.

If you plan on attending, please RSVP to Su Paauwe at 616-738-7326 or via email at before January 12th. Please indicate whether you would like the Sizzler or the Chicken House Salad.

More details about Tuesday’s meeting and future meetings here (PDF): Lakeshore Mtg Notice 01.15 (1)


FYI, Upcoming Events

Michigan Wind Forum January 20

Join wind energy stakeholders for the second annual Michigan Wind Forum, featuring the Department of Energy’s new Wind Vision report.

The event, starting at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, January 20, at the Michigan State University Kellogg Center, will explore the benefits and challenges to Michigan developing its wind potential.

Michigan is participating in the growth of wind energy, with 1,455 installed megawatts and 100 megawatts in the pipeline, part of the 13,000 megawatts under construction in the United States.  Stakeholders will discuss wind energy in Michigan, based on the state’s experience, perspectives, resources, policies and constraints.

Sessions include a roundtable discussion by Michigan legislators, community engagement and social acceptance of wind energy, a Huron County wind development case study, corporate purchasers of wind, and the experience of the state’s electric utilities.

Featured speakers include Susan Hedman, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency Region 5;  Michigan State Senators Hoon-Yung Hopgood and John Proos; and Jean Redfield, CEO of NextEnergy.  A panel on purchasing during the afternoon will feature experts from General Motors and Dow Corning.

A reception will immediately follow the event. For more information, go to

Member News

Rapid Green Group Expands, Rebrands

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What started as a shredding company has now evolved into Rapid Green Group, a waste management company offering shredding, refuse, medical waste and recycling services – all from one source.

In business since 1999, Rapid Shred has rebranded to Rapid Green Group, a name that better encompasses its goal of being a single-stream waste management solution. The core of its business is customer service, said Josh Miller, program manager for Rapid Green Group. Listening to customers and striving to meet their needs has given the business the impetus to add new business units over the years.

Offering recycling, shredding, refuse collection, and – new this summer – medical waste sets the Rapid Green Group apart.

“We are also focused on providing our clients with detailed metrics for their sustainability reporting requirements, maximizing container utilization and providing transparency with our processes,” he said. “Providing excellent customer service has been the driving factor to our company’s sustained growth.”

Miller expects the growth to continue with the formation of Rapid Green Group. Long term, the company plans to continue servicing existing clients and researching their additional needs.

“We have an extremely loyal client base,” said Scott Dennis, owner of the Rapid Green Group and founder of Rapid Shred. “By understanding their needs and continually being open to new service offerings, we anticipate continued long-term growth”.

The company has also developed a consulting division, e3 Solutions, which offers sustainability assessment and implementation services that help organizations build a business case for sustainability.

Find out more information about this offering at or visit

Upcoming Events

WMSBF January: Energy Efficiency Funds at Calvin and Spectrum Health

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum will present a luncheon on energy efficiency and internal green revolving funds at its next monthly on Monday, January 12 at the Prince Conference Center at Calvin College.

Becoming more energy efficient can be very challenging due to high capital costs, and few organizations are structured internally to create the right incentives. Furthermore, energy cost savings are often “lost” in the budget, so no one gets credit for the good work. Green Revolving Funds (GRFs) provide financial resources, create the right incentives, and provide a way to publicize and promote energy efficiency to the public and potential donors.

Calvin College Professor Matthew Heun has successfully implemented a GRF called the Calvin Energy Recovery Fund (CERF) that has saved $71,000 in energy costs to date. In addition, it attracts sustainability-minded donors and leads to favorable publicity for the college. Dr. Heun will discuss Calvin’s experience with CERF and factors that make GRFs successful.

Representatives from Spectrum Health Systems will discuss the organization’s experience with GRFs and share its best practices for efficiency investment and improvement. Sustainability Coordinator Sarah Chartier and Energy Coordinator Jim Karas will present.

This month’s meeting sponsored by Consumers Energy.

Learn more and register here.