FYI, Member News, Uncategorized

Steelcase Announces New Wind Power Investment

Steelcase Inc. announced a 12-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Apex Clean Energy for 25 megawatts of wind power. Since 2014, Steelcase has invested in renewable energy credits equivalent to 100% of its global electricity consumption. This latest investment will make up nearly half of Steelcase’s renewable energy purchases, directly support the construction of a new clean energy facility set to begin operations in 2016, and further diversify the company’s renewable energy portfolio.

“Our decision to partner with Apex and execute a long-term renewable energy agreement reflects our longstanding commitment to drive a clean energy landscape,” said Jim Keane, Steelcase president and CEO. “At a time when businesses and governments are working to align on climate strategies, we maintain a sense of urgency and optimism. We are focused on finding new ways to reduce our overall energy use and investing in innovative, economically beneficial projects like this one to take one step closer to a sustainable energy future.”

Under Steelcase’s long-term PPA with Apex’s Grant Plains Wind project, a 150-megawatt facility in Grant County, Oklahoma, Steelcase is committed to support production of approximately 100 million kilowatt-hours of clean, renewable wind energy each year. This amount is equal to approximately 70% of Steelcase’s U.S. electricity usage, or roughly the electricity needed to power 9,100 homes per year.

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February Meeting: Food Waste

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West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum will present a luncheon on sustainable food management and organic waste on Monday, February 8 at Aquinas College from 12 to 2 pm.

Featured speaker is Susan Mooney, Chief of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 5 Municipal and Industrial Materials Section. Mooney will introduce various EPA programs and tools that businesses can use to reduce food waste and manage organics more sustainably, including the Food Recovery Challenge. She will also discuss current issues related to diversion strategies such as composting and anaerobic digestion.

Meeting presented by Creative Dining Services.

EPA Region 5 encompasses the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.  Mooney’s section is responsible for implementing portions of EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management program, tribal solid waste and pollution prevention program, and RCRA Subtitle D (or non-hazardous waste) program.  Under the Sustainable Materials Management program, Susan is responsible for working on measurement, sustainable food management, and the management of materials associated with the built environment.

Representatives from Aquinas College and Creative Dining Services will also discuss how the college and other local institutions are taking steps to make food service more sustainable.

Learn more and RSVP here.

Upcoming Events

More MEC3 Speakers Announced

Join us in Detroit for MEC3: Corporate Pathways to Advanced Energy: Increasing Access to Next Generation Energy Solutions

With less than two weeks until the Corporate Pathways to Advanced Energy: Increasing Access to Next Generation Energy Solutions conference in Detroit, the list of leading global businesses confirmed as participants continues to grow! Don’t miss out – reserve your seat today. Seating is limited, and registration will close at the end of next week.
 
MEC3 – the 3rd Annual Michigan Energy Conference – is one of the first conferences of its kind to bring together high-profile corporate leaders in what has become an important international dialogue on accelerating opportunities to source, procure, and manage 21st Century energy resources. The conference will take place on February 2, 2016 at The Westin Book Cadillac hotel in Detroit. 
 
Adam Kramer, Executive Vice VP of Strategy for Switch, will provide the industry keynote. Switch is in the process of developing a $5 billion data center in West Michigan. They are also an active corporate purchaser of renewable energy, and recently announced that as of January 1, 2016 all of their SUPERNAP data centers will be powered by 100% renewable energy, making the company the world’s largest colocation data center environment to be fully run on renewable energy.
 
Other confirmed speakers to date include:

  • Myles Burnsed, Director of New Markets, groSolar
  • Tom Catania, Executive-in-Residence, Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise, University of Michigan
  • Aakash Chandarana, Regional VP of Rates and Regulatory Affairs, Xcel Energy
  • Liesl Eichler Clark, President, Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council
  • Jay Dietrich, Program Manager: Climate Stewardship and Energy, IBM
  • Anne Kelly, Sr. Director of the Policy Program and Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP) Coaliation, Ceres
  • Kevin Parzyck, Vice President – Development, Invenergy
  • Nancy Popa, Executive Director – Renewable Energy, Consumers Energy
  • Letha Tawney, Director of Utility Innovation and Polsky Chair for Renewable Energy, World Resources Institute
  • Rob Threlkeld, Global Manager – Renewable Energy, General Motors
  • Steve Vavrik, Chief Commercial Officer, Apex Clean Energy
  • Ron Voglewede, Global Sustainability Director, Whirlpool
  • Greg White, Executive Director, National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC)
  • Rod Williamson, Global Energy Category Manager, Dow Corning 
  • Gabe Wing, Director of Safety and Sustainability, HermanMiller

The conference is organized by Michigan EIBC, together with Advanced Energy Economy, Ceres, the University of Michigan’s Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise, 5 Lakes Energy, and the World Resources Institute. You can learn more about the conference, including information on speakers and panel topics, at the conference website.

Attendee and sponsor space is limited, so reserve your spot today! Or contact Nicole Forward for more details.
 
We hope to see on February 2 in Detroit!

Past Events, WMSBF Monthly Event, WMSBF News

January Review: What Happened in Paris?

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West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum presented a luncheon highlighting global and local responses to climate change and energy on Monday, January 11 at Grand Valley State University’s Seidman Center.

Presentations below:

Featured speakers also included City of Grand Rapids Director of Energy and Sustainability Haris Alibasic.

This month’s meeting presented by Natural Capital Partners.

Past Events, WMSBF Monthly Event, WMSBF News

Review: December Meeting on Sustainability in Packaging

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West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum’s December membership meeting was a joint meeting with the International Institute of Packaging at Kendall College of Art & Design. Meeting presented by Disher Design and Steelcase.

A panel of local packaging experts will discuss key challenges and opportunities for sustainability in packaging:

Dustin Heiler, Global Environmental Sustainability Specialist, Steelcase, Inc.
“It shouldn’t be two to three times more expensive, and it’s got to perform the same way or better. Better performance can justify more costs. Then with the environmental side, if you’re working with a new material, you have to consider what the price is today vs. what it will be in the future, if the material has not yet scaled, it will cost two to three more times to start.”

Thad Cummings, Founding Partner, My Green Michigan
“To be blunt everyone asks the cost question, that’s not the obstacle, we we actually save people money. The obstacles are politics and contracts.”

Tyler Prince, Packaging Engineering Manager, KTM Industries, Inc.
“There are things that are actually working and sustainable that people don’t know about. There is always a cost limitation with going green. But it’s getting there. Once everyone realizes that we need to go int this direction that is when it’s going to pick up steam.”

Cimberly Weir, Assistant Director, Center for Packaging Innovation and Sustainability, Michigan State University
“It’s a piece of a whole value chain, you’re not going to go to the store and put cheese or shampoo in your hand and walk out. You need a package. You should be looking at the entire package and how you can reduce the whole footprint from start to end use…

“The biggest opportunity is education, we understand sustainability and the implications it has if done correctly. Now the mom making decisions at the grocery store, how are you going to get her to purchase the more sustainable package? I think education of the every-day consumer, I think that is really where the power is.”

Pat Laurie, Packaging Engineering Manager, Bissell Homecare, Inc.
“Go back to the product. Trying to work with our product engineers, than we don’t have to use that much processin. Try to work together as teams. We’re all familiar with the mushroom foam that Steelcase has used, we’re using another material made out of waste straw from rice materials; tried using returnable packaging, just couldn’t make the economics work…

“My package goes with the consumer, my goal is to have that package stay with the consumer…imagine a little tote that stays with the consume? Packaging could be a sales tool. But the marketing department says I can’t do it: Costs too much…

“What Walmart asks for we give them. They go in cycles: every 10 years, when they’re hot on the environment everyone gets hot. Hopefully that’s coming around again soon.”

Cindy Doman, Senior Packaging Engineer, Herman Miller
“We spend most of our weeks trying to come up with new reusable packaging. It also improves ergonomics.  There are some economics that come into play; part of that is you have to get the material in.  If your supplier is far enough way, it’s harder to send that packaging back…

“I have to ditto about education. You have to start early, in the schools, have to challenge them. Pop and water bottles become coats, that kind of thing….

“We generally start out with what are we going to save dollar-wise. It’s ‘Who handles this?’ ‘How are we going to keep up with truck?’ ‘Can we reduce warehousing? Can it be recycled? Can it be easily separated and recycled?’ There is x amount in labor and transportation, it kind of all becomes one nice package.”

 

Upcoming Events, WMSBF Monthly Event, WMSBF News

January Meeting: What Happened In Paris?

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West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum will present a luncheon highlighting global and local responses to climate change and energy on Monday, January 11, at Grand Valley State University’s Seidman Forum from 12 to 2 pm.

Register here.

Featured speakers include Natural Capital Partners Executive Vice President Mark LaCroix and Center for Climate Strategies Chairman Steve Chester, WMSBF member delegates to The Conference of the Parties (COP21) climate summit in Paris in December, plus City of Grand Rapids Director of Energy and Sustainability Haris Alibasic and US Green Building Council Executive Director Cheri Holman.

This month’s meeting presented by Natural Capital Partners.

Natural Capital Partners, a global business that delivers solutions for positive impact on carbon, energy, water, biodiversity and communities, has participated in Conference of the Parties meetings since COP9 in Milan in 2002 – an event that it certified CarbonNeutral®.  With five people in attendance the company was well represented at COP21 in Paris.

In his presentation, Paris Outcomes: What Action for Business,  LaCroix will share what they learned and explore how business can take the lead post-Paris.

  • From awareness to action – a brief history of The Conference of the Parties
  • Outcomes from COP21 – a summary of the final results and next steps.
  • What now? – transformation, growth and opportunity for business.
  • Getting to zero – the business case for carbon neutrality and a framework to get there.

Chester will share additional perspective drawing from his experiences as chairman of CCS, the nation’s premiere catalyst for state climate action planning and analysis, and the development of Michigan’s climate action plan during his time as Director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Alibasic will provide an update on City of Grand Rapids efforts to lead climate action by example, including the development of a solar power field at the Butterworth landfill site. Holman will introduce the third season of the USGBC’s Michigan Battle of the Buildings and the new Grand Rapids 2030 District.

Learn more and register here.

 

Past Events

November Review: Robertson and Swain

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum presented a luncheon on social responsibility in the supply chain and other topics for its November membership meeting at Grand Rapids Public Museum on Monday, November 16.

Featured speakers were Sean Ansett, principal of At Stake Advisors, and Dale Robertson, President and CEO of the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

More on Ansett’s presentation here.

Below are select slides from Robertson’s presentation on sustainability-driven initiatives underway at GRPM, including its educational partnerships and role in the Grand River restoration project.

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The meeting concluded with a presentation for Clothing Matters proprietor Marta Swain on the new documentary True Cost.

Past Events, WMSBF Monthly Event

Video: November Meeting Featured Speaker Sean Ansett

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum presented a luncheon on social responsibility in the supply chain and other topics for its November membership meeting at Grand Rapids Public Museum on Monday, November 16.

Featured speakers were Sean Ansett, principal of At Stake Advisors, and Dale Robertson, President and CEO of the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

Sean is the founder of At Stake Advisors, a sustainability consultancy based in Kalamazoo, Chief Sustainability Officer at Fairphone, Acting Board Chair of Liberty&Justice Clothing, a fair trade garment factory in Monrovia, Liberia and Senior Associate and tutor at the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, Cambridge UK. Previously he was the Executive Director of the Bangladesh Safety Accord covering over 170 global brands,1600 factories and 2 million workers, Director of Corporate Responsibility at Burberry in London, and Director of Global Partnerships at Gap Inc. where he led the retailers social responsibility and stakeholder engagement strategy.

Sean shared his first-hand experience working in over thirty countries and lessons of how to create value rather than destroying it. He shared deeply personal perspectives regarding the opportunities and challenges in implementing sustainability programs and the possibilities for charting a path forward.

Upcoming Events, WMSBF Monthly Event

Sustainability in Packaging at December Meeting

Leading-cosmetics-players-team-up-to-create-roundtable-on-sustainable-packaging_strict_xxlWest Michigan Sustainable Business Forum’s December membership meeting is a joint meeting with the International Institute of Packaging on Monday, December 14 at Kendall College of Art & Design from 12 to 2 pm.

A panel of local packaging experts will discuss key challenges and opportunities for sustainability in packaging:

  • Travis Gibbs, Packaging Engineer, Disher Design (Moderator)
  • Pat Laurie, Packaging Engineering Manager, Bissell Homecare, Inc.
  • Dustin Heiler, Global Environmental Sustainability Specialist, Steelcase, Inc.
  • Cindy Doman, Senior Packaging Engineer, Herman Miller
  • Cimberly Weir, Assistant Director, Center for Packaging Innovation and Sustainability, Michigan State University
  • Thad Cummings, Founding Partner, My Green Michigan

Meeting presented by Disher Design and Steelcase.

Register and learn more here.

 

Member News, WMSBF News

Sustainable Re-use in TBL Flower Arrangements

The residents at First & Main of Metro Health Village are putting a unique twist on the concept of sustainability. Using flowers donated from the neighboring Family Fare, residents participate in a weekly flower arranging class. They create centerpieces for the tables in their dining areas and for placement around the community. The flowers that are donated are typically past their sell-by date and would otherwise be discarded, but are still pretty and usable.

After seeing photos from the class, Store Director, Nicole Eckhardt asked First & Main if their residents would be interested in creating table arrangements for the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum’s Second Annual Triple-Bottom Line Bash on Thursday, November 5.

“I sent pictures of our flower arranging class to the Store Director, Nicole, and she passed it along to her supervisors,” said First & Main’s Director of Excitement, Heather Knouse. “They loved that the residents were getting use out of something they’d normally discard.”

SpartanNash, owner of Family Fare, felt asking residents to create the arrangements using the donated flowers was a great way to align with the Forum’s objective to promote sustainable business practices. Residents will be creating 25 arrangements using vases and flowers provided by Family Fare.