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.


2015 WMSBF Address Part 2: Why We Support Sustainable Business


Remarks from Daniel Schoonmaker, Director of West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum, at Triple Bottom Line Bash on November 5.  

Part 1: State of WMSBF.

Part 2: Why WMSBF Exists (Below).

My first time speaking before this group, I had won an essay contest the forum sponsored several years ago. I was an environmental activist at the time and one of the things I mentioned was how I thought I was unique in working to protect the interests of future generations when I didn’t particularly like children. As many of you know, this past year I had a baby, and now I like at least one.

That has helped put the next 80 years into context. That’s the root of sustainability: making things better for future generations.

We don’t talk about that quite as much as we used to, but it’s an important distinction. We’re talking about an ROI that’s measured in generations.  Not an easy pitch to make to your boss.  Forget quarters, even years, we’re talking generations.

And it explains a bit why the forum exists. We might seem like a charity for a constituency (businesses) that doesn’t need charity.  But we don’t serve the business community, per se.

We serve a lonely element of the business community challenged to continuously to defend its existence in a way that no other practice is. And while it’s easy to think about sustainability in terms of grand ideas. Most people that work in sustainable business aren’t say, putting the rapids back in the Grand River.

Their accomplishments are more subtle…with exceptions, and those, of course, are the people we give awards.

Mostly, sustainable business is about saving gallons, kilowatts, trees and dollars, maybe some fingers or toes.  It’s finding new ways to do things a little better, and sometimes a lot better.  It’s slowly getting rid of the bad, the toxic, and making business better.

A better chair, better beer, better food, better vacuums, better working conditions, better soap, better buildings…and that gives us better homes, better air, better water, better communities, better lives…a better world for that next generation.

That’s Auggie.  Cliché I know.  I couldn’t resist.

Thank you for supporting sustainable business in West Michigan.

Past Events, WMSBF Monthly Event, WMSBF News

Triple Bottom Line Bash Review

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum celebrated sustainable business in West Michigan at the Second Annual Triple Bottom Line Bash on November 5 at New Vintage Place.


2015 WMSBF Address Part 1: State of WMSBF

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Remarks from Daniel Schoonmaker, Director of West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum, at Triple Bottom Line Bash on November 5.  

Part 1: State of WMSBF (Below)

Part 2: Why WMSBF Exists

My name is Daniel Schoonmaker and it is my pleasure to serve as director of West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum.

I’d like to again thank our sponsors, board of directors and everyone here to today for making this event such a great success, and to Chris Laporte and Odom Reusable Building Materials for creating our awards this year.  To Dave Dyer and Chris Huntoon for our Green Family Feud game.

To our nominating committee: George Heartwell, Bill Stough, Gabe Wing, Su Paauwe, Jennifer Wammack and Carol Parsaca. I’d especially like to recognize program manager Angela Miller for making this event look easy, and to our planning committee: Sarah Herbst, Steve Assarian, Wendy Ogilvie, Chris Huntoon, Tera Fowler and chair Carol Parsaca.

Carol is not able to be here today due to the arrival of her twin boys. She is doing quite well.

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I’d also like to honor Su Paauwe, our 2015 President’s Award winner, who was recognized at our annual meeting back in June, and our Guest of Honor this evening, Mr. Dick Hanson. Twenty-one years ago Mr. Hanson donated a substantial sum to Bill Stough of Sustainable Research Group and West Michigan Environmental Action Council to develop the framework for what would become West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum. Without him this organization would not exist. A round of applause.

This year the forum is starting realize the vision that its board of directors presented when it gambled its savings on an investment in its first full time employee two years ago. Since that time our membership has grown by 50 percent and our revenue has nearly tripled. We’ve doubled our average event attendance. There is a positive buzz.

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We were recognized in the Mayor’s most recent State of the City address. We were on the front page of the Grand Rapids Press twice…and though that doesn’t seem to mean much anymore, I used to be a paperboy so I still think it’s cool.

We’ve also played a small role in getting those involved in our work recognized, be that a profile in the Grand Rapids Business Journal for Kristen Wieland, or awards from our environmental partners for Carol Parsaca and Autumn Sands, who were recognized by Michigan League of Conservation Voters and West Michigan Environmental Action Council, respectively.

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Our flagship education program will deliver more than 30 hours of professional education and networking, that is the equivalent of bringing a four-day conference to the local market…for as little as $125 per person.

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Our Waste Characterization and Valuation Project brought together competitors and natural enemies in the solid waste field to define the economic and environmental benefits of waste diversion in Michigan, and Kent and Muskegon counties.

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We launched a green labs pilot in partnership with the Department of Environmental Quality and the national International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories, working to address a use that consumes up to six times as much energy as typical office buildings.

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We’ve invested in a sustainable food systems initiative to help our member businesses understand their potential opportunities and impacts in local agriculture. Our first deliverable: a white paper on LEED credits for on-site agriculture.

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This year, we hope to spread our mission to new audiences through the launch of a Sustainable Business Leadership Academy designed to seed sustainability programs where none currently exist, and through an exploratory committee in partnership with our peers across the state for the development a collaborative Michigan Sustainable Business Forum.

We’ll be creating new resources to promote recycling and composting in West Michigan through our solid waste task force, and investing in partnerships to increase our impact in food systems, energy efficiency and circular design.

We’re also going to be continuing the work we began last year through our Climate Resiliency Framework Initiative. We’ve received a Great Lakes Integrated Science Assessment grant to work with climate researchers at University of Michigan, and our partners Sustainable Research Group, former DEQ director Steve Chester, and board volunteer Sara Meyer, to develop a toolkit for climate adaptation for local organizations. To do this we will work with four organizations that we feel together represent the local economy: Perrigo, Grand Rapids Public Schools, Spectrum Health, and Barfly.

Through projects like this, and our general funds, we’re able to support local students through scholarships and interns. We hired students from Aquinas, GVSU, KCAD and Calvin College this year. A full $29,000.

Part 2: Why WMSBF Exists


Brock Rodgers Receives Future Hall of Fame Award


West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum recognizes Brock Rodgers with 2015 Future Hall of Fame Award.

This year the Awards Nominating Committee felt there was a need to begin honoring professionals deserving wider acclaim for their work, with the hope that this recognition might positively impact their status with their organizations, and their careers in general.

Brock Rodgers is the corporate social responsibility program manager for Perrigo, a global leader in quality affordable health care products, where he inspires actions toward improving environmental and product stewardship practices, and impacts strategic plans for global energy, water, and recycling programs.

He previously worked as an environmental engineer at izzy+. He was the lead on environmental issues for izzy+ and its manufacturing sites, and led its BIFMA level® certification initiative for izzy+ products.
He is an active member of West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum, the Community Sustainability Partnership, and West Michigan Environmental Action Council.

Locally in Grand Haven, where he resides, he led the Grand River GreenUp which has empowered over a thousand volunteers since 2010 to remove over 30,000 pounds of trash from the Grand River watershed.  For the last four years has been involved with the Green Team for the Grand Haven Area’s Convention & Visitors Bureau – Salmon Festival (a three day long, certified zero waste-to-landfill event).

FYI, Member News, Past Events, WMSBF Monthly Event, WMSBF News

Brewery Vivant Named 2015 West Michigan Sustainable Business of the Year

IMG_20151105_205955West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum members have chosen Brewery Vivant as its 2015 West Michigan Sustainable Business of the Year.

Brewery Vivant is a neighborhood brewery and restaurant founded on being a small, but influential, sustainable business. It measures and reports on 15 sustainability goals annually in its “Beer the change…” report. Highlights from 2014 include sending less than 1% of waste to the incinerator, donating 11% of profits and 233 volunteer hours to local charitable organizations, and reducing energy intensity by 17%, mostly due to purchasing 100% renewably generated electricity. It is Grand Rapids’ fourth Certified B Corporation, a Certified Bicycle Friendly Business, and located in a LEED Certified the building, the first brewery to do so in the nation.

It recently helped initiate the creation of a sustainability committee through the Michigan Brewer’s Guild, with a goal of elevating the level of sustainable business and brewing practices throughout the state’s many craft breweries by providing online resources and opportunities to share best practices.

“We are humbled to be the WMSBF Sustainable Business of the Year,” said Kris Spaulding, Brewery Vivant Sustainability Director and Owner. “We are so fortunate to be part of West Michigan, which as a region is a leader is sustainability and has many truly amazing companies to learn from and be inspired by. As a Certified B Corporation, we aim to use our business as a force for good and being recognized by our peers is a wonderful affirmation that we are on the right path.”

The award was announced at the Second Annual Triple Bottom Line Bash on Thursday, November 5. Other nominees included Aquinas College, BIFMA, Busy Bea’s, Clothing Matters, Direct Trade Coffee Club, Goodwill of Greater Grand Rapids, Habitat for Humanity of Kent County, Herman Miller, and Steelcase.

Nominees were chosen by a committee comprised of WMSBF Hall of Fame honorees George Heartwell and Bill Stough, past WMSBF presidents Gabe Wing, Carol Parsaca, Su Paauwe, and Jennifer Wammack, and WMSBF Director Daniel Schoonmaker. The winner was selected by a vote of the membership.


Upcoming Events

November Membership Meeting: Global CSR Plus GR Public Museum

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum will present 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 from 12 to 2 pm.

Presented by Feyen Zylstra.

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

Robertson will discuss recent sustainability initiatives underway at the museum, including potential changes to its riverfront green infrastructure as part of the Grand River restoration project.

Sean is the founder of At Stake Advisors a sustainability consultancy based in Kalamazoo, MI, 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.

Sean will share his first hand experience working in over thirty countries and lessons of how to create value rather than destroying it. He will share deeply personal perspectives regarding the opportunities and challenges in implementing sustainability programs and the possibilities for charting a path forward.  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 was the Director of Global Partnerships at Gap Inc. where he led Gap Inc.’s social responsibility and stakeholder engagement strategy. He was the chief architect behind Gap Inc.’s stakeholder engagement strategy and partnership initiatives.

Register online here.

Upcoming Events

WMSBF Announces 2015 Hall of Fame Class, Sustainable Business of Year Nominees  

TBL Flier (2)_Page_2West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum will honor local sustainability practitioners and businesses at its Second Annual Triple Bottom Line Bash on Thursday, November 5.

The forum announced that four professionals will be inducted into its Sustainable Business Hall of Fame. Chosen by a vote of the forum membership, the 2015 class includes Renae Hesselink of Nichols, David Rinard of Steelcase, Rich Vanderveen of Mackinaw Power and designer Tom Newhouse. A lifetime achievement award, the Hall of Fame honors individual practitioners that have made the greatest contribution to sustainable business in West Michigan.

Nominees for the West Michigan Sustainable Business of the Year include Aquinas College, BIFMA, Brewery Vivant, Busy Bea’s, Clothing Matters, Direct Trade Coffee Club, Goodwill of Greater Grand Rapids, Habitat for Humanity of Kent County, Herman Miller, Steelcase.  The winner will be announced at the event.

Nominees were chosen by a committee comprised of past Hall of Fame honorees George Heartwell and Bill Stough, past WMSBF presidents Gabe Wing, Carol Parsaca, Su Paauwe, and Jennifer Wammack, and WMSBF Director Daniel Schoonmaker. Other nominees included Guy Bazzani, Norm Christopher, Gayle DeBruyn, Deb Steketee and Keith Winn.

Tickets for the award gala are now for sale at The Triple Bottom Line Bash will also feature The Green Family Feud, a show hosted by local comedian Dave Dyer.


USGBC-WM: Calculating ALL the Benefits of your Energy Conservation Project

The Michigan Battle of the Buildings October 23rd Lunch & Learn hosted by Progressive AE brought together area professionals to challenge our traditional thinking around energy efficiency projects and how we need to frame these discussions with our CFO’s (Chief Financial Officers).

“COST is a four letter word” said Tom Frey an engineer at Progressive AE. Competition for capital October L&L-Progressive AEdollars is always a challenge for building operators/managers and while there is no question that ROI (Return on Investment), NPV (Net Present Value) and IRR (Internal Rate of Return) are excellent evaluation tools, they do not properly reflect the avoided costs of future energy consumption.

Proposing your energy conservation project in a way that displays the reduction in operating budget due to the new system(s) will prove the projects greatest benefit – improved cash flow.

Using finance mechanisms (like PACE, Michigan Saves or Performance Contracting) and factoring in the accelerated depreciation opportunities can help structure an energy project that will use the avoided the energy costs to pay off the original investment and continue to reap the benefits long afterwards.

This could mean you don’t have to compete with other capital projects for funding.

October Lunch & LearnThe conversation also focused on the benefit of bundling projects. If funding is approved to complete a lighting retrofit with a 1 year payback this year, you may get shot down when you ask for capital to fund a new boiler with an 8 year payback next year. Bundling multiple upgrades can help you get projects approved that may not fly on their own. “The last solar project we completed yielded a payback of 2 years and that included a new roof (which had no payback on its own).” stated David Bell, an engineer at Progressive AE.

ENERGY STAR provides tools and resources that can accurately capture the benefits and prove that energy efficiency projects are excellent investments. These tools are available and include the Financial Value Calculator, Portfolio Manager, Target Finder, and the Cash Flow Opportunity Calculator.

“It is our job as building management partners to frame our discussions in a way that provides the true INVESTMENT potential in a project that reduces the operating budget.” Said Tom Frey during the wrap up.

These are not the type of discussions we were having just a few years ago.

The Michigan Battle of the Buildings continues to drive change by providing a platform to host these economically impactful conversations. Our primary goal is connecting building owners/managers to the tools and resources necessary to make informed and educated decisions in the rapidly changing energy market.

More info on Michigan Battle of the Buildings can be found here.


Survey Says: Green Family Feud Questions

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Hosted by comedian Dave Dyer, the Green Family Feud will provide Triple Bottom Line Bash attendees a chance to compete for fame and prizes while bringing fun to the serious and at-times overwhelming themes of sustainability.

We need your help to fill out our last few questions for the game.  Fill out the brief survey here for a chance to win a gift certificate to Brewery Vivant.  Learn more about the Triple Bottom Line Bash and get your tickets here.