Now serving his third term, Mayor Heartwell took office in January 2004 and has seen Grand Rapids gain wide recognition as one of the most sustainable cities in America. During his tenure, the city government has implemented a variety of environmental measures, including purchase of renewable resource energy, use of alternative fuels in city vehicles, continued attention to water quality in the Grand River, and widespread implementation of energy conservation measures. He has championed the Community Sustainability Partners concept in Grand Rapids and other communities throughout the Midwest, and is the chair of that initiative in Grand Rapids.
In 2012 the U.S. Conference of Mayors recognized Heartwell with the Climate Protection Award for Large Cities for the city’s efforts to address climate change according to the mandates set forth by the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. The honor included a grant for climate change protection programming that allowed West Michigan Environmental Action Council and the Grand Rapids Office of Energy and Sustainability to investigate local climate change impacts and highlight possible strategies for building a more sustainable and resilient community. These findings were published in the City of Grand Rapids Climate Resiliency Report in 2013, a holistic landmark document outlining the current and future impacts of climate change on the Grand Rapids community, and potential plans for adaptation.