Event Review

September Meeting: Retrospective on 20 Years of Sustainable Business

The September monthly WMSBF meeting featured a retrospective on 20 years of sustainable business in West Michigan on Monday, September 8 at the Grand Rapids Public Library Main Branch, part of the forum’s 20th Anniversary Celebration.

Some notable comments:

“We need to work collaboratively with designers to work towards our goals.  There are many elements to the sustainability issue—social, economic, and other problems.  Being able to measure attributes and metrics is extremely important to this.  …  As we look at the challenges ahead, we need to look at this situation toward the future:  We have to beware of complacency.”

Keith Winn, President, Catalyst Partners

“In regards to the long view I think one danger is to reach a point where we just stay the course.  We’re comfortable with the same old sustainable design programs, with the standard environmental programs.  Everyone’s designing green buildings, everyone’s designing green programs. We’ve reached a point of diminishing returns and yet there’s a community out there that’s designing better environmental buildings, producing more energy with less waste—and I think that’s a great challenge for us as a community and as an organization of companies to work together to aspire to greatness, and innovation.”

Mark Lacroix, Executive Vice President, Business Development, The Carbon Neutral Company

“Simplify the focus.  That’s what’s been really successful for us in the energy field.”

Tom Fehsenfeld, President, Crystal Flash

“Two words:  Be fearless.”

Deb Steketee, Associate Professor of Sustainable Business, Aquinas College

“Change happens in small increments, when you turn around after going down this path for some time you will realize how far we’ve come.  Don’t be disheartened.  In the business forum, we think closely together.  There are 4 billion people in the world that are aspiring to our lifestyle, and it can’t happen in the same way.  I believe there is a moral and ethical responsibility to address the people throughout the world, and especially those that are affected by climate change and the water issues associated with that—the people least responsible for causing those problems and the least prepared for dealing with them.”

Bill Stough, President/CEO Sustainable Research Group