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Grand Rapids 2030 District Exploratory Committee

The Institute for Energy Innovation, West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum, the West Michigan Chapter of the U.S. Green Buildings Council and City of Grand Rapids held a kickoff event on March 27 for the establishment of a Grand Rapids 2030 District last Friday at Rockford Construction in downtown Grand Rapids. Private and public sector leaders are joining forefront cities across the nation through an attempt to launch the Grand Rapids 2030 District, an initiative that engages property managers and community professionals to sign on to voluntary goals including improving the energy efficiency of commercial buildings and reducing water use and greenhouse gas emissions from transportation.

2030 Districts, initiated by the non-profit research organization Architecture 2030, are unique private and public partnerships bringing together property owners and managers to meet energy and resource reduction targets set by the 2030 Challenge for Planning. The 2030 District is a part of a larger national collaboration of cities including Seattle, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Denver, Los Angeles, Stamford, Toronto, San Francisco and Dallas. Grand Rapids could be the 10th city to establish a 2030 district, and is planning on achieving this status by the end of the year in accordance with Mayor Heartwell’s environmental commitments that were addressed at the State of the City address in January.​

“Grand Rapids is already a recognized sustainability leader in the nation; our building owners understand the importance of protecting and enhancing assets. The Grand Rapids 2030 District will allow the sustainability movement in Grand Rapids to advance its momentum, bringing together private sector pioneers to further reduce energy use, water use, and transportation emissions,” shared Daniel Schoonmaker, Director of WMSBF. Through collaboration and shared resources the proposed GR2030 District hopes to benchmark, develop and implement creative strategies and best practices towards a shared district goal. “This initiative will further strengthen Grand Rapids to combat the effects of climate change, making it more resilient in the long run,” mentioned Dr. Haris Alibašić, Director of the Office of Energy and Sustainability at the City of Grand Rapids.

The GR 2030 District will also create synergies with other community efforts including the Battle of the Buildings, which in its first year enrolled more than 11 million square feet of commercial office space in Grand Rapids. “We are excited to encourage and support the establishment of a Grand Rapids 2030 district,” stated Cheri Holman, Executive Director of the USGBC-WM. “The USGBC-WM chapter mission of transforming the way buildings and communities are designed, built and operated in a way that improves the quality of life in West Michigan fits perfectly with the Architecture 2030 program. Grand Rapids business leaders know the importance of providing our residents with buildings and communities where they are safe and proud to live, work and play.” As with Battle of Buildings, participants will track and communicate performance data to a central source, using Portfolio Manager on EPA’s ENERGY STAR web site.

“It is inspiring to witness a strong endorsement for the establishment of a 2030 District in Grand Rapids,” said Dan Scripps, President of the Institute of Energy Innovation, to the more than 50 people community leaders who attended the event. Scripps and others have spent months organizing around the 2030 concept, and added, “we look forward to continuing this dialogue and convening a private led exploratory committee to develop district goals and solutions for achieving these ambitious, yet attainable goals.”

In the following weeks, the exploratory committee will be building momentum for the GR 2030 District, establishing a District boundary, and responding to any concerns and questions from potential participants. The effort also expects to get a boost with the upcoming visit of Ed Mazria, Architecture 2030 Founder and CEO, who will be in Grand Rapids next month for the 19th Annual Wege Lecture. Over the next few months the District will focus efforts on establishing a series of goals to advance the District agenda and to become a recognized, established 2030 District by the end of the year.

For more information on the Grand Rapids 2030 District, please contact Dan Scripps of the Institute of Energy Innovation at dan@mieibc.org.