Member News

Wege Prize Names Finalists

Wege Prize, Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University’s (KCAD) uniquely transdisciplinary design competition focused on the circular economy, has selected five teams of undergraduate students from around the world to move on to the final stage of the third annual competition based on overviews of their solutions to a “wicked” problem. Now, those solutions will be critiqued by a panel of leading practitioners and advocates of design thinking and sustainability.

At the Wege Prize Awards on May 14, 2016 at Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD) in Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.A., the five teams will present their solutions in full to the judges, who will choose a first, second, and third place winner. The top award of $15,000 will be given to the winning team, with awards of $10,000 and $5,000 going to the second-place and third-place teams, respectively.

Teams were asked to create a solution to the following “wicked” problem: How can we create a circular economy? Each team – composed of five undergraduates representing different academic institutions and majors of study – had to design a product, service, or business model that can function within and help create a paradigm shift towards a circular economic model, an economic model in which resources and capital are regenerative.

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Event Review, WMSBF News

Michigan Green Labs Webinar


Hosted by the DEQ in partnership with the University of Michigan and the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum

March 31, 2016
1:00 – 2:00 PM

The Michigan Green Labs Webinar will cover a successful green labs program at the University of Michigan and examine an initiative to take the University of Michigan model and expand it to business orientated labs. This webinar is geared toward lab professionals, facilities managers, green team leaders, academics, process improvement professionals, and sustainability professionals.

Register today!


Sudhakar G. Reddy, Office of Campus Sustainability, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Lab operations at the University of Michigan, like many other institutions, consume nearly two-thirds of total energy, providing rich opportunities in saving energy and reducing waste generation.  A unique program has been developed by our office to promote and practice sustainable operations in a more standardized way in our labs.  The program evaluates specific areas of green chemistry, waste reduction, energy and utilities, green computing, green purchasing, reuse and recycle and treatment and disposal.  The state of Michigan has adapted this program and introduced it to other institutions and organizations.  To date, we have engaged 150 labs in this unique program and results are encouraging.  Specific examples on product substitution, energy conservation, recycling and reuse, along with the benefits of the program will be presented.

Daniel Schoonmaker, Director, West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum

The West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum is working to bring the tactics and strategies developed by University of Michigan and the Michigan Green Labs Initiative (MGLI) to the private sector and local schools and governments.  The West Michigan Green Labs pilot was an effort to increase adoption of MGLI protocols within organizations with existing sustainability efforts, reconcile the tools with those available from the International Institute of Sustainable Laboratories, and test the feasibility of the “Certified‐Green Lab” as a marketing and publicity claim that could incentive future adoption.  Learn about benefits and challenges encountered by participating organizations and lessons for the program moving forward.


U.S. EPA Sustainable Management of Food Tools


The U.S. EPA offers several tools for measuring and tracking the amount, type of, and the source of food and packaging waste. One of the topics discussed at the February Member Meeting.

By using EPA’s food waste assessment tools, food service establishments can:

  • Save money by reducing over-purchasing and disposal costs
  • Reduce environmental impacts
  • Support efforts to eliminate hunger
  • Increase tax benefits by donating food; and
  • Support community waste reduction efforts.

The food waste assessment tools start off with a Guide for Conducting and Analyzing a Food Waste Assessment. The guide provides a step by step process. In addition to the guide is a waste calculator, tracking logs, and a Waste Reduction Model tool that can help organizations track and voluntarily report greenhouse gas emissions reductions from several different waste management practices.

Member News

Sustainable Partners LLC selected as Newsmaker of the Year


WMSBF’s Forum Member Sustainable Partners (Spart) was honored on January 27 at Meijer Gardens, GRBJ recognized 52 Newsmaker of the Year nominees in 16 categories. Sustainable Partners (Spart) was recognized as Newsmaker of the Year in the Sustainability Category for our work with anaerobic digestion in west Michigan.

Greg Northrup and Pam Landes of Spart developed Lowell Energy AD (LEAD) an 800kW waste-to-energy plant in Lowell Michigan. LEAD uses manure and food waste, including liquid waste from Litehouse Foods, a manufacturer of salad dressings located in Lowell, to create methane gas to fuel a combined heat and power engine. To date, the facility has generated more than 1.8 million kilowatt hours of electricity and diverted more than 1.2 million gallons of fats, oils and greases from landfills. The energy off-take client for the project is Lowell Light and Power, a municipal electric utility. The project generates renewable energy credits which apply to Lowell Light and Power’s Renewable Portfolio Standard.

The Newsmaker recognition comes while Spart is busily engaged in feasibility studies for a number of distributive energy projects—both biogas fired and natural gas fired—in the food processing, medical and manufacturing sectors. Distributive energy projects present sophisticated options to substantially reduce cost for electrical and thermal energy and to improve reliability all at minimal risk, if properly contracted.

Member News

USGBC Student Midwest Sustainability Conference

The USGBC Student Organization of GRCC will be co-hosting the Midwest Sustainability Conference at Grand Rapids Community College on February 19 – 21.

This year’s conference theme of “Restorative & Regenerative” will focus on projects that are Net Positive & have a healthy impact on the people who live/work/play in them. It will also premiere the ADVANCE Institute by USGBC to train 20-30 ambassadors to help organizations such as non-profits create & operate more sustainable. One must apply to be accepted. The conference is open to all especially those interested in sustainability, building practices & sustainable leadership, including but not limited to: students, professors, professionals & those in building related industries.

Conference includes a keynote by Eric Corey Freed, VP of Global Outreach at International Living Future Institute.


Member News

Corporate Pathways to Advanced Energy: The Growth of Market Demand for Clean Energy Solutions


Join us on February 2 in Detroit for the 3rd annual Michigan Energy Conference. The focus of this all-day conference is Corporate Pathways to Advanced Energy: The Growth of Market Demand for Clean Energy Solutions.

This event will explore the considerations that are driving business acquisition of advanced energy resources, how emerging advanced energy technologies and business models are impacting business performance and regional competitiveness, and the extent to which access to advanced energy is affecting new corporate investment and locational decisions.

Please visit the conference’s website for a list of speakers and panel topics.

The conference will be one of the first 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 industry keynote speaker is Adam Kramer, V.P. of Strategy for Switch.

Register today, as there are a limited number of tickets for this conference.

Sponsorship opportunities are still available, and many come with the benefit of exhibiting at the event. Please contact Nicole Forward for more information.


Featured Resource: ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager


Energy Star is best known as a product label that indicates to consumers whether or not their appliances are energy efficient, but the U.S. EPA’s ENERGY STAR program goes beyond product labeling. For businesses it offers several tools including the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager which helps businesses track energy and water consumption, as well as greenhouse gas emission. The Portfolio Manager allows users to track more than 100 different metrics.

It can also be used to benchmark the performance of one building or a whole portfolio of buildings. The tool gives users access to more than 150 different metrics to help them better manage their energy usage as well as make decision on capital investments in energy efficient technologies.

Looking to apply for ENERGY STAR certification or awards the Portfolio Manager is also the portal used to apply for recognition.

Throughout the month of January ENERGY STAR will be hosting a series of webinars on Portfolio Manager. To learn more and sign up for these webinars go to,

January 13 at 1 ET – How to Apply for ENERGY STAR

January 26 at 1 ET – Portfolio Manager 101

January 27 at 1 ET – Portfolio Manager 201

January 28 at 1 ET – Portfolio Manager 301

Member News

Consumers Energy’s newest program ─ Solar Gardens

CE Solar Gardens

Consumers Energy’s newest program ─ Solar Gardens ─ is now open for enrollment, allowing customers to subscribe to clean, renewable solar energy without the hassle of installing or maintaining equipment at home….no rooftop required!

The company is building at least two Solar Gardens within our Michigan service territory, one at Grand Valley State University and another at Western Michigan University. A Solar Garden is a large solar installation that the company will own, operate and maintain. Any full-service electric customer is eligible to subscribe to the Program, which will offset carbon emissions and help keep Michigan clean for future generations.

Under the Program, participants are able to choose the amount of solar energy they support by electing a number of ½ kilowatt “SolarBlocks” ─ up to 100 percent of their annual energy use. This solar option comes with flexible subscription levels and payment plans, and participants receive a bill credit for the amount of solar energy actually produced based upon their subscription level.

With this Program, the company and its customers are taking steps to care for our environment and build a sustainable energy future for our state. Solar Gardens will help Michigan stay green for generations, ensuring our children and grandchildren can experience the same Pure Michigan we’ve had the pleasure of living in.

Learn more by calling 1-800-241-3368 or visiting

Event Review, Member News

Review: Crowdfunding 2015 Conference

The Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center hosted Crowdfunding 2015 Conference on September 23 in Muskegon. WMSBF was a sponsor of this conference. The conference examined what crowdfunding is, legalities of it, marketing, and how to start a crowdfunding campaign. Keynote speaker for this event was Sandra Conchrane, Technology Business Consultant with the Michigan Small Business Development Center.

There are over 12,000 websites available for those looking to start a crowdfunding campaign, and more sites are being added every day. Crowdfunding is a financing tool that has been around for years, but only recently became popular. It allows for donation collection, pre-order sales for new products, individuals loaning money to support start-up businesses or new product lines, and raising capital for a start-up business through selling shares.

Crowdfunding does not just provide funding for start-ups and non-profit, it can also be used as a marketing tool. It can provide information on if there is a market for a product or service, as well as, create market awareness. During Ms. Conchrane’s presentations she reiterated the usefulness of crowdfunding to get feedback on the market.

Additional, information on crowdfunding is available at and


Celebrating National Pollution Prevention Week


Twenty-five years ago, Congress passed the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990, which declared “it be the national policy in the United States that pollution should be prevented or reduced at the source whenever feasible”. This week marks National Pollution Prevention (P2) Week, September 21 – 27. P2 Week celebrates the successes of pollution prevention, brings awareness to pollution prevention, and is a call to action.

Pollution Prevention is an essential component to sustainability. P2 has often been referred to as the “gateway” or “cornerstone” of sustainability. It is the tools and approaches of P2 that assist businesses and communities in implementing sustainability. This is highlighted by the Michigan DEQ’s 2015 P2 Week slogan, “Sustainability thru Pollution Prevention”.

Michigan has long been a leader in the promotion of National P2 Week. Including an annual Proclamation by Governor Snyder in support of P2 Week, which highlights opportunities for all of us to take action. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has pulled together P2 Week activities and resources for at home and in business.

Additional information on National Pollution Prevention Week can be found at the U.S. EPA and the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable.