WMSBF Board of Direct Nominations Now Open

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum is now seeking candidates for nomination to its Board of Directors for a two-year term. The Board of Directors establishes policies for the care and conduct of the organization and its operations, including those that promote sound planning and fiscal responsibility.

The board meets six times per year.

Responsibilities include:

  • Establish policies for administering programs and services that are in harmony with the mission of the organization. Refrain from becoming involved in operational or administrative detail.
  • Assure leadership of the organization’s fund development efforts.
  • Be a meaningful financial supporter of the organization at the appropriate level.
  • Monitor the financial affairs of the organization to assure that they are conducted in a responsible fashion in accordance with established policy.
  • Monitor the stewardship of the property of the organization in order that it is protected and is properly maintained.
  • Promote the forum in business and the community.
  • Plan for the future.

The application form can be found here. Applications due by April 16.


WMSBF April Features The Source, Building Material Reuse

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum will meet on Monday, April 9 at Davenport University for an educational and networking luncheon program featuring seperate presentations on building material reuse and people focused solutions for talent development and retention.

Featured speakers are Milinda Ysasi, Executive Director of The Source, Mike Bauer, Founder and CEO of Detroit Audio Lab and Chris Rutherford, Executive Director of Architectural Salvage Warehouse of Detroit.

The SOURCE is a local not-for-profit employee support organization designed to help employees keep their jobs, receive training to enhance their employment, and help employees move into better positions within or across companies.  It accomplishes this by utilizing the best resources of the government, area non-profits, and private employers.

Ysasi is one of West Michigan’s leading voices for employee development, corporate social responsibility and community equity.  She will share insights on the need for comprehensive support structures to improve employee performance, retention and address structural inequities in the West Michigan economy.

In a related presentation, Bauer and Rutherford will discuss how their organizations are leveraging buiding deconstruction to forward job creation and circular economy improvements in Detroit.  Architectural Salvage Warehouse is a leading deconstruction firm in Southeast Michigan, salvaging valuable building materials from buildings, offices and industrial spaces for resale and reuse.  Detroit Audio Lab partners with ASW to salvage wood from blighted homes to build high-fidelity speakers, each dated with the address of the building from which it was salvaged.

The progam begins at 12 pm in Davenport University’s Sneden Auditorium. Lunch is $15 for members, $20 for non-members. Learn more and register here.

WMSBS In The News

WMSBF Hosting “Meet the Media” Event for Sustainability Practitioners

unnamed (1)West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum will host a Meet the Media event on Monday, March 12 at West Michigan Works! featuring representatives from local news outlets that cover topics surrounding sustainability, local business, environmental issues, and social equity.

The panel will share their observations about the state of sustainable business and sustainability in the region, how their organizations approach stories and determine news value, and discuss key local headlines from their coverage.

Current panelists include:

  • Lauren Fay Carlson, Managing Editor, Rapid Growth Media
  • Garret Ellison, Environment Reporter, MLive | Grand Rapids Press
  • Tim Gortsema, Managing Editor, Grand Rapids Business Journal
  • Shelley Irwin, Host and Producer, WGVU Morning Show and WGVU-TV

Additional media representatives will be added prior to the event.

Lunch is $15 for WMSBF members, $20 for non-members. Learn more and register at here.

WMSBF hosts a Membership Forum on the second or third Monday of most months. The monthly luncheon provides members of West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum and other stakeholders professional education from a combination of regional and national experts, and access to networking with hundreds of sustainabilty professionals and stakeholders throughout the 10-month series.


WMSBF Examines Water and Workforce Training in February


ADA – February 6, 2018 – West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum will meet next Monday, February 12 at Amway World Headquarters for a luncheon program featuring presentations on two critically important sustainabiliy issues: water and workforce training.

Featured speakers are Dr. Bill Pink, President of Grand Rapids Community College, and Dave Van Wylen, Dean for Natural and Applied Science at Hope College.

Van Wylen will discuss the myriad of international, domestic, and local problems created by humanity’s relationship with water. Van Wylen believes that Americans, especially, treat water in perplexing ways, mostly based on our perceptions that water is (or should be) abundant, accessible, and affordable….and that we are slowly waking up to the realization that is not the case. Pink will discuss the connection between workforce training and community strength and sustainability.

Van Wylen arrived at Hope College in 2015, after 21 years of faculty and administration at St. Olaf College. A physiologist by training, he developed an interest in water when he led a group of students to the Middle East for a study abroad semester.

Pink became the tenth president of Grand Rapids Community College. Dr. Pink was Vice President and Dean for Workforce Development at Grand Rapids Community College prior to becoming the president. He has been an educator for over 25 years, and prior to his tenure at GRCC, Dr. Pink served as Vice President for Academic Affairs at Oklahoma State University- Oklahoma City. He is co-chair of Mayor Rosalynn Bliss’ Racial Equity Initiative, and on the boards of West Michigan Works!, The Employers’ Association, and The Right Place.

This month’s forum is sponsored by Amway.   Learn more and register here.


WMSBF Seeks Two Interns for Winter 2018

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum is hiring two interns for the winter semester.  Both are paid positions.

The Sustainable Muskegon Intern will play a key role in developing sustainable business and sustainability capacity in Muskegon County and northern Ottawa County. Intern will manage media channels, research local stakeholders and issues, and provide local representation for the eight-county West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum. Intern will have the opportunity to work with leading companies and advocates for sustainability, social responsibility, the circular economy and climate action, while also supporting specific Sustainable Muskegon goals of brand awareness, sustainability for economic development, improved recycling access and efficiency, and recycling in public spaces.

Read the position description here:  Muskegon Sustainability Intern Ad

The Communications and Social Media Intern will play a key role in forwarding West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum initiatives through the use of digital media. An ideal opportunity for students interested in a career in communications or advocacy, intern will have the opportunity to work with industry-standard technology, interact with leading companies and other stakeholders, and be part of highly visible educational campaigns.

Read the position description here: Communications Intern

Member News, WMSBF News

WMSBF to Honor Comfort Research with Circular Economy Leadership Award

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum will recognize Comfort Research with the inaugural Circular Economy Leadership Award on Wednesday, October 25 at the Grand Rapids Ballet’s Peter M. Wege Theatre.

The Circular Economy Leadership Award honors an organization for successful efforts to promote waste diversion and the development of a circular economy in West Michigan through excellence of internal programs and practices or promotion of diversion within its clients or community. It is one three new awards WMSBF has created as part of its annual Sustainable Business of the Year Awards.

Some of Comfort Research accomplishments include:

  • Becoming zero-waste to landfill.
  • Strategically placed recycling bins with simple, easy to understand labels allows everyone to quickly know what bin their waste can be processed in.
  • Recycling 100% of internally generated production waste
  • Recycling all shipping skids, cardboard, foam, and beans
  • Recycling 97% of all office waste including food, paper, metal and electronics.
  • Developed long lasting UltimaX beans from 80% post-consumer recycled content, UltimaX fiber from recycled soda bottles in our pet bed lines, and use 100% post-consumer shredded polyethene foam in the Fuf seating line – All which are 100% recyclable.
  • 42,000 LBS. of organic compost that is turned into rich fertile soil.
  • 150,000 LITERS of water processed via our water fill stations.
  • 397,916 LBS. of recycled waste. This includes items such as plastics, cardboard, eps and metal. Thats the same weight as over 89,000 Big Joe Dorm chairs.

The Triple Bottom Line Bash is the signature function for local sustainable business professionals. This year’s sold-out event is presented by Consumers Energy.

Member News, WMSBF News

WMSBF to Honor Cascade Engineering with Social Responsibility Leadership Award

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum will recognize Cascade Engineering with the inaugural Social Responsibility Leadership Award on Wednesday, October 25 at the Grand Rapids Ballet’s Peter M. Wege Theatre.

The Social Responsibility Leadership Award honors an organization for successful efforts to promote corporate social responsibility, equity, empowerment and justice within its operations and the communities it serves. It is one three new awards WMSBF has created as part of its annual Sustainable Business of the Year Awards. The selection committee evaluates critera such as leadership and employe engagement, policies and practices, and community collaborations and relationships.

Some of Cascade Engineering’s many program highlights include:

  • Diversity Statement
  • Diversity Calendar produced yearly with letter from CEO to Employees
  • Triple Bottom Line annual reports since 2003 (available online)
  • Leaders’ Forum address an anti-racism component annually
  • Orientation that includes Diversity, Inclusion and the CE Culture
  • Mandatory Diversity Training (Awareness, Diversity Theatre, Institute for Healing Racism)
  • Diversity Coordinating Council
  • Employee Opinion Survey
  • Diversity Perception Survey
  • Voluntary Affirmative Action Plan
  • Strategic goals and tracking for diversity
  • Taste of Cultural Heritage
  • Dialogue Training
  • Internal “Office of the President” award on Social Capital/Diversity
  • Recruitment Policy identifying minority recruiting sources
  • Move the Box and Re-entry Hiring Policy (ex-felony)
  • Welfare to Career Hiring Policy (low income)
  • Career Development for all
  • Tuition Reimbursement and Davenport Match for all
  • Partnership with DHS and The Source (eliminating barriers)
  • Financial Management Class
  • Zero Tolerance Harassment Policy
  • Internal Opportunity for Advancement Before Opening to Public
  • Anti-Racism Events – Free tickets (Jim Crow Traveling Museum, Traces of the Trade Movie, The Help)
  • Monthly Reward and Recognition on Diversity
  • Cascade Community Connections (grants for employee volunteering)
  • Exit Interview Questions relating to inclusion
  • Diversity Pen Pals
  • Young Professionals of Color Annual Conference
  • Supplier Performance Measurements (Scorecard includes diversity component)
    Host Facing Racism 2 day Workshop
Member News, WMSBF News

WMSBF to Honor Holland Board of Public Works with Climate Leadership Award

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum will recognize the Holland Board of Public Works with its inaugural Climate Leadership Award on Wednesday, October 25 at the sold-out Triple Bottom Line Bash.

The Climate Leadership Award is one of three new awards WMSBF has created as part of its annual Sustainable Business of the Year Awards. It recognizes an organization that has adopted practices that demonstrate climate leadership locally and within its industry.  The selection committee evaluates critera such as community leadership, creation of a climate action plan, innovation, and a commitmtent to both greenhouse gas reduction and climate adaptation strategies.

Some of the ways Holland Board of Public Works is responding to climate change include:

  • Development and implementation of the long-range Holland Community Energy Plan (CEP)
  • Largest municipal snowmelt system in North America (utilizing waste heat from power generation)
  • Creation of Holland Energy Fund F
  • First On-Bill Loan Program in Michigan. Initiated the legislation to make that possible. Now available to all utilities with recent energy legislation.
  • Use of a Sustainable Return on Investment (SROI) process for decision making
  • 18 public electric vehicle charging stations installed in Holland in 2011. HBPW does not charge customers for the “fuel” in order to promote conversion to EVs and the advanced battery economic development cluster in Holland
  • Commissioned a pilot demonstration project and study at new West Michigan Regional Airport of locally invented Suntuitive Dynamic Glass by Pleotint. The variable thermal resistance windows showed energy savings of 36% compared to ASHRAE 90.1 standard glass and 12% energy savings compared to fully tinted glass.
  • Participation in Georgetown University Energy Prize as a way to raise awareness and a sense of urgency to the goals of the CEP, resulted in a 6.1% reduction in electric and natural gas consumption by Holland residents, K-12 schools, and municipal buildings and infrastructure in 2015-2016 over baseline of 2013-2014.
  • The new $245 million Holland Energy Park is first power plant to receive the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure’s “Envision” rating. It cuts greenhouse gas emissions by half. Some $1.3 million is being invested in the Holland Energy Park Visitor Experience Center to increase energy literacy and inspire careers in energy.
  • First utility in the county to offer a bonus incentive to businesses for installing Dark Sky certified light fixtures

The Triple Bottom Line Bash is the signature function for local sustainable business professionals. This year’s sold-out event is presented by Consumers Energy.

Member News

WMSBF Selects Mark LaCroix as 2017 West Michigan Sustainable Business Hall of Fame Inductee; Sarah Chartier as Future Hall of Fame Award Winner

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum will honor Mark LaCroix of Natural Capital Partners and Sarah Chartier of Spectrum Health at the Fourth Annual Triple Bottom Line Bash on Wednesday, October 25 at the Grand Rapids Ballet’s Peter M. Wege Theatre.

Currently Natural Capital Partners Executive Vice President for the Americas, LaCroix has been promoting sustainability locally and nationally for a quarter century. Prior to joining Natural Capital Partners in 2008, LaCroix worked with Interface, and was fortunate enough to be part of Ray Anderson’s sustainability epiphany. As a result, he refocused his career to serve as vice president of Sustainability for Interface’s Fabrics Division.

Team-MLacroix_350_345_70_s_c1_c_t (1)LaCroix today leads Natural Capital Partners work in the Americas, partnering with clients such as Microsoft, UPS, and Bain & Company to drive positive business results through the management of their environmental and carbon impacts using market-based solutions. He is also on the advisory board of The Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan, on the board of directors of Artists Creating Together, and a past president of West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum.

He will be the 12th inductee into the West Michigan Sustainable Business Hall of Fame. Each year, WMSBF honors the sustainable business practitioners that have made the greatest contribution to sustainable business in West Michigan over the course of their careers. Honorees are selected by a committee of past honorees and WMSBF presidents, this year including Gabe Wing (Herman Miller), Dave Rinard (Steelcase), Jennifer Wammack (IDa Design), Bill Stough (Sustainable Research Group), Alison Sutter (City of Grand Rapids), Gayle DeBruyn (Kendall College of Art & Design), Kris Spaulding (Brewery Vivant), Jason Kehr (Valley City Electronic Recycling) and Thomas J. Newhouse (TJN Design).

The committee also selects each year an emerging professional whose work deserves further recognition.  As the Sustainability Program Manager, Chartier has managed Spectrum Health’s Sustainability Office for over five years. Her efforts are focused on identifying environmental and financial opportunities, reducing waste and mitigating Spectrum Health’s environmental footprint. More recently, she has taken on Spectrum Health’s Supplier Diversity program.

Chartier is a board member of the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum, Chair of the Michigan Health and Hospital Association Green Healthcare Committee, sits on the Environmental Advisory Council of Vizient, District Leadership for the Grand Rapids 2030 District, a LEED GA and born and raised Yooper!  In 2017 she was recognized by the Michigan League of Conservation Voters with the Mayor George Heartwell Emerging Leader Award, with Women of Inspiration Award by the West Michigan Environmental Action Council and as a Community Sustainability Champion by Grand Valley State University.

Sarah Chartier

The Triple Bottom Line Bash is the signature function for local sustainable business professionals. This year’s sold-out event is presented by Consumers Energy.