The Sustainable Business of the Year Award will honor the company that best represents the values of the triple-bottom line.  Past winners include Brewery Vivant and Organicycle.

Amway

Amway believes that the proper use and management of the earth’s resources is the responsibility of industry and individuals alike. After all, alone we can do only so much. But collectively, we stand to make a profound difference, and inspire others to follow.

Since our founding in 1959 by Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andel, we’ve continually elevated our role in promoting environmental stewardship, safeguarding the health of our people and the communities where we operate.

Even when Amway debuted its first product – Liquid Organic Cleaner, or L.O.C.® – it represented one of the first biodegradable and environmentally conscious cleaning products of its kind.

Since then, Amway has emerged as a global leader in the health, beauty and home categories, always seeking new and innovative ways to honor the earth and its inhabitants.

Together, we’ve helped Amway not only as a successful business, but a company that adheres strictly to applicable environmental, health and safety laws and regulations.

We work hard to reduce waste, reduce emissions and improve our systems, and we are involved in a continual search for ways in which to promote sustainable building practices, and increase the use of alternative energy use and sustainable agriculture.

Aquinas College

Since Peter Wege launched the first West Michigan College Presidents’ meeting on Economicology in 1999, Aquinas College has been a leader in the integration of sustainability into campus life and academic coursework. Sustainable practices are a part of all of our operations and programming; we are especially proud of our pioneering accomplishment of offering a Sustainable Business undergraduate degree in 2003. This program has placed dozens of dynamic change agents in leading companies across the region.

As a signatory of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, Aquinas is committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2040. In 2014, Aquinas launched a green revolving fund to provide funding for campus energy efficiency. We have been top of the leaderboard in the nationwide Recyclemania competition, and our recent student-led Zero-waste initiative has resulted in an over 70% diversion rate from landfills and incinerators. Several new projects are nearing completion such as the campus Sustainable Food Purchasing Policy and nature app for campus visitors. By collaborating with other institutions and groups such as the Wege Foundation, Community Sustainability Partnership, Michigan Interfaith Power & Light, and WMSBF, we maximize our impact.

In the past years, we have offered free programing on sustainability through our High School Economicology Day. Explicitly organized to better educate campus and community members, our Economicology Forum has reached over 900 attendees. Engaged service is a hallmark of our Catholic and Dominican traditions, and hundreds of Aquinas staff, faculty, and students volunteer for programs such as Habitat for Humanity, the WMEAC Mayors’ River Cleanup, and our own campus “We All Live Here” service day. Students at Aquinas are introduced to sustainability on their first day, and that education continues through innovative programming for the duration of their time at the College. Aquinas is grateful for the nomination of Sustainable Business of the Year and looks forward to building a more sustainable future with our great West Michigan partners. 

Catalyst Partners

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Catalyst Partners believes in both living responsibly and helping others find their pathways to a cleaner, more sustainable future. Since 2002, we’ve been developing a consortium of environmentally-focused architecture, engineering, and business professionals who share a common vision. Specializing in high-performance and restorative design practices for buildings, interiors and products, we help others establish benchmarks and achieve their performance and certification goals.

Our LEED Platinum office building serves as a prime case study, where we took a century-old mill, an abandoned former tool and die shop, and gave it a new opportunity to shine to its potential. Looking deeper than just cosmetic changes, we pushed the envelope on conserving energy, water and materials while bringing it up to 21st century standards.

The site was brought back to life as a Certified Wildlife Habitat, and a seasonal garden provides fresh vegetables for our team and neighbors. We’re a Bicycle Friendly Business, encouraging our employees to actively commute to work with on-site showering facilities and incentives. Our next endeavor is to pursue LEED EBOM and WELL certifications and net-zero energy use to continuously lead by example. On an ongoing basis we benchmark our performance and identify things we can do better.

Here are a few examples of how we help others to do their best for the environment:

  • We led the sustainability efforts that guided Brewery Vivant to become the first LEED Certified brewery in the US.
  • We helped Rockford Construction achieve energy improvements of 45% over code requirements.
  • We oversaw the first LEED-NC v4 certification in the state of Michigan with Consumers Energy.
  • We are actively managing the certification of a Michigan residence seeking Full Living Building Challenge Certification.

Our president, Keith Winn, was a founding member of the U.S. Green Building Council and serves as an example for all of us in supporting sustainability beyond our business. Our team members actively participate in local organizations including B Corp, Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition, Sierra Club, WMEAC, WMSBF, USGBC West Michigan, Local First Grand Rapids, and the Grand Rapids 2030 District. Catalyst was recently recognized by B Corp as a 2016 Best For The World company. This award recognizes diversity in the workplace, pay equity, community involvement and other characteristics that make organizations “best for workers, best for communities, and best for the environment.” We aren’t finished yet. Our future goal is a big target: to deliver net positive energy, water and materials on all projects by 2030. We thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to continuing to make our business and our global community a better place!

City of Grand Rapids

The City of Grand Rapids is committed to the principles of sustainability, where the interdependency of the natural environment, economic system, governance, and social structure of the City are recognized as the “quadruple bottom line” and are fundamental to all City policy and program decisions. The City of Grand Rapids adopted the new Sustainability Plan, fully integrating QBL in its planning. In its previous five year plan, over 99%  of the sustainability targets were met or in progress to being met.

Grand Rapids was one of the first cities in the United States to develop a sustainability plan as opposed to a strategic plan, laying out targets that drive operations and organizations in a certain direction. Previously, Out of 232 targets outlined in the plan, only two, involving physical activity goals and a multi-city playground effort, had shown little to no progress between 2011 and 2015. The City of Grand Rapids was instrumental in creating the 2030 District, a combined effort of public and private entities to create a sustainable, efficient, and thriving downtown Grand Rapids.

The city sets clear and specific dates for all goals they intend to achieve. This is all a part of pushing these goals through to completion. One of the big goals is to use 100% renewable resources by 2025.

Disher Design & Development

Social, economic, and environmental responsibility are core values at DISHER as the company lives out its mission to Make a Positive Difference with their team members, customers, community, and world. Every DISHER employee stewards a budget of time and money to participate in everything from river and highway cleanup initiatives to assisting the less fortunate with home building and humanitarian aid. DISHER’s Ripples of Influence extend beyond the walls of their re-purposed factory building to their customers who utilize DISHER’s LEED-certified engineers, designers, and business consultants for implementing best practices for sustainability. The team supports numerous entrepreneurs, small business start-ups, and students with expertise and training to fuel economic growth. The folks at DISHER don’t just talk about making the world a better place— they become the solution. DISHER is nationally recognized by Great Places to Work™ in conjunction with Fortune who ranked DISHER the 4th Best Giving Back Workplace (2016), 4th Best Consulting and Professional Services Workplace (2016), and 21st Best Small Business Workplace (2015).

Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley values the guiding principles of sustainability in helping to meet the current needs of our faculty members, staff members, and students without compromising the needs and resources of future generations. We are committed to working with our community partners to create a sustainable future for our university, our community, our region, our state, our nation, and the world. We model applied sustainability best practices in our campus operations and administration, education for sustainable development, student involvement, and community engagement by promoting social responsibility, practicing fiscal responsibility, and encouraging environmental stewardship. We provide our students with excellence in education for sustainable development by imbedding theory, systems-oriented thinking, and service learning into our curricular and extracurricular programs.

These are the major factors of sustainable development:

  • Increasing environmental stewardship, restoration, and renewal.
  • Improving overall social well-being and quality of life.
  • Achieving economic vitality and overall fiscal sustainability.
  • Building upon the cultural capacity and our collective diversity, heritage, and intrinsic values.

Accomplishments

  • For the sixth year in a rowGrand Valley was named one of the country’s Most Environmentally Responsible colleges by The Princeton Review in their 2015 “Guide to 353 Green Colleges.
  • Grand Valley was named one the country’s Greenest Universities by the Sierra Club for the third year in a row. It was the highest ranked Michigan institution on the list.
  • For the third year in a row, Grand Valley received a Gold rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). We’re one of 69 institutions nationally to achieve this certification, and the first in the state.
  • Grand Valley ranked second in the national Game Day Challenge for diverting nearly 80% of waste at a football game.
  • Grand Valley has received additional sustainability awards and recognitions from Kaplan College Guide, Sustainable Endowments Institute, and U.S. Green Building Council.
  • During GVSU’s re-accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, officials noted: “The university’s award-winning sustainability initiative serves the missions of education and outreach and provides national leadership.
  • Peterson’s “Green Jobs for a New Economy: The Career Guide to Emerging Opportunities” listed Grand Valley and the University of Michigan as the two Michigan schools among what editors called “Top 50 Four-Year Schools with Great Green Programs.”
  • Mark A. Murray Living Center was given an Energy Star designation from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — the first university student-housing unit in Michigan to receive such a designation.
  • Grand Valley ranked 24th nationally among all colleges and universities in the recent annual Recyclemania competition.

Herman Miller

At Herman Miller we believe the future quality of human life is dependent on both economic vitality and a healthy, sustainable natural environment. We do not see these goals as mutually exclusive, but inextricably linked. Mankind’s future depends on meeting the needs and aspirations of a growing global population, while enhancing and protecting the ecosystem on which all life depends.

In 2004, we put into place a set of environmental goals that included a zero operational footprint and 100 percent renewable electrical energy. Ten years later, we had largely achieved these goals, having reduced our footprint by 91 percent, and using 100 percent of our electrical energy from renewable resources for over three years. Given the progress toward these goals, we believed it was time to expand our efforts in advocating for the environment.

Our new 10-year sustainability strategy, Earthright, begins with three principles: positive transparency, products as living things, and becoming greener together. We have sharpened our goals around the smart use of resources, eco-inspired design, and becoming community driven. Most importantly, we are finding new ways to involve more employees, suppliers, and customers.

Our commitment is to achieve the following goals by 2023:

  • Zero waste
  • 50% reduction in water use (30M gallons)
  • 50% reduction in energy intensity
  • 50% more local renewables (50,000 mwh)
  • 100% Design for the Environment-approved products
  • 100% level 3 certified products
  • 125,000 tons of product taken back per year

We recognize the challenges inherent in setting and meeting these goals, but we believe the exercise of sound strategic thinking across our enterprise, coupled with evolving technologies, will enable us to achieve our objectives. Engaging everyone in our community in this endeavor is vital. Our executive leadership has clearly outlined this commitment.

Kent County Department of Public Works

In 2015, 1.1 billion pounds of Kent County trash passed over the scales destined for a landfill or waste to energy conversion, the equivalent of filling the Big House stadium twice over.  West Michigan is on a pace generating trash every year to fill the Big House 4 times over.  The West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum municipal solid waste study determined nearly 75% of what we threw away could have been recycled or composted.

The majority of materials finding their way to the landfill are easily recycled items including plastic water bottles, metal food cans and office paper or compostable organics such as food leftovers, yard waste and soiled paper.  Lost to the landfill, these recyclable bottles, cans and paper represent $27 million of commodity value had they been placed in a recycling bin instead of the trash can.  Just in Kent County, another $1 million of bottle deposit containers were thrown away.

While confirming the Department of Public Works observations and need for a sustainable materials management approach for waste diversion, the WMSBF study also pointed to sweeping changes in our municipal solid waste infrastructure to effect lasting change in the way West Michigan’s throwaways are presently managed.

Looking to exit the landfill business by 2030, Kent County formally launched a forward thinking plan to divert and reduce the volume of municipal solid waste destined for landfill disposal in May of 2015.  The plan, entitled the 20 x ‘20 and 90 x ‘30 Vision, calls for the reduction of waste going to the South Kent Landfill by 20% by the year 2020 and 90% by 2030.  This vision is similar to waste-reduction goals set by New York City, Phoenix, Austin and San Francisco.

According to the WMSBF study, materials currently disposed in our landfills and waste-to-energy facility could be recycled or composted if collection and processing infrastructure existed.  The DPW director is challenging his team and community stakeholders to collaboratively focus on three primary waste streams to achieve the initial 20% reduction:

  1. Increase the volume and quality of recyclables delivered to Kent County’s Recycling & Education Center through consistent messaging around what can and cannot be recycled and providing technical assistance to small businesses interested in recycling and reducing waste.
  2. Develop infrastructure for managing organic material including wasted food, food scraps, soiled paper and yard waste.
  3. Identify opportunities to divert reusable construction materials and demolition debris from landfills.

As we Reimagine Trash, Kent County is working closely with community stakeholders listening to needs, encouraging private-public investment, developing programs, and simplifying the message to move diverted material volumes up and disposed material volumes down.

It is no longer acceptable to perpetuate a system where 1.8 million cubic yards of material is buried in landfills every year.   It’s time to change.  With broad community support to move the pendulum we will transform the way we manage waste.  

Rockford Construction

For nearly 30 years, we’ve been making things better, safer, more versatile and more sustainable. Building for tomorrow’s needs, today. The world is changing. And we’re making sure it’s changing for the better. We’re Rockford – builders of a changing world. And what we do is groundbreaking.

As business leaders we are committed to sustainable business practices that meet the needs of the present without compromising the welfare of future generations. At Rockford Construction respecting the environment is more than good business practice–it is the right thing to do. We believe that continued economic growth and environmental protection are inextricably linked–that quality of life depends on meeting human needs without harming the environment on which all life depends.  We employ the following primary strategies that enable us to move towards greater sustainability while enhancing the value offered to customers.  We will:

·          Promote sustainable practices, knowledge and awareness

·          Promote environmental knowledge and awareness

·          Pursue prevention of pollution and the minimization of waste of any kind

·          Establish and maintain sustainable practices at our corporate office and our affiliated properties

·          Establish and maintain minimum sustainable standards for all jobsites

·          Provide ongoing employee training in the areas of sustainability

·          Pursue and implement technologies/best practices to efficiently use resources and improve productivity in the built environment

 “The world is changing, and Rockford will make the most of our opportunity – and responsibility – to change it for the better.”