January Review: Global Scale CSR & Business

The January membership meeting at Aquinas College featured a presentation on a corporate social responsibility on a global scale and business ethics.

Photos of the event can be found on our Facebook page.

Featured speaker Oliver Williams, Associate Professor of Management at the University of Notre Dame and Director of the Center for Ethics and Religious Values in Business in the Mendoza College of Business, discussed the role corporate social responsibility and principles for responsible management education have in his work with the UN Global Compact.

Representatives from Steelcase discussed Steelcase’s sustainability initiatives, including its environmental performance and waste reduction program.  Steelcase was awarded the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum Champion Award earlier this year as a local organization with a legacy of sustainable business leadership that has helped define our region as a center of sustainability expertise and accomplishment. Since 2010, it has successfully reduced emissions by 75%, water use by 9% and waste output by 44%.


This month’s membership meeting was presented by Creative Dining Services and Steelcase.


September Meeting to Feature Harley-Davidson

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum’s September membership meeting will feature a spotlight on sustainability at Harley-Davidson as a luncheon at the Annis Water Resources Institute in Muskegon from 12 to 2 pm.

The leading brand in an industry not traditionally known for sustainability, Harley-Davidson has made it one of the strategic pillars of its organization, directly linking its environmental and social impacts with its customers’ dreams of personal freedom and to the motorcycling experience. Its Renew the Ride initiative is effectively translating corporate social responsibility to an outlaw culture.  Among other accomplishments, Harley-Davidson is a nearly zero-landfill manufacturing operation (9.4%), has set sustainability goals for its supplier network, and last year unveiled a prototype electric vehicle, Project Livewire.  It was honored as the Sustainability Leader of the Year this past year by the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council.

Rachel Schneider is Director of Sustainability and Strategic Planning for Harley-Davidson Motor Company, a position she has held since 2010.  Previously she was a partner in the environmental law group of Quarles & Brady LLP.  She is an AAEAAQAAAAAAAAMmAAAAJDQ5MDBiZTY4LTVmNWQtNDlhMC04NmVjLWRmNmQ5Yzk4Y2M3Mwactive member of the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation and a board member of the Alliance for the Great Lakes.

Other speakers to be announced.

WMSBF September Meeting
Monday, September 14, 12 pm to 2 pm
Annis Water Resources Institute
Lake Michigan Center
740 W. Shoreline Dr.
Muskegon, Michigan 49441

Registration open after August 10.


WMSBF In the News

Earlier this summer, West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum spent eight weeks at Michigan landfills and transfer centers for the Trash Research Project, the field operation of the Michigan MSW Characterization and Valuation Study.  Read about it in The Grand Rapids Press/mlive here, or in The Grand Rapids Business Journal here.

May’s Green Labs Workshop was featured in the monthly newsletter of the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories.


West Michigan’s First Bike Share Program to Launch at July WMSBF Meeting

Jay Niewiek

Jay Niewiek and David Bell of the newly formed GR Bikes will share plans for the launch of the pilot phase of a bike share program in Grand Rapids at the July 13 WMBSBF membership meeting at GVSU’s Seidman Center. This private venture aims to leverage learnings from other bikeshare models with the technology that’s already in your pocket. A bike share program in Grand Rapids will equitably increase mobility, add to the vitality of the urban core, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

David Bell

The featured speaker this month is Spectrum Health’s Steve Heacock.  Learn more and register for the event here.


Aquinas, WMSBF to Host Andy Hoffman on May 27

Hoffman 1

While the scientific community has come to an agreement on climate change, the political debate remains polarized. On May 27, Aquinas College will be hosting University of Michigan’s Dr. Andrew Hoffman as he examines the cultural debate from a sociological, psychological and political science stand point.

Aquinas College, in conjunction with West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum and West Michigan Environmental Action Council, will be hosting this event, “How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate.” Hoffman, a professor of sustainable enterprise, will lead the dialogue on what causes people to reject or accept the scientific census on climate change. He will then offer the audience a path to take action for a more scientifically literate public, socially engaged scientific community and thoughtful mode of public discourse.

WHAT:  How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate: A Conversation with Dr. Andrew Hoffman

WHEN:  Wednesday, May 27 at 7 p.m.

WHERE:  Aquinas College, Wege Student Center – Wege Ballroom, 1607 Robinson Rd SE. Grand Rapids, MI 49506

COST:  Free, open to the public

Dr. Andrew (Andy) Hoffman is the Holcim (US) Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan, a position that holds joint appointments at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business and the School of Natural Resources & Environment. Within this role, Andy also serves as director of the Frederick A. and Barbara M. Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise.


Green Labs Workshop Subject of WMSBF May Meeting

Sudhakar Reddy

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum, Intertek, International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality are hosting a Green Labs Workshop on Monday, May 11 at the Michigan State University Secchia Center in Grand Rapids from 12 to 4:30 pm.

The final workshop of the Michigan Green Labs Initiative and the launch of the West Michigan Green Labs Pilot, participants will learn how green lab programs promote green practices and environmentally-friendly, sustainable technology in laboratories that have been proven to reduce energy use by 30 to 50 percent.

The first half of the meeting will include content for a general sustainability audience as part of the regular WMSBF membership meeting.  The practitioner workshop continues at 2:15 pm.  General interest attendees will have an opportunity to tour the Secchia Center at this time.

Learn best practices in waste reduction, energy and water efficiency, green chemistry and environmental safety that will make your laboratory operations safer, more sustainable and cost-efficient. Case studies will feature examples from research, product testing, and health care relevant to manufacturers, municipalities, environmental consultants, chemical engineers, educators and other operators of academic or commercial labs.  The workshop will conclude with a tour of Van Andel Institute.

Dan Doyle:  How to Save 50% on Lab Energy Costs

Speakers include:

  • Daniel L. Doyle, Chairman, Grumman/Butkus Associates and Director, I2SL
  • Eric Saigeon, Sustainability Manager, USA & Canada, Intertek
  • Sudhakar G. Reddy, Sustainable Labs Coordinator, University of Michigan
  • Clinton S. Boyd, Principal, Green Chemistry & Sustainability, Steelcase Inc.
  • Sam Pinto, Facilities Manager, Van Andel Institute

Cost is $15 and includes lunch and parking.

Register here.


WMSBF Co-Presenting WMAWMA Spring Conference


The Business of Sustainability: Driving Growth by Managing Regulation, Risk and Resources

WMSBF is co-presenting the Spring Conference of the West Michigan Chapter of the Air and Waste Management Association.  A cross-section of forum members and other sustainable business experts will share insight on how to drive business value with strong sustainability programs, featuring leaders from Amway, Aquinas College, Brewery Vivant, Holland Board of Public Works, General Motors, Goodwill Industries, and Steelcase, among others.

Keynote speaker is Susan Hedman, EPA Region 5 Administrator.

Learn more and register here.


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.


April Membership Meeting Looks at Corporate Water Stewardship, Community Solar

D.-Phenicie-Head-ShotWest Michigan Sustainable Business Forum will present a luncheon on corporate water stewardship and community solar at its Monday, April 13 membership meeting at Grand Rapids Public Library.  This month’s meeting sponsored by Consumers Energy, Steelcase, and Lower Grand River Organization of Watersheds.

Through a series of field tests, a Council of Great Lakes Industries project team has demonstrated that water stewardship tools can be valuable to industries interested in such initiatives, but that companies vary dramatically on whether and how they see a business case for focusing on water stewardship in the Great Lakes.  CGLI Technical and Projects Director Dale Phenicie will discuss findings and ongoing efforts to develop a business case for corporate water stewardship in the Great Lakes.

Also on the agenda is Nancy Popa, Manager of Renewable Resources & Distributed Generation for Consumers Energy, which will talk about the company’s new Solar Parks community solar program.

CGLI is a tax-exempt organization representing the common interests of U.S. and Canadian industries in the manufacturing, utilities, transportation, communications, financial services and trade sectors that have significant assets in the Great Lakes basin. It works to ensure that industry is a substantive partner in the public policy development process in the Great Lakes region.

Phenicie has served and represented industrial organizations on environmental matters throughout his working career. He served on a U.S. EPA task force that developed the Great Lakes Initiative amendments to the Clean Water Act, the International Joint Commission’s Virtual Elimination Task Force that developed persistent bioaccumulating toxic policy guidance for the Great Lakes, has organized and chaired several industry-oriented committees and working groups on Great Lakes matters, coordinated industry participation in the Great Lakes Binational Toxics Strategy, and has been a member of the State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conference (SOLEC) Steering Committee since 1994.

Lunch is $15 for WMSBF members online, $20 for non-members.

Learn more and RSVP here.


WMSBF February: Governor’s Recycling Initiative

image003West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum will present a luncheon on the Governor’s Recycling Initiative on Monday, February 9 at Grand Rapids Brewing Company in downtown Grand Rapids. Presented by Greener Grads and New Soil.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder recently announced a statewide plan designed to increase access to residential recycling throughout the state.  “Michigan has a strong tradition of protecting and enhancing its environment,” Snyder said at the time. “But when it comes to recycling, we must do better. Michigan trails other Great Lakes states and much of the nation in residential recycling. It’s a complex challenge, but one that we can address. This plan puts us on the right path.”

Michigan’s recycling rate for residential household waste is believed to be about 15 percent while the national average is 35 percent. A recent study concluded more than $435 million in recyclables in the state are landfilled each year.

Steering that effort on behalf of the initiative is Matt Flechter, the State Recycling Market Development Specialist at Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.  He is a graduate of Michigan State University’s Collage of Lyman Briggs. After 14 years supporting the growth of Michigan recycling programs, his role is evolving to now focus on recycling market development so that the valuable commodities that Michigan businesses need make their way from the curb to new products.

Greener Grads provides schools nationwide an opportunity to collect, reuse and repurpose graduation gowns.  Since the late 1970s when rental gowns were replaced with lighter, single-use polyester versions, the amount of waste generated by graduation apparel has been staggering. “100 million gowns have been produced since the graduation industry has moved away from the rental model,” said Greener Grads Managing Partner Seth Yon. “In just West Michigan, we have seen 5.5 million grads in that time. That means 5.5 million gowns…It’s a ridiculous number of one-time-use products.”

BarFly Ventures began in 2008 with HopCat, an award-winning brew pub in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids. Stella’s Lounge and McFadden’s Irish Pub joined the Barfly family soon after. In December 2012, BarFly brought The Grand Rapids Brewing Company to downtown Grand Rapids. The BarFly family continues to grow, with HopCat expanding into East Lansing, Indianapolis, Detroit, Ann Arbor, and several other Mid West cities.

Grand Rapids Brewing Company is proud to be organic —but the entire brewery was designed from the ground up keeping its environmental impact in mind. Autumn Sands, Barfly Ventures’ sustainability coordinator, will discuss sustainability at Grand Rapids Brewing Company and Barfly’s many other establishments throughout Grand Rapids and the Midwest.  She will be joined by Brian Smith of New Soil.

The meeting will also feature a presentation on the Michigan MSW Waste Characterization and Valuation Study, a project of the WMSBF Solid Waste Task Force.

Learn more and RSVP here.