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.

Event Review, WMSBF News

Review: A Wealth of Flows – A Circular Economy Workshop

The workshop featured local and national leaders in design and manufacturing that outlined a path for purposeful decisions and collaboration.

Keynote speakers included Ken Webster, Head of Innovation at The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, author of The Circular Economy: A Wealth of Flows, and Nathan Shedroff, Associate Professor, Industrial Design at California College of the Arts.

Presented by Grand Rapids Community Sustainability Partnership and West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum with additional support from Grand Valley State University, Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University, Steelcase, and other partners.

Event Review, WMSBF News

Review: September Meeting at Aquinas College

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum hosted a luncheon dialogue reflecting on the importance of internal and external partnerships, collaboration and diversity in moving forward elite sustainability initiatives this week at Aquinas College.

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

Featured speakers included the husband-and-wife partnership of Sean Ansett, a veteran of multi-stakeholder collaborations on behalf of major brands and civil society such as the Bangladesh Safety Accord, and Paloma Lopez, Global Director of Sustainability Activation for The Kellogg Company, responsible for embedding sustainability into the company’s business.

Lopez highlighted the necessity of working with people from different backgrounds, skillsets and perspectives when initiating sustainability programs, demonstrating the need for integrated sustainability functions and to be fluent in the many languages of business found throughout an organization.

Ansett shared his experiences working on behalf of corporate and social enterprises within multi-stakeholder partnerships to facilitate environmental, labor and economic outcomes.

Thank you again to Aquinas College for hosting this month’s Meeting.

Event Review, WMSBF News

Review: Green Leaders Golf & River Outing

WMSBF hosted the 12th Annual Future Green Leaders Golf & River Outing at The Meadows at Grand Valley State University. The outing serves as a networking event and fundraiser that provides sustainable business leaders and their allies, friends and colleagues a chance to enjoy the natural resources they work to protect while raising funds to support programs that introduce emerging professionals to opportunities in waste diversion, climate action and corporate social responsibility.

See photos on Facebook here.

Golfers enjoyed friendly competition on the links, with various team and individual awards to swing for. Meanwhile, kayakers launched from the GVSU Boathouse for a float down the Grand River. The event capped off with a reception hour, including hors d’oeuvres, Brewery Vivant beer, and the outing awards ceremony.

A special thank you to all those who participated in this year’s golf & river outing, provided door prizes, and sponsored. Many thanks to our door prize donors Long Road Distillers, Founders Brewing Co.Crystal Mountain, Experience Grand RapidsEssence Restaurant GroupGrand Valley State UniversityFrederik Meijer GardensGrand Rapids Art MuseumGrand Rapids Public Museum, Gerald R. Ford MuseumGraydon’s Crossing, Brewery Vivant, and Marie Catrib’s.

Also, thank you especially to sponsors AmwayPadnosExperience Grand RapidsThomas J. Newhouse DesignREHAU, and Brewery Vivant.

Thank you again and please plan to attend our next Membership Meeting at Aquinas College on September 11.

Member News, WMSBF News

WMSBF Launching Food Waste Council

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum has received a seed grant from the Michigan Local Food Council Network to promote food recovery among local businesses and institutions through the creation of a new multidisciplinary council of food waste stakeholders.

The Western Michigan Food Recovery Council will serve commercial and industrial markets in West and Southwest Michigan, principally Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon, Kalamazoo, Allegan and Berrien counties, with a particular emphasis on large grocery operations and the commercial and institutional food service operations that account for an estimated 48% of food waste landfilled in Michigan, according to the Food Waste Reduction Alliance.  The council will provide access to peer-to-peer education, multidisciplinary networking, technical resources, and opportunities for collaboration.

“There is an enormous economic and environmental value lost to waste within local food systems that could be retained with efforts to promote less-wasteful, money-saving practices among businesses and institutions,” said Daniel Schoonmaker, Executive Director of West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum. “We can retain value through reuse options that feed the hungry or animals, through waste minimization, and the creation of marketable compost products and services.”

A recent WMSBF study found that Michigan disposes of an estimated 1.1 million tons of food waste through its municipal waste stream each year, the single largest source of material disposed in the state’s landfills and waste-to-energy facilities. West Michigan disposes of an estimated 132,000 tons of food waste, while Southwest Michigan disposes of an estimated 106,000 tons of food waste. Nationally, the USDA estimates that as much as 40% of food purchased is waste.   Business and institutions generate a slight majority of food waste, according to the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, and offer the most opportunity for recovery improvement.

The council will be facilitated by WMSBF in partnership with GreenMichigan.org and the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Grand Valley State University.

Founding council members include representatives from SpartanNash, Meijer, Cocoa, Organicycle, Barfly Ventures, Bells Brewery, Gordon Food Service, Mercy Health, Spectrum Health, Creative Dining Services, Grand Rapids Public Schools, Kent County Department of Public Works, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Secchia Institute at Grand Rapids Community College, Lake Michigan College, and Feeding America West Michigan.

The Michigan Local Food Council Network is a program of the Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS) at Michigan State University.  It has provided support for a dozen county local food councils across Michigan over the past year.  WMFRC is the first council in the network organized around a specific issue, and will collaborate with other network councils in Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon, Kalamazoo and Berrien counties.

“Our goal is to strengthen the network of food councils across Michigan, and the WMFRC will fill a unique space in the state’s food council landscape,” said Liz Gensler, co-coordinator of the Michigan Local Food Council Network and Outreach Specialist at CRFS. “We see great potential for WMRFC to impact food recovery innovation both locally as they work alongside councils in West Michigan and across Michigan as they share learnings and the tools they develop through the network.”

WMSBF News

12th Annual WMSBF Outing August 8

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum will host its 12th Annual Green Leaders Golf and River Outing on Tuesday, August 8 at The Meadows at Grand Valley State University.

Each summer WMSBF hosts a networking event and fundraiser that provides sustainable business leaders and their allies, friends and colleagues a chance to enjoy the natural resources they work to protect while raising funds to support programs that introduce emerging professionals to opportunities in waste diversion, climate action and corporate social responsibility.

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A golf outing for several years, the event was recently expanded to include a Grand River kayak expedition to accommodate changing recreational interests. Participants do not have to be a WMSBF member or sustainability professional to enjoy the event.

Proceeds from this year’s event will partially fund three fellowships for local students and recent graduates in 2018. WMSBF has long recognized the critical role emerging professionals play in forwarding corporate and community sustainability initiatives. It has supported these future green leaders with fellowships, internships and other financial support. The outing has allowed the organization to invest nearly $100,000 into the careers of emerging sustainable business professionals in West Michigan.

Past recipients of scholarships or fellowships are now in sustainability leadership positions at local companies, universities and non-profits.

Learn more and register here.

Event Review, WMSBF News

Review: July Meeting at John Ball Zoo

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum hosted a luncheon discussing recent sustainability initiatives at John Ball Zoo and Founders Brewing Co. for its July membership meeting at the Bissell Tree House at John Ball Zoo.

View event photos on our Facebook page.

Allmon Forrester, Director of Facilities, Planning and Sustainability at John Ball Zoo and John Ball Zoo CEO Peter D’Arienzo discussed the zoo’s sustainability success stories, highlighting its efforts in waste reduction, energy efficiency and sustainable development, including the connection between animal conservation and sustainability.

Cody Green, the Environment, Health & Safety Specialist for Founders Brewing Company, shared how its efforts to sustainably dispose of wastewater from brewing operations led to a partnership with The City of Grand Rapids that will develop a city-operated biodigester.

Presentations:

The gathering also included a tour of the John Ball Zoo Sustainability Assets and Exhibits, which are aimed to both educate and challenge the organization and its community partners to participate in and learn about waste management, in hopes of achieving zero-waste in the years to come.

Thank you again to John Ball Zoo for hosting and sponsoring this month’s meeting.