West Michigan has suffered through years of increasingly extreme weather events that have overwhelmed infrastructure and impacted organizations of all shapes and sizes.  In the past 18 months we have experienced serious flooding, extreme temperatures and precipitation in summer and winter, unpredictable growing seasons, low lake levels and weather-related power outages.

These events and national trends highlighting climate change adaptation and resilience in the wake of Hurricane Sandy have many of the region’s foremost institutions actively considering how susceptible core functions are to climate change. Such efforts will benefit local business and communities regardless of opinions on climate change as popularly defined.

The West Michigan Climate Resiliency Framework Initiative is a partnership of West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum, Michigan State University, Penn State University’s Rock Ethics Institute, the Rand Corp., and other collaborators designed to help our region better respond to extreme weather events and other impacts commonly associated with climate change.

Protect Your Organization, Protect Your Community

This process is intended to help West Michigan organizations understand their vulnerabilities to climate change and identify shared concerns that could present opportunities for collaborative improvements and improved community resilience. We hope to build a framework that will allow local organizations to respond to these emerging economic and social impacts at the regional, community and organization levels in a manner that is accessible, inclusive, resilient and measurable:

  • Safeguard operations and property against extreme weather and other climate events.
  • Prepare for impact of unpredictability on high-performance systems (ie: Lean, LEED).
  • Provide increased value to clients, customers and stakeholders.
  • Increase the efficiency, sustainability and profitability of operations.
  • Be a sustainability leader in your industry and the community, on the ground floor for an emerging interest and major potential regional projects.
  • Help develop a framework for our region to respond to climate impacts.
  • Help researchers develop a model for U.S. communities to respond to climate impacts.

The Regional Framework Summit:  West Michigan Climate Resiliency Conference

The West Michigan Climate Resiliency Framework Initiative hosted the West Michigan Climate Resiliency Conference on Monday, October 6 at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in downtown Grand Rapids.  Taking the place of the annual joint conference of WMSBF and the Grand Rapids Community Sustainability Partnership, the full-day event will introduce participants to national and local thought leaders on climate resiliency in the public and private sectors.

The initiative partners are currently evaluating its findings and defining next steps.  A report detailing a Climate Resiliency Framework for West Michigan businesses will be released in the fall of 2015.

Read more about the conference and view presentations here.