West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum and the U.S. Green Building Council West Michigan Chapter will present a luncheon program on sustainability and resiliency featuring Mayor George Heartwell on Monday, March 10, at Cheney Place from 12 to 2 pm.

Across the United States, community and business leaders are rapidly becoming aware of their vulnerabilities to climate change, one of modern society’s most significant and unpredictable risk management concerns.  A timely program in the wake of local floods, power outages, blizzards and other extreme events, the authors of the City of Grand Rapids Climate Resiliency Report and Mayor George Heartwell, a recent appointee to the President’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, will discuss how West Michigan can take steps toward greater climate resiliency.

Select forum members will also share how climate change is impacting their operations as an introduction to the West Michigan Climate Resiliency Framework Initiative, a partnership between WMSBF, Michigan State University, Penn State University and the Rand Corp., among other collaborators.

Now serving his third term, Mayor Heartwell took office in January 2004 and has seen Grand Rapids gain wide recognition as one of the most sustainable cities in America. During his tenure, the city government has implemented a variety of environmental measures, including purchase of renewable resource energy, use of alternative fuels in city vehicles, continued attention to water quality in the Grand River, and widespread implementation of energy conservation measures.  He has championed the Community Sustainability Partners concept in Grand Rapids and other communities throughout the Midwest, and is the chair of that initiative in Grand Rapids.

In 2012 the U.S. Conference of Mayors recognized Heartwell with the Climate Protection Award for Large Cities for the city’s efforts to address climate change according to the mandates set forth by the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement.  The honor included a grant for climate change protection programming that allowed West Michigan Environmental Action Council and the Grand Rapids Office of Energy and Sustainability to investigate local climate change impacts and highlight possible strategies for building a more sustainable and resilient community.

Occhipinti has worked around the country for energy thought leaders including the Rocky Mountain Institute, the Hawaii State Senate Energy and Environment Committee and as a liaison for Governor Jennifer Granholm to the State Economic Growth and Development through Energy Efficiency Task Force. In his current role as Policy Director for WMEAC, Occhipinti engages community leaders, citizens, and local, state, and federal officials on today’s key energy policy issues.  Occhipinti will be joined by co-author Aaron Ferguson, a consultant on various sustainability issues to WMEAC, City of Grand Rapids and WMSBF.



Mayor George Heartwell
City of Grand Rapids

Nicholas Occhipinti
Policy Director
West Michigan Environmental Action Council

Aaron Ferguson

Monday, March 10
12 pm to 2 pm
Cheney Place
1600 Monroe Avenue NW, Grand Rapids
$10 members/$15 non-members

The program is presented by Steelcase and Feyen Zylstra, with additional support from The Cheney Place.







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