Street Talk: Manufacturer’s cool concept driven by research


Structural Concepts met an upcoming climate change-reducing standard a cool month ahead of schedule.

Muskegon-based Structural Concepts reported Dec. 9 that all of its self-contained refrigerated display cases now comply with upcoming CARB regulations ahead of the planned January implementation date. CARB refers to California’s environmental protection agency, known as the California Air Resources Board.

The local company’s accomplishment was driven by a product development team logging more than 4,000 hours in its industry-leading research, development and product testing facility.

The regulations are designed to limit the growing use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs. The most widely used cooling agent in commercial refrigeration, HFCs are now a known contributor to climate change.

Set to take effect in a handful of states Jan. 1, the more stringent regulatory requirements also are in process or under consideration in several other states. Broader adoption of the CARB regulations is expected.

Replacing refrigerants in its condensing units with approved low-emission refrigerants, Structural Concepts’ self-contained cases now have about one-quarter the global warming potential (GWP) of their predecessors. The new EPA-compliant cases — which are used in both food service operations and supermarkets — do not add cost or represent any new maintenance challenges for customers, according to Structural Concepts.

Danielle McMiller, vice president of sales and marketing, said this accomplishment builds on Structural Concepts’ more than 40-year commitment to setting the standard in refrigeration technologies.

“Our focus is on designing and manufacturing displays that help our customers increase sales and lower costs as consumer demand for healthier and fresher prepared and ready-to-go foods escalates,” she said.

“At the same time, reducing pollution and protecting the planet is important to everyone. We’re proud to be able to bring cases to the market that turn compliance with these new, more stringent regulatory requirements into an advantage for our customers.”

In addition to the new, low-emission display cases, Structural Concepts also is offering conversion kits to bring current equipment up to new regulatory standards.

More information about Structural Concepts’ EPA-compliant display cases is available at

Checking the list

Grand Rapids-based mechanical contractor and fabricator Andy J. Egan Co. completed the Egan $100K Community Giveaway. The contractor pledged to donate $100,000 to area charities in 2019.

“For 100 years, the West Michigan area has blessed us with continuous work, and because of that, we’ve had a hand in constructing so many of the region’s iconic buildings,” said Tom Jasper, chairman of Egan. “But we recognize that physical structures are not the only way to build a community. There are so many organizations doing amazing work to make this region a wonderful place to live and work. We want to thank them for their contributions and help make an even bigger impact.”

More than 200 charities applied and 10 were selected to each receive $10,000. Egan announced one of the recipients each month from February through November as part of the company’s yearlong celebration of its 100th anniversary.

The recipients provide a variety of services to the West Michigan community.

Heartside Gleaning Initiative collects excess produce from farmers markets and transports it to the low-income neighborhood of Heartside and surrounding communities for distribution to individuals, food pantries, and free and low-cost meal programs.

Camp Sunshine offers people with developmental disabilities the opportunity to attend camp in a safe, caring and inclusive environment.

Covenant House Michigan Grand Rapids Campus is a faith-based, nonprofit organization that provides hope to homeless, runaway and at-risk youth ages 18-24.

The 3 Mile Project is a nonprofit community youth center dedicated to providing a safe, fun and encouraging place where West Michigan youth can be part of a positive community.

St. Luke’s Diaper Bank works to provide an adequate and reliable supply of diapers and baby wipes to caregivers and children experiencing diaper needs in the Kalamazoo area.

The YMCA’s Back to School Bash is a free family event that works to lessen the economic hardship of back-to-school shopping for families in the Grand Rapids community.

Rise Community Center operates Spark, an afterschool program in Jenison and Hudsonville elementary schools that serves often marginalized students.

Access of West Michigan aims to cultivate holistic solutions to poverty. Specifically, its Congregation Connections program helps churches in Kent County serve neighbors with free casework services and community development training.

Susan Mast ALS Foundation supports ALS patients, their families and caregivers living in West Michigan. The charity recently started a voice bank program to help patients preserve messages and speech in their own words.

Folds of Honor is a nonprofit that grants scholarships to the family members of fallen and disabled service members.

Andy J. Egan Co. was established as a heating company in 1919 by Andy Egan. After Egan’s death in 1932, the company’s vice president and longtime employee, Harold Jasper, purchased the company.

Since then, the company has remained family owned and currently is led by the fourth generation of Jaspers.

Buy the book

More than a dozen new teachers working in underserved public school districts were given $1,000 worth of new books to establish a library in their classrooms.

Eighteen recent Grand Valley State University graduates are receiving grant money through the GVSU College of Education Michigan Literacy Project.

The Michigan Literacy Project provides libraries to recent GVSU graduates who have been teaching for three or fewer years in K-5 general education classrooms in underserved public schools and GVSU charter schools statewide.

Each recipient received a $500 voucher to be used to shop for books at a private buy-one-get-one-free sale at the Scholastic Warehouse in Caledonia.

MLP was co-founded in 2014 by GVSU College of Education faculty members Megan Freudigmann and Sheryl Vlietstra.

“We recognize the importance of the availability of quality children's literature in each classroom, yet it often takes new teachers several years of personal spending to develop a functional classroom library,” Freudigmann said.

Vlietstra pointed to research that connects literacy to success and shows how reading helps children develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

“Students may not have access to books in their homes or have a way to get to the local library, so their classroom should be equipped with books that can take them around the world and back,” Vlietstra said.

Recipients are from Grand Rapids Public Schools, Kenowa Hills Public Schools, Shelby Public Schools, Kent City Community Schools, Orchard View Public Schools, Wayland Union Public Schools, Coopersville Area Public Schools, West Ottawa Public Schools, Holland Public Schools, Roscommon Area Public Schools, Flint Cultural Center Academy and Detroit University Prep Academy.

Teachers from Flint, Detroit and Roscommon will have alternative options for obtaining books.

MLP is funded through private donors, faculty contributions and ongoing support from GVSU's College of Education and Charter Schools Office.

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