GR partners on energy, sustainability efforts


The city of Grand Rapids is partnering with business and community leaders on its recent energy and sustainability efforts.

Through the recently formed Energy Advisory Committee and Sustainability Advisory Committee, city staff is cooperating with a wide range of local businesses, nonprofits, and educational and government institutions on existing and future energy and sustainability plans.

Both committees were launched in March, meet every other month and are comprised of individuals who have been appointed by Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss.

“It’s great to see so many people and organizations come together around energy and sustainability,” Bliss said. “This work is incredibly important, and the city can’t do it alone. We are grateful for all of our partners.”

The Energy Advisory Committee is focused on creating an energy management plan that includes a renewable energy strategy, energy efficiency strategy for municipally owned facilities and a broader climate/greenhouse gas emissions plan.

Business and community leaders on the Energy Advisory Committee are:

  • Roger Burgess – retired engineer

  • Philip A. Guster – program manager, DTE Energy

  • Paul Haan – executive director, Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan

  • Jon Ippel – executive director, Amplify GR

  • Margrethe Kearney – senior attorney, Environmental Law and Policy Center

  • Jim Lax – meteorologist and founder, Climate for Tomorrow

  • Mary Ellen Mika – director of global compliance and sustainability, Steelcase

  • Tavian Moore – youth council president , NAACP Greater Grand Rapids branch

  • Julio H. Morales – executive director of customer service, Consumers Energy

  • Steve Mulder – West Michigan regional organizer/field coordinator, Christian Reformed Church Climate Witness Project

  • Terri Novak – manager, Michigan Agency for Energy

  • Anne Sailers – community energy services manager, Holland Board of Public Works

  • Kris Spaulding – co-owner, Brewery Vivant

  • Natalie Stewart – director of government and public affairs, Switch

The committee has reviewed and provided feedback on initial proposals for achieving the city’s 100 percent renewable energy goal, as well as renewable natural gas production opportunities at the Water Resource Recovery Facility’s biodigester.

The Sustainability Advisory Committee is focused on evaluating and analyzing the city’s fiscal year 2017-21 sustainability plan and laying the foundation for how the city will engage the community on its next sustainability plan.

During its first few meetings, the committee has learned about the city’s sustainability history, sustainability plan and Local First’s Good for Grand Rapids initiative. Committee members also have shared their respective organizations’ approach and commitment to sustainability.

Business and community members on the Sustainability Advisory Committee are:

  • Steve Alsum – executive director, The Red Project

  • Tasha Blackmon – CEO, Cherry Health

  • Kari Bliss – service excellence manager, Padnos

  • Rick Chapla – vice president of strategic initiatives, The Right Place

  • Peter D'Arienzo – CEO, John Ball Zoo

  • Sharon Darby – senior manager of environment, safety and sustainability, Cascade Engineering

  • Michael DeWilde – director of Koeze Business Ethics Initiative, GVSU

  • Anissa Eddie – associate director/owner, KConnect/Malamiah Juice Bar

  • Anne Marie Hertl – West Michigan regional coordinator, Michigan League of Conservation Voters

  • Elissa Hillary – executive director, Local First

  • Synia Jordan – owner, Samaria J's

  • BriAnne McKee – executive director, Habitat for Humanity

  • Nikos Monoyios – project manager, The Rapid and DGRI board member

  • Javier Olvera – owner and president, Supermercado Mexico/La Mexicana Bakery

  • Sarah Rainero – Brownfield program analyst, community and urban development, Michigan Economic Development Corporation

  • Rick Redetzke – vice president of facilities and real estate, Spectrum Health

  • Michael Sytsma – senior vice president, Chemical Bank

  • Mark Van Putten – president and CEO, The Wege Foundation

  • Michael Vargo – dean for School of Arts and Sciences, GRCC

“These efforts will have both short- and long-term benefits for not only the city and our partner organizations but also for the entire community,” said Alison Waske Sutter, sustainability manager for the city of Grand Rapids. “Working together, we will make sure that our city continues to be a leader in energy and sustainability.”

Both committees are supporting the city’s participation in the Zero Cities Project. The Business Journal previously reported Grand Rapids was one of 12 cities across the U.S. selected to participate in the three-year project.

The goal of Zero Cities is to create a policy roadmap toward a zero net carbon building sector by 2050.

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