Nonprofit names Sustainable Business of the Year


Catalyst Partners team members pose for a shot with the 2018 WMSBF Sustainable Business of the Year award. Courtesy WMSBF

A local sustainability nonprofit has named its Sustainable Business of the Year and honored other winners at an awards ceremony downtown.

The Grand Rapids-based West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum, or WMSBF, hosted its fifth-annual Triple Bottom Line Bash last night at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, or UICA.

At the sold-out event, WMSBF honored Grand Rapids-based Catalyst Partners, a “building performance firm,” as the Sustainable Business of the Year from among five finalists.

The Sustainable Business of the Year is selected annually by a vote of the WMSBF membership, honoring a local company that best represents the values of the triple bottom line: people, planet and profits.

“Catalyst Partners is a business that has demonstrated over the years pretty impressive sustainability practices,” said Steve Ramus, global head of corporate social responsibility at Perrigo and WMSBF board president. “Congratulations to Catalyst Partners and all of this year’s finalists.”

Keith Winn, president of Catalyst Partners, accepted the award.

“There are a number of outstanding businesses on that list, and I’m blown away by this,” Winn said. “This kind of thing means more when it comes from those who know you well.”

Winn described Grand Rapids as “a safe place to think big and to take action” on environmental, social and corporate responsibility.

Catalyst Partners

Founded in 2002, Catalyst Partners develops “high-performance restorative protocols for buildings, interiors and products” and assists companies seeking to achieve LEED, WELL and other green building certifications.

The company is a certified benefit corporation, or B Corp, and is committed to providing net-positive energy use at its Grand Rapids headquarters before 2030.

Its team of nearly 30 employees participate in organizations such as WMSBF, B Lab, the Sierra Club, West Michigan Environmental Action Council, Local First and the Grand Rapids 2030 District.

Other finalists

This year’s finalists alongside Catalyst Partners included the Building + Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association, Cascade Engineering, Steelcase and The Gluten Free Bar.

Individual awards

At the Triple Bottom Line Bash, the nonprofit also inducted a long-time community leader into the West Michigan Sustainable Business Hall of Fame and recognized another individual with the Future Hall of Fame award.

Sustainable Business Hall of Fame inductee: Norman Christopher, executive director for the Office of Sustainability Practices, Grand Valley State University

Future Hall of Fame award: Matthew VanSweden, integrative designer, Catalyst Partners; creator of eight pop-up parks at Kendall College of Art and Design and across Grand Rapids; and designer of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe’s tribal college in Mt. Pleasant, completed for a past employer as part of the Living Building Challenge

Leadership awards

The nonprofit also presented leadership awards to three local businesses.

Circular Economy Leadership Award: Goodwill of Greater Grand Rapids: for processing more than 24-million pounds of unsold retail store material donations annually into reuse and recycling markets — a landfill diversion rate of more than 80 percent

Climate Leadership Award: Steelcase: for promising to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and cut energy use by 25 percent by 2021; continued investment in a 100-percent renewable energy equivalency for its global electricity consumption; and a 20-percent reduction in global energy since 2010

Social Responsibility Leadership Award: Spectrum Health: for investments in improving patient care; building and renovating facilities; and providing inclusive health education and programs that bring hundreds of millions of dollars into its communities

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