Call it ‘Green Place’

    Although its bottom line may be red, DeVos Place is now officially green. The city’s convention center was recently certified as a green venue by the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth and is one of only a handful of such confirmed facilities in the state.

    Green Venues Michigan is a little known statewide green certification program for entertainment venues, convention centers and similar facilities. The program has been designed to encourage and assist facilities to adopt energy reduction and cost-saving green practices that help preserve natural resources and prevent pollution.

    The department’s Bureau of Energy Systems administers the effort.

    The bureau awarded DeVos Place a Steward Certification, one of three levels of certification in Green Venues Michigan. The convention center became the third facility statewide to capture that honor. Only the Detroit Institute of Arts and Grand Valley State University’s L.V. Eberhard Center also are Stewards.

    The Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn and the Pierce Cedar Creek Institute in Hastings are the program’s only facilities to achieve the top level: Leader Certification. The bureau hasn’t yet certified a facility at the program’s entry level, known as Partner.

    The building’s management firm, SMG, and its operational entity, the Convention and Arena Authority, began several environmental and cost-saving initiatives that led to the certification. Low-flow fixtures were installed to reduce water use, and recycled paper products are used whenever possible. The building’s heating, cooling and lighting systems were connected to a computerized energy management system, while a property-wide recycling effort has resulted in lots of cardboard, paper, glass, plastic, aluminum, batteries and other items being kept out of the landfill.

    In addition, convention center management has been working with the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce on the Greater Grand Rapids Partnership for a Sustainable Community. The chamber began the program in January with a goal of helping local companies green their operations and reduce costs. The free program gives members a carbon footprint calculator and tips on how to improve energy efficiency and reduce utility costs.

    DeVos Place Assistant General Manager Eddie Tadlock said the Green Venue designation would help promote the building as a green facility and the city as a green destination, which would keep the center and Grand Rapids at the forefront of a growing national trend.

    “By taking advantage of this opportunity to assess our current conservation practices, we will be able to serve our customers while supporting sustainability and enabling cost reductions,” said Tadlock in a release.

    “SMG believes that to achieve its goals of becoming the premier venue in Michigan, this recognition as a green venue moves us closer to being a national leader in the hospitality industry.”

    The Green Venue program certifies facilities on environmental items such as air quality, energy efficiency, solid waste reduction, toxic waste management, water conservation, purchasing and communication. The program was modeled after the bureau’s Green Lodging Michigan program, which has established environmental guidelines for the state’s hospitality industry. Like Green Venue, Green Lodging offers the same three tiers of certification. The area’s lodging industry is represented in the top two categories.

    The Days Inn Hotel, the JW Marriott and Peaches Bed and Breakfast are certified as Leader, while the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel is certified as Steward. All are in Grand Rapids.

    In Holland, City Flats Hotel is certified as Leader and the Holiday Inn Express is certified as Steward. The Khardomah Lodge in Grand Haven also is certified as Steward.

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