When it comes to green building, we’re very proud of the progress we’ve made in the Mitten State. We’ve certified 516 LEED projects, equaling more than 45 million square feet. We have some really cool LEED projects in Grand Rapids, where the West Michigan Chapter of the USGBC is based, like our new Downtown Market. We have the most LEED fellows per capita in the country, including a prestigious Center for Green Schools fellow in Grand Rapids Public Schools. And we’re excited about the incredible growth of the Battle of the Buildings – a statewide competition between buildings to help drive energy reduction in our built environment. But we also know we have a long way to go – especially since some of our neighbors, like Ohio and Illinois are currently leading Michigan in the number of LEED certified projects in our respective states. (If you know any sports fans from Michigan, you know that we hate losing to Ohio more than anything!) With that in mind, on May 21, the West Michigan Chapter joined with our friends in the Detroit Regional Chapter to organize a USGBC Michigan Advocacy Day at the state Capitol. It was an excellent opportunity for us to meet with legislators to discuss how LEED can move our state forward. Lawmakers loved hearing that LEED has broad bipartisan support, with 79 percent of Republicans and 89 percent of Democrats supporting the use of LEED in buildings. We discussed how LEED and green building techniques can be a guiding force in our efforts to revitalize our state and rebuild our cities. We walked them through how LEED certified buildings increase property values and build better neighborhoods. We stressed that we want to utilize our extensive experience and capacity in manufacturing to become a leader in the green jobs revolution. Our first Advocacy Day was a great start toward reaching our goal of making Michigan a greener, more efficient and more prosperous state. We look forward to working more closely with our elected officials as we work hard every day to make that happen.
Cheri Holman is the executive director of the West Michigan Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council