USGBC Platinum Partner, Nichols Talks the Talk & Walks the Walk


Founded in 1936, Nichols is one of the largest independently owned paper, packaging and sanitary supply distributors in the Great Lakes region. We are headquartered in Norton Shores, Michigan and have seven locations in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana to serve commercial customers ranging from K-12, Higher Education, Health Care, Industrial/Manufacturers, Office Buildings, Hotels and Casinos and more. For decades, we have been providing products that clean, protect and package for the industrial, education, healthcare, building service, hospitality, and food processing markets. We offer a full range of products and equipment to fill your needs and we represent the best manufacturers that the industry has to offer.

Our mission is to help customers achieve clean and healthy facilities and the safe shipment of products. The cleanliness of your building directly relates to the health of those that work and live in your buildings. The products and tools that you use for cleaning affect your indoor air quality and we choose to follow the green cleaning standards that LEED specifies. Following this standard makes it easy to recommend the right products and tools.

Our corporate sustainability efforts started more than ten years ago and we have successfully achieved the following in our Norton Shores headquarters and distributions center: 87% landfill diversion rate, more than a 50% reduction in energy use, 40% reduction in water use and we have achieved LEED for Existing Buildings Operations and Maintenance originally in 2010 and recently in October 2015 under Version 4.0. The building is also Energy Star certified with a score of 91 and a two time winner of Michigan Battle of the Buildings in 2014 (1st place) and 2015 (2nd place). We share the knowledge we have gained from this journey with our customers and the communities we serve.

You can find more information on the website at : www.enichols.com



Porous Pave: Permeable Pavement Solution for a Rooftop Patio

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West Michigan Symphony Completes its Green Roof with a Unique Porous Pave Patio

The West Michigan Symphony, the professional orchestra in Muskegon, Mich., has been part of the area’s cultural landscape since 1939. In 2013, they moved their administrative and ticketing offices into the newly renovated Russell Block Building. Situated in downtown Muskegon a block away from the Frauenthal Theater where the symphony performs, the historic Russell Block Building dates back to 1890.

“The move gave us the opportunity to fulfill a long-deferred dream: having a flexible space for smaller fine arts performances and education programs,” said Carla Hill, the symphony’s president and chief executive officer.

Named The Block, the 1,800-square-foot space includes seating on two levels for up to 150. In addition to providing an intimate venue for the symphony, The Block is available for meetings and special events. Its west-facing windows look out toward Muskegon Lake. However, an unsightly old tar roof right outside the windows spoiled the view.

Port City Construction & Development Services, LLC, Muskegon, Mich., the company which planned and managed the building renovation, Fleis & VandenBrink, Inc., Grand Rapids, Mich., the project’s landscape architecture firm, and officials from the symphony  discussed what might be done. They envisioned transforming the unadorned roof into a rooftop patio and garden.

“The goal was to create an accessible and appealing outdoor space for The Block,” said Harry Wierenga, landscape architect, Fleis & VandenBrink, Inc. “We designed a 900-square-foot green roof with 380 square feet of vegetation and a 520-square-foot patio.”

Fixing the Roof

“The existing roof was tar over a concrete deck. Several holes had been boarded up and patched with tar,” said Gary Post, manager, Port City Construction & Development Services. “To add the green roof, we first had to re-roof.”

The Port City crew removed the existing roof down to the concrete deck, which they repaired. The installed two new roof drains. The crew fully adhered a new single-ply membrane to the deck. Next came a geotextile fabric to protect the membrane and a geotextile drain sheet atop the protection fabric. The drain sheet provides drainage to the existing and two added roof drains.

A new 40-inch-high wall around the roof shelters the outdoor space and makes it safer. The project also included widening the opening out to the rooftop from the interior of The Block and glass double doors for a generous, transparent transition from indoors to outdoors.

Porous Pave_West Michigan Symphony_WMS_Befor          Porous Pave_West Michigan Symphony_Post_Overhead-2           Porous Pave_West Michigan Symphony_WMS_2

Finding the Right Surface

The pavement material for the patio had to meet a rigorous set of requirements:

  1. To eliminate standing water and allow excess stormwater to flow to the drains, the paving material had to be permeable.
  2. The plan called for installing both the permeable patio and green roof on top of the geotextile drain sheet.
  3. The maximum static plus live load for the roof is 100 pounds per square foot, so weight was a factor.
  4. For easy access and safety, it had to result in a low profile threshold at the entry into The Block.
  5. To create visual interest within the rectangular shape of the roof, the plan emphasized irregular shapes with angles to break up the space. The paving material would have to be flexible to adapt to the design.
  6. The musical note motif Wierenga devised for the patio is the signature element of the rooftop. The paving material had to offer the versatility to express the design.
  7. Finally, in keeping with the green roof, a green paving material was preferred.

The project team assessed composite decking and concrete pavers. These linear materials were not flexible enough to conform to the shape of the patio or versatile enough to convey the musical note design.

“Pavers could be cut to fit the patio’s shape and express the design, but not seamlessly,” said Hill. “We did not want it to end up looking like a jigsaw puzzle.”

Pavers presented another problem. With a permeable paver system, the threshold from the patio to the new doors would have been four inches, a tripping hazard.

So what paving material would work?

Wierenga had used Porous Pave in projects at grade. “I knew that it is lightweight, permeable, and pourable within forms to conform to the angles of the patio and give us the musical note pattern,” he said.

Porous Pave XL consists of 50 percent recycled rubber chips and 50 percent stone aggregate with a moisture-cured liquid binder. Porous Pave XLS is 100 percent recycled rubber chips with a more elastic binder. One inch of the XLS all-rubber formulation, weighing only three pounds per square foot, was installed for the patio.

“We engineered Porous Pave for permeability with more void space than other permeable pavement options. Water goes right through to the drain sheet, leaving no puddles of rainwater,” said Dave Ouwinga, president, Porous Pave, Inc., Grant, Mich. “The threshold ended up at only an inch and a half. The recycled rubber makes Porous Pave a green material and slip-resistant as well.”

Offsite, wood forms were constructed in the shapes of the four musical notes. Before the Porous Pave XLS was poured into the forms, the sides were coated with vegetable oil so the material would not adhere to them as it cured. On the rooftop, the completed note pieces were positioned in place, and the rest of Porous Pave XLS was mixed and poured around the notes. The three lines through the musical notes that contribute to the page of music design were poured into forms on the rooftop.

The Results

The installation achieved a smooth and seamless expression of the design. The gray and black custom color mix harmonizes with the color of the new wall and complements the gray concrete elements of the Russell Block Building.

“We had not previously used this pour-in-place, permeable paving material on a rooftop,” commented Post. “Based on the results and the material’s performance since installation, we would recommend Porous Pave and specify it again for rooftop applications, particularly where its light weight would be an advantage because of load considerations.”

~Written by the USGBC Chapter Partner, Porous Pave



Chapter member converges in San Diego to help launch ADVANCE

Katrina Reed, CIT, LEED Green Associate, is a member of USGBC’s Emerging Professionals National Committee and a member of the USGBC West Michigan Chapter. Recently, she attended USGBC’s Convergence in San Diego, CA to help launch an exciting new movement. This is a summary of her experience.

Last month, I had the privilege of attending Convergence in San Diego, CA. For those that are unfamiliar with USGBC, this event serves as the organization’s annual mid-year event that’s part knowledge exchange, part inspirational infusion.

When I touched down in San Diego, I was anxious and nervous because I was going in only knowing two of the roughly 300 people that would be attending the event. But that quickly changed when I met my fellow Emerging Professionals. I’ve never met a group of young professionals so passionate, so enthused, and so ready to be catalysts for change within their communities.



 Members of the Emerging Professionals National Committee.

 We were there as part of the Emerging Professionals National Committee to help launch ADVANCE, a framework to help communities and organizations move along a path of sustainability leadership to more efficient, healthy, and vibrant places. We’re calling it a “path to leadership.” It’s a way to frame the conversation around sustainability with new audiences (i.e., community service and non-profits; houses of worship and faith-based facilities; educational and cultural institutions; affordable, senior, and independent housing; and neighborhood and homeowner associations). This model will assist in helping assess where an organization or building is at on the “spectrum of sustainability” and then, be able to adequately prescribe how that building or organization “advances.” Along the path, the organizations/buildings will gain access to different levels of sustainability support, powered by USGBC’s extensive volunteer network and the launch of new community-focused products and events.

Over the next year, I will be serving as a Regional Community Liaison for Michigan, focusing on recruiting passionate, skilled volunteers to help launch ADVANCE within our communities. I’m ready to help make the places we live happier and healthier, and I hope you’ll join me in this movement. If you’d like to know more about ADVANCE, or are interested in volunteering, please contact me at katrina.reed@csmgroup.com.

Hands up, hearts out, get loud.



WMU Living Building Design Competition – Cash Prizes

WMU_Design_ChallengeThe Office for Sustainability at Western Michigan University is hosting a collaborative student, community, and industry design challenge for multidisciplinary teams across southwest Michigan. The goal of the challenge is to design a Living Building Challenge-inspired outdoor presentation space for the Gibbs House in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The design challenge is geared toward satisfying the Energy, Water, Materials, and Beauty petals of the Living Building Challenge standards 2.1, while also considering the recent 3.0 standards publication.

The pavilion-like structure is required to be a low-impact, beautiful, multi-purpose presentation space that can be constructed from sustainable materials; seamlessly integrated with a 6 kW photovoltaic awning array; engineered for rainwater harvesting techniques; and designed as an active learning environment through the use of a sustainability exhibit. Factors of affordability, feasibility, code compliance, and innovation in design weigh heavily on overall design scores. User imperatives of the space include occupancy levels of about 50 people with a roughly 1000 SF building footprint, a sustainable restroom solution, at least two walls and a roof to provide protection from the elements, and flexibility for a variety of functions such as lectures, educational activities, community events, and entertainment.

The winning team will earn a substantial cash prize and have the chance for its design to be implemented, all or in part, at the Gibbs House property. Those interested in participating are required to register online and submit a full design plan, as detailed in the Design Challenge Guidelines, by October 1, 2014. The winning team will be announced on National Campus Sustainability Day near the end of October.

An upcoming design panel event will take place on Monday, Sept 8 from 6-8 PM at the WMU Office for Sustainability. Distinguished panelists from Steelcase, ChemLink, and Solar Winds Power Systems are planned to discuss their knowledge and experience with topics such as responsible materials selection and allocation, LBC Red List compliance, solar photovoltaic system design, and other sustainable design practices related to the Design Challenge.

For more information, visit: https://www.wmich.edu/sustainability/projects/gibbs/design-challenge