USGBC-WM in the Community: Where We Live, Learn, & Labor Matter

This year’s annual Cinco de Mayo Celebration was hosted by the Committee to Honor Cėsar E. Chávez on Friday, May 4th at the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

Proceeds went to the “Si Se Puede” scholarship fund, a Legacy Endowment Foundation which supports Latino students in West Michigan schools who demonstrate the ideals espoused by Cėsar E. Chávez including leadership, environmentalism, social justice, and community service.

In the main hall, a decadent podium was centered in front of a stained-glass window, surrounded by tables adorned with the authentic Mexican table runners, serapes. The hosts, ushers, and fashion models were adorned with vibrant clothes representative of different regions of Mexico.

Live Mariachi singer, Alfonso Mier, walked among the guests during networking before both national anthems for Mexico and the United States commenced the ceremonies.

Speakers including Lupe Ramos-Montigny, State Board of Education, Dale Robertson, President & CEO of Grand Rapids Public Museum, and a high school youth emphasized the importance of celebrating Mexican culture and understanding the true history of this date for Puebla, Mexico.

The dancing group Grupo Folklórico from the Cook Arts Center danced to the La Angaripola and Las Mujeres Que Se Pintan. Donations from Tamale Mary, Tacos El Cuñado , Lindo Mexico, and a painting from Erick Picardo were big hits as the raffle prizes.

The honorees of the celebration addressed the audience upon receiving recognition for their tireless work. Local leaders who were honored are: Dr. Rhae-Ann Booker, Executive Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion of Davenport University; Guillermo Cisneros Executive Director of the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; and John Helmholdt, Executive Director of Communications and External Affairs for the Grand Rapids Public Schools.

The Cinco de Mayo Celebration is a community treasure which continues to shine every year. Stay updated with the Committee to Honor Cėsar E. Chávez events on their Facebook.

Written by Gillian Giem, USGBC-WM



Geothermal Energy Comes to Michigan’s State Capitol Building

By Chuck Otto, USGBC-WM Staff Writer

The Michigan Capitol in Lansing is in the midst of a conversion of its heating and cooling system to geothermal energy.

The geothermal renovation is part of a two-year, $70 million project known as the Capitol Infrastructure Upgrade (CIU), an effort designed to bring the 138-year-old building into the 21st Century. Earlier this year, Midwest Energy News reported that building officials have labored to keep up with “the deterioration of the building’s insides caused by antiquated heating and cooling controls.” The initiative follows a recent renovation of the building’s exterior.

The Michigan State Capitol Commission (MSCC) started studying the Capitol’s infrastructure problems early in 2016 in response to numerous leaks and failures throughout the building and subbasement. The laundry list of problems included corroded electrical boxes, leaking pipes, heating and cooling units simultaneously blowing warm and cold air, and improper wiring.

“The decision to proceed with geothermal to heat and cool the Capitol was made for a variety of reasons, with economics being a major factor,” says Tim Bowlin, CFO and project manager for the MSCC. “Originally, the engineers we hired to review our mechanical and electrical problems and needs made a recommendation to look at the possibility of using geothermal.”

After performing test bores on the site to see if geothermal was a viable option, the Commission proceeded to look at the other factors, including economics. By choosing geothermal, the MSCC determined that “We will realize approximately $250,000 to $300,000 savings annually,” Bowlin says. “It will take us about seven years to repay the investment in the geothermal field. After that, all the savings will be fully realized by the State.” The geothermal wells have a 50-year guarantee, but Bowlin anticipates they will last “100-plus years.”

Approximately 224 individual bores will be drilled to a depth of 500 feet below the state Capitol lawn. The holes will house vertical-loop piping to pump vegetable-grade glycol fluid deep underground, where it will be naturally heated or cooled then circulated throughout the building.

By the end of the project, the Capitol will have an all new heating and cooling system, and the bulk of the building’s mechanical equipment will be relocated to a new underground Central Utility Plant (CUP). In addition to the geothermal upgrade, leaking sprinkler heads will be fixed, and corroded electrical boxes and wiring will be replaced.

The Michigan Capitol joins a growing list of state government buildings nationwide, including those in Oklahoma, Colorado and soon Nebraska, that have converted to geothermal.

The conversion will mean “utility independence, cost savings and clean, green energy,” Bowlin tells us. “Closed-loop geothermal systems are safe, efficient, long-lasting and a good economic investment. The decision to proceed with geothermal was a sound decision for the State of Michigan.”

We agree. Geothermal is among the most efficient energy sources on the market today. Kudos to Tim Bowlin, the MSCC and the others driving this project for making the clean, sustainable choice for the Michigan State Capitol building.



City of Grand Rapids Pace Launch Celebration

Mayor Bliss, GR 2030 District and Lean & Green Michigan
celebrate launch of Grand Rapids PACE program

Mayor Rosalynn Bliss joined representatives from Grand Rapids 2030 District and Lean & Green Michigan, along with the City’s new sustainability manager on Monday at an event celebrating the launch of the Grand Rapids PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) program.

Nearly 100 community stakeholders attended the PACE kickoff event at Founders Brewing Company. The launch party was both celebratory and informational, with Mayor Bliss and others touting the benefits of PACE and providing details about the program and application process.

“This is an exciting step toward our community’s sustainability goals and our efforts to reduce energy consumption and move to cleaner, renewable energy sources,” Mayor Bliss said. “The City has its own goal to get to 100 percent renewable energy by 2025 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2021. These goals align with those of the private sector-led Grand Rapids 2030 District.”

Mayor Bliss was joined by her colleagues on the City Commission in August in adopting a PACE program for the city. Special assessment PACE districts make it easier for property owners to complete energy-saving improvements and installations.

During the launch event, Alison Sutter, the City’s new sustainability manager, provided an overview of the Grand Rapids PACE program and touted the program’s support of property owners wanting to increase energy efficiency of their buildings or install renewable energy.

“Property owners understand the value of operating more energy-efficient buildings,” Sutter said. “PACE is a tool that supports their efforts to realize these energy and financial savings.”

Sutter also provided information about the application process, which begins with the completion of the PACE Project Inquiry Form available at grandrapidsmi.gov/PACE. The form requests basic information on the property and the types of energy efficiency or renewable energy projects for which the owner is interested in pursuing PACE financing. Once the form is submitted, the PACE administrator ensures the project meets eligibility requirements and assists the owner in securing a PACE contractor and lender. After the property owner submits a formal PACE application to the City, the City Commission must approve a resolution creating the PACE district and the special assessment agreement. 

The Grand Rapids PACE program does not use any City funds. Instead, a PACE administrator helps to match lenders and property owners. Lean & Green Michigan is serving as a PACE administrator for the Grand Rapids program. 

“We couldn’t be more excited to be part of Grand Rapids launching its PACE program,” said Andy Levin, Managing Partner of Levin Energy Partners, which administers PACE programs statewide through Lean & Green Michigan. “We believe that Grand Rapids will become a national center of PACE activity because of its unique business culture, which weaves together civic engagement, innovation and sustainability.” 

Levin also announced a PACE training workshop set for noon to 4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16 at a Grand Rapids location to be announced. The cost is $150, which includes lunch and materials. More information and registration is available at leanandgreenmi.com/seminar_signup.

Cheri Holman, director of Grand Rapids 2030 District, said the organization was working toward a goal of 50 percent reduction in districtwide energy and water use by 2030.

“The launch of this innovative financing mechanism by the City of Grand Rapids gives property owners another way to look at the return on investment in energy-efficient and renewable energy projects.” Holman said “By offering a longer term than traditional financing methods, PACE projects can produce immediate cash positive opportunities.”

Additional information about the Grand Rapids PACE program is available at grandrapidsmi.gov/PACE. 

Holman also shared information about an upcoming zero net energy workshop dedicated to design and implementation. The workshop – set for 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 14 at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, 101 Monroe Center St. NW – will provide information about zero energy, including existing codes and polices, national market adoption and a presentation on Consumers Energy’s new zero net energy pilot program. The cost is $45 and includes lunch. Registration is available at  usgbcwm.org/events.

The PACE launch event was sponsored by Energy Alliance Group and CleanFund Commercial PACE Capital.



Habitat for Humanity Kent County LEEDs Affordable Green Housing Movement in MI


Grab your hard hats folks, Habitat for Humanity of Kent County is creating an explosion. An affordable green housing explosion that is. Recently named a finalist for a Governor’s Energy Excellence Award for Best Communication/Education Program. The Governor’s Energy Excellence Award honors Michigan organizations and individuals for their commitment to responsible energy production and consumption.

Habitat Kent is a Christian nonprofit dedicated to providing affordable homes in the greater Grand Rapids area.  The business model enables them to build affordable homes by engaging volunteers and implementing efficient building practices into their work. “We have between 4,000 – 5,000 volunteers every year,” said Brandyn Deckinga, director of construction at Habitat Kent. “Forming strong partnerships with organizations and volunteers is what helps us build affordable housing for the community.”  

Partnering with educational groups such as Grand Rapids Public School (GRPS) and Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) to provide the next generation workforce with hands on experience.  Together they have built a combined 36 homes in Kent County. In the past year Habitat Kent has helped communicate, instruct and train 31 GRPS students and over 50 GRCC students. “That’s 80 students last year who specifically worked on a house, received training in construction and learned ways to be energy efficient” said Deckinga.

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The staff at Habitat Kent is excited to be one of the finalists for a 2016 Governor’s Energy Excellence Award. In 2015 the Michigan Battle of the Building’s Awards and Recognition Program took home the honors for Best Communication/Education Program.  “We look forward to August 11th when the 2016 winner will be announced in Lansing,” said Cheri Holman, executive director of the US Green Building Council (USGBC) West Michigan Chapter.  “Congratulations to all the finalists for executing outstanding programs that encourage us all to be better stewards of our resources.” Other finalists include City of Holland and Muskegon County Department of Veterans Affairs.

Along with volunteer work, choosing sustainable building options enables Habitat Kent to build affordable homes. By implementing things like energy efficient wall assemblies that include DOW’s XPS continuous insulation, paying attention to detail with air sealing, using EnergyStar appliances, LED lighting, installing Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERV’s), and low flow plumbing fixtures Habitat Kent is able to reach their low cost goals.

Habitat Kent has excelled across the leaderboard when it comes to sustainable building.  They were recently recognized for building the first v4 LEED certified house in Michigan. The LEED v4 certification is the newest version of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system.

Among 25 honorees, Habitat Kent was also recognized by the USGBC as a 2015 Power Builder. To be considered a Power Builder, organizations must have obtained LEED certification on 90 percent or more of their homes or units. Habitat Kent’s team has certified 142 homes to LEED standards in Kent County, 10 of which were v4 certified and more than 70 are EnergyStar certified.

Also noteworthy, Habitat or Humanity is a founding member of the Grand Rapids 2030 District. A groundbreaking, private and public led building district focused on fostering a sustainable, efficient, thriving downtown Grand Rapids.

Habitat Kent aspires to build LEED certified buildings. Currently they have 6 homes in progress, 4 of which will be underway in the next month and all aiming for LEED v4 certification. “We have plans for a multifamily unit coming in 2017 that we would like to build net zero energy ready,” said Deckinga. “It will be a challenging project but we’re ready for it!”

There really is no place like home. With the help of Habitat Kent, many homeowners are able to live affordably in high efficient homes that will last a lifetime.



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



Western Michigan University Earns Statewide Title in LEED

On November 24, 2014 the USGBC West Michigan chapter was privileged to share in a LEED unveiling ceremony at Sangren Hall on the campus of Western Michigan University.  But this wasn’t just the unveiling of 1 LEED certified building.  Simultaneously, on live stream, plaques were revealed for Lee Honors College, Zhang Legacy Collections Center and two buildings at Western View.  If your counting, that’s 4 LEED for New Construction certifications.

WMU President John M. Dunn led the celebration and shared the deep commitment WMU has to LEED and sustainability.  After research by USGBC national in Washington DC it was confirmed that “WMU is the first institution of higher education in Michigan to certify 5 LEED for New Construction buildings in a single year“.    Kelsey Pitschel, LEED GA and mechanical engineering major emphasized that LEED certification ensures the student body that they are spending time inside healthy buildings.  WMU campus is home to 12 LEED Certified Buildings in both the New Construction and Existing Building tracks.

Read More

Congratulations Western!  Go Broncos!

Sangren Hall


by Cheri Holman, Executive Director

US Green Building Council West Michigan




Call for Applications for 2015 Board of Directors

Does where you live, learn and labor matter to you? Do you have a passion for the way buildings are designed, built and operated?

If so, join our board!

We are recruiting potential board members for 2015. This is a 2-year term commitment beginning on January 1, 2015.   If you are interested in being considered for our upcoming elections – DON’T HESITATE – as the deadline for nominees is October 29, 2014. You can complete the board member application form using the link below . If you have any questions regarding this opportunity, please contact Chapter Administrator, Andrea Marz at admin@usgbcwm.org

Board Application Form

Current Chapter Board of Directors:

Chair: Cheri Holman, Hurst Mechanical
Vice Chair: David Rinard, Steelcase Inc.
Secretary: Deb Sypien, The Christman Company
Treasurer: Mark Zoeteman, FTC&H

Jessica Eimer, Aquinas College
Steve Hassevoort, InForm Architecture
Brett Little, GreenHome Institute
Andrew Longcore, The Business Law Group
Jessica Spagnuolo, Consumers Energy



Three USGBC West MI Chapter Members Named in the 2014 Class of LEED Fellows

LEED FellowLEED_Fellows represent an elite class of accomplished green-building professionals

USGBC West Michigan chapter recognizes and congratulates three West Michigan chapter members that have been named in the 2014 Class of LEED Fellows by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The three chapter members are:

  • Gavin Gardi, G2 Consulting, Inc.
  • Joyce Lee, IndigoJLD Green Health
  • Theresa Hogerheide, Green Building Certification Institute

This year’s 48 Fellows are recognized for their exceptional contributions to the green building community as well as for their significant achievements among LEED Professionals.

“The 2014 LEED Fellows are utilizing their extensive knowledge and experience in green building to engage their colleagues, clients and communities to create a better built environment throughout the world,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair, USGBC. “

To be selected, LEED Fellows are nominated by their peers, undergo an extensive portfolio review, must have at least 10 years of experience in the green building industry and hold a LEED AP with specialty credential, among other requirements. The evaluation process is carried out by the LEED Fellow Evaluation Committee and supported by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI). Learn how to become a LEED Fellow.

The 2014 LEED Fellows will be recognized in New Orleans at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo from Oct. 22-24, 2014.



Stair Week 2014 Leadership Breakfast Event

On September 10, West Michigan community and business leaders gathered for a breakfast at the Grand Rapids Art Museum to celebrate Stair Week. The event also recognized 23 West Michigan CEOs who signed the pledge to be a part of a national campaign promoted by the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity (NCPPA) to recognize exercise as an important driver of employee health and business performance. Stair Week is a collaborative effort including USGBC West Michigan, AIA Michigan, International Interior Design Association (IIDA), United Way and the Michigan Fitness Foundation.

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CHEERS to the USGBC West Michigan Battle of the Buildings Competitors

BOB_Beer_Charge_3There’s nothing like a cold beer to celebrate energy savings. Or at least that’s what the Battle of the Buildings competitors, supporters and friends discovered earlier this month when they attended the Beer Charge. A big thank you to one of the competition’s title sponsors, Consumers Energy for hosting this event and to Brewery Vivant for the providing the space in their newly renovated Walloon Room.

Along with networking over a local brew and hard cider, Erin Wilson from Wealthy Theatre shared his hopes of becoming the first theatre in the country with all LED lighting.  Brooks Twist from Brewery Vivant shared that the Battle of the Buildings competition taught him how to benchmark his facility.  “Now we know where we started and we can easily track energy changes within the building over time”.

We couldn’t help but notice that the brewery proudly displays their LEED certification plaque in the window and boast that they are the First LEED certified micro brewery in the nation.

A big thank you to all who made it out!

Submitted by:
Rebecca Holman, Communication Intern
USGBC West Michigan