West Ottawa Public Schools announced as 2023 Certified Green Building Award Winner for Education

The U.S. Green Building Council of West Michigan (USGBC-WM) announces West Ottawa Public Schools as the Certified Green Building Award Winner for Education. The Certified Green Building Awards recognize exemplary building projects that received high-performance certifications. West Ottawa Public Schools boasts nine Energy Star Certified buildings, including seven elementary schools, one high school, and one administrative building.

West Ottawa made a commitment in the 2014 and 2019 Voter-approved Bonds to upgrade facility infrastructure. Specifically, they looked at upgrades to boiler and hydronic pumps, the building management system (BMS), HVAC equipment, LED lighting, lighting controls, roofing, windows/doors, and potable water.


Enhancements for each building are as follows:

  • Lakeshore Elementary - windows, doors, boilers and pumps
  • High School - boilers and pumps, BMS controls, chiller (South)
  • Lakewood Elementary - New HVAC 80%, boilers and pumps, BMS controls, LED lighting
  • Great Lakes Elementary - Chiller, boiler and pumps, BMS controls
  • Administration Building - New HVAC, boilers and pumps, BMS controls
  • Waukazoo Elementary - boilers and pumps, BMS controls
  • Woodside Elementary - New HVAC, boilers and pumps, BMS controls, windows/doors, LED lighting
  • North Holland Elementary - New HVAC, boilers and pumps, BMS controls, LED lighting
  • Sheldon Woods Elementary - boilers and pumps, BMS controls

Through these enhancements, West Ottawa Public Schools has been able to function much more efficiently. This has allowed them to “get aggressive” with their building-occupied schedules and setpoints district-wide, maintaining that balance of classroom comfort while remaining efficient. “Sustainability and efficiency means everything to West Ottawa,” said Tom Swifney, Director of Facilities. “Unfortunately, utility bills are only going to keep going up, so through capital projects we need to optimize efficiency and keep our energy consumption as low as possible.”

When asked about the process of certifying their buildings, Swifney said it was “fairly smooth.” “We have participated in the Energy Star program for many years and Consumers Energy has always been a partner with us in doing so. Consumers Energy and Lou Gibson are out here every Fall collecting the data, making sure we meet the criteria, and getting our paperwork processed. They have also helped us with our BPW accounts too,” Swifney recounted.

When asked about their goals for the future Swifney stated that their main goal is to keep using tax dollars wisely on capital projects and operations, while optimizing efficiency and maximizing ROI from those projects.

Not only did they recieve this award, but in 2019 they were awarded at the MI Battle of the Buildings competition for their 25.9% reduction in energy usage at their Great Lakes Elementary School. 

The USGBC-WM Leadership Awards promote outstanding green building initiatives by recognizing projects, organizations, and people who have made extraordinary contributions to achieving healthy, energy-efficient green buildings in the state of Michigan.

“Michigan is one of the top 5 states for clean energy commitments, number two in the country in drawing down federal funding for climate and clean energy, and number one in the Midwest for clean energy jobs, clean energy growing twice as fast as the overall economy,” said Cheri Holman, Executive Director of USGBC-WM. “These investments by the federal government, concrete action from the state, and the  collaboration inside our community has energized me like never before.”

West Ottawa Public Schools was awarded at our 2023 Annual Party & Leadership Awards Ceremony on December 5, 2023. Hosted by the U.S. Green Building Council of West Michigan, the evening event was held in the Ballroom at the LEED-certified CityFlatsHotel located in downtown Grand Rapids. The program included a keynote address by Dr. Brandy Brown, Chief Innovation Officer of Walker-Miller Energy Services, an Awards Ceremony, and the celebration of this year’s achievements. 

To learn more about the event and to read our 2023 Annual Report visit our Annual Party & Leadership Awards Ceremony page.