The first ever “Sustainable Business Resources in West Michigan” presentation was delivered in Spanish by the U.S. Green Building Council of West Michigan and the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum, hosted at the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Local Hispanic-owned business representatives gathered on November 29th, 2018 at the Chamber’s new location on Division Avenue and Burton Street for a gorditas breakfast, courtesy of Marianela and Sylvia Cano with El Toro Bravo.
Carissa Patrone, Project Coordinator with WMSBF, spoke of the history of sustainability in West Michigan, the importance of waste stream diversion through recycling, the dangers of water pollution and the power of mindful purchasing.
Patrone set the stage with assuring that adopting adaptive behavior will keep businesses sustainable as we enter a changing global climate. West Michigan can expect hotter summers, and increased participation Fall through Spring. Warmer winters indicate increased freeze/thaw cycles which are problematic to infrastructure health. By the year 2030 Michigan can expect climate trends similar to present day Kentucky and by 2090 expect weather patterns similar to present day Mississippi and Arkansas (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Michigan Climate Trends. Reprinted from Patrone’s Recursos sostenibles para los negocios del oeste de Michigan
In discussing the potential of the circular economy, Patrone stated that the equivalent value of $399 million lies in the potential impact of recycling. This is equivalent to 2,619 jobs. Kent County has partnered with WMSBF on Reimagine Trash, with the goal to have 90% reduction of landfill waste by 2030.
Gillian Giem, Project Manager with USGBC-WM, wrapped up the presentation by highlighting the economic potential which small businesses have regarding operational costs of energy. According to the EPA, the small business sector of the United States spends more than $60 billion a year on utilities. Most interesting is that small businesses that invest strategically can cut utility costs 10 to 30 percent without sacrificing quality of service. This equates to 6 – 18 billion dollars of economic potential the small businesses sector has to influence their local economies. As advocates for energy efficiency and carbon neutrality in the built environment, the Grand Rapids 2030 District works with small businesses in Grand Rapids to redirect their revenue away from costly utility bills and back into their business while simultaneously reducing their carbon footprint.
The Energy Assistance Program is a GR2030 District program designed specifically to empower small building owners by identifying energy savings within their buildings. Using State of Michigan/Michigan Energy Office funding the Energy Assistance Program provides accepted applicants a thorough building audit with financial analysis that includes all available rebates and incentives. This allows owners to prioritize energy projects and provides a pathway for future upgrades. The Program also develops a baseline of energy use and provides the owner with an EnergyStar Portfolio Manager account for past & future energy monitoring. This benefit is rooted in the philosophy that “you can’t manage what you don’t measure”.
Written by Gillian Giem, USGBC-WM Staff