By 2025, the City of Grand Rapids would like to operate all buildings that it owns with 100% renewable electricity and increase the tree canopy to 40% within all Grand Rapids neighborhoods. This plan seems like a tall order, given that 2025 is only six years away, but Grand Rapids has already made significant steps towards environmental sustainability.
Since 2005, when the city formally committed to protect the environment and conserve natural resources, they have successfully separated sewer overflow systems and implemented green infrastructure to divert stormwater away from storm sewers, allowing it to replenish groundwater in landscaped areas. Grand Rapids offers its residents free recycling programs, free DASH and Silverline bus routes downtown to reduce carbon emissions, and have created additional bike lanes and improved sidewalk maintenance to encourage residents to walk, bike, or take public transportation over the use of personal vehicles.
The City of Grand Rapids holds the titles for World’s 1st LEED Gold art museum with the Grand Rapids Art Museum, America’s 1st LEED Silver production brewery with Brewery Vivant, and Michigan’s 1st LEED Platinum library at Grand Valley State University, one of the 24 total LEED structures on the Grand Rapids campus.
Despite all the accomplishments the city has made, they still have a long way to go to reduce the Grand Rapids carbon footprint to zero by 2050. This plan will include an extensive evaluation of current energy consumption and incentives offered to residents and business owners located in the city. The City Commission adopted the PACE program in 2017 to encourage property owners to install energy efficient or renewable energy upgrades in their facilities by using lender funds to cover the cost of upgrades.
The City is still discussing possible outcomes for this plan, in the hopes of reducing the carbon footprint, enhancing sustainability, and keeping housing prices low for residents.