Office of Sustainability

picture of runner jogging on paved trail alongside Grand River

Under our new Strategic Plan, sustainability is one of six core values embedded into all work at the City. The Strategic Plan defines sustainability as:

“The ability to be maintained; making decisions with an understanding of how those decisions will impact the environment, people and communities, and finances, both today and in the future.”

We started our sustainability journey around 2005 with a focus on the environment. As a municipality, it's important for us to understand how our work impacts entire systems, communities and the environment. For this reason, we now use sustainability as a way to assess how our policies, plans and programs impact not just the environment, but also the people and the prosperity of our community. You can learn more about our many environmental programs and initiatives on our Environmental Sustainability page.

How We Got Here

In the past, we used sustainability plans to guide our sustainability work. Our first plans used a triple bottom line framework to address the environment, community, and economy in our city. Later, we added another pillar, governmental accountability, for a quadruple bottom line framework.

In 2019, the we published a Strategic Plan to serve as the new framework for all of our operations. In this plan, we identified sustainability as one of six core values that are embedded across all of our operations and services. Browse the documents below to learn more about our guiding frameworks.

Current Plan

    Archived Plans & Progress Reports

    Good for Michigan

    Good For Michigan is a campaign lead by Local First in partnership with the City of Grand Rapids. The campaign was created in 2017 as Good for Grand Rapids and then expanded to the entire state.

    The Quick Impact Assessment (QIA) is a free tool for businesses to identify their strengths and areas for growth from a sustainability perspective. The QIA also allows businesses to see how they compare to others.

    Check out the winners of the 2019 Good for Michigan awards.

    Michigan Green Communities

    Michigan Green Communities (MGC) is a statewide network of local government and university staff. The group collaborates to move sustainability initiatives forward at the local, regional, and state level. Grand Rapids is not only a member of this network, but our Sustainability and Performance Management Officer, Alison Waske Sutter, sits on the steering committee. In 2018 and 2019, we received Gold Certification for the annual MGC Challenge.

    Community Collaboration on Climate Change (C4)

    The Community Collaboration on Climate Change (C4) is an evolution of what was previously the Community Sustainability Partnership (CSP) a diverse network of for-profit and non-profit organizations, educational institutions, and governments in West Michigan. The CSP showed that the resources, experience, and knowledge already exist within the community, but organizations and individuals most concerned with the climate-justice movement are not always acting in the same spaces. In addition, although we are all negatively impacted by climate change, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) are disproportionately impacted and aren't genuinely represented in the current environmental and climate change movement. The Grand Rapids community lacks a solid and stable infrastructure to challenge systemic barriers necessary to make bold changes necessary to create a just climate future, and the C4 intends to change that fact. In the C4 our vision is that, BIPOC and historically white environmental organizations will dismantle extractive systems and build new systems to combat climate change - centered in human wellbeing, the interconnectedness of life, and access to shared leadership. Alison Waske Sutter and Annabelle Wilkinson sit on the C4 Planning Team. 

    Alison Waske Sutter

    Sustainability & Performance Management Officer

    Annabelle Wilkinson

    Environmental and Climate Justice Specialist

    Jennifer Spiller

    Healthy and Sustainable Buildings Policy Specialist