Environmental Sustainability

When you think about sustainability, your first thoughts are probably about the environment. Environmental Quality refers to how decisions impact land, air and water. Like many organizations, we began our sustainability journey here, focusing on energy efficiency and recycling. 

We formally committed to protect our environment and conserve our natural resources in 2005 and haven't looked back. Check out our goals and commitments below.


We're striving to:

  • Operate city owned facilities with 100% renewable electricity by 2025
  • Reduce GHG emissions by 25% by 2021. We published our Grand Rapids Climate Resiliency Report at the end of 2013
  • Increase our tree canopy to 40% within all Grand Rapids neighborhoods. We want all residents to be able to walk to a park within a 10 minute walk from their home


  • We're participating in the Zero Cities Project and Grand Rapids 2030 District. These focus on supporting property owners to implement energy and water efficiency updates
  • We're partners on a project to restore the Grand River


  • We successfully separated our combined sewer overflow systems
  • We're continuing to implement green infrastructure such as landscaped areas and permeable paving. This diverts stormwater away from storm sewers, allowing it to replenish our groundwater
  • We offer free, single stream recycling to city residents and small businesses. We also support recycling at special events
  • We have multiple mobility options for people to get around the city. We've increased bus services, offer free DASH and Silverline routes downtown, made additional bike lanes and improved sidewalk maintenance

Check out how we're implementing environmental sustainability through our key programs below.

Climate Resiliency & Energy

We are finding ways to address climate change through both climate mitigation and climate adaptation. Energy use plays a large role in reducing the impacts of climate change. Learn more about our efforts on our Climate Resiliency & Energy page coming soon!


The water you drink and use everyday is a precious commodity. We're here to make sure it's maintained responsibly. Check out what we're up to at our related departments:

Environmental Services

Water System


  • River for All Initiative
  • Partners for Places grant (WMEAC)
  • Stormwater Oversight Commission
  • Separation of combined sewer system

Reuse and recycling

Did you know that we offer free recycling services? That's right! All you have to do is sign up.

Sign up to start recycling

Want to get rewarded for recycling? Sign up for myGRcitypoints to earn points toward rewards at local businesses.

Green spaces

Did you know there are 74 city-owned parks? Check them out here. Make sure to visit the Parks and Recreation page to learn more about trails, forestry and park improvement projects. 


There are many options to getting around Grand Rapids. Take a look at all the options we offer on the MobileGR and Parking Services page. 

Vital Streets

We're improving transportation in Grand Rapids through our Vital Streets Program. Improving street conditions helps to extend street life and reduce resource heavy reconstruction. Take a look at where we're making improvements and how the program works. 

Mayor Bliss launched the Energy Advisory Committee in March of 2018. The purpose of this advisory committee is to engage thought leaders from a diverse set of businesses, non-profits, academia and governmental institutions to ensure that the City of Grand Rapids stays on the cutting edge of energy performance and renewable energy. The committee will focus on creating a comprehensive energy management plan that includes a renewable energy strategy, energy efficiency strategy for municipally owned facilities and a broader climate/greenhouse gas emissions plan. The committee will also support the City’s participation in the Zero Cities Project. Participants are selected by the Mayor and the committee meets approximately every other month.

City of Grand Rapids Energy Advisory Committee

Elected Officials

Rosalynn Bliss
City of Grand Rapids

Ruth Kelly
City of Grand Rapids

Nathaniel Moody
City of Grand Rapids

City Staff

Mike Dazy
City of Grand Rapids
Energy Intern

AJ Hills
City of Grand Rapids
Business Developer - Administrative Services

Chuck Schroeder
City of Grand Rapids
Assistant Environmental Services Manager - Public Services Department

Laura Olson
City of Grand Rapids
Acting Assistant to the Mayor

Kristin Pfauth
City of Grand Rapids
Project Manager - Engineering

Gary Reimer
City of Grand Rapids
Director of Facilities and Fleet Management

Alison Waske Sutter
City of Grand Rapids
Sustainability & Performance Management Officer

Community Partners

Roger Burgess
Retired Engineer

Philip A. Guster
DTE Energy
Program Manager

Paul Haan
Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan
Executive Director

Jon Ippel
Amplify GR
Executive Director

Margrethe Kearney
Environmental Law and Policy Center
Senior Attorney

Jim Lax
Meteorologist and Founder
Climate for Tomorrow

Mary Ellen Mika
Global Compliance & Sustainability

Tavian Moore
NAACP Greater Grand Rapids Branch
Youth Council President

Julio H. Morales
Consumers Energy
Executive Director, Customer Service

Steve Mulder
Christian Reformed Church
Climate Witness Project

Terri Novak
Michigan Agency for Energy

Anne Sailers
Holland Board of Public Works
Community Energy Services Manager 

Kris Spaulding
Brewery Vivant

Natalie Stewart
Director of Govt. and Public Affairs

We've published reports on our Environmental Quality commitments and accomplishments below.

City of Grand Rapids Energy and Climate Goals and Programs Presentation - 2018(PDF, 2MB)

Climate Resiliency Report - December, 2013(PDF, 3MB)

Green Grand Rapids - 2012(PDF, 23MB)

Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy - 2009

Want to know what the plans are for City Parks and Recreation? Check out the Parks and Recreation Strategic Master Plan.

We're sharing our Environmental Quality story! Check out the links below to see what we're up to.