Environmental Sustainability


Environmental sustainability focuses on how our actions and decisions impact land, air and water. Like many organizations, we began our sustainability journey here with a focus on energy efficiency, renewable energy and recycling. Our new Strategic Plan recognizes Health and Environment as one of six strategic priorities. The desired outcome for this priority is: 

“The health of all people and the environment are advocated for, protected and enhanced.”

There are five objectives under Health and Environment. Each objective includes specific strategies and metrics. The objectives are:

  • Reduce carbon emissions and increase climate resiliency
  • Ensure equitable access to and use of green spaces and increase recreational activities
  • Protect and preserve our water resources
  • Minimize waste generation and promote diversion practices
  • Collaborate with and support partners working to reduce health disparities and the resulting undesired outcomes. (Examples: blood lead levels, asthma, etc.)

Energy & Carbon Emissions

Energy use and the resulting carbon emissions are a key area of focus for the City of Grand Rapids. Learn more about our efforts and what you can do to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.

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Climate Change Mitigation, Adaptation & Resiliency

We're finding ways to address climate change and are committed to reducing climate impacts in Grand Rapids. Check out some of our commitments below.  

  • Climate Resiliency Report(PDF, 3MB) -This report was published in 2013 in partnership with the West Michigan Environmental Action Council. It identifies what changes we can expect to our local weather and risks associated with those changes (examples: more snow/rain in the winter/spring; warmer temperatures in winter, etc.)
  • Climate Mayors - A bipartisan network of U.S. mayors, including our very own Mayor Rosalynn Bliss, who demonstrate leadership on climate change. 
  • We Are Still In - Mayor Rosalynn Bliss was one of the first signatories to the We Are Still In Pledge in June 2017. This bipartisan coalition of mayors, governors and business leaders are committed to reducing emissions and stemming the causes of climate change.

Land & Green spaces

Our goal is to increase the amount of accessible park space in Neighborhoods of Focus from 3.1 acres to 9.5 acres. You can check out our 74 City-owned parks here. Make sure to visit the Parks and Recreation page to learn more about trails, forestry and park improvement projects.

Water Resources

Water is a precious commodity crucial to human life. We make sure drinking water, stormwater and wastewater are managed and maintained responsibly. Check out what we're up to at our related departments:

  • Environmental Services - stormwater, green infrastructure and water resource recovery through wastewater treatment
  • Water System - water distribution, including drinking water

Waste & Recycling

In 2018, 23% of our residential waste was recycled. Help us increase this number by signing up for free curbside recycling as a resident or small business.

For more information on waste and recycling services and resources, visit our Public Works Department web page.


There are many options to getting around Grand Rapids including walking, biking, ride sharing, and taking the bus. Take a look at all the options we offer on the Mobile GR and Parking Services page.

Environmental Goals and Commitments

There are a number of documents that explain our environmental goals and commitments. Learn about how we aim to protect our community’s vital natural resources by browsing through the documents below.