Office of Sustainability

photo of Mayor Bliss helping in the Grand River clean up

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 efforts to address climate change on our climate change 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. In order to address climate change, we will be creating a Climate Action & Adaptation Plan in 2023. Browse the documents below to learn more about our guiding frameworks.

Current Plan

    Plans with a Sustainability Focus 

    Archived Plans & Progress Reports

    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 to reduce our municipal emissions and what you can do to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions. 

    Butterworth Solar

    We are seeking partners to help us develop solar on the Butterworth Landfill. Please click here for more information. 

    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.



    The City of Grand Rapids, U.S. Green Building Council of West Michigan and Urban Core Collective are launching the Grand Rapids Building Policies and Programs for Equitable, Healthy & Zero Carbon Buildings (E.H.Zero). Transforming the way buildings and homes are designed, built, and operated is one of the most important ways a city can support affordable housing, ensure clean healthy air in our communities and increase our resilience to the negative impacts of a changing climate. E.H.Zero will co-create with community policies and programs to equitably decarbonize Grand Rapids residential and commercial buildings and present them to Commission for consideration and hopeful adoption.

    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 the 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 Leadership Team. 

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








    2010 - 2015

    Over the years, the City and Greater Grand Rapids community have been recognized for the commitment to sustainability. Below are a few articles highlighting some of these achievements.






    2000 - 2017 

    Subscribe to our monthly newsletter for local news, jobs, events, resources and updates from the Office of Sustainability. 


    Past Newsletters

    Alison Waske Sutter


    Sustainability & Performance Management Officer

    Annabelle Wilkinson


    Environmental and Climate Justice Specialist

    Jennifer Spiller


    Healthy and Sustainable Buildings Policy Specialist