picture of runner jogging on paved trail alongside Grand River


We develop and implement the City's Sustainability Plan through various initiatives. 

We're committed to sustainability. This means we work to provide the most effective and efficient services possible. We consider how our policies, programs and plans impact:
  • People
  • The environment
  • The business community

When you think about sustainability, your first thoughts are probably about environmental sustainability. Environmental sustainability refers to how decisions impact land, air and water, but sustainability reaches beyond just that.

Another common impression about sustainability is that it refers to Corporate Social Responsibility. This focuses on a businesses' philanthropic giving or social equity. Many companies adopt Triple Bottom Line (TBL) practices. They use the TBL to measure how their decisions affect not only their profits, but people and the planet, too. A TBL approach assesses impacts on financial, social and environmental areas.

Business, non-profit, government and individual decisions have impacts on each of these three areas. Developing a TBL approach doesn't attempt to make the impacts on each of these equal. Rather, it ensures that impacts on these three guide decision making.

Quadruple Bottom Line

In 2016, we expanded our TBL approach to the Quadruple Bottom Line (QBL). This means we now measure sustainability using these pillars:

To do this we consider how our policies, plans and programs impact:

  • People
  • Planet
  • Prosperity

We're striving to be the best city government you could hope for. We work to be as responsive, transparent, accessible and fiscally resilient as possible.

Mayor Bliss launched the Sustainability 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 sustainability. The committee will focus on helping evaluate and analyzing the City’s Sustainability Plan FY2017 – FY2021 and beginning to lay the foundation for how we will engage the community on our next sustainability 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.

Sustainability Advisory Committee

Elected Officials

Rosalynn Bliss
City of Grand Rapids

Joseph Jones
City of Grand Rapids

Kurt Reppart
City of Grand Rapids

City Staff

Sarah Behmlander
City of Grand Rapids
Sustainability Intern

Eric DeLong
City of Grand Rapids
Interim City Manager 

Laura Olson
City of Grand Rapids
Acting Assistant to the Mayor

Alison Sutter
City of Grand Rapids
Sustainability Manager

Community Partners

Steve Alsum
The Red Project
Executive Director

Tasha Blackmon
Cherry Health

Kari Bliss
Service Excellence Manager 

Rick Chapla
The Right Place
VP, Strategic Initiatives

Peter D'Arienzo
John Ball Zoo

Sharon Darby
Cascade Engineering
Sr. Manager Environment, Safety and Sustainability

Michael DeWilde
Koeze Business Ethics Initiative- GVSU

Anissa Eddie
KConnect; Malamiah Juice Bar
Associate Director; Owner

Anne Marie Hertl
Michigan League of Conservation Voters
West Michigan Regional Coordinator

Elissa Hillary
Local First
Executive Director

Synia Jordan
Samaria J's

BriAnne McKee
Habitat for Humanity
Executive Director 

Nikos Monoyois
The Rapids
Project Manager and DGRI Board Member

Javier Olvera
Supermercado Mexico, La Tapatia and Mexican Bakery
Owner and President

Sarah Raniero
Brownfield Program Analyst, Community & Urban Development

Rick Redetzke
Spectrum Health
VP, Facilities and Real Estate

Michael Systma
Chemical Bank
Senior Vice President 

Mark Van Putten
The Wege Foundation
President & CEO

Dr. Michael Vargo
Dean for School of Arts and Sciences

Sustainability Plan 

We assess Grand Rapids' economic, social, environmental and governance goals and outcomes. Our Sustainability Plan is the five year strategic plan for the City. The Sustainability Plan focuses on making City operations more sustainable. Take a look at our most recent plan to check out how Grand Rapids has become more resilient, healthier and a better place to live.

Sustainability Plan Progress Report Presentation - November 21, 2017(PDF, 9MB)

Sustainability Plan FY17 - FY21(PDF, 1MB)

5th Year Progress Report Sustainability Plan FY11 - FY15(PDF, 8MB)

Community Triple Bottom Line Indicator Report 2008(PDF, 2MB)

Sustainability Plan 2006(PDF, 288KB)

We're continually transforming City operations! The Draft Transformation Plan Phase IV includes departmental value streams as they align to the City's Quadruple Bottom Line (QBL).

Each value stream:

  • Names primary and secondary staff responsible for carrying out the value stream
  • Is scheduled with a start and end date
  • Identifies an origin in another City plan (if applicable)
  • Identifies if the value stream is either transformative or a City Commission (CC) priority
  • Includes the recommended value stream details

The City Commission evaluated this plan and offered revisions that were incorporated into a final plan. The final plan was approved in June.

Transformation Plan Phase IV

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











Over the years we've been publicly recognized for our sustainable practices. Below are articles citing our permanent rankings.


Energy Services Coalition, Michigan Chapter, 2017 Leadership in Energy Efficiency Award for energy improvements at our Lake Michigan Filtration Plant



City of Grand Rapids accepted into first ever Racial Equity Here Cohort with Government Alliance for Race and Equity (GARE)

GRFD becomes accredited agency



Emerging 2030 District Designation

Battle of The Buildings 2nd Place Public Buildings

World's 1st Habitat for Humanity Home

Expanding Excellence Award for Innovation in Customer Service (Water System partnership with 311)



Lonley Planet top 10 US travel desitnation for 2014



DDA Wins Excellence Award



#1 in number of LEED certified buildings per capita - for mid-sized cities - in the U.S

#5 in the number of LEED certified buildings per capita overall in the U.S.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce - Most Sustainable Mid-Sized City



1st LEED platinum multi-family facility in Michigan



1st LEED Public Art Museum



1st U.S. city to be recognized as a Regional Centre of Expertise

1st Inland City to Join the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative

1st LEED certified YMCA



1st LEED Public Transit Station



1st LEED municipal building: Water & Environmental Services

World's 1st LEED-certified school