Grand Rapids moves forward with five year sustainability plan
Caroline MacGregor January 8, 2013 | WGVU
Two years ago when
Grand Rapids received the 2010 Siemens Sustainable Community Award, Mayor
George Heartwell remarked it was the result of several years of hard work. That
hard work addressed three criteria: economic strength, environmental
stewardship and social equity. Today the city strives to continue sustainability
efforts and has a five year plan in place that focuses on 227 targets.
In 2011, Grand Rapids was listed as one of
the country’s dying cities in the publication, the Daily Beast. A bit taken
aback, Mayor George Heartwell sent the publication’s editor a letter
challenging that dubious distinction, listing off several accomplishments that
proved the city was anything but dying.
Recently Grand Rapids made another notable list:
“First of all I was delighted to see this week that no lesser a person than Bill Moyers himself lists Grand Rapids with the top twelve most sustainable cities in the nation, uh, putting us on an equal footing with places like Portland and Seattle and Austin, Texas and Chicago and the
great sustainable cities of America.”
The Bill Moyers report lists Grand Rapid’s sustainability
programs noting the city boasted more LEED certified buildings per capita
in 2009 than any other US city. The list credits local leaders like Heartwell with spearheading
efforts to go green.
Grand Rapids has saved thousands of dollars by increasing recycling by 80 percent and city officials predict 45 thousand
homes will participate in city recycling programs by 2015. Among efforts targeted in the five year plan: adding
more bike lanes, using 30 percent of the city’s energy needs from renewable
sources by 2013, cutting road salt
consumption by at least 25 percent and increasing city-owned parks and open
space by at least 10% by 2015.
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