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Grand Rapids, MI – Community Sustainability Partnership

Community Sustainability Partnership Summit December 17, 2008


The Community Sustainability Partnership is a unique combination between local government and businesses.  Their strength comes from being able to work together; the partnership collaborates their ideas instead of trying to reinvent the wheel at each level.  From learning from one another, they can implement already known sustainable processes.  This partnership started over three years ago with five founding partners all located in the Grand Rapids area.  Membership has now grown to over 140, with most recent notables the cities of Lansing and Chicago. 

Listen to Cortland Overmyer speak about his unique community, or visit his website.

The keynote speaker of the summit was George Heartwell, Mayor for the city of Grand Rapids.  He and seven other local leaders of the summit had just returned from a trip to New Zealand.  New Zealand has sustainability entrenched in their culture, they restructured their government bodies from over 800 entities to now 83 based solely on watersheds.  Watersheds are what truly connect us together allowing everyone to have equal say in how their environment will be affected.   He challenged the audience at the end of his speech, “We have to talk about sustainability every chance we get… “


For the last three years, Grand Rapids has been preparing its own Triple Bottom Line Report.  Some key social equity measures include: personal income, unemployment, redevelopment, knowledge competitiveness, safety and security, education attainment, infant mortality rate, elevated blood lead levels, quality of life, poverty, voter participation, population and ethnicity.  They also monitor the basic go-green ideas.

Eric DeLong requests feedback on his city’s progress.


The greater Grand Rapids area now has over 54 certified LEED Buildings.  Below is a google map with all of the LEED buildings marked.  Additionally, the local habitat for humanity is currently completing its 30th LEED built home.  Below is a google map of the different LEED certified buildings in the Grand Rapids area.  Click here for a larger and interactive view.



A panel of members of the CSP spoke about current successes and answered questions from the attendees.  They talked about how their collaboration is their strongest asset.  By sharing ideas and working together, they can be much more affective by building strong networks and encouraging teamwork.  The questions asked were about how to accomplish real life/realistic goals, not just talking about going green. 

Listen to Ken Freestone describe how collaboration helps sustainable initiatives, and John Nash talk about the TBL.


The West Michigan Sustainable Purchasing Consortium is a group of local entities combining their purchasing power to obtain more sustainable products and services at more reasonable prices.  Working together provides great opportunities to grow awareness about the products we buy, also opening up a new market in our lagging economy.


Listen to members of the WMSPC describe their group.

The City of Holland has one of the most unique snow removal systems in the country.  Holland uses its power plants excess water in quite a unique way.  They have installed pipes that run underneath the roads and sidewalks in the downtown area.  This makes shopping and dining downtown very convenient throughout the entire year, since Holland receives a large amount of lake effect snow each winter.  This saves money and the environment.  Holland is a member of the CSP, and working hard towards becoming more sustainable. 

Mayor Al Mcgeehan from the city of Holland talks about his cities initiatives.

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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      I enjoyed reading your blog. Thanks for sharing! I agree we need to take this multi-faceted topic seriously and embed sustainability in our thinking and in our daily work. Here is a blog I wrote a while ago that you may find interesting:

      Throwing Light on the impact of “Leaving the Lights On” on Sustainability!

      Best regards

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      SAP has released news that is very exciting in our company's history. SAP executive, Peter Graf, is now the Chief Sustainability Officer. You can find out more about our sustainability initiatives and commitment, including a detailed fact sheet at

      This press release also contains the following announcement:

      "SAP Co-CEO to Speak on Sustainability at CeBIT

      On Tuesday, March 3, 2009, SAP co-CEO Léo Apotheker will give a keynote address at CeBIT, the world’s largest annual trade show for information and telecommunications technology. Apotheker will address sustainability and related issues in the context of information technology. More details are available on the CeBIT Web site."

      We all need to do our part in keeping the momentum of sustainable, responsible organization practices moving forward.


      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Blog Post Author

      Yesterday I read Peter Graf’s blog announcing his new position as Chief Sustainability Officer and Executive Vice President of Sustainability Solutions at SAP.  I was ecstatic to see SAP create this position for its company; it really shows SAP’s strong commitment to sustainability!

      Thank you for directing me to Léo Apotheker keynote address at CeBIT, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to SAP’s stance and strategy on sustainability.  I am impressed with SAP taking personal responsibility for the global economic and environmental crisis that we face.  I agree that IT must be the key enabler in helping assess the risks involved with our numerous business processes. 

      It is also very encouraging to see SAP focusing its social responsibility spending in the area of education.  In economic times like these innovation goes crazy, and investing in education is the answer.  SAP and IT in general have a giant opportunity to influence not only our own organizations but also the different entities that rely on us.

      “It is time to have a huge impact” Léo Apotheker, co-Chief Executive Officer SAP AG

      Thanks for the update,