MGSSBF Honors Recent Sustainability Projects at Inaugural Great Green Gala

Michigan’s Great Southwest Sustainable Business Forum celebrated sustainability in the region last week at the Inaugural Great Green Gala on Wednesday, November 8 at Shadowland on Silver Beach.

See photos of the Gala on Facebook.

MGSSBF honored four organizations with its inaugural Sustainable Business Forum Leadership Awards, which recognizes meaningful efforts toward helping our community more equally value environmental stewardship, social responsibility and economic growth. Information on this year’s winners is included below:

2017 SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS FORUM AWARD WINNER: INDIANA MICHIGAN POWER

Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) is being recognized for its new Watervliet solar power plant. I&M customers have the opportunity to support large-scale, efficient solar energy through IM Solar. Your hometown energy provider operates four emission-free solar power plants as part of our diverse generation fleet, helping you reduce your carbon footprint.

I&M operates solar generation plants just south of Marion, Ind.; near Mishawaka and New Carlisle in the South Bend area; and in Watervliet, Mich. I&M solar plants generate up to nearly 15 megawatts of electricity, with enough energy to power 2,000 homes annually. IM Solar allows customers to retire Renewable Energy Certificates created by the solar generation.

In addition to solar power, I&M’s generation fleet includes 450 megawatts of energy from Indiana wind farms, six hydroelectric sites and the Cook Nuclear Plant. In all, 60 percent of I&M’s generation is from non-carbon-emitting sources. With IM Solar, customers can demonstrate their support for emission-free solar power.

I&M plans to continue expanding renewable solar energy to help meet our customers’ future energy needs.

2017 SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS FORUM AWARD WINNER: KRASL ART CENTER

Krasl Art Center piloted a recycling effort at its annual art fair. The encouraging partnership between MGSSBF, The City of St. Joseph, Krasl Art Center, and Berrien County Parks allowed for public space recycling in St. Joseph, MI this summer. This partnership marks the debut of recycling at the Krasl Art Fair in St. Joseph, which draws an estimated 50,000 visitors each year.  Approximately 500 pounds of material (plastic bottles, glass bottles, cardboard and plastic wrap) was diverted from the landfill over the 3 day event.

The City of St. Joseph placed recycling bins around town and at city beaches during the 10 day Fourth of July holiday week & weekends, which preceded the Krasl Art Fair.  More than 12,000 water bottles were collected during this trial run.

2017 SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS FORUM AWARD WINNER: LAKELAND HEALTH

Lakeland Health completed a major efficiency investment with a $160 million expansion and renovation to modernize Lakeland Health’s main campus in St. Joseph, allowing it to operate as efficiently as possible and drive quality outcomes.

The planned five-floor Lakeland Medical Center Pavilion will include a new main entrance, medical and surgical suites, a short-stay unit, medical imaging, an intensive care unit, and education and community rooms. Lakeland Health plans to construct 250,000 square feet of new space and renovate another 80,000 square feet at the campus.

Lakeland Health targets the expansion for full completion in 2020, with the new pavilion opening a year earlier.The project should dramatically ease the flow of patients, staff and visitors through the hospital, improve patient privacy and generate operating efficiencies.

2017 SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS FORUM AWARD WINNER: VILLAGE OF PAW PAW

The Village of Paw Paw in eastern Van Buren County with a population of about 3,500 is being honored for protecting both surface and drinking water.  With its wellhead protection program, the Village is a leader in water quality education. They accomplish this by collaborating with others (Maple Lake Association, Van Buren Conservation District, Van Buren Drain Commissioner, Two Rivers Coalition, Southwest Michigan Planning Commission etc.).  

The Village has also collaborated to improve surface water quality.  The Village demonstrated the benefits of natural shorelines by installing one on the Village-owned island and trained their public works staff in the process.  The village then offered assistance to homeowners to install natural shorelines on private property.  The Village has also incorporated watershed principles into their master plan and zoning ordinances.

The Council approved spending $55,000 in general funds outside the village limits for incentivizing farmers to try best practices.  The best practices (2400 acres cover crop, 1,00 acres of no till and 22 acres wetland restoration) resulted in an annual reduction of 570 tons of sediment, 668 pounds of phosphorus and 1383 pounds of nitrogen flowing into  Maple Lake.