Forum to Discuss Future of Sustainability in Michigan’s Great Southwest

Michigan’s Great Southwest Sustainable Business Forum will host a special Earth Day discussion next Friday, April 20 inviting local leaders to share their visions for sustainability in the region at the 8th Annual Sustainability Issues Legislative Forum.

Hosted by Wightman Associates at its Benton Harbor headquarters, St. Joseph Mayor Michael Garey, Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad, and State Rep. Kim Lasata will be joined by Ritchie Harrison, co-director of the Great Lakes Leadership Academy and former community planner for the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy.

Harrison will present a vision for Michigan’s Great Southwest based on leadership and collaboration for the common good, drawing on his experiences working in the City of Detroit. He will also highlight the unique value of natural resources in promoting economic development and community prosperity.

“The City of Detroit transformed its image through collaboration and working together, leveraging that for programs and initiatives such as the project that revitatlized the waterfront,” said Harrison. “We’re going to talk about how leaders can create a vision that brings people and resources together fot the common good.”

Doors open at 11:30 am for lunch, with the program from 12:10 to 1:30. Lunch is $15 for MGSSBF members, $20 for non-members. Learn more and register for the event here.

MGSSBF Hosts Smart and Sustainable Buildings at Whirlpool

Michigan’s Great Southwest Sustainable Business Forum hosted a luncheon and networking program on intelligent buildings and energy efficiency at Whirlpool Global Headquarters on March 21.

See photos on Facebook here.

The program introduced attendees to the potential of intelligent building technology, detailed how it can be used in different building types, and provided a demonstration of Whirlpool’s 26-property local intelligent building infrastructure.

Whirlpool / JLL Director of Operations Dave Clayton and Buidling Management System Specialist Kieth Kiser discussed how Whirlpool has utilized integrated technology and dashboards to improve the performance of properties locally and globally.

Jason Whitman, Energy Efficiency and Consumer Program Coordinator for Indiana Michigan Power, introduced I&M’s current rebate and incentive programs for efficiency improvements.

Opportunity for Local Organizations to Learn About Energy Management Strategies, Smart Buildings

WhirlpoolEMEAMichigan’s Great Southwest Sustainable Business Forum is hosting a pair of energy education programs for local businesses and institutions next week featuring regional and national experts on intelligent buildings, energy efficiency planning, and local incentives.

The back-to-back programs on Wednesday, March 21 at Whirlpool Global Headquarters includes an educational and networking luncheon for facility managers, property owners, and other stakeholders from all sectors, plus a customized training in the morning for municipalities, universities, schools and healthcare facilities.

Whirlpool and JLL Director of Operations Dave Clayton and Building Managment System Specialist Keith Kiser will discuss how Whirlpool has utilized integrated technology and dashboards to improve the performance of its properties locally and globally. The program will introduce attendees to the potential of intelligent building technology, detail how it can be used in different building types (office, manufacturing, medical) and provide a demonstration of Whirlpool’s 26-property local intelligent building infrastructure.

The luncheon program will also feature a presentation from Jason Whitman, Energy Efficiency and Consumer Program Coordinator for Indiana Michigan Power, who will introduce I&M’s current rebate and incentive programs for energy efficiency improvements. Networking and lunch begin at 11:30 am, with the program from 12:10 am to 1:30 pm.

The morning session is a free workshop for Southwest Michigan municipalities, schools, and health care facilities to learn skills and practices that will support the planning and implementation of clean energy and energy waste reduction programs. It is presented in collaboration with the Michigan Community Energy Partnership and Michigan’s Great Southwest Strategic Leadership Council.

Compared to private and residential sectors, municipalities, schools, and hospitals generally invest less in energy waste reduction and renewable energy initiatives due to unique financial and time constraints. A community energy management approach can free up capital to reinvest in future projects, reduce or eliminate large variable costs that public organizations face, and help organizations better manage financial resources for the benefit of constituents, patients, and students. Robust community energy management makes organizations more resilient, nimble, and proactive in a changing landscape.

Facilitated by John Kinch, Executive Director of Michigan Energy Options, the workshop will introduce attendees to benchmarking, revolving and energy fund establishment, and project financing. The workshop will also provide access to technical assistance and coaching, and for qualified applicants, continued one-on-one consulting on the development of energy projects.

Lunch is $15 for MGSSBF members, $20 for non-members. Learn more and register here.

Review: Doubling the Recycling Rate

Michigan’s Great Southwest Sustainable Business Forum hosted a networking and education luncheon for local professionals interested in recycling and composting on Wednesday, January 24 at the Berrien County Conference Center.

View photos of the event on our Facebook page.

Matt Flechter, Recycling Market Development Specialist with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) discussed the DEQ’s work to grow recycling markets, developing a statewide recycling education campaign, expaningd recycling opportunities at all state facilities, modernizing Michigan’s solid waste laws, and establish a sustainable funding mechanism to accomplish Michigan’s recycling goals.

Kate Binder, Sustainability Specialist for Bell’s Brewery, shared the steps the brewery took to establish composting service in a community with no commercially available compost operations.

Katie Venechuk, the Michigan DEQ Recycling and Waste Minimization Specialist for Michigan’s Great Southwest and Jill Adams, Environmental Property Manager for Berrien County Parks & Recreation Department, discussed the county’s latest efforts to promote recycling, including the expected outcomes of recycling grants, projects, and educational resources.

Speaker Presentations are available for download here:

Thank you again to Berrien County Conference Center for hosting this month’s event.

Michigan’s Great Southwest Sustainable Business Forum Presents Recycling Event

Michigan’s Great Southwest Sustainable Business Forum will host a networking and education luncheon for local professionals interested in recycling and composting on Wednesday, January 24 from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm at the Berrien County Conference Center.

Matt Flechter, Recycling Market Development Specialist with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality will share updates on efforts to double Michigan’s recycling rate, a recent goal of the Snyder Administration.  He will describe DEQ’s work to grow recycling markets, develop a statewide recycling education campaign, expand recycling opportunities at all state facilities so that the government is leading by example, modernize Michigan’s solid waste laws, and establish a sustainable funding mechanism to accomplish Michigan’s recycling goals.  He will be joined by Katie Venechuk, the MDEQ Recycling and Waste Minimization Specialist for Michigan’s Great Southwest.

Also on the agenda is Kate Binder, Sustainability Specialist for Bell’s Brewery, who will speak on the steps the brewery took to establish composting service in a community with no commercially available compost operations. This is similar to the current situation in Michigan’s Great Southwest, as no local waste haulers currently offer such a service.

Jill Martin, Environmental Property Manager for Berrien County Parks & Recreation Department, will share the county’s latest efforts to promote recycling, including the expected outcomes of its recent Recycling Education Grant.

Learn more and register online at mgssbf.org. Lunch is $15 for members and $20 for non-members if paid in advance.

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:
Continue reading MGSSBF Honors Recent Sustainability Projects at Inaugural Great Green Gala

Review: 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.

This year’s event featured a roast of MGSSBF Founder Becky Kliss, remarks from St. Joseph Mayor Michael Garey on the City of St. Joseph’s sustainability initiatives, and the honoring of four organizations with its inaugural Sustainable Business Forum Leadership Awards. This year’s winners included:

Indiana Michigan Power was recognized for its new Watervliet solar power plant.
Krasl Art Center piloted a recycling effort at its annual art fair.
Lakeland Health completed a major efficiency investment to modernize its main campus in St. Joseph.
– Village of Paw Paw was honored for work to improve water quality in its community.

Thank you again to our sponsors, volunteers, and honorees.

Great Green Gala Sponsors: Indiana Michigan Power, Wightman & Associates, Chemical Bank, Lakeland Health, Whirlpool Corporation, Four Elements Energy, Southwest Michigan Planning Commission, & Stryker Corporation.

 

MGSSBF to Honor Kliss, Recent Sustainability Projects at Inaugural Great Green Gala

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

This year’s event will feature a roast of MGSSBF Founder Becky Kliss, president of Green Connection Inc. and most recently, circular economy boutique Re*Imagine. A tireless advocate for sustainability in the region, Kliss is responsible for introducing the concept to countless local organizations and professionals.

Comedian and writer Dave Dyer of “The Bob and Tom Show” will kick off the event with a performance, followed by roasters from the local and national sustainability community, including Chris Brayak, Ron Segura, Marilyn Havenga and J.B. Hoyt. St. Joseph Mayor Michael Garey will also be making remarks.

MGSSBF will also honor four organizations with its inaugural Sustainability Leadership Awards, which recognizes meaningful efforts toward helping our community more equally value environmental stewardship, social responsibility and economic growth. This year’s winners include:

  • Indiana Michigan Power – AEP is being recognized for its new Watervliet solar power plant.
  • Krasl Art Center piloted a recycling effort at its annual art fair.
  • Lakeland Health completed a major efficiency investment.
  • Village of Paw Paw is being honored for work to improve water quality in its community.

Tickets are $65 and still available at mgssbf.org/greatgreengala. The event also includes dinner, drinks, prizes and networking.

 

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MGSSBF Founder Becky Kliss

MGSSBF Hosting Food Waste Council

Michigan’s Great Southwest Sustainable Business Forum parent organization West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum has received a seed grant from the Michigan Local Food Council Network to promote food recovery among local businesses and institutions through the creation of a new multidisciplinary council of food waste stakeholders.

The Western Michigan Food Recovery Council will serve commercial and industrial markets in West and Southwest Michigan, with a particular emphasis on large grocery operations and the commercial and institutional food service operations that account for an estimated 48% of food waste landfilled in Michigan, according to the Food Waste Reduction Alliance.  The council will provide access to peer-to-peer education, multidisciplinary networking, technical resources, and opportunities for collaboration.

“There is an enormous economic and environmental value lost to waste within local food systems that could be retained with efforts to promote less-wasteful, money-saving practices among businesses and institutions,” said Daniel Schoonmaker, Executive Director of West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum. “We can retain value through reuse options that feed the hungry or animals, through waste minimization, and the creation of marketable compost products and services.”

A recent WMSBF study found that Michigan disposes of an estimated 1.1 million tons of food waste through its municipal waste stream each year, the single largest source of material disposed in the state’s landfills and waste-to-energy facilities. West Michigan disposes of an estimated 132,000 tons of food waste, while Southwest Michigan disposes of an estimated 106,000 tons of food waste. Nationally, the USDA estimates that as much as 40% of food purchased is waste.   Business and institutions generate a slight majority of food waste, according to the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, and offer the most opportunity for recovery improvement.

Founding Southwest Michigan council members include Meijer, Bells Brewery, Gordon Food Service, Creative Dining Services, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and Lake Michigan College, Lakeland Health.

Local organizations interested in participating should contact Daniel Schoonmaker at dschoonmaker@wmsbf.org.

The Michigan Local Food Council Network is a program of the Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS) at Michigan State University.  It has provided support for a dozen county local food councils across Michigan over the past year.  WMFRC is the first council in the network organized around a specific issue, and will collaborate with other network councils in Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon, Kalamazoo and Berrien counties.

“Our goal is to strengthen the network of food councils across Michigan, and the WMFRC will fill a unique space in the state’s food council landscape,” said Liz Gensler, co-coordinator of the Michigan Local Food Council Network and Outreach Specialist at CRFS. “We see great potential for WMRFC to impact food recovery innovation both locally as they work alongside councils in West Michigan and across Michigan as they share learnings and the tools they develop through the network.”

Review: Green Coffee at Clifford’s Coffee Canal

Michigan’s Great Southwest Sustainable Business Forum hosted a Green Coffee gathering at Clifford’s Coffee Canal on Wednesday, August 16.

See photos of the event on Facebook here.

During the gathering, Forum members discussed the encouraging partnership among MGSSBSF, The City of St. Joseph, Krasl Art Center, and Berrien County Parks, which 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.  This summer marks the 2nd year recycling has been in place at Silver Beach County Park, located in St. Joseph.  From May through September, bins for the collection of cans and bottles are placed around the park, and cardboard from internal park operations is collection for recycling, as well.  In 2016, approximately 12% of the waste generated at the Park was diverted from landfills into the recycling stream.  The City of St. Joseph placed recycling bins around town and at city beaches during the 10 day Fourth of July holiday, which preceded the Krasl Art Fair.  More than 12,000 water bottles were collected during this trial run.