Best and Brightest Sustainable Companies Inspire Innovation


There once was a day-”believe it or not-”when the very idea of a sustainable business might as well be something written in some indecipherable language.

Green? Eco-friendly? A triple bottom line?

Not a chance.

Today all that has changed. And continues to change.

Clearly, more organizations-”large and small, private, public and not-for-profit included-”are embracing sustainability as something of critical importance, not only from an economic standpoint but from the point of view that “it’s the right thing to do.”

Consider as an example the sound engineers at Acoustics By Design, who see the importance of designing audio-visual systems and integrating them into the native acoustical environment.

Or Allied PhotoChemical, which helps companies do away with the use of harsh chemicals for their coating, replacing them with those that are cured with ultraviolet light.

Even an organization like Clark Retirement Community, more than a century strong, is changing, with facility improvements that reflect a changing culture.

Technology is a big part of the overall sustainability story, as evidenced by C-Net Systems, which helps clients and its own employees do their part toward sustainability through remote diagnostics or working from home.

And who says you can’t have fun at the same time?

At Crystal Mountain Resort, making energy saving changes is proof positive that being sustainable works just about anywhere.

And then there’s the office furniture business, where three companies-”Haworth, Herman Miller and Steelcase-”made this year’s list of sustainable companies.

To underscore the sustainability point, another firm-”Promotional Impact/GreenGiftz-”is teaming up with at least one of those companies to create products from scraps that might otherwise be discarded.

We could go on-”and we will, with a full rundown of this year’s list from the 101 Best and Brightest Sustainable Companies.

Be inspired.

Acoustics By Design

-¨Grand Rapids-¨
With a team of acoustical engineers, audio-visual designers, CAD staff and support personnel, all lead by CEO Kenric Van Wyk, Acoustics By Design is one of the leading independent firms of its type in the Midwest. Designing audio-visual and technical systems and integrating them with the native acoustical environment is key to enhancing communication. Which leads to its sustainable focus. “We make sustainable practices a part of our company culture by providing our employees with the proper education and tools,” notes Van Wyk. “We encourage our employees to make the right choices in regard to sustainability practices and encourage their input and feedback.” But that’s not all. “We recommend our clients use sustainable acoustical materials in their designs and we inform our clients of the cost-saving aspects of the sustainable materials. We also recommend our clients to use energy-efficient products in their audio-visual designs.” Van Wyk says knowing the firm is doing business in a way that makes a positive difference is reward enough. “We are constantly improving, learning, and finding new and more efficient ways to be sustainable.” That leads to new opportunities. “We believe our sustainable practices will only affect our bottom line in a positive way. Our employees will be happier, our reputation will lead to repeat business and more referrals, and we will save money by consuming fewer resources.”

A-Line Staffing

-¨Sterling Heights
A-Line Staffing Solutions, a premier staffing company that supplies professionals to the health care, insurance, pharmaceutical, and information technology industries, is paperless when it comes to its application process. It’s also well on the way to doing the same for its on-boarding process. The firm, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary next year, is lead by CEO Ray Lichocki, who says the firm encourages employees to work in an environmentally responsible manner. That includes printing only those documents that are necessary and recycling wherever possible. Even while acknowledging A-Line is a small piece of a much larger environmental picture, Lichocki says the firm is determined to do what it can to make a difference. “The actions that we take at work can positively affect our employees when they go home, and future generations to come.” That includes simply doing the right thing, especially when it comes to treating staff. “We are firm believers that if we do the right thing for our people, and people in general, then benefits will follow.” It’s been said that you are either part of the solution or part of the problem. “We’re happy to be part of the solution toward a healthier planet,” says Lichocki.

Allied PhotoChemical

A maker of environmentally friendly coatings and inks, Allied PhotoChemical is definitely a standout when it comes to doing its part to save the environment. As CEO Dan Sweetwood explains, keeping the lid on volatile organic compounds (there are none in the overwhelming majority of the firm’s products) and curing the products with special ultraviolet lights that cure the coatings immediately after exposure is all about helping to save the environment. “We have a ‘clean’ product that works very quickly,” says Sweetwood. “We are a unique contributor to the sustainability movement because our biggest impact is external (the products we sell are sustainable) and we are usually displacing coating technologies that are not sustainable.” Sweetwood says he’s a big believer in making sure the company’s interests are aligned with those of its employees. “It makes it much easier to manage when there are things like employee bonuses for good financial results, good employee benefits and helping employees balance family.” On a bottom line basis, Sweetwood says Allied PhotoChemical is on the right side of the ledger. “As we sell more environmentally friendly products, the results literally fall to the bottom line. But we also get additional satisfaction in knowing that we are selling products that are friendly for the environment.”

Beaumont Health System-¨

Royal Oak
The organization might be large (more than 1,700 beds in three acute care hospitals with 54 community-based care sites) but Beaumont’s mission is decidedly simple: to provide the highest quality health care effectively, efficiently and compassionately. “We are also committed to reducing our overall impact on the environment,” notes CEO Gene Michalski, who adds that the system is constantly looking for new and better ways to reduce energy use, and minimize waste and pollution. Seed some 500 “certified green officers” throughout the organization (an internal initiative) and it’s obvious that this is no small task. Still, Beaumont is up to the task. “As a health care provider, we believe ‘people’ is the most important of a triple bottom line,” notes Michalski. “Providing the best care in the safest environment is key for our patients and for the staff who work in that environment. Purchasing new furnishings that meet healthy interiors guidelines, construction guidelines that source local art, local vendors for foods, on site farmers markets, volunteer organic gardens for staff and patient use, and being a recognized bike-friendly campus are just a few examples of how we have a visible, sustainable culture.” Beaumont even has a designated budget for its sustainable projects, where energy and recycling rebates are put back into projects to be even more efficient.

Bronson Methodist Hospital

A commitment to building a healthier future for all also means taking care of the environment. So says Bronson’s CEO Frank J. Sardone, who provides leadership to the organization. “We set the highest standards for environmental practices in health care, with a focus on pollution prevention, energy conservation, green building design, and sustainable food sourcing.” Those efforts, says Sardone, are an organizational priority. “We provide strong advocacy at the top and awareness on the frontline, both of which have helped us successfully reduce our environmental footprint.” In addition, Bronson has introduced responsible ways to conserve energy as well as reduce, reuse and recycle materials. Sardone says the organization has leaned on several sources for help, including the Baldrige criteria, lean processes, evidence-based design, and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). The results include Bronson Methodist Hospital’s recognition as an exceptional healing environment and becoming Kalamazoo’s first LEED-certified health care facility.

Cascade Engineering

-¨Grand Rapids
With its specialty in the plastic injection molding of large parts, Cascade Engineering puts its status as one of the world’s largest in its field to work every day as a proponent of sustainable business practices. CEO Fred Keller says the global manufacturer takes that role seriously through a wide variety of markets, including transportation, environmental services, office furniture, agriculture, plastics, water filtration, RFID and consulting services. With 14 facilities throughout North America and Europe, Cascade has achieved a notable milestone-””zero waste to landfill.” That initiative alone saves the firm some $250,000 a year. And while the “Pink Cart” recycling initiative through the American Cancer Society is certainly profitable (to the tune of $350,000 a year), it gives the firm an opportunity of helping thousands with a visible, curbside demonstration of a worthwhile cause. The firm’s efforts are also very much a source of pride, says Keller. “We take great pride in our efforts at sustainability and realize it is a continuous journey that never ends. The rewards from our commitment to sustainability are witnessed in our stability as an organization and the realization that we are doing something good.”

Clark Retirement Community-¨

Grand Rapids-¨
Several years ago, Clark Retirement Community made it a point to begin looking for ways to become a more sustainable organization. In doing so, the organization (with more than 107 years of service in the Grand Rapids region), proved that age is not an impediment to the kind of change needed. “As our building aged and new equipment was necessary our team worked very hard to ensure we replaced the equipment needed with Energy Star rated and non-ozone depleting equipment,” notes CEO Brian Pangle. Last year alone, those initiatives included replacing a chiller system with one that’s more efficient and environmentally friendly as well as an upgrade to an emergency generator that is more energy efficient. But that’s not all. Clark has engaged its residents and staff in a “Green Team” that meets monthly to look for ways to be even more sustainable. The results include widespread recycling efforts, even as people involved learn how they can help create a more sustainable environment-”at work and home. “Sustainability efforts have become part of the culture of Clark,” adds Pangle. “By providing staff with a positive work environment and experience, they in turn care for residents in a manner that has kept the organization going for more than a century.”

Clean Energy Coalition-¨

Ann Arbor
Clean Energy Coalition CEO and Founder Sean Reed is nothing if not passionate about making a difference when it comes to building a sustainable world. Having began his “clean energy” career at the municipal level, Reed is now fully immersed in the movement, having had a hand in raising more than $55 million for the effort at Clean Energy Coalition. And now the hard slinging begins. The work includes finding creative solutions to help clients and partners use alternative fuels and deploy advanced vehicle technologies, providing technical guidance and actionable plans so local communities can become more energy independent, and using expert technical analysis to guide building owners of every kind through the process of identifying energy saving opportunities and adopting efficient building systems. Clearly, Reed and his team have their work cut out for them. But a world that’s much more sustainable will be the result.

Clothing Matters

-¨Grand Rapids
Making a difference in the world doesn’t have to be so much of a “big deal” as a “big vision.” Just ask Clothing Matters CEO Marta Swain, who started the sustainable manufacturer of apparel in 1996 with a mission to bring a world-class collection of apparel that would prevent pollution, conserve resources and even promote social justice. With a network of more than 100 design partners from near and far, Clothing Matters is serving what Swain calls a diverse and discerning clientele. “Clothing Matters recognizes, environment, social equity, and economics as equally important,” she notes. The big difference is how the firm helps people discover just how good clothing can be. “We’re learning more every day from our customers and exceeding expectations with clothing that simplifies their lifestyle while allowing them to look and feel good about what they wear,” says Swain. It’s obviously having an economic impact: Clothing Matters has quintupled sales of its products, which are designed and hand made in Michigan. Yet it’s also a global emphasis that continues to drive the firm. “Clothing Matters provides tangible threads that support and connect local and global communities,” adds Swain. “We understand the importance of where and how clothing is produced. Our customers invest in the world’s best examples of socially and environmentally responsible manufacturing and Clothing Matters helps create a level playing field in the apparel industries of a global economy.”

C-Net Systems

Shelby Township
One of the most basic things CEO Nick Tobin does for clients of his C-Net Systems is to avoid installing hardware that they might otherwise need if not for the virtual machines the company installs. “Changing our clients over to virtual machines allows them to reduce the number of servers thus reducing hardware and power requirements while saving them money,” notes Tobin. The company is also making it easier to connect with its clients remotely, another saving in resources (time and travel costs). Free electronics recycling is also part of the company’s value proposition. But environment internally is also a big factor, says Tobin. The firm also offers an atmosphere that encourages sustainability and balance, with energy-efficient appliances, the opportunity to work from home, and “green” touches around the office that include compact fluorescent lights and non-disposable silverware. Tobin says putting an emphasis on more than profit is good business all the way around. “Our kids play here, go to school here, grow and learn here. Their well-being is our primary goal and is essential to the sustainability of the metro Detroit economy decades into the future. When companies are responsible with the environment, and children grow up healthy, economic vitality naturally follows.”

Crystal Mountain Resort-¨

If you’re one of a small but growing drivers of those energy-sipping plug-in hybrids, a trip to Crystal Mountain might be just what the doctor ordered, being one of the state’s first resorts to have an electric vehicle plug-in station. But sustainability runs deeper, much deeper at Crystal Mountain, says CEO Jim MacInnes of this family-owned four-season resort that’s rated as one of Golf Magazine’s Top 25 Golf Schools in America. Just a short drive from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan’s lower peninsula, the resort boasts downhill and cross-country skiing, Michigan Legacy Art Park, golf, alpine slide, water playground, lodging, dining, countless year-round outdoor activities and kids programs, and an IACC-approved conference center, with lots of room for weddings. And still they make room for the energy saving initiatives, like more efficient snow guns and water delivery systems and energy efficient lighting. As MacInnes explains, it’s a group effort. “Each and every employee is encouraged to participate in various activities on the issue of sustainability,” he notes. As the area’s largest employer, Crystal Mountain leadership say they feel a responsibility to provide a safe, fulfilling work environment. And when it comes to the environment and profit, once thought to be separate, MacInnes believes they really can work together toward the same goal. “We have found that by making even modest investments in infrastructure or methodology, we are able to see a positive impact on the bottom line.”

CSI Support & Development-¨

A half-century after CSI Support & Development opened its doors, this non-profit resident/member controlled organization continues to engage its residents at every level of the operation at its 56 locations. With a mission of providing the highest quality, affordable housing communities for seniors, CEO Nancy Evans says there are a variety of initiatives CSI has put in place to use fewer resources, including low-flow aerators in faucets and showerheads, motion detecting light switches in laundry rooms and even replacing old light bulbs with energy efficient lighting. “They all give us a big return,” notes Evans. But there are also more expensive changes that bring larger returns, like the radiant barrier roof sheathing that Baseline Plaza installed to prevent the loss of cooled air and the solar panel project at New Horizons Co-op that was accomplished with a partnership with DTE. “As we move forward we will continue to work with our residents to build green communities and healthy homes,” adds Evans. “And the cost savings from energy efficiency will be reinvested into the co-ops to continually improve them.” She also pledges to keep looking for new sources of grant money for green upgrades. “Energy efficiency may be a new fad for our society but for us it is simply the way we do business, always with an eye to the future and always with the intent of improving our co-ops.”

Digital Roots-¨

Even as this social media and customer relationship management firm works to build some of the nation’s most esteemed brands (80 percent of the firm’s clients are Fortune 100 companies), Digital Roots looks for ways to make wise decisions about energy conservation, waste reduction and regeneration, notes CEO Jay Wolcott. “We provide alternative transportation, such as skateboards, bicycles, an electric bike and a company Chevrolet Volt, so that employees don’t have to use their personal vehicles to drive to meetings and engagements.” Another example of action at Digital Roots: “We selected an office that provides tons of natural light, and we have a ‘no garbage can’ policy that encourages employees to walk to the recycling area to sort their waste. We also selected a historic building for our headquarters versus a new construction.” That space offers alternative energy options like hydro-electric and solar power sources, and the firm adds to a cycle of conservation by using less paper and ink. They also up the ante with an emphasis on volunteerism, which forms a big part of the company’s team bonding and building exercises. And they reach out in other ways as well, the common denominator being issues that are meaningful to employees.

General Shredding-¨

Grosse Pointe Woods
The firm’s website makes it clear just how important the work that General Shredding can be: For security. For economy. For the environment. But General Shredding goes a step further in answering some key questions, such as why not do the work of shredding on your own? The three-part answer might surprise you, one reason being that your employees won’t see your confidential documents. Add to that reasoning the fact that General Shredding’s equipment is fast (saving labor dollars) and the environmental factor-”shredded paper is recycled, which gives a firm points in the sustainability column. The company is an affiliate of General Funding Corp., which has been handling millions of confidential documents, tax returns and financial statements since 1991. Employees are bonded, insured and trained in the legal requirements of information retention and destruction.

Ghafari Associates LLC

One of Ghafari’s guiding principles is that the use and investment in advanced technology will benefit its clients, work and the environment. This is best exemplified by its approach to sustainability. For CEO Kouhaila G. Hammer, successful sustainable design occurs with a better grasp on how buildings live and age. Ghafari believes that buildings transcend a stagnate state and are subject to continuous dynamic conditions. It is through the study and understanding of these conditions that the firm’s architects and engineers are able to implement successful strategies. Its sustainable design professionals work closely with scientists, climate engineers and other industry professionals, along with the latest advances in technology, to address these ever changing conditions. And the bottom line is part of the benefit. “Sustainable practices reduce waste and encourage effective use of resources. We see evidence of this in the amount of recycling, as just one example.”

Grand Rapids Label Co.-¨

Grand Rapids
As one of the standard-setting companies for an industry initiative that worked toward sustainable labeling practices, Grand Rapids Label remains on the forefront of practices designed to help keep the environment safer for all of us. As CEO William Muir explains, the family-owned business (in the area for more than 125 years), is never content to keep the status quo when it comes to sustainability. “We have a company-wide program commitment to effectively promote the continual improvement of environmental standards,” says Muir, who adds that a strong culture is what makes that possible. “Our employees can be truly proud of the work that they do. They can be proud to be a member of the Grand Rapids Label team because our company is honorable and strives to leave the surrounding community and environment in better shape than what we found it in.” Certainly an investment in capital required to fuel sustainable practices and programs was needed, Muir says the money is already providing a return on investment. “We will actually profit from these efforts in three to four years.” And there’s more. “When we work to meet our sustainability goals, we cut energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption and waste; all of which result in cost savings and boost the bottom line.”

Granger Group

Grand Rapids-¨
A national real estate and investment company with a focus on health care, Granger Group, lead by CEO Gary Granger, has a keen eye on improving sustainability, one of its core values. “It has a major impact on the way we do business,” says Granger. “In the built environment, energy is a key focus and requires a deliberate focus on creating spaces with more efficiency and effectiveness to meet bottom line requirements both financially and environmentally.” The company is already putting that commitment into bricks and mortar with the world’s first 100 percent LEED certified mixed use health care village, home to a 200-bed hospital, a VA Outpatient Clinic, Hyatt Place Hotel, grocery store, YMCA fitness club, ITT Technical Institute and several other health care and retail providers encompassing 170 acres and over 1 million square feet of space. And they’re saving money. “Our proven techniques have helped countless companies save 30-50 percent in energy usage for the facilities we have developed, which in turn allows us to continue our advancement in green, sustainable energy real estate development in health care,” adds Granger.

Type in this organization’s URL and you’ll be immediately linked to an Amazon page that offers numerous products designed to appeal to the environmentally conscious. Included are composting buckets for kitchen counters, Michigan mittens in various colors, and a spray and clean composite deck cleaner. calls itself an education/awareness/advocacy organization promoting “Green Shifts” in the course of everyday living. “We offer fee based presentations for schools, civic groups, small business, government and community organizations,” says its “about us” statement on “We take the learned to the living through our unique fundraising partnerships.” The organization says it offers a stark contrast to traditional fundraisers such as cookie dough, pizza kits, cookies and candy that provide no educational value and are often confusing to children who hear about childhood obesity/diabetes. says it offers a new way of educational based fundraising that is good for the mind, body, environment, and spirit.

In some ways, the mission is the site itself: a comprehensive place highlighting new technologies and better ways of doing things. Included in a list are suppliers of green products and services, along with the social involvement of successful organizations, associations, governments, schools, and informational resources. The key desire: supporting the development of an environmentally sound future for a better tomorrow. Founded by John Carlos, executive director, the site is intended to be a “connector” in the community. “We bring people and community leaders from different sectors in the community together,” he told the Oakland Press earlier this year. Indeed, highlights companies that can provide green products and services (manufacturing, industrial, commercial and residential) ensuring global competitiveness; renewable energies; sustainability; industry standards of reduction of consumption; and the healthy side of greening.

Halpin Solutions-¨

Rochester Hills-¨
As a versatile supplier of design and engineering services, Sean Halpin of Halpin Solutions takes great pride in his ability to operate in a sustainable mode. “I have joked around for 18 years about being 90 days away from going out of business,” quips Halpin of the firm that’s been working on design and engineering projects for automotive, aerospace and medical customers since 1995. When the last downturn in the economy killed companies that couldn’t survive without six months’ worth of work, Halpin says he survived by having kept his debt low. “I would never have made it if I did not have an emergency fund for the business set aside.” Halpin’s bottom line is being flexible enough to see a revenue stream go up and down without the panic setting in. “In today’s day and age if an employee isn’t billable, they’re laid off. When my employees are not billable they work on my personal inventions. I am then able to continue to grow my company’s product portfolio while in between purchase orders from my larger customers. My success is measured by my peace of mind and freedom to continue with my vision and dreams.” In the end, Halpin says he’s content whether the firm is 60 employees or just a couple. “Both have their advantages.”

Haworth Inc.-¨

A family-owned, responsible company built on values, Haworth makes a strong point in its last sustainability report. “We’re committed to being a high-performing, contributing citizen within our local, national, and global communities,” notes one of the authors, Chairman Matthew R. Haworth. “Since our manufacturing and distribution networks continue to expand globally, our impact on the worldwide environment remains a priority for our members and our leadership.” Since 2005, the company has reduced its global greenhouse gas emissions by 22 percent and its emissions of volatile organic compounds by 81 percent. And it’s also become a landfill-free company. Last year, the United States Green Building Council presented Haworth with LEED Platinum certification for the achievement of green design, construction, and operation of its Atlanta showroom, with several others on their way to achieving Gold certification. The management team acknowledges it can’t achieve success without the commitment and loyalty of its employees. “We are thankful for the hard work, ingenuity, and dedication of our nearly 6,000 members around the world,” writes Haworth, who also points to the importance of the firm’s corporate values. “They underscore our commitment to sustainability, which shines through in four distinct areas -” People, Knowledge, Products and Accountability.”

Herman Miller-¨

This iconic furniture maker acknowledges that its “journey toward sustainability” is ongoing. “Designing our products with consideration for their environmental impact remains a central corporate strategy,” the firm says. “Our long-term emphasis on product durability, innovation and quality demonstrates that our company has effectively designed for the environment for decades.” Indeed, many classic Herman Miller products made in the 1950s are still in use today. So what’s new? “Our focus now is on maintaining our high standards while incorporating increasingly more environmentally sustainable materials, features and manufacturing processes into new product designs,” says the company. “Our Design for the Environment (DfE) team, which is responsible for developing environmentally sensitive design standards for new and existing Herman Miller products, has initiated a protocol to guide this effort.” Durability is one of its design tenets. “We design for repeated use, repair, maintenance, and reassembly using standard parts, as often as possible.” Again, Herman Miller is taking a forward view when it comes to sustainability. “By looking closely at these and related issues, as well as conducting rigorous durability testing, our goal is to ensure that all new Herman Miller products will help create great working environments, while also respecting and protecting our natural environment.”

Holiday Inn Grand Rapids Downtown

-¨Grand Rapids
If you’re wondering just how successful a major hotel can be when it comes to sustainability, look no further than the Holiday Inn Grand Rapids downtown facility, a place to stay that prides itself on bringing sustainability to an entirely new level. As general manager Ellen Markel points out on the hotel’s website, it takes a lot of little things to bring an overarching sustainability initiative together. Among the hotel’s initiatives are an energy and water conservation strategy (electricity use has gone down by 34 percent per occupied room since 2009), and a decrease in natural gas use by 18 percent over the same period. The hotel has a comprehensive recycling and waste reduction strategy that includes composting of organic waste, newspaper and magazine recycling through an initiative with the local Boy Scouts, and conversion from disposable cups to glass and china in rooms. Donations are a big part of the overall sustainability emphasis, including gifts to the local homeless shelter of opened amenities, sponsorship of recycling containers at local festivals, and participation in the local Grand River Clean-up initiative. The hotel is also offering a “Green Meetings” package that promotes zero waste, reusable glassware, bulk condiments and napkins made from 100 percent recycled content.

Integrated Architecture-¨

Grand Rapids-¨
When it comes to sustainability, Integrated Architecture has been pushing its boundaries for more than a decade. As CEO Paul Dickinson explains, integrating sustainable practices throughout the full architecture and engineering firm is an obligation and responsibility, not simply a capability. “We integrate sustainable practices throughout our designs because we know it is the best we can offer our clients and our world. By focusing our efforts on doing more with less, we create highly efficient, cost-effective buildings, filled with natural light and fresh air, that are good for the environment.” Even at its headquarters, firm designers, architects, engineers and technicians are “walking the sustainable walk”-”participating in various steps to reduce their individual and collective carbon footprint. For Dickinson, the best bottom line is an equal balance of people, planet and profit. The most rewarding aspect of IA’s work, he adds, is seeing the results of the firm’s work as a tool to help create a more humane and sustainable society. Consider the design of a corporate headquarters for Lansing-based Peckham, which provides vocational training for the disabled and difficult-to-employ. “We embraced the opportunity to create a world-class environment for a unique population and designed a human-centered building filled with natural light and fresh air. Not only is it a great place to work, the work is going great with a 30 percent increase in revenue, all-time high employee retention and an 80 percent reduction in energy use, when compared to their other facilities.”

Ipax Cleanogel Inc.-¨

It wasn’t always the case that every single one of Ipax Cleanogel’s products was as environmentally friendly as they are today. But CEO Alla Katz says the effort was worth it. And 30 years later, that goal is a reality. “We also stayed true to our values. All of the products are made from 100 percent USA raw materials and supplied to us by local Detroit suppliers, which means minimizes our carbon footprint.” It’s also getting noticed by the Environmental Protection Agency, twice winning the Presidential Green Chemistry Award for its pioneering products. Katz keeping an eye on the future, and especially the future generations, is at least part of the reason the company continues to pursue its mission. “Our planet is our legacy, but so are our children and grandchildren. Actions always speak louder that words and that is why we always explore different opportunities locally, where along with our community we could make the difference in having cleaner streets, beaches, parks, proper recycling and a better quality of life.” Still, making sure the company itself acts responsibly is also key. Even in times of economic pressure, Ipax stayed true to its values, says Katz. “I am very proud and consider myself lucky that not a single employee at Ipax Cleanogel was laid off, saw their hours reduced or their benefits curtailed over the years.” Indeed, Katz says he continues to measure success through the positive impact it has in the community. “We draw our strength from that.”

JEM Tech Group-¨

Clinton Township
There are technology companies and then there are those that make it their business to help their clients reduce their energy, specifically by transforming data centers and office areas. That’s JEM Tech Group, a firm that CEO Jami M. Moore says is competing effectively thanks to the support of an entire staff. “Yet we still offer the personal care customers are accustomed to receiving,” notes Moore. Part of that ongoing work is keeping JEM Tech customers informed of the newest green technologies that meet the demands of a rapidly changing technology industry. With statistics that show data center energy use can account for up to 40 percent of a corporate electric bills (and that most data centers are 2.5 times over-cooled), JEM Tech is on the right path to spreading the sustainability message. “As a company, we have been able to help companies better manage their airflow and significantly reduce their energy consumption. This, of course, leads to higher profits and a cleaner surrounding environment,” notes Moore. The reward that comes from helping companies is an ongoing one that has the added benefit of building stronger relationships. “It’s because they understand that we are here to help them and not simply make a profit for ourselves,” adds Moore.

Legal Copy Services Inc.

-¨Grand Rapids
As a firm that makes its business managing legal records for attorneys, Legal Copy Services Inc. is in a unique position to help make the planet (or at least our part of it) a more sustainable place to live. One way, says CEO Bethany Weaver, is by giving employees the opportunity to share their ideas on how it can do better. “People have an incredible influence on what happens to the planet. As an important piece of the triple bottom line it is our responsibility to be smart about the choices we make and how it affects, not only ourselves, but our planet and profit,” says Weaver. She adds that knowing Legal Copy Services is building something “much bigger than ourselves” is among the most rewarding aspects of the company’s work. “We are committed to maintaining and improving our sustainability, so generations to come can look at us as an example and continue the tradition.”

LaFontaine Automotive Group

A family owned and operated business “always and forever,” the LaFontaine Automotive Group has taken its historic promise of “bare bottom” deals to a new level with its focus on a family-like connection with its customers. Add in a strong support for worthy causes, and the firm brings heart and soul to the business. “It’s easy to do business with us because you feel so comfortable like family,” says CEO Ryan LaFontaine, who was named the 2013 Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Man of the Year in Michigan, at least partly due to having raised more than a quarter million dollars for blood cancer research. On the business side of the equation, the LaFontaine Automotive Group has focused on sustainability as an ongoing commitment, notably through earning Gold Certification in the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design from the U.S. Green Building Council with its 63,000-square-foot facility. Part of the design is a 64-well geothermal system that heats and cools the buildings through the capture of energy stored some 350 feet below the building. Plus some 85 skylights provide natural light and reduce the need for artificial lighting. Additional features include sophisticated photocells that turn off lights in unused areas or when enough daylight is available, reducing the cost of heating and cooling bills.

Lowry Computer Products

Company CEO Mike Lowry says strength for his clients and his organization come from creating a more sustainable business. “We’re molding the company to incorporate sustainability in all applicable business-related decisions. By implementing these core values, we believe they will not only strengthen the organization, but influence other business peers to do the same.” Lowry demonstrates corporate responsibility to the environment, its employees, customer base and stakeholders by providing award-winning, sustainable technology solutions. “Not only do we encourage our customers to implement sustainable practices, we walk our talk by implementing sustainable business practices into our daily operations,” said Lowry. Several examples of initiatives the company offers its clients include a stock label program, green ribbon offerings, mobility solutions, reducing carbon footprint and paper trail, asset disposal and recycling programs. The organization also supports programs that support the community, including a partnership with Pinckney New Tech High School and support of Jeans for Charity.

Mass Transportation Authority

As a countywide public transportation provider, the Authority provides extensive services throughout the community and to six adjoining counties. The organization has a strong commitment to sustainable practices and is considered a leader in the industry, operating the largest fleet of propane transit buses in the country and generating its own hydrogen and compressed natural gas to fuel the fleet. CEO Edgar H. Benning says the Authority, which has the only hydrogen fuel cell vehicle operating in the Midwest, will soon be adding additional vehicles of this type to the fleet. “We’ve also purchased a number of diesel electric transit coaches and a fleet of small hybrid cars,” adds Benning, who says the impact on employees and the community has been exceptional. “Operating a sustainable organization has provided us with a great opportunity to do more with less and through cost avoidance we can provide a higher level of service in the community.” The Authority says it has an opportunity to make a real difference in the community by providing a high level of service that meets and exceeds customer expectations in an environmentally responsible way. “The steps we take today will provide for a sustainable future,” says Benning. “All aspects of our community have embraced the things we are doing as an organization and people feel good about us as a viable business.”

Metro Health

Serving more than a quarter million patients from its base in West Michigan, Metro Health provides a comprehensive suite of inpatient and outpatient health care services, including the fastest emergency department in the region, cancer and cardiac care, robotic and traditional surgery, family practice, sports medicine and others. A LEED-certified hospital-”one of the first in the nation-”is at the heart of a 170-acre Metro Health Village, which brings a community of support services and retail. And everywhere a culture of sustainability is evident. “Our everyday actions, work and interactions take place with a culture of sustainability as a back drop,” notes CEO Michael D. Faas, who adds that bringing that culture to the patients is one of the keys. “Our patients and community see that we make sustainability a priority. We tell them it’s part of how we care for them and ourselves and focusing on sustainability helps us create an environment of care that focuses on all aspects of wellness. ” At the same time, Metro Health continues to make a real impact on the local community and in broader environments. “We don’t think twice about our sustainability efforts, such as recycling,” notes Faas. “By making these efforts a part of the culture, we believe we are encouraging employees and patients to make them part of their daily lives also. ”


-¨Spring Lake-¨
Nichols is a regional distributor of custodial, packaging and safety supplies with a mission of helping its customers to have clean and healthy facilities or the safe shipment of their products. “We educate our customers on the use of products and processes that are safer for the people cleaning and occupying their buildings, being more efficient, using less product all leading toward less of a negative impact on the environment,” notes CEO Mike Olthoff, who adds that the company takes that mission seriously. “We believe that in order to be an expert and teach customers about being more sustainable, we had to practice this internally.” For Nichols, that meant pursuing LEED for Existing Buildings Operations and Maintenance, a third party certification that provides the structure for operating and maintaining the building using sustainable practices. In making the grade, Nichols became the country’s first distributor of its kind to certify under LEED EBOM. But that wasn’t enough for Olthoff. “We have shared how we achieved this through tours and many presentations across Michigan. We have been very transparent with what we have learned and done well and not so well.” Olthoff says striving to balance economic and environment interests is key to Nichols’ future. “It has been very rewarding to be able to reduce our environmental impact and operational costs and then sharing how we did and continue to do this with our customers and community.”

Online Tech

Ann Arbor-¨
Online Tech is clearly doing its part to help customers cut their energy costs, not only by becoming the first Michigan data center operator to earn ENERGY STAR certification (which it did in mid-2012) but broadly speaking helping clients understand just how powerful that strategy can be. “The consolidation of local networks hosted by individual companies into a centralized, energy-efficient facility equates to huge amounts of energy savings,” notes co-CEO Mike Klein, who shares those duties with Yan Ness, a past chairman of the Small Business Association of Michigan. Both point out a case study that shows a potential reduction of 87 percent in energy costs-”about 23 billion kilowatt hours. When it comes to sustainability, co-CEO Ness says making sure the firm continues a strong emphasis on caring for employees and the planet goes hand in hand with operating the business in a market-driven manner. “That means there’s a high degree of sustainability to it without it being a tax to others,” adds Ness. “It’s good that we’re doing all of this at a profit and not at a tax. The most rewarding thing is the sense that you’re building something that can live a long time. The more sustainable something is, the longer it can last. That’s why delivering a more sustainable environment is the most reliable way to deliver on true sustainability.”


Grand Rapids
As a local leader in the waste and recycling industry in Grand Rapids, Organicycle (as one might guess with the name), concentrates in no small part toward a sustainable operation with its emphasis on organic waste recycling. The motivation is clear, says CEO Dan Tietema. “We’re able to help companies and organizations reduce or eliminate the need for local landfill.” The company’s curbside composting service lets users combine yard waste with food scraps, paper and even pet waste. And Organicycle’s Zero Waste Business Solutions brings a complete recycling resource for local companies looking for a more complete and efficient waste and recycling program. Just like a recycler or garbage service, Organicycle operates a weekly route, and delivers the material for processing through a variety of technologies, including wind-row composting, worm composting, natural gas digestion and ethanol extraction. “Making organic waste recycling available to the Grand Rapids market is advancing the sustainable opportunities of our community,” notes Tietema. “It will also attract new companies and residents to the region.” It’s also going to help Organicycle stay profitable. “America was founded on free enterprise,” says Tietema. “Without earning profits we can’t provide solutions to our waste problems that are impacting our planet. Organicycle proudly embraces people, planet and profits as the core function of operations.”


The developers of a new pump that essentially operates on the principles of gravity say they are helping anyone with a water runoff problem to become environmental stewards-”controlling standing water and returning a valuable resource to the earth’s natural reservoirs. “This allows naturally pure water to be preserved for current and future generations,” notes the company’s website. The product, dubbed an “Energy-Passive Groundwater Recharge Pump” has been used to help drain standing water from the Detroit Metropolitan Airport. The pump speeds the rate of infiltration by first using water’s own properties to attract the water into the pumps chambers, filling the chambers. At this point the force generated by the wet, expanded soil particles closer to the surface force the accumulated water down the pump. Water drawn down by gravity then starts to rise in the pump, creating pressure in the lower section. The bottom pump then opens causing the water to return to the soil. It’s the vacuum created in the upper part of the pump that activates the pump’s contractions and expansions, which generates a siphoning action.


As one of the largest vocational community rehabilitation programs in the state of Michigan, Peckham specializes in creating positive change in the lives of people with disabilities or other barriers to employment. Its clients are a diverse group from many partnering agencies. As President Curt Munson explains, Peckham seeks to provide a wide range of opportunities to maximize human potential. “We embrace collaboration, effective resource management and innovative approaches to achieve world-class excellence.” Peckham’s success is largely a collection of stories, told by individuals who have overcome obstacles to become more successful. “Our customers speak of exceeded expectations and high-quality performance,” says Munson. “Whether providing vocational programs or globally competitive products, Peckham delivers on potential.” Peckham offers more than 30 different rehabilitation and human services programs from art to career planning, pre-employment screening to facility based training, youth programs to organizational employment and residential services. It is committed to assisting job seekers secure and maintain long-term employment, allowing for job upgrades and career advancement. A wide range of services are offered with a focus on job readiness skills, career exploration, resume development, interviewing, guided job searches, as well as developing interpersonal and coping skills to enhance job retention. The nonprofit organization, which was founded in 1976, honors Ralf A. Peckham, a former state of Michigan director of rehabilitation services.

Priority Health-¨

Grand Rapids-¨
Priority Health may be a nationally recognized health plan, but providing benefits is far from all it does. Problem seeking and problem solving is at the heart of how it serves the communities it serves, says Mike Johnson, director of real estate and facilities planning. A Michigan-only insurer, Priority works in the state to reduce its carbon footprint by adopting sustainable practices both internally and externally. “We believe that we have a corporate responsibility to continue to reduce waste, innovate and find sustainable practices,” adds Johnson. “But we also have the opportunity to allow our most passionate employees to step forward and lead others in their passion for sustainability.” That “green team” leads many of the firm’s sustainable efforts and has grown their leadership skills in the process. Johnson says the most rewarding part of being a sustainable organization “is knowing that our efforts are making a difference in not only our daily work life, but in the community and the environment. Although we realize savings in energy and waste, we recycle and reduce consumption because it’s the right thing to do.” A variety of initiatives are taking those sentiments to the next level, among them the installation of automated lighting and HVAC, paperless human resources processes, energy saving kitchen equipment and an across-the-company emphasis on purchasing decisions that reflect a new ecological mindfulness. Johnson says they all count. “These changes support our efforts to cut cost and reduce waste, while making more sustainable decisions for our organization and the environment.”

Progressive AE-¨

Grand Rapids-¨
This full-service architecture and engineering firm provides services in a multitude of markets, including health care, learning, workplace, and municipalities, giving it the opportunity to make a significant impact on the environment with best practices and long-term sustainable initiatives for its clients. The team includes LEED-accredited professionals across several disciplines, making it an industry leader in researching innovative, cutting-edge technologies. Executive vice president Michael L. Perry is passionate about designing high-performance “green” buildings that help clients realize economic benefits through higher productivity and lower operating costs. “We help clients identify initiatives that position themselves as leaders in their respected industries. None of these issues is more important than the others; together they work toward a holistic level of sustainability.” Perry says being a leader in sustainability is something that the firm takes seriously. “We have the ability to impact our communities, our regions, and the broader context of our world. Being a recognized leader in sustainability drives us to continue to think of ways to design that will increase efficiency and decrease waste. As a sustainable organization, each employee is encouraged to think of new ways to use technology, skills, and other assets, and is equipped with ways to measure that success for continuous improvement–we take seriously our responsibility to design spaces that not only are aesthetically pleasing and that assist our client in meeting their business objectives, but that also positively contribute to the future of the community.”

Promotional Impact/Green Giftz-¨

Grand Rapids
Green Giftz has created more than a niche with its repurposing of materials that might otherwise find their way into area landfills. It’s gathering national attention even as it gathers “scraps” from companies like Chrysler (discarded banners from auto shows for example) or Haworth (fabric scrap from its office furniture operation). And how about retiree awards that are made from wood brought up from the bottom of Lake Michigan and transformed into a work of art? CEO Karen Scarpino says those are all powerful, tangible statements to be made in support of a sustainable society. “When combined with the story about how the gift was created in the spirit of sustainability, guests from the East and West Coasts leave with a one of a kind gift item that serves a purpose and protects the environment.” The possibilities are seemingly limitless. And what about the importance of profitability in the equation? Scarpino is clearly passionate when it comes to that subject. “If we couldn’t make a profit WHILE doing what’s best for the planet and people, then we wouldn’t be able to stay in business and continue to fuel the local economy nor could we re-purpose the raw material waste. So we can best help people and the planet by making enough profit to continue to do so.”


Grand Rapids-¨
Making oral and personal health care products may not seem at first the logical choice to look for sustainable innovation, but a deeper look at Ranir would reveal something much more powerful. “It’s our quality products, exceptional value, outstanding innovation and unparalleled customer service that help our customers earn brand loyalty from their consumers,” says CEO Christine Henisee. “And sustainability is making what’s good for a company also good for the planet.” She then takes that definition a step further. “Sustainability is recognizing that a corporation’s long-term interests are intellectually and financially consistent with resource efficiency, proactive health and safety practices, and responsible leadership. We see it when consumers begin to align their purchases with their values.”

Rapid Global Business Solutions-¨

Madison Heights
When this full-service staffing agency, committed to providing cost-effective and quality engineering design and staffing services, turned its attention to becoming more sustainable, CEO Nanua Singh saw great potential. “Our largest initiative to ‘go GREEN’ has included transitioning to a completely paperless e-signature process for our application and on-boarding process,” notes Singh. “By eliminating the need for faxing and printing, our process has become quicker, more efficient, and environmentally friendly.” The firm is also transitioning to a direct deposit only for employees. “These initiatives have substantially lessened our paper use, which has in turn positive effects on our community and environment,” says Singh, who adds that positive sustainability practices, practices that positively impact our environment, employees, and community, ultimately reap positive rewards for everyone involved. In today’s economy, it is important to not only think about the profit bottom line, but also your impact on people and the planet. To us, the most important part of the triple bottom line is finding ways our company can better serve our people and our planet with integrity. We find that having these high ethical standards and values permeates into every aspect of our business, making our company more valuable overall.”

Reihl Efficient LLC

Imagine cutting your commercial refrigeration power costs in half. Mike Reihl, who leads Reihl Efficient LLC did and ended up inventing a technology that does just that with an evaporator system that can be retrofitted to any walk-in cooler. He calls it “disruptive technology” because of the capacity the invention has to change the refrigeration industry. Reihl, who brings more than 25 years of experience in the industry to the table, has worked in every aspect of refrigeration, including the manufacture of walk-in coolers, research and development of closed systems, and servicing of the units. The system essentially works by recovering wasted energy, storing it like a battery and then using that stored energy to cool the system without turning on the condenser, similar to the way a hybrid auto charges the vehicle’s battery while the gasoline engine is running.

RNS Packaging-¨

Sustainability can be fun. Just ask Rich Daniels, CEO and founder of RNS Packaging, a veteran whose firm is producing FunPak Premium Packaging throughout the U.S. “Our mission is to transform the way companies and consumers ship their gifts and packages,” says Daniels, who has invented a 100 percent biodegradable “packaging peanut” that can be shaped into fun and memorable shapes. “By transforming the way companies and consumers think about packing, we will remove the almost 70 million pounds of plastic air pouches, plastic bubble wrap & toxic peanuts from our landfills each year,” says Daniels. “Every community in our country will be positively impacted by our mission and it makes it really easy for us to come to work everyday.” Daniels says the almost immediate impact his company’s products are having makes the effort worthwhile. “When we replace a company’s logistics and shipping practice of using plastic air pouches, plastic bubble wrap or toxic packing peanuts; we see an immediate removal of future waste.” Daniels says the company’s sustainable practices are its bottom line. “We were founded upon transforming companies and consumers from old technologies to fun and sustainable practices. Every time we switch a company or consumer to our FunPak Premium Packaging we are successful.”

Schupan Recycling-¨

As the largest independent processor of used beverage containers in the nation, Schupan Recycling has pretty much “written the book” on what it takes to keep materials such as aluminum, PET plastic and glass in a closed loop system and out of the landfill. It operates recycling facilities on behalf of Michigan’s largest grocers and wholesalers and manages recycling programs for special events, universities and schools throughout the Midwest. Established in 1968, Schupan began as a processor of industrial scrap metal, marketing the material on a regional, national and international level. By 1986, Schupan Recycling was a reality and some 13 years later, the company received ISO-9002 certification. The 1990s were also a decade of rapid expansion, with facilities in Holland, Wixom and Grand Rapids. In 1997 the firm partnered with a Norwegian company to form the largest-volume recycling program in the U.S. and now has a new facility in Howell.

Seco Tools

Since its founding in 1928, what began as General Electric and then evolved into and flourished as Carboloy, is now the North American hub of Seco, a global leader in cutting tool manufacturing. The firm says it is “first and foremost” a partner to its customers. “We pride ourselves on maintaining a team with unique expertise in tooling and metal cutting, but also understand that it’s impossible for us to match your knowledge of the complexities of your own applications,” says the firm’s website. “Discovering the solutions that can expand your full potential takes a team approach, and that’s our specialty.” Seco Tools’ North American Component Engineering Tooling division, based out of Troy, applies its extensive expertise to process optimization, providing comprehensive analysis of complex applications and develop solutions to achieve the best possible results. That same facility features a state-of-the-art technical center equipped with top-of-the-line machinery for demonstrations and running tests for customers. Its headquarters also houses a modern auditorium where manufacturers can attend the company’s innovative training courses.

Siemens Industry

When Siemens Industry decided two of its Michigan offices-”the global firm’s Building Automation and Security division (in Livonia) and Fire division (in Novi)-”it decided to do it in as sustainable fashion as possible. Siemens looked to standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council and was ultimately able to achieve LEED Certification. The 37,185-square-foot office reduced energy use by 25 percent, water by 34 percent and sends 25 percent less waste to the landfill. The design team took on the roles of both customer and provider to experience the process from the ground up. A new building that was just walls and a roof was selected so that all other materials and infrastructure, including the floor, could be handpicked for green effectiveness. Energy engineer David Everest, who played a lead role in earning Green Building certification for the new office, said the decision to make the necessary investments in green technology was easy. “As a provider and a leader in energy efficiency and sustainability, Siemens walks the talk,” Everest said. Siemens team members made decisions based on the sustainability of everything, including appliances. But they also made decisions based on cost effectiveness and what is possible in a leased building. The facility includes a comprehensive metering program that constantly monitors the energy performance. And a “Green Dashboard” in the office lobby provides visibility of energy and water use and highlights the building’s green features for both employees and visitors.

Solus Innovations

“Alone or unaccompanied.” That’s the Latin meaning of Solus and judging from the work being done by Becky Bennett’s Solus Innovations, its connection is clear. The company, committed to return freedom and independence to amputees through the use of a self-propelled scooter, has created the “Solus,” allowing the user to “stand tall” and move about in a vertical position without the aid of a wheelchair, walker or prosthetic. Whenever possible, the Solus will be manufactured and assembled by amputees for amputees. Solus Innovations was launched in 2007, after Bennett, who had already created a modular caging business, had minor foot surgery and was told to use crutches. “After a couple days of struggling with these, I went out to my workshop and designed and constructed an ‘outrigger roll around push scooter’. Nothing fancy but functional,” Bennett recalls. After a short time, the foot healed and the scooter was shelved. Six months later, Bennett says she woke up with a thought-”put a hole in it. “I had no clue as to what that meant but a few days later, there was another ‘nudge’ and I figured it out: the hole was to go in the scooter seat. This would allow an amputee to insert the stump and stand to propel.” After many prototypes, trials and adjustments Solus Innovations emerged. The family owned and operated business is dedicated to providing a unique, alternative form of mobility for amputees.


Grand Rapids
Sustainability is one of today’s fundamental business challenges and Steelcase says it’s their inspiration. “Every day our team works to create maximum value from our available assets and be catalysts for good,” the global maker of office furniture says on its website. And it’s just getting started. “We know we are on a journey. Along the way, it is our responsibility to care for our planet and its people. As we continue to study, learn and share insights, our commitments and accountabilities continue to grow in measurable and meaningful ways.” The firm says it is forging an integrated path to deliver value across social, environmental and economic platforms. “We know that the only way to provide the best products in the world is to ensure that they’re the best products for the world,” the company says. “That’s why every step of the way-”through design, manufacture, delivery and product lifecycle-”we consider the impact of our work on the environment and uncover opportunities to make things better.” By consuming less, polluting less, rethinking systems and investing in communities, Steelcase says it is learning every day that sustainability pays. “The positive implications for our business, our customers, our shareholders and disadvantaged people around the world gain clarity as we continue to explore options and innovate solutions.”

Studio 5 Inc.

At Holly Kaiser’s Studio 5 the sustainability question is an easy one. “We believe that a commitment to sustainable design must be achieved through a combination of disciplines including your choice of materials, methods, energy consumption, landscaping, company image and advertising,” says Kaiser. “This is the basis for Studio5 -“ all five design disciplines should be in harmony with each other.” The sustainable architecture, interior, graphic, landscape and set design firm takes it from there. “Sustainable design is the backbone of our design philosophy,” she notes. “We strive to provide our clients with environmentally friendly solutions to their projects that do not affect the client’s vision and overall budget.” In the process, Studio 5 has compiled a library focused on materials and products that are environmentally friendly and hold classes to educate design professionals, business owners and key personnel to the growing knowledge and criteria of “green design.”

Sunblossom Solar Gifts-¨

What could be more sustainable than the power of light? Not much, says Sunblossom Solar Gifts CEO Bonnie Greenwald. Except for maybe a vision that has built a business on the very premise of sustainability. By producing solar-powered gifts for the home, Sunblossom has created a unique opportunity to spread a subtle yet powerful message about how people can bring joy and wonder without consuming power beyond what’s available for free. “A single solar voltaic cell and some electronics power soothing, almost uplifting sounds, and mesmerizing movement,” says Greenwald, whose team becomes part of the company philosophy of recycling internally, by collecting and recycling plastic bottles and other materials. Sunblossom Solar Gifts is also taking its sustainable philosophy to heart by printing on both sides of copy paper, recycling print cartridges and visiting the local recycling center for packaging materials. And before shipping, Greenwald’s team slaps on a label that describes the reuse of the box and encourages the recipient to reuse the box or recycle it. “Our sustainable practice of reusing materials clearly keeps our expenses down. Were it not for this, expenses would be up and prices for our products would be higher, but success is also about outreach and spreading awareness.”

Triangle Associates Inc.-¨

Grand Rapids-¨
With a role as a construction manager, design builder and general contractor in the Grand Rapids area, Triangle Associates is a firm believer in the power of sustainable practices, something CEO Craig S. Datema says the firm continues to implement at all levels of the company. “This cross-company buy in means that our entire team seeks solutions that keep sustainability in mind. Our business has the opportunity to make a tremendous impact on sustainability as we plan and build facilities for a variety of clients. Helping our clients understand their options and the long-term implications of their selections allows them to make the right choices from a sustainability standpoint.” Triangle’s experience with a variety of solutions is key to making that happen. “That gives our clients the confidence to choose sustainable solutions. The impact of design and construction methods incorporated into large-scale facilities is something that we and our industry partners take very seriously.” Datema says when it comes to ongoing sustainability, “taking care of people best represents our values as an organization. During 95 years of business, treating people fairly, openly, and honestly has not only paid off, but is essential to our ability to the economic and environmental sides of the triple bottom line balance.”

TruAir Solution LLC-¨

Founded in 2009, TruAir Solution LLC is a Michigan distributor of the revolutionary hydroxyl generator systems manufactured by HGI Industries located in Boynton Beach, Fla. HGI Industries Inc. is an American based company, whose cutting-edge ultraviolet hydroxyl generating technology has been at the forefront of high volume odor processing, air-decontamination and air-purification for the past decade. “We are committed to improving air quality in our environment and this innovative technology is so revolutionary that it is changing the game globally in the air remediation and purification sector,” says the firm’s website. “Together with HGI, we are focusing our efforts on penetrating applicable market segments, including the indoor air-quality market, personal/health wellness sector, agricultural, the travel industry, hotel, salon and spa, fire and water damage industries, the food industry, along with an array of industrial and commercial applications.”

Turner Construction-¨

“It’s good business.” That’s how Turner Construction Business Manager David J. Kelly describes the impact of sustainability on a company that this year celebrates 100 years of building in Michigan (and 111 years nationwide). “Our commitment to environmentally friendly products, processes and sustainable construction practices is much more than just a slogan or buzzword,” adds Kelly. “It is cemented into our corporate culture and rooted in our business practice with measureable and audited results.” Indeed, many Turner employees are LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Accredited Professionals trained in sustainability practices. They are accustomed to using environmentally friendly building materials, including low-emission paint, lumber that has been certified to a third-party forest standard, rapidly renewable plant materials like bamboo and straw, dimension stone, recycled stone, recycled metal, and other products that are non-toxic, reusable, renewable, and/or recyclable. That commitment extends across the board to the construction process, with recycling and waste reduction and safeguarding air quality through the use of indoor air scrubbers and bio-fueled machinery. And here’s where the importance of knowledge comes in, says Kelly. “Only by continuously training our employees in sustainability and sustainable construction practices can Turner as a company have an impact. An educated workforce improves the value each individual can bring to the organization as a whole as well as their own career. Knowledge is shared with the community as each educated employee uses their sustainability training outside of the organization whether it is with community organizations they belong to or within their own home environment.”

Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System-¨

Ann Arbor-¨
Since 1953, the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System (VAAAHS) has provided state-of-the-art health care services to the men and women who have so proudly served the nation. Nearly 57,000 Veterans living in a 15-county area of Michigan and northwest Ohio used its services in 2011. The main hospital campus located in Ann Arbor serves as a referral center for specialty care and operates 105 acute care beds and 40 Community Living Center (extended care) beds. More than 500,000 outpatient visits were made at its facilities in fiscal year 2012; there were nearly 6,000 inpatient episodes of care provided in the hospital and extended care center. In addition to its main facility in Ann Arbor, VAAAHS offers services in three community-based outpatient clinics-”Flint, Jackson and Toledo, Ohio.


As one of the country’s largest construction companies, Walbridge works in various market sectors across the globe requiring a variety of skill sets and an even larger array of construction practices. As CEO John Rakolta Jr. explains, that makes sustainability a quality that goes far beyond recycling or using energy-efficient light bulbs. “We’ve taken our efforts to protect the environment outside our offices and directly into the spaces we construct.” One way is through a company system-”the Walbridge Intelligent Sustainability and Environmental program. “GreenWISE identifies 18 sustainable practices employees are to use at job sites to lessen construction impact on the communities in which we’re building,” notes Rakolta. With practices ranging from using battery-powered tools to incorporating ways to reduce water usage, the system has evolved into ongoing discussions about specific ways it can be used at each new job site. “The program has even been requested by local universities and taught by our qualified in-house experts in graduate-level classes,” adds Rakolta. The company has also developed a program that provides about 60 hours of sustainability training to employees.” Being able to take a balanced approach to business is working at Walbridge. “It’s in part why our overall bottom line has remained in the black for the better part of 100 years.”

Webasto Roof Systems Inc.

As a developer and manufacturer of products for the automotive industry for more than 75 years, Webasto Roof Systems has become an expert in the area of complete roof and convertible roof systems for cars. In addition, it produces heating, cooling and ventilation systems for a variety of vehicles. Key to its success is the way Webasto Roof Systems has been able to incorporate solutions that actively protect the environment in its products. John W. Bul, the firm’s commercial and business development manager, points to engine-independent heating and air conditioning systems that reduce fuel consumption and the emission of pollutants. And the company is active in the solar business with roof solutions that let sunlight into vehicles. “But we are undertaking our actions in such a way that we have as little influence as possible on the environment – an approach that is enthusiastically supported by all our colleagues.” Bul, along with CEO Erik Roeren, point out the importance of having a team that understands their ideas and suggestions are valued. “This human resource, combined with the responsible re-use, recycling, and reduction of use of our natural resources are the key ingredients to sustainability,” notes Bul. The effort is working. “Our contributions generate a direct impact environmentally, economically, and socially,” says Bul, who adds that sustainability is based on a simple principle. “Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment.”

West Michigan Shared Hospital Laundry-¨

Grand Rapids-¨
WMSHL has made a significant investment in the most innovative and energy-efficient laundry processing equipment available today, the objective being that its members will be part of a viable and cost-effective healthcare laundry for the next 20-30 years. Its facility is designed to be one of the most energy-efficient, technologically advanced laundries in North America. For example, operating as a “steamless laundry” saves up to 40 percent on utility costs compared to one that has a boiler as its source for hot water. The organization uses “plate and frame” heat reclamation systems to heat incoming city water without adding to utility costs. A ceramic micro-filtration system allows WMSHL to reuse water in its wash system, greatly reducing water consumption and sewer costs. A self-contained thermal fluid irons also use less energy as well as create a more tolerant, ambient air temperature that contributes to an increase in employee morale and productivity. And the facility can adjust ironer temperature depending on linen type for more consistent quality. In addition to extensive facility improvements, WMSHL continues to recycle all plastic linen bags. “We are environmentally friendly compared with the cost and impact of disposable linen,” notes Executive Director Nicole Grubich. “We understand the mission the health care industry has enacted toward environmentally friendly procedures and policy.”