By Karen Dybis
May 3, 2012
Compassion. Conviction. Concern with things beyond their front door. All these words describe Michigan’s greenest companies.
An impressive 41 firms received accolades in the 101 Best and Brightest Sustainable Companies awards program, highlighting those businesses that are focused on being more sustainable, improving the lives of their employees and are committed to the local and global environments.
One thing can be said for all of this year’s honorees - they are as diverse as the many ways they serve and protect the environment. There are century-old companies such as Webasto and youngsters that just opened their doors. There are soap makers, clothing retailers, injection-molders and even for the first time a green salon.
Their ideas for saving water, paper, electricity and other resources are innovative and even revolutionary in some cases. There are companies like Steelcase, Herman Miller and Haworth that have taken sustainability to new levels in 2012, even going international in their efforts to improve the planet. All in all, there are many smart and relevant ideas for considering here within the state’s emerging sustainability economy.
The companies were honored at an awards ceremony April 18 at Davenport University in Grand Rapids.
Here are your Best and Brightest:
When you think of a law office, dark wood paneling and staid, traditional furnishing may come to mind. That is exactly the opposite of what co-founder and owner Ari Kresch wanted in his new offices. Instead, he wanted them to be both employee centered and customer friendly.
Southfield-based 1-800-LAW-FIRM wants to improve the way people interact with its team of lawyers, Kresch said.
-¨Recently, 1-800-LAW-FIRM took over the former Loan Giant site. The office has been completely rehabbed, Kresch said. Instead of dark wood, the Lahser Road space has bright colors and huge windows. There are skylights, a walking track and a fitness room as well. Green amenities include improved windows, an enhanced HVAC system, skylights and automatic water fixture, said Daniella H. Mechnikov, who represents the firm via Wildfire Media Corp.
“It’s all about making an environment where people are motivated to work hard and like what they’re doing,” Kresch said.
The firm of 40 attorneys works in a variety of legal areas including bankruptcy, consumer production, employment or labor law, accidents and injuries, Social Security claims, professional malpractice and whistle-blower cases. Its specialty is pharmaceuticals, using its network of 22,000 attorneys to bring claims against companies here and nationwide.
Acoustics By Design-¨
When it comes to creating a LEED facility, it is common to think about architects, construction companies and industrial designers. Acoustics By Design also hopes to add acoustical engineers to that list.
The Grand Rapids-based company is an independent consulting firm that works with schools, hospitals, corporate headquarters and other facilities interested in how sound works in their personal environments. Company president Kenric Van Wyk believes acoustics also can have sustainable components.
For example, Acoustics By Design has consulted on a variety of LEED projects including the first LEED arts facility, the Grand Rapids Art Museum, and Keystone, the world’s first LEED certified church. Sustainable design means everything from reducing Acoustics by Design’s carbon footprint to integrating “green ideas” into the design process, the company said.
-¨”As a professional consulting engineering firm, we sell no physical products, so we cannot tell our clients to “buy our green widget.” Instead, the challenge is showing the value of sustainable design and how it impacts our clients’ bottom line. In the past this has been an uphill battle, but in many recent projects, we are finding a groundswell of positive momentum for going green,” Van Wyk noted. -¨-¨”The most rewarding part of being a sustainable organization has been the support and buy-in from the local design community. Right under our noses, Michigan is transforming its reputation as part of “the Rust Belt” to a leader in the new ‘Green Belt,'” he added. “When other local design forms are on board with sustainable design, it becomes second-nature to make environmentally conscious decisions.”
Advanced Battery Concepts
If you want to change the world, sometimes you have to invent something new. So when Advanced Battery Concepts wanted to provide its customers with something more energy efficient, the Clare-based company came up with its own product.
The battery-technology development company wanted to make a better battery, so it developed GreenSeal, which creates a less costly and lighter competitor for today’s lead acid batteries, the company said. This improves the performance and function of large-format, rechargeable batteries.
These batteries have twice the life while using about half of the lead of their traditional counterparts, the company’s website explains. This helps the environment because the batteries generate less waste, lower greenhouse-gas emissions and a smaller impact on the Earth.
The market for these products is significant. Advanced Battery Concepts said lead-acid batteries are the most common rechargeable large format battery, with annual sales of about $30 billion.
According to the company’s website, “the introduction of patent pending GreenSeal technology into the lead-acid battery market will generate significant cost and weight advantages over today’s lead acid products allowing lead acid batteries to compete against the more expensive chemistries and in addition allow flexibility in packaging through novel shapes and high voltage mono-blocks.”
It also helps that the company was able to reach many of its goals in terms of reducing its own carbon footprint while creating these products. Its simplified manufacturing process reduced its material consumption by 35 percent. And the batteries themselves have 46 percent smaller lead content.
Allied PhotoChemical has become an economic successful story by developing cutting-edge “green” technology that has become the industry standard. The Kimball-based company is everything U.S. manufacturers love: faster, smaller and cleaner.
Allied manufactures environmentally safe electronic inks, paints, coatings and dielectrics. What makes them different is they do not need heat drying, which saves energy, eliminates volatile solvents and shortens finishing time. In many cases, what once took hours now takes seconds.
Allied opened in 1996 with its original invention, a silver conductive ink that was UV curable and produced no solvents that needed to evaporate. This reduced the energy costs involved and made the process more eco-friendly.
The company then evolved into coatings and other products. Allied calls its process “sustainable UV” and says it delivered a great return on investment as well as environmental benefits. To date, Allied has more than 19 patents based on its UV Electroluminescent Lighting Technology.
This technology can be used by many companies in a variety of sectors, including retailers to cosmetics companies to architectural product manufacturers and more. More than half of Allied’s growth comes from existing customers who are happy with the company’s performance, according to CEO and President Michael P. Kelly.
For example, UV drying creates faster line speed, so the customer can produce more products. They do not need to use heat, which means sensitive items like paper, parking passes and decking can be treated this way without worries about warping.
Beaumont Health System
Hospitals by their nature are large facilities with many people both working and receiving treatment there. And lots of people means lots of recycling - at least, it does when you are staying or working at Beaumont Health System in Royal Oak.
For the past three years, Beaumont has created new recycling standards, implemented water-conservation and waste-reduction projects, trained and certified 180 Green Officers in its hospital departments and created “best practices” documentation for its employees and fellow health care organizations.
Beaumont also looked to its employees for ideas. The result is green water bottles that receive cafeteria drink discounts and events like the “Green Garage Sale,” where the hospital sells its excess furnishings. Another employee-driven initiative is the bike lending program, which encourages exercise and bike commuting. Staff and physicians bike more than 22,500 miles a year, avoiding 900 vehicle trips.-¨
Facility updates include high-performance trash compactors, bailers, recycling bins, low-flow plumbing fixtures, energy efficient air handlers, high efficiency lights and fixtures, daylight harvesting sensors and dimmers and non-toxic cleaning products. Plus, Beaumont salvaged steel and recycled copper, gypsum board, ceiling tiles, carpet and flooring in hospital construction projects. It also now uses no/low volatile paint and adhesive products to reduce toxic emissions
“Our staff enthusiastically support Beaumont’s many Green efforts and take their ‘green’ knowledge back to their neighborhoods and homes, making a communitywide impact. We believe we have created a model for positive change that other companies can adopt to improve their sustainability efforts,” Beaumont officials said in a statement.
Brewery Vivant exemplifies how to blend sustainability with pleasure - after all, what could be more pleasurable than operating a LEED-certified brewery and restaurant?
The Grand Rapids-based company is passionate about beer, food and the environment, according to CEO Jason Spaulding, who opened Brewery Vivant with his wife, Kris.
“Through our focus on sustainability, our goal is to have a positive impact on our local community, be great stewards of our environment, create a successful business that employs local people and help revive a neighborhood,” Spaulding noted.
Among Brewery Vivant’s top goals is to be a zero-waste company, which means it recycles and composts as much as it can. The brewery also puts its waste to good use, such as donating its spent grain to a cattle farmer and its fryer oil to someone who powers his vehicle with it.
The Spauldings also purchase as much locally sourced food and beer ingredients as possible, use renewable energy, educate their stakeholders on sustainability and donate 10 percent of the company’s profits to local charities.
On the staffing end, Brewery pays every employee four hours of regular pay each year to volunteer at a nonprofit of their choosing. The Spauldings also are working on a team-building volunteer day.-¨-¨”Our employees are proud of the sustainability goals we have and the work that we do toward achieving them. Their pride also means that they identify new things we can be doing to be even more sustainable and they are more engaged because of it,” Spaulding added.
To CEO Fred Keller, Cascade Engineering is a driven sustainability company that manufactures and markets for a variety of industries such as automotive, commercial truck and bus, solid waste and recycling, furniture, material handling and renewable energy.
“I hope that Cascade is thought of as the kind of organization where we are innovative, creative and thinking about the future because we’re focused on sustainability as our key elements - and profitable at the same time,” Keller said.
Its broad portfolio includes manufacturing products for automotive manufacturers, marketing branded products and providing consulting services. The nearly 40-year-old company has grown quickly from its original expertise in large part injection molding. These days, it is known for its world-class engineering, technology and manufacturing.
The Grand Rapids-based company also is known for its strong commitment to lean manufacturing and environmental stewardship. It follows a sustainable business model based on diversification, innovation and sustainable development. The Cascade Engineering Family of Companies employs approximately 1,200 people.
“Cascade Engineering is an organization that is creative, innovative and really I think we want to be known as the organization that is thinking ahead of the curve. Because we’re thinking about those sustainability things that are long term,” Keller added. “Because as a private company we get to think about the long term more so than those that are public and required to report quarterly sales. We can be more patient and learn how we can pay for that going forward. We can explore those areas that are going to provide the solutions in the long term.”
Clean Energy Coalition
Having a clear head and open eyes are among the best steps toward making good decisions. To that end, Clean Energy Coalition serves as a top adviser to those interested in creating sustainability within their industries.
The Ann Arbor-based group is a non-profit, non-partisan organization “dedicated to promoting clean energy technologies as a way to create healthier, energy independent communities,” organizers say. Its everyday goal is to help people and organizations become more energy independent. It also seeks to create public and private partnerships to reach that goal.
“Clean Energy Coalition employees are deeply committed to sustainability - it’s at the core of what we do and how we operate on a daily basis,” according to Sean Reed, founder and executive director of Clean Energy Coalition.
The Coalition has three divisions: mobility, structures, and communities. Among its project are Plug-In Ready Michigan, an infrastructure preparedness plan to ensure Michigan communities are ready to support the widespread adoption of electric vehicles. Another is BetterBuildings for Michigan, a program that provides incentives and loans to help make homes and businesses warm, comfortable, and healthy while lowering energy costs. One innovative first was the Ann Arbor Property Assessed Clean Energy, which allows commercial property owners to finance energy-related upgrades through a local property assessment.
-¨Changing communities is the biggest reward to the consulting work there, Reed noted. “We’re able to see every day the positive impact we’re making in communities throughout Michigan and know that our projects are improving lives not only today, but for years into the future,” he added.
What you wear does say something about you. And choosing to wear eco-friendly clothing and accessories adds another layer to an already eco-friendly lifestyle, according to Clothing Matters founder and owner Marta Swain.
The Grand Rapids-clothing store has sold what it describes as a “world-class collection” of natural-fiber clothing featuring organic cotton, soy, bamboo, hemp, wood and recycled fibers. The store features items for men, women and children, aiming at a clientele that wants to know here its clothing is made and what it is made from.
Swain looks for high-quality, sustainably manufactured apparel and clothing companies that support practices that “conserve natural resources, reduce pollution and promote social justice,” according to her web site. The store carries more than 30 lines from local, regional, domestic and international designers who are committed to the same environmentally conscious practices Swain also follows.
The goal is to work with companies that connect people, planet and profit, also known as The Triple Bottom line. That means they also follow Fair Labor Organization standards as to how they treat their employees and vendors.
Swain has been a longtime leader in the ecology movement, particular regarding apparel. She encourages tours of the store for educational groups and welcomes questions about the items she stocks and sells.
“We believe that sustainably manufactured apparel helps create a level playing field between domestic and foreign production to develop greater potential for healthy, sustainable economies,” the company said on its website.
Central Michigan University Research Corporation
It is tempting as a business accelerator and incubator to “take a meeting” any time and any where possible. After all, getting business off the ground is Central Michigan University Research Corporation’s stock in trade.
However, finding a way to have that meeting on conference call has become the new battle cry. Because you cannot work within the Mt. Pleasant SmartZone if you’re not smart about saving the planet in every way possible.
Central Michigan University Research Corporation takes such a strong sustainability leadership stance for a variety of reasons. But its location on the campus of Central Michigan University (CMU) is among the main ones. The goal, officials said, is to show the companies it works with that you can reduce waste through simple means, whether it is only printing out final drafts or using washable containers.
“Though our affiliation and partnership with CMU we are to make sustainable practices part of companies culture by reducing the amount of waste we create, reusing as much as we can and recycling what must be thrown out. Our company believes that: The capacity to sustain current life without compromising the ability to live well for future generations,” the Research Corporation said in a statement.-¨-¨And the employees have embraced this challenge, officials said. In fact, building tours often include a display of the many recycling bins being actively used in the facility.
“We understand that our actions today will impact those who will be here after us, so if it takes a few extra minutes to do the right thing and recycle, then we feel it is worth it,” the company said.
Go Green Salon
St. Clair Shores
When it comes to chemicals, the same things that are upsetting to the planet’s natural balance also affect hair and skin care. At Go Green Salon, every aspect of the business from the building to the salon equipment to the products are as eco-friendly as owner Maggie Varney could make them.
“We are committed to providing a healthy setting for our guests while remaining eco-friendly,” Varney said in a statement. “The welfare of our guests, team and the environment extends beyond the brick-and-mortar establishment and continues on throughout our product lines, offering all-natural hair and skin care solutions free from harmful chemicals.”
Her vision for the St. Clair Shores salon started during the construction phase. She chose an architect who was familiar with green-building initiatives and a construction team who specialized in this area. She also found a company that produced its salon equipment out of green materials - and it was a plus that she could buy American, she noted.
As a result, the salon abounds with all-natural materials, including bamboo flooring and non-toxic paint on the walls. While finding some of these products was difficult, and the construction phase was costly, it was important to Varney to show her dedication to being green through all these phases of her salon. -¨-¨”It’s a no-brainer: it’s about our health, our environment and for our future generations. We also enjoy educating the public on healthier choices and the community responds supportively of our efforts. This is not a trend - it’s a life choice,” Varney added.
Grand Traverse Resort & Spa
Its Environmental Policy, eco-friendly corporate culture and vigilant stewardship toward the environment are among the reasons Grand Traverse Resort & Spa is considered a green leader among its peers.
Holding itself to a high standard when it comes to sustainability has served both the resort and its guests well, the company said. This “grand” approach to the environment has made it easy to follow its environmental commitment in its everyday business.
Among its green patron practices, Grand Traverse has in-room recycling for paper and plastic in all guest rooms. It supports local companies by using bio-friendly room cleaners from EcoLab and biodegradable plastic waste bags from Traverse City-based Grand Traverse Industries. Rooms also feature energy-efficient light bulbs.
The resort has a linen resuse program for guests and donates used linens to local businesses, such as veterinary clinics. It also uses Earth-friendly bleach alternatives and has a new high-efficiency boiler system to warm water.
Even its food-service staff has gotten into the sustainability habit. The restaurant staff grow their own herbs on-site for culinary use, and the menus are printed on recycled paper. There also are ink recycling and refilling programs. A variety of the resort’s departments also have become involved beyond putting recycling bins in all of their offices. The golf course uses catalytic converters in its maintenance requipment. In addition, the Conference Services area took all of its systems electronic, reducing the amount of paper and photocopying needed to communicate its services.
Green Fundraiser Store.com
Green Fundraise Store.com allows schools, clubs and other organization to create fundraisers with eco-friendly and environmentally conscious products. Not only does this help create awareness, but it also puts healthier household products within reach of educators and families, said Donald Sherman, CEO of the Oxford-based company.
The products are found online, and participants may order them on the Web or through Web-based order forms. This not only reduces paper waste, but it tends to boost sales because of the easy ordering. Many of the items sold are the same as those found at big-box stores, so patrons are more likely to order these green alternatives to typical household cleaners.
“We replace that item with an eco friendly/healthy alternative that they are more likely to try through the grassroots efforts of the school group, civic group, or community group fund raising effort,” Sherman noted. “We turn around and share a percentage of the proceeds we raise with the group and encourage them to reinvest in further green shifts in their schools, businesses or community groups. The end result is a movement toward sharing (what is) learned with others and gradually changing habits toward more sustainable living.”
Even the local community benefits, Sherman argues, because the process of finding green alternatives creates conversation and encourages change.
Green Fundraiser Store.com also has processes in place for things like recycling, composting, reduction of printing, encouraging use of email to replace printing, mailing and labor costs, all of which help the bottom line. “I like to use the statement of being green to save green,” Sherman noted.
The Internet can be a gold mine of information in the right hands. Thankfully, there is GreeningDetroit.com to make sure all of the news and partnership opportunities around sustainability are being publicized and shared.
This “Green Friendly” site was created two years ago by entrepreneurs John Carlos and Paul Ozment. The site has several parts, including informational and educational portals, a media area and a directory - a setup that Carlos describes as “the Big Green Umbrella” for Metro Detroit. The site also highlights green products and services in industries such as manufacturing, industrial, commercial and residential.
It has an outreach arm for local governments, associates and non-profits within the green community. Another section features grants and tax incentives that are available within the eco-friendly world. And there is an area for green events and training opportunities.
“Our site advocates for the deployment of green friendly technologies and encourages others to take steps to minimize their environmental impact through increased energy efficiency, reduced waste, and/or renewable energy purchases,” Carlos stated. “In our everyday practice we try to walk the talk. From our printing, to where we have our internal meetings, we make the extra efforts.”
One unique way that the site communicates its green intent is through its business cards. Carlos and others are willing to use those with misprints as well as those from former employees in an effort to show that everything can be recycled.
“So not to lose professionalism, we simply turn it into a conversational tool and point out the obvious: If anyone can recycle a card, it’s our company,” Carlos said in a statement.
In retail, drama and change are necessary elements to keep a sometimes fickle consumer interested. And mixing green practices with smart business sense is what has kept Harbor Industries ahead of the curve.
The Grand Haven-based company is a comprehensive designer and producer of retail displays, fixtures and digital-media solutions. Its goal is to connect people with its clients’ brands through Harbor Industries’ insights and expertise. Its signature services are planning, designing, developing and producing what it describes as “engaging” point-of-purchase displays and store fixtures for consumer goods companies.
Harbor Industries sees its sustainability pledge as smart for the short- and long-term success of the company, it said on its website. It follows the Triple Bottom Line of people, planet and profitability. On the people end, Harbor organizes food, blood and toy drives to keep its employees engaged with the local community.
It approaches the planet concept through its use of environmentally friendly materials in its products and practices. Solutions that are versatile and long-lasting save clients time and money, the company said.
“We design our high-quality retail displays and spaces to be versatile, durable and adaptable-they often can be easily repurposed or recycled-to save our clients time, money and energy. And in our own operations, our knowledge and application of sustainability practices help us benefit the planet and save on the cost of doing business-which we then pass on to our clients,” the company stated.
Furniture innovator Haworth has one of the loftiest goals in its industry - the Holland-based company hopes to have zero waste to landfill as part of its green efforts, showing the company’s discipline and work effort.
Haworth is best known for designing and manufacturing adaptable workspaces including raised floors, movable walls, office furniture and seating. Sustainability is core to the entire company in hopes of finding products and processes that are neutral or improve the environment.
Sustainability is part of Haworth’s short- and long-term goals, said Steve Kooy, global sustainability manager. The company culture is one that thinks holistically so that waste and its suppression is built into the system there.
“Sustainability provides a means to show the community and the company how important the two are for each other - not just economically but also environmentally and socially,” Kooy noted.
“The most rewarding part of being a sustainable organization is the stakeholder engagement. Haworth members, suppliers and customers want to help. They understand business has to change and almost all of them are motivated to be part of solution. It’s great to see people get excited, inspired, and make the connection of how a little change in their behavior can make a big difference,” Kooy added.
As an industry leader in sustainability, Haworth was among the first to publish an annual sustainability report, which monitors and publishes its progress. The company also has policies, procedures and certifications in place to support its environmentally conscious business practices. Among its certifications are BIFMA level, IS0 14001, FSC and LEED.
Award-winning design and manufacturing company Herman Miller is a household name for not only its furniture and furniture systems, but also because its name has become synonymous with sustainability.
That makes sense for a company whose goals include “work for a better world around our customers” and improving “the human experience wherever people work, heal, learn and live.” Respecting the environment is a core component of that, the company states.
Its many efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle are well established from decades of practice. It powers 100 percent of its global electrical energy demand using “green” energy. And the company is well on its way toward its goal of zero impact on the environment by 2020.
“In addition to our operational footprint, Herman Miller continues to look at a variety of others subjects ranging from energy conservation and greenhouse gas emission reductions to choosing the healthiest and most sustainable materials in our products,” the company said in a statement. “Herman Miller explores the most sustainable solutions for all of these challenges, and in doing so, continues to learn from our stakeholders.”-¨-¨One of the company’s most innovative employee approaches to sustainability is its Environmental Quality Action Team (EQAT), a cross-functional steering committee of Herman Miller employees. This group was created to set the company’s environmental direction and priorities and measures results.
Since then, “we have continually expanded our goals to make Herman Miller a sustainable business. We now track and/or report monthly on eight strategies that monitor our progress. It is rewarding to have so many environmental stewards at Herman Miller who are committed to creating a better world,” officials said.
Holiday Inn Grand Rapids Downtown
Sustainability has a leading role in how the Holiday Inn Grand Rapids Downtown connects with its guests from the moment they walk in the door.
And the hotel has found that it also can save money as part of the process of being a green facility. Whether it is recycling junk mail or reusing its older linens, the Holiday Inn Grand Rapids Downtown is doing everything it can to serve people and the planet, hotel officials said.
Some of its green efforts include installing lighting and thermostats that can be adjusted to remain off or kept at lower settings when the rooms are not occupied. This prevents excess energy from being used when there is an empty site within the hotel.
The hotel, which has 175 rooms on eight floors, is a member of the Green Hotel Association and has achieved Leader Certification from the Michigan Green Lodging Association, the highest level of environmental recognition available to hotels in the state.
General Manager Ellen Markel also goes out of her way to complete surveys and other questionnaires aimed at showing the hotel’s commitment to sustainability. That way, travelers interested in reducing their carbon footprint can rest assured that they are remaining true to their environmental standards.
The Holiday Inn also is a member of the Green Hotels Association, an organization with a goal of providing members with information on ways to conserve and save, and Green Engage, Intercontinental Hotels Group’s (IHG) online system that assists hotel managers in managing energy consumption more effectively.
Hyatt Place Grand Rapids South
Going above and beyond is typically the customer-service standard at Hyatt hotels. That goes up a notch or two at Hyatt Place Grand Rapids South, one of the few hotels to have the prestigious LEED certification.
The goal is to be a good community citizen, the hotel said. To that end, it tries to minimize its environmental impact through its energy and water consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and waste production. It also focuses on indoor air quality for its guests and employees.
Its LEED certification in October 2009 came about because of the hotel’s choices in terms of lighting, water and material use. Grand Rapids-South implemented other elements, like occupancy sensors in guestrooms to automatically adjust heating, cooling and lighting, low-flow faucets, showerheads and toilets, preferred parking for fuel efficient and carpool vehicles and using locally sourced bricks and other materials to build the property, according to the Hyatt website.
Sustainability is built into the hotel’s everyday surroundings as well. For example, it has landscaping that needs less water to maintain, thereby eliminating the high level of watering that some plants and gardens require. It also has dedicated areas for recycled materials to ensure this is an easy task for its consumers.
“Hyatt hotels around the world have implemented a number of environmental initiatives and we are thrilled to have our second U.S. hotel receive LEED certification,” Brigitta Witt, vice president, environmental affairs, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, said in a press release. “Our company is committed to building and operating hotels in ways that reflect the policies of the USGBC and other leading environmental organizations.”
Information Systems Resources
Even the ubiquitous computer has a life cycle, and finding energy-efficient equipment or recycling older models is a necessary part of computing. Dearborn-based Information Systems Resources is showing companies ways to part with their “e-waste” in smart ways.
ISR has worked with businesses across a variety of industries, including Lear Seating, Henry Ford and The Detroit Medical Center since its formation in 1989. Its 110,000-square-foot facility processes more than 2 million pounds of electronic hardware annually. That means less lead, zinc and mercury being put into Michigan’s environment, according to owner Luther Elliott.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, an estimated 30 million to 40 million personal computers will be ready for “end of life management” in each of the next few years. Advancements in the technological world make it necessary to replace computers every three or four years.
ISR provides a service it calls the demanufacturing process. This involves breaking the computer down into parts that can be used or recycled. ISR has an exclusive demanufacturing process that disassembles e-scrap and then processes it as a commodity at their facility. This process guarantees that the downstream e-waste does not end up in the hands of unscrupulous recyclers or in a landfill. ISR also has the capability to resale or rebuild units if necessary, the company said.-¨-¨The award-winning, environmentally friendly company works to spread its eco-friendly knowledge and habits by participating in local seminars, hosting Earth Day events and supporting community charitable organizations.
For nearly two decades, Integrated Architecture has been pushing its clients and its employees to do everything they can in the name of sustainable design. And it is a process that involves every step of the process in creating a facility that is truly environmentally sound.
The mid-sized, Grand Rapids-based architecture firm also provides engineering and interior design. President and founder Paul Dickinson, AIA; Executive Vice President and Design Principal Mike Corby, AIA, LEED AP; and Director of Architecture Tim Mustert, AIA, believe that principals surrounding sustainability, particularly green design, are a must have in terms of any project they take on.
“We focus our efforts on doing more with less, creating highly efficient, cost-effective buildings filled with natural light and fresh air. These buildings are designed for non-profit and for-profit companies. They are found on college and university campuses, in urban office environments, suburban industrial locations, new developments, and in urban re-used projects,” the company said in a statement.
As an example, when Integrated Architecture was hired to design the Forest Hills Public Schools Fine Arts Center, the firm discussed the opportunity to pursue a LEED-certified building. The school district already had a LEED environmental school and hadn’t thought about it in a larger context. By advocating the concept of mainstream sustainable design and LEED certified buildings, IA was able to influence the design of every new building in the district, not just the Fine Arts Center.
“The result is a school district that now has the distinction of being a forerunner in green building and a positive environmental ripple effect that will be felt by generations of children educated with the understanding that sustainable design is the norm, not the exception,” the company said.
IPAX Cleanogel Inc.
These days, it is hard to find a cleaning product at the local grocery store that doesn’t brag about its “green” cleaning properties. Those young whelps could learn a thing or two from Detroit-based IPAX Cleanogel Inc.
The company, started by husband and wife team Alla and Paul Katz in 1981, is one of the original manufacturers of environmentally friendly products. The woman-owned company has won a variety of awards and accolades since then, including the EPA and Presidential Award for its green chemistry and its pioneering products in the industry.
The Katz family also has worked with the Big Three automakers and their suppliers for the past 30 years; nearly 75 percent of its business is from the automotive industry. IPAX cleaning and degreasing products also are widely used within the institutional and commercial markets.
-¨”None of the certificates, awards and nominations would mean much if we did not manage over the years to create and maintain a sustainable business model that is true to its values,” Katz noted. “Our personnel has always enjoyed and taken pride in our casual, friendly culture that always encouraged every single individual to participate in the decision making by providing them with the necessary space and freedom and incorporating everyone’s input in our policies and practices.”
The company has continued to diversify its product and customer base in recent years to bring new stability to the company. But all of its products are developed with the environment in mind and the needs of both this generation and future ones, the company said.
How your environment looks can be as important as to how it functions. For those companies that want to take their interiors to the next level, ISCG of Royal Oak shows them how to take that next step of making it environmentally friendly as well.
The commercial interior firm provides all steps of the process from design to wall coverings to furniture installation. Its particular focus is recycled or eco-conscious furnishings. So it selects and sells a variety of fabrics, floor coverings and products. And those same products are used within its own offices, said owner Mary Ann Lievois.
“Our newly relocated headquarters was ‘recycled’ from a former vacant radio and appliance retail center into an energy-efficient, sustainable office that allows us to have greater control over our energy and water use, as well as the ability to recycle waste in our kitchen recycling station,” the company said in a statement. “The use of modular furnishings such as moveable walls and raised floors also allows for flexibility in our new space without the production of waste from drywall and other more permanent building materials.”
ISCG seeks vendors and partners that produce their products in Michigan or within the United States. This is a decision that is both patriotic but also eco-friendly as it cuts down on transportation costs. Supporting the state is one way that ISCG shows its desire for a smaller carbon footprint, officials said.
“They know that, when they work with us, they will experience a complete transformation of their everyday workspace. What they may not know is that we will also transform the way they think about their impact on our environment,” the company said.
JW Marriott Grand Rapids
Yes, the JW Marriott Grand Rapids is luxurious. But it also is a slim, trim energy user that keeps an eye on everything it does related to the environment.
Energy consumption is a top concern at JW Marriott Grand Rapids, where finding ways to cut how much energy it uses has become part of its commitment to Earth-friendly practices. The hotel, which has 340 rooms and suites on 23 floors, has a long list of environmental initiatives.
In the back of the house, JW Marriott Grand Rapids uses florescent bulbs both in the offices and service areas. All systems are watched through a rigorous management system; its purpose is to ensure savings are kept track of throughout the day.
In the hotel proper, there are recycling areas for cans, glass and plastic. Electronic sensors monitor all water-using facilities, including hand sinks, to reduce water consumption. The sinks also have water-saver aerators.
Also, guest rooms are part of the hotel’s eco-conscious environment. For example, the rooms all use energy-saving florescent bulbs in their lamps. They also use the Inncom System for guestroom thermostats, which means unoccupied rooms are programmed to go into “drift mode” using minimal energy.
And chemical use is kept to a minimum, according to the JW Marriott Grand Rapids website. The company only purchases and uses green cleaners throughout its area. All paint waste, thinners and solvents are recycled. And the hotel has Safety-Kleen Corp. to help it dispose of any and all harmful chemicals on site.
Key Green Solutions
Running a business and keeping track of a facility’s environmental impact can be time consuming and difficult for any organization. So Mark Huizenga and Jeff Burks came up with an easier way to do it.
The result is Key Green Solutions, a Grand Rapids-based business that develops efficiency and sustainability software. This software is design to help large groups track and measure their sustainability programs to ensure efficiencies and maintain their status as green companies. The software provides a dashboard for facility management and in-depth reporting to executive management on key usage and performance metrics.
“Organizations who use Key Green Solutions continue to enhance their facility performance and provide better products and services that are environmentally friendly. As an organization, Key Green Solutions recognizes the importance of creating a culture of sustainable practices,” the company said in a statement.
The software can truly make a difference in a company’s bottom line and ecology efforts, the company said. GS software categorizes all energy usage, showing how much an organization spends on electricity, gas, water and waste. KGS analyzes and graphs energy performance, showing how a facility is doing compared with other like facilities in an organization and the entire enterprise. It also allows filtering by facility, division and enterprise. The KGS tool helps stakeholders identify any unusual invoicing, high or low balances and fees to help maintain constant contact with energy costs.
Key Green has contracts with organizations in 10 states. Users manage approximately 20 million square feet spread across 50 different facilities. Its software works particularly well with health care organizations.
Lowry Computer Products
Having an eco-friendly focus that is top down has been one key to the strength of the sustainability program at Lowry Computer Products.
The barcode and RFID company practices sustainability throughout its operations. This not only improves its business, but it also helps to influence its peers to do the same, said Elena Palmer, Lowry’s Senior Market Development Associate.
For example, when manufacturing labels, Lowry created technology that minimizes the amount of waste produced in the manufacturing process. This happens through a process that disintegrates and evaporates the wastes throughout the manufacturing process. Creating this solution reduced the waste created by more than 50 percent, the company said.
At headquarters, there are a variety of programs, including motion-sensored lighting, and recycling for cans and bottles. Lowry also reuses its leftover labels by donating them to area community groups and local schools for art projects.
“Community is truly valued and engrained in the Lowry culture. The Lowry team truly is dedicated to giving back to the community in which we serve,” Palmer said.
To that end, Lowry created monthly charity contests/jeans donations, participation and sponsorship of local philanthropy events as well as internal service events.
In hopes of continuing its success so far, the company has created a formalized sustainability program, which it will implement throughout 2012, Palmer said. Future projects include a customer recycling program to dispose of old electronic equipment, additional manufacturing improvements and partnership with schools to education students on technology.
Luurtsema Sales Inc.
Recycling has special meaning to Luurtsema Sales; after all, its whole business is about beautifying and enjoying the environment. So not only do they sell lovely greenery, but they can recycle the pot it comes in as well.
Luurtsema Sales, which has been in business since 1946, is as a wholesale/distribution center of high quality plants and related products. Luurtsema also manufactures sales and grower fixtures, product handling equipment and retail sales enclosures.
The Jenison-based company participates in a variety of environmentally conscious practices, according to the Luurtsema website. For example, it started purchasing its electricity from renewable sources. Two years later, 100 percent of its electricity came from those sources.
Additionally, it carries a line of USDA Certified Organic herbs and vegetables under the “Harvest in Harmony” brand. The company also has a number of recycling programs, including some for its customers where they can turn in their horticultural plastics. Luurtsema reuses what it can and recycles the rest. The plastic is then ground down and sold as recycled raw materials for use in other products.
Its 2008 recycling program had the goal of recycling as much plastic as possible while learning the basics of such a program, the company said. The first year resulted in more than 21,000 pounds — or 10.5 tons — of plastic recycled. In 2009, the company said that number more than doubled.
“Luurtsema Sales is continually searching for new inputs with the least impact on the environment possible,” the company stated.
Meadowlark Builders thinks about sustainability in the same way that it thinks about its custom home building and remodeling: it’s all about the details.
The Ann Arbor-based company is a full-service design and building firm. It specializes in custom-finish work. It has comprehensive in-house services that include design, custom craftwork and turnkey construction. And everything Meadowlark builds has the end goal of enhancing the environment, the company stated.
“Our green houses not only minimize your carbon footprint but also are healthier and more comfortable to live in,” according to the Meadowlark website.
Meadowlark also is known for its help in creating LEED certified buildings. The company describes itself as experts in building science - the staff aims for what they call “the apex of sustainability,” or buildings that produce more energy than they use and have a net positive effect on the environment.
“We innovate constantly with our building methods and test our results on an ongoing basis to improve the quality of our building services,” the company stated.
They also continually seek to better their installation techniques. That means critically assessing building products to ensure long-term quality. “We strive to be a knowledgeable resource for wide-ranging product selections. We build the best buildings possible at competitive prices,” the website said. And they keep an eye on the bottom line, creating financial controls to keep the company stable. This profitability maintains the company, its community and its customer support.
Metro Health Hospital in Wyoming is one of the few LEED-certified hospitals in the nation, making sustainability part of its foundation. It is a philosophy that is integrated across all departments and well established with employees and the community, officials said.
From the start, employees receive information on Metro Health’s sustainability commitment, including its building design, commitment to single-stream recycling, food-waste composting and use of green-cleaning products. From there, workers can participate in green-programming classes, a farm market and a pharmaceutical waste-collection program.-¨-¨An award-winning leader in community health care, Metro Health Hospital is a 208-bed acute-care osteopathic teaching hospital that serves more than 250,000 patients annually from across West Michigan and beyond.-¨
“Embracing sustainable practices has been a natural extension of our mission and is engrained in our culture. Practices such as pursing LEED certification, single stream composting, drug collection, community clean-up day and rain barrel workshops are actionable steps we have taken to make the best health care experience possible for our patients and a healthy environment for our community. Sustainable business practices and our mission seamlessly go hand in hand,” the company said in a statement.-¨
Metro Health works hard to include the community and other health-care facilities in its best-practices programming. There is information about the green features of the hospital, as well as sustainable business practices, on its public website. The sustainable business officer presents about Metro’s programs at many local, state, and national events and conferences as well as directly to board members, executive teams and the sustainability committee. The hospital also invites community members and staff to participate in healthy cooking classes, rain barrel construction workshops and drug collection events.
Pepsi Bottling Group
PepsiCo is a global food and beverage leader with net revenues of more than $65 billion and a product portfolio that includes 22 brands that generate more than $1 billion each in annual retail sales. PepsiCo’s main businesses - Quaker, Tropicana, Gatorade, Frito-Lay and Pepsi-Cola - make hundreds of foods and beverages that are enjoyed throughout the world.
PepsiCo’s people are united by their commitment to sustainable growth by investing in a healthier future for people and the planet, which the company believes also means a more successful future for PepsiCo, according to Gina Anderson from PepsiCo public relations. This commitment is called Performance with Purpose: “PepsiCo’s promise to provide a wide range of foods and beverages for local tastes; to find innovative ways to minimize our impact on the environment by conserving energy and water and reducing packaging volume; to provide a great workplace for our associates; and to respect, support and invest in the local communities where it operates.”
Change, especially in terms of attitudes regarding recycling, is not only good, it is absolutely necessary, according to Schupan Recycling.
The beverage recycling arm of Schupan & Sons has a mission: To alter the way consumers think about water bottles and related drinks. Schupan Recycling is a processor and marketer of Used Beverage Containers (UBCs) including aluminum cans, plastic bottles and glass bottles. In fact, Schupan is the largest independent purchaser, processor and marketer of UBCs in the nation.
However, the family-owned company is far from a household name. Schupan does it all behind the scenes, operating multiple processing facilities that recycle billions of cans and bottles for soft drink wholesalers and beer wholesalers throughout Michigan.
“Sadly, the average Michigan citizen doesn’t make the connection that the water bottle they’re throwing away can be recycled just like the Coke can,” said Roger Cargill, the Kalamazoo company’s manager for special events. “We don’t want to buy the plastic. It can be recycled over and over and over.”
Schupan Recycling started in 2007 to cover what the company calls special events, Cargill said. The focus is on public spaces, where typically only one out of five non-deposit items is recycled, he explained. Some of the company’s clients have included the Detroit Grand Prix, Michigan State University and Michigan International Speedway. Cargill said Schupan has recycled more than 71 tons of beverage containers at MIS since 2008.
Schupan and Sons recently trademarked the slogan “Do the Right Thing. Recycle.” as a message to the consumer. Individuals can change 50 years of human behavior by thinking first before they trash valuable commodities, Cargill said.
Selestial Soap Natural Cleaning Products is a classic example of creating a product to fill a void. In this case, founder Ruth Smith wanted a laundry soap that was non-toxic, safe for the environment and appropriate to use on her children’s clothing.
The Traverse City-based company makes a full line of natural products for laundry, home and family. The products are hypoallergenic, 100 percent biodegradable and work in both standard and high-efficiency washing machines. Selestial Soap is available in a variety of outlets around Michigan.
Recently, Smith sold the company to Stephen J. Ezell, who now serves as Selestial Soap’s CEO. Ezell said the next step is developing new branding and packaging to go with Selestial’s updated tagline of “This is How Green Grows.”
Ultimately, Ezell said his management team wants to take Selestial from the Eastfield Laundry, where Smith created the product, to a national stage. He also wants to emphasize Selestial as an employee-owned company where profit sharing is the norm.
“This really is the story of an American dream,” Ezell said. “Ruth wanted to make something better for her family, and she offered to create an alternative for the people who did their wash at her Laundromat. It was the first green Laundromat in northern Michigan.”
Previously, its packaging contained a minimum of 25 percent recycled material. Now, the goal is to find biodegradable or even compostable packaging, Ezell said. Selestial wants its customers to know that the company walks the walk in an age of “greenwashing,” or changing an ingredient or two to make a product seem “green” or eco-friendly.
Furniture manufacturer Steelcase has been a deep thinker around sustainability for years now, studying every aspect of the products it makes down to the tiniest chemical component. And that’s no exaggeration.
The Grand Rapids company, now celebrating its 100th year, ponders what to do with the products as they’re being built, how they interact with the customer and his or her environment and what happens to their products at its so-called end of life. Corporate Public Relations Officer Laura Van Slyke describes Steelcase’s approach as “life-cycle thinking.”
“We seek to understand our products’ impact on the environment and human health at every phase - design, manufacture, delivery, use and reuse, recycle, end of life - to uncover opportunities to improve,” Van Slyke said.
Something new for Steelcase is the idea of the social element of sustainability. For example, it is part of a new clinic that will soon open to women and children in a rural settlement of nearly 6,000 people along the western coast of the African nation of Namibia. Nurture by Steelcase has partnered with Containers 2 Clinics and the Namibian national Ministry of Health and Social Services to implement an innovative clinical platform.-¨ -¨”Containers 2 Clinics seeks to reduce maternal and child morbidity and mortality rates in the developing world by providing access to high-quality primary health care for women and children. They deploy shipping containers - converted into clinics - to areas with inadequate facilities and collaborate with local organizations and governments to provide clinical, laboratory, pharmacy, and health education services,” Van Slyke said. “Nurture donated Opus casegoods to outfit the containers destined for Namibia. The container arrived in Namibia in mid-March and was prepared for a soft opening in April 2012.”
Sunblossom Solar Gifts LLC
In an age where more devices require constant recharging, Bonnie Greenwald’s products are a refreshing alternative to batteries, electricity and inconvenience.
That’s because her Sunblossom Solar Gifts provide music, movement and more without wind or batteries. All of the solar-powered items she sells are intended to make life simpler as well as more relaxing, she said.
“The benefit of owning one of our products is it offers a bit of peace and tranquility for one’s environment - whether it is your home or office,” Greenwald said. “Our chimes are soothing and gentle, allowing you a transition between work and life. It allows you to take a break from the everyday.”
In other words, it is hard to feel stressed out when watching a mobile of butterflies flying. That is another reason why Sunblossom sells so many of its items as gifts. Along with being operated by a solar cell, every package comes wrapped in recycled materials - standards that Greenwald feels strongly about as a business owner.
Sunblossom also emphasizes its employee relations, establishing a work environment that values teamwork and camaraderie among the workers. That filters through the whole company, she said, creating outstanding service throughout the process of selecting items, marketing them and sending them out to customers.
“Reverence for the Earth is filtered through the whole business,” said Greenwald, who makes regular trips to grocery stores and recycling centers to garner the packaging materials for her shipments. She even reuses her printing paper, using both sides before recycling it.
Sustainable Computing at University of Michigan
Computers, tablets, laptops - you name it, chances are students at the University of Michigan use it. The challenge was finding a way to educate them on “green computing” practices.
The result was the Sustainable Computing program at the university. The program, which started in 2008, has grown from a small, two-year project into a campus-wide sustainability program, said MaryBeth Stuenkel, who is the lead coordinator.
The need is great: the University has more than 80,000 computers on campus and spends $4.8 million on electricity to power computers and other office equipment annually.
The Sustainability program had three goals, Stuenkel said. The first was to raise awareness of computer use, such as how much energy a computer left on overnight actually uses. Secondly, the program sought to change the campus culture, encouraging students to put their devices on “idle” or other power-saving settings. The final goal was to establish UM’s best practices and share those at events, conferences and among other campuses.
The program also created tools and initiatives for campus IT staff aimed at helping them spread the message. University departments that showed improvement received recognition via certificates and were part of a special “gold level” tree-planting ceremony on the UM Diag.
Improvements came fast, Stuenkel said. Students just needed the basic information to make those changes. For example, teaching them about power management strategies for computers and monitors - such as adjusting sleep settings and powering down when possible - saves nearly half a ton of carbon dioxide and more than $60 a year in energy costs.
The University has since wrapped the Sustainable Computing program into its “Planet Blue” office of campus sustainability, ensuring these efforts continue well into the future.
Sustainable Energy Financing LLC
Developing a renewable energy project can seem daunting, especially if it is your first go-around. Kyle Denning and Dan Kuipers have grown their business by understanding the challenges and opportunities.
Their company, Sustainable Energy Financing, is committed to providing innovative sustainable solutions across the globe, Denning said. With offices in Holland, Michigan and Nairobi, Kenya, SEF directly promotes the development of renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction projects, both through its own ventures and those of its clients.
“Internally and externally, SEF is committed to the highest level of sustainable business practices, from our green energy projects we develop to our internal policies and practices,” Denning added.
SEF was founded by Denning and Kuipers to promote renewable energy and sustainability related projects domestically and abroad. It offers renewable energy, carbon market and sustainability consulting services to project developers, renewable energy technology providers and private businesses.
In 2010, SEF acquired Viability to expand the suite of services SEF provides and to target a larger market share. In addition to Viability, SEF has ownership interests in two other entities, Viability Africa and Midwest Solar Aggregation Group. The acquisition developed SEF into an organization that provides an experienced management, sales, and support staff that serves its client base by acquiring grants, tax credits, rebates and economic development incentives and providing sustainability consulting and carbon seminars.
“The most rewarding aspect for us to promoting sustainability in such a strong way is the broad impact it has in the communities we operate, from the suburbs of Grand Rapids, Mich. to the slums of Nairobi, Kenya we have directly seen our work change the lives and futures of individuals,” Denning said.
Thomas J. Newhouse-Design
Thomas J. Newhouse describes his work as an industrial designer as “an artist for industry,” or as someone who serves as an architect for everything smaller than a building.
And it is with an artist’s eye that Thomas J. Newhouse-Design uses to create furniture, lighting, appliances and other products for everyday use. Newhouse has been a leader in Grand Rapids’ sustainability drive since he opened his design firm in 1978.
His four-square logo is a symbol of Newhouse’s feelings toward sustainability. As he describes it, “New products must be durable, have the lowest possible environment impact in their manufacture and use, and include a roadmap for their re-use or recycling…a true “cradle to cradle” approach where the idea of waste is eliminated.”
To that end, Newhouse designs for some of the region’s most well-respected sustainable companies including Herman Miller, Steelcase and Cascade Engineering. He also lectures on his “four corners” philosophy regarding design and environment.
“The four corners design philosophy is overreaching in everything I do,” Newhouse said. “When I have aesthetics, sustainability, ergonomics and economy in balance, I have accomplished something.”
Perhaps the most satisfying thing these days is that Newhouse can overtly display his commitment to sustainability to his clients; previously, he kept his sustainability approach under the radar in case they worried these efforts would cost more, Newhouse said.
The challenge now is that “the low-hanging fruit has been picked; we must stay committed to the next level,” Newhouse said. “It gets harder and harder to climb the mountain. The easy stuff like recycling is well established. Now, it’s going to be a long journey. But it’s worth the effort.”
There are few things as memorable as the smell of the air after a rainstorm or that crisp feeling of laundry dried outdoors. That is what TruAir Solution Inc. captures with its unique organic product.
TruAir is a Michigan distributor of the hydroxyl generator systems manufactured by HGI Industries in Boynton Beach. Siobhan Strickland, the state’s woman of all trades, said she is working hard to ensure the general public understands the potential of such a device and its air-cleaning capabilities.
“It is simple technology, but it’s amazing with how much it can do in terms of odor and bacteria,” Strickland said. “It has commercial capabilities, like cleaning the air after a house fire. But it also has residential uses; one of our clients uses it to prevent his allergies from his wife’s cats. He says TruAir has improved his situation 100 percent.”
Going from restoration contractors to household use has been challenging; Strickland said much of her time is spent trying to educate the public about TruAir’s technology. To that end, she has set up special units inside typically odorous spaces such as the penguin house at the Detroit Zoo. The energy-efficient unit, which can be relatively quiet, does such a complete job that people have a hard time knowing it is there.
“For me, it’s changed my life. It helps me breathe easier,” Strickland said, especially because smaller units can be attached to household heating-and-cooling units, allowing TruAir to impact everything from cottages to sizable senior-living apartments.
Turner Construction Co.
Turner Construction not only builds sustainable construction projects, but the company itself has dedicated itself to changing the way it does business to be not just eco-friendly but environmental leaders.
Turner, whose Michigan division has been here since 1913, has been part of the sustainability movement and LEED system since their beginnings, said Marketing Manager Dann McDonald.
“They have been key parts of our business that we purposely have chosen to grow within our organization,” McDonald said. “We have a lot of knowledge and experience to bring to the table.”
Turner has more than 1,300 LEED accredited professionals on its staff. It has constructed more than 260 LEED certified buildings with a project volume of more than $14 billion. In total, that is about 57 million square feet of LEED certified buildings. Within Michigan, some of Turner’s projects include the first LEED silver library in Harper Woods and a LEED gold hospital in Grand Rapids.
Internally, Turner’s public commitment to LEED includes reducing how much waste the company creates. As of the first quarter of 2012, Turner has diverted 89 percent of the waste that would have gone to the landfill, said Lynley Weston, PE, LEED AP and Turner’s Sustainability Manager.
“Our next big push is in operations - we want to hone in on making that less energy consuming,” Weston said. So far, Turner is looking at bringing in LED construction lights and “green” job site trailers as possibilities. This will be in addition to the company’s Safe and Sustainable Job Site program, which “takes a ground-up approach to sustainability,” she said.
Webasto Roof Systems Inc.
Webasto Roof Systems Inc. has a tradition of progress - both in terms of creating new technologies for its clients and customers but also in terms of what it has done to improve its carbon footprint across the many industries it touches.
Webasto has been family-owned since its foundation in 1901. The company has been supplying the automotive industry for more than 75 years: today it is split into the divisions Convertible & Roof, as well as Global Comfort Solutions for heating, cooling and ventilation.
“The most rewarding for all of us is the realization that we are doing what is best for our planet, people, and prosperity. The easiest was to start the process; people truly care about the future. The challenge is to maintain the momentum,” said John W. Bul, CMRP, Commercial and Business Development Manager for the Livonia-based company.
Examples of its environmental efforts include its efforts to reduce its water consumption, which has been reduced by 240,000 gallons annually. It uses all-recycled paper products. It has reduced its waste to landfill in the first year by 10 percent. And its use of environmentally safe ice-removal products in winter has eliminated the use of rock salt entirely.
Webasto communicates its sustainability efforts through several information streams: its websites, global newsletter (Webasto World), local newsletter (Webasto Sun Times), monthly company meetings, video information screens and dedicated presentations.
“The most rewarding element of this process is enthusiastic colleague involvement that drives and sustains our progress made to date, and ensures our future success,” Bul said.
West Michigan Shared Hospital Laundry
Finding ways to save money could be described as a regular if not daily exercise within the health care industry. So when a group of Midwestern hospitals realized they could cut costs through a laundry co-op, they were quick to jump on board.
The result is West Michigan Shared Hospital Laundry. The idea, said Executive Director Duane Houvener, was to enjoy the efficiencies and pricing advantages of a central laundry system. What started with 13 co-op members in 1975 has expanded to include 27 health care facilities around West Michigan and Northern Indiana.
“They all work together every day to help keep health care costs as they relate to laundry as low as possible,” Houvener said. “It is a competitive health care market out there, but when it comes to laundry, they all work together very well.”
Sustainability goes hand in hand with the company’s mission, Houvener said. “Laundry in and of itself is a green concept. Any linen is reusable and doesn’t get sent to the landfill like a paper product,” he added.
Recently, the co-op has updated its laundry services to eliminate boilers in the cleaning process. As a result, its utility costs and water needs have gone down dramatically, offering further savings to its members and other groups that use its services.
“Because of the changes we’ve made, we’re reducing our water and utility usage upwards of 40 percent. When you think about it, we process 30 million pounds of linen annually, saving half a gallon per pound is a lot of water. That’s as much as 15 million gallons saved because of the changes we’ve made.”