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Grand Valley's sustainability impact totals $250 million

  • Entrance to the Allendale Campus in the morning.

Posted on January 04, 2017

The overall economic impact of Grand Valley State University’s sustainability initiatives in the region reached more than $250 million in 2015. Grand Valley broke down the resources and avoided costs at the university and in the region in its Collective Sustainability Impact Report. 

The report focuses on the sustainability initiatives outlined in Grand Valley's Sustainability Guide, and how it touches every area at the university, from community engagement, waste minimization and energy conservation to courses, curriculum and campus life. The report highlights 11 sections that describe practices used by Grand Valley students, faculty and staff members to improve social, economic and environmental impact. View the full report here.

Norman Christopher, executive director of the Office of Sustainability Practices, said the report reflects the importance Grand Valley places on sustainability as both an on- and off-campus core value. 

"Members of the campus community make sustainable choices every day that affect our campuses," Christopher said. "Those same people — students, faculty, staff members and alumni — are also making a sustainable impact in their respective communities, which can be seen through our partnerships with the City of Grand Rapids, local industry and many other organizations." 

The university is a founding member of the Grand Rapids Community Sustainability Partnership, a group that now has more than 250 organization members. Grand Valley is also a member of the 2030 District committed to reduce energy use 50 percent by 2030 and reduce overall environmental impact in downtown Grand Rapids. Most recently, Grand Valley is supporting Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss' Greening Initiative to have a tree canopy of 40 percent in the city.

Some highlights from the report include: 

- Nearly 200 sustainability-related courses were offered at Grand Valley (economic, social, environmental). 

- One million pounds of food were purchased by Campus Dining in 2015 from 23 local farms and 31 local suppliers. 

- There were 20 completed LEED-certified building projects at Grand Valley by the end of 2015. 

- Construction projects on campus in 2015 created 2,919 jobs. 

- Over the last 15 years, Grand Valley has implemented more than 250 energy-saving projects totaling more than $2 million in annual cost avoidances and $1.5 million in annual, one-time savings. 

The report was developed using data that was submitted through the university's AASHE STARS reporting system. The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education's Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System gauges the progress of colleges and universities toward sustainability in academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration, and innovation. Grand Valley is a gold-status university

For more information about the report, contact the Office of Sustainability Practices at (616) 331-7366.