State and Local Policy Database

Grand Rapids

City Scorecard Rank

38

Grand Rapids, MI

29.00Scored out of 100Updated 8/2019
Local Government Score:
4 out of 9 points
Local Government Climate and Energy Goals List All

The City of Grand Rapids’s Sustainability Plan FY2017 – FY2021 focuses on improving the sustainability of municipal operations and the community, including in the climate and energy sectors.

Climate Mitigation Goal

The Sustainability Plan establishes a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from municipal operations by 25% below 2009 levels by 2021. ACEEE projects the city will achieve its GHG emissions reduction goal for local government operations. 

Energy Reduction Goal

We did not find information regarding a municipal energy reduction goal.

Renewable Energy Goal

The Sustainability Plan also includes a goal for the city government to use 100% renewable energy for its operations.

Last updated: March 2020

Procurement and Construction List All

Fleet Policies and Composition

Grand Rapids does not have a formal fleet procurement policy, but the city makes efforts to purchase hybrid and electric vehicles for its light duty fleet. Recently we have made a commitment through the Climate Mayors EV Purchasing Collaborative, to purchase 20 electric and plug-in hybrid by the end of 2020. Grand Rapids’ municipal fleet is currently composed of 10.3% efficient vehicles, including hybrid and battery electric. 

Public Lighting

Grand Rapids Outdoor Lighting Ordinance includes provisions of the International Dark-Sky Association’s Model Lighting Ordinance and requires LEDs to use intelligent lighting controls. The city is planning a city-wise streetlight conversion to LED. Currently approximately 5% of streetlights are LED. The city no longer installs HPS fixtures. 

Onsite renewable systems 

We were unable to determine if Grand Rapids has onsite renewable energy systems in on municipal facilities, but the city is planning to issue an FRP for facilities with solar potential.

Inclusive procurement

We could not verify if the city has inclusive procurement and contracting processes.

Last updated: March 2020

Asset Management List All

Buildings Benchmarking and Retrofitting

Grand Rapids benchmarks all municipal facilities. The City uses ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager to benchmark 227 facilities, totaling 4.4 million square feet.

Public Workforce Commuting

We did not find information on a policy aimed at reducing commutes of city employees, such as flexible schedules or telework.

Last updated: March 2019

Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 2 out of 16 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

The City of Grand Rapids adopted a Sustainability Plan for fiscal years 2017 to 2021.  

Last updated: March 2020

Community-Wide Climate Mitigation and Energy GoalsList All

Climate Mitigation Goal

The city does not have a climate mitigation or greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal.

Energy Reduction Goal

We did not find information regarding a community-wide energy reduction goal for the city.

Renewable Energy Goal

We did not find information regarding a community-wide renewable energy goal for the city.  

Energy Data Reporting

The city has not publicly reported community-wide energy data.

Last updated: March 2020

Equity-Driven Approaches to Clean Energy Planning, Implementation, and EvaluationList All

Equity-Driven Community Engagement

We were unable to determine whether permanent city staff have taken a unique and expanded approach in conducting outreach for multiple clean energy initiatives to marginalized groups compared with outreach to other city constituencies.

Equity-Driven Decision-Making

We were unable to determine if the city has created a formal role for marginalized community residents or local organizations representing those communities to participate in decision-making that affects the creation or implementation of a local energy, sustainability, or climate action plan.

Accountability to Equity

We were unable to determine whether the city has adopted specific goals, metrics, or protocols to track how multiple energy, sustainability, or climate action initiatives are affecting local marginalized groups.

Last updated: March 2020

Clean Distributed Energy SystemsList All

We could not verify if the city has adopted a formal policy, rule, or agreement that supports the creation of clean distributed energy systems.

Last updated: March 2020

Mitigation of Urban Heat Islands List All

The Sustainability Plan includes a goal to increase urban tree canopy coverage to 40% by 2021.

The city’s Vital Streets program incorporates low impact development techniques into street planning and design.

The city has a private tree protection ordinance.

Last updated: March 2020

Buildings Policies
Score: 6 out of 30 points
Buildings Summary List All

The City of Grand Rapids enforces the state’s building energy codes. The city does not have a comprehensive code compliance policy. Grand Rapids runs a voluntary benchmarking program through its 2030 District. Grand Rapids offers property assessed clean energy financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy project.

Last updated: March 2020

Building Energy Code AdoptionList All

Overview

The State of Michigan has statewide requirements for residential and commercial buildings. We did not find information regarding city advocacy for state improvement in residential or commercial energy codes. To learn more about the building codes and requirements for the State of Michigan, please visit the State Policy Database.

Commercial

Commercial construction must comply with ASHRAE 90.1-2007. The city’s zEPI score for their commercial energy code is 50.3.

Residential

Residential construction must comply with the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). The city’s zEPI score for their residential energy code is 57.0.

Solar- and EV-ready

The city has not passed an ordinance mandating new construction be solar- and/or EV-ready, but does allow solar energy use in all zones. 

Low-energy use requirements

Per the Sustainability Policy for City Buildings, all municipal buildings must achieve LEED standards. 

Last updated: March 2020

Building Energy Code Enforcement and ComplianceList All

Grand Rapids does not have any full time employees solely dedicated to energy code enforcement. The city requires plan reviews and site inspections, but not performance testing, as a means of compliance verification. The city offers upfront support for energy code compliance through the Building Inspections Department. 

Last updated: March 2020

Benchmarking, Rating, & Transparency List All

Commercial and multifamily

Grand Rapids does not have a mandatory benchmarking, rating, and disclosure policy for commercial and/or multifamily properties. However, the city established a voluntary 2030 District, with 14 million square feet committed to the initiative. 

Single-family     

The city has not adopted a single-family benchmarking and disclosure policy.

Last updated: March 2020

Incentives and Financing for Efficient Buildings and Renewable EnergyList All

Grand Rapids offers commercial and multifamily property owners access to property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation projects.

Last updated: March 2020

Required Energy ActionsList All

Grand Rapids has not adopted a policy requiring building owners to conduct any additional above-code energy-saving actions.

Last updated: March 2020

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Workforce DevelopmentList All

We could not verify if the city has programs committed to developing a dedicated energy efficiency and/or renewable energy workforce.

Last updated: March 2020

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 8.5 out of 15 points
Energy & Water Utilities Summary List All

Consumers Energy, an investor-owned utility (IOU), is the primary electric utility for the City of Grand Rapids. The primary natural gas supplier for Grand Rapids is DTE Energy, an IOU. The State of Michigan requires spending and savings targets for its electric and rate-regulated natural gas utilities through an EERS. The utilities must file documentation of energy efficiency programs to the state PUC. To learn more about the state requirements for electric and gas efficiency, please visit the Michigan page of the State Database.

The City of Grand Rapids Water Department is the municipal utility that provides the City of Grand Rapids with drinking water services, wastewater treatment, and stormwater management.

Last Updated: March 2020

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs and SavingsList All

In 2018, Consumers Energy reported 586,784 MWh of net electric savings at the meter, which represents 1.55% of its retail sales. In 2018, Consumers Energy spent $117,837,000 on energy efficiency programs, which represents 2.69% of its retail revenue.

In 2018, DTE reported savings of 16.87 MMtherms from natural gas efficiency programs, representing 1.35% of its retail sales. In 2018, DTE spent $27,734,876 on energy efficiency, which equates to $23.60 per residential customer. These savings figures cover the entire Michigan service territory, not just Grand Rapids.

Consumers Energy offers electric efficiency incentives and technical assistance to residential and business customers. DTE similarly offers natural gas incentives to residential and commercial/industrial customers.

While the City of Grand Rapids does not have an official partnership with its utilities, both the electricity and natural gas utilities sit on the City’s Energy Advisory Committee, which is charged with challenging the city to stay at the forefront of energy work. The City is also working collaboratively with the utilities on reducing the city’s municipal energy use and developing a program for low income residents.

Last Updated: March 2020

Low-Income & Multifamily EE Programs List All

Low-Income Programs

Consumers Energy’s Income-Qualified Energy Efficiency Assistance Program provides services to single-family, income-eligible customers to reduce energy consumption and improve comfort in their home. It offers no-cost direct services that include energy efficiency upgrades, home energy assessments and energy-saving education. The program collaborates with local stakeholders, such as the municipal government, Community Action Agencies, Habitat for Humanity, United Way 211, Housing Commissions, and many additional non-profit organizations. The program uses a variety of delivery strategies and delivery channels, such as home energy assessments, food bank lighting distribution, collaboration with community-based organizations, and deeper weatherization measures. The program leverages other funding sources such as the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), and philanthropic funds to complete housing retrofit/weatherization projects. When offering rebate incentives to Community Action Agencies or Community-Based Organizations, utility program funding is leveraged with other funding sources such MSHDA Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) or available financing options.

In 2018, according to Consumers Energy, it saved 13,834 MWh in savings, while spending $5,437,604 on its low-income program and served 8,000 low-income customers with their program.

DTE offers the Energy Efficiency Assistance Program which provides recommendations, financial assistance and education to income-qualified customers and assists them in reducing their energy use and managing their utility costs. The program leverages the services provided by member agencies of the Michigan Community Action Agency Association (MCAAA), municipalities, counties, public housing commissions, faith-based institutions, community development corporations, and nonprofit organizations with existing housing and energy programs. DTE does not pay incentives directly to its income-qualified customers; instead the program delivers incentive funding to these customers through a variety of in-kind services. These services include weatherization plus the replacement of inefficient refrigerators with ENERGY STAR® models in single-family homes and low-income multifamily dwellings, as well as in-home consultation and installation of energy-efficient measures through the Home Energy Consultation (HEC) Program for income-qualified customers.

DTE streamlines eligibility requirements by using the same requirements as many other programs for low-income customers. Through the Energy Efficiency Assistance program, DTE partners directly with local agencies, municipalities, counties, public housing commissions, faith-based institutions, community development corporations, and nonprofit organizations to offer housing and energy programs. DTE also offers a multifamily low-income program that provides direct install of energy efficiency measures in multifamily rental properties, provides energy information and education to tenants, ensures participation is clear and easy, and covers a portion or all of the cost for common area improvements. DTE also offers two additional programs for low-income customers: 1) Home Energy Consultation Low-Income, and 2) Home Energy Reports for low-income customers.

In 2018, according to DTE, it achieved 1.58 MMtherms in energy savings, while spending $6,083,659 and serving 129,459 natural gas customers.

The City of Grand Rapids, through our Community Development Department, offers the Housing Rehabilitation Program. This program is federally funded, though administered by City staff. This program is restricted to low income homeowners. The program helps low-income homeowners determine what repairs are needed. Assistance also includes insuring that the homeowner gets a fair price and will ensure that projects get complete with good quality. The loan can be between $1,000 and $24,000 and can fund repairs or upgrades to improve energy efficiency, emergency repairs, exterior repairs, health and safety improvements, repairs for accessibility, and treating lead-based paint or asbestos hazards.

Multifamily Programs

The Consumers Energy Multifamily Energy Efficiency Program offers equipment incentives to building owners that include lighting, lighting controls, heating, cooling, ventilation, water heating, building envelope and custom measures, for whole building energy retrofit opportunities for major renovation/new construction. The program also includes direct install measures for tenants and common areas that include lighting, aerators, showerheads, pipe wrap, and thermostats. For income qualified customers, expanded measures are offered for air sealing and insulation, smart thermostat and some appliances.

In 2018, according to Consumers Energy, its multifamily program achieved 11,230 MWh in savings, while spending $4,584,069 and serving 600 customers.

DTE provides two comprehensive programs for multifamily properties. The Multifamily In-Unit Improvements Program offers no-cost direct install of energy efficient lighting, showerheads, faucet aerators, programmable thermostats, and pipe wrap installation where units have electric water heating. The program also conducts a free energy assessment to identify other potential energy-saving upgrades. Additionally, these utilities offer the Multifamily Common Areas Improvements Program, which offers rebates for common area measures such as interior and exterior lighting, furnace/boiler upgrades, water heating, air conditioning, building and duct insulation, programmable thermostats, and ENERGY STAR windows.

In 2018, according to DTE, the program achieved 0.35 MMtherms in savings, while spending $1,197,000 and serving 3,689 natural gas customers.

Last Updated: March 2020

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

Neither Consumers Energy nor DTE Energy provide building managers with automated benchmarking data through ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager for multitenant commercial or multifamily buildings. The City of Grand Rapids negotiates with both utilities to provide better data access to help residents and businesses within the city.

Last Updated: March 2020

Renewable Energy Efforts of Energy UtilitiesList All

Renewable Energy Incentives

In 2018, Consumers Energy did not provide renewable energy incentives for the construction of new distributed solar or wind systems.

City-Led Efforts to Decarbonize the Electric Grid

The City of Grand Rapid’s has provided public comments to the Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) advocating for increased energy efficiency and renewable energy. The city is also working with Consumers Energy on strategies to accomplish the city’s renewable energy goals as well as increase renewable energy generation within the city. Both the electric and natural gas utility sit in on the city’s Energy Advisory Committee, which is charged with challenging the city to stay at the forefront of energy work. They also work collaboratively on reducing the city’s municipal energy use and developing programs for low-income residents.

Last Updated: March 2020

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

City-wide water efficiency and goals

The energy and water utilities do not currently offer joint energy and water efficiency programs. However, Consumers Energy does offer a number of rebates to customers that include water efficiency measures, such as clothes washers.

The water and wastewater utilities of Grand Rapids are operating under an ESCO to achieve greater efficiencies. The water utility also participates in Consumers Energy’s demand response program. The wastewater utility utilizes energy programs and rebates by the utility. Both the water and wastewater utilities also participate in the Consumers Energy Business Energy Efficiency Program (CEBEEP), which offers dedicated focus to the Municipal Water and Wastewater sector through the Industrial Energy Program (IEP). The wastewater utility utilizes energy programs and rebates by the utility. At this time, the City of Grand Rapids has not established a water savings target or goal.

Water plant efficiency and self-generation

The water utility has set a goal to reduce electricity consumption for water filtration and distribution system by 5% as compared to FY2018 by FY2021. In addition, the water filtration plant and wastewater treatment plant both have ESCO agreements for the reduction of energy in their operations. The water utility participates in Consumers Energy’s demand response program, while the wastewater utility utilizes energy programs and rebates by the utility. Both the water and wastewater utilities also participate in the Consumers Energy Business Energy Efficiency Program (CEBEEP), which offers dedicated focus to the Municipal Water and Wastewater sector through the Industrial Energy Program (IEP). The water treatment ESCO for the Lake Michigan Filtration Plant (LMFP) is projected to save 676,215 kWh a year and 223,787 cubic feet (CCF) a year with a savings of about $191,427. The wastewater department is a member of the DOE Better Buildings program and has a goal to 25% reduction in energy intensity.

The City of Grand Rapids moved forward with a biodigester project for the wastewater treatment facility. This biodigester will produce bio-methane to generate both electricity and heat for this facility. The project also includes the injection of the renewable natural gas in the city’s distribution pipeline system.

Last Updated: March 2020

Transportation
Score: 10 out of 30 points
Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Sustainable Transportation Plan

Multiple adopted plans have transportation components that speak to the City's transportation goals. Although a specific target has not been set, VMT reductions were highlighted as an effect of sustainable transportation in the Green Grand Rapids Report, and reduction of VMT was listed as a value in the City's Vital Streets Plan.  The City of Grand Rapids Strategic Plan sets goals to create an accessible multi-modal transportation experience and reduce single-occupant vehicle travel. The main goal presented in the Strategic Plan is to increase the use of public transportation from 20.9 % (current metric from 2017) to 55 % by 2023. By implementing strategies related to this goal the city plans to reduce the number of automobiles on the road, vehicles miles traveled, and GHG emissions within the city limits. Some of the metrics in the Strategic Plan are especially relevant to supporting the goals of the Equitable Economic Development and Mobility Strategic Plan to have 150,000 jobs accessible in a 30-minute transit ride which can significantly reduce the vehicle miles traveled in Grand Rapids.  

VMT/GHG Target and Stringency

The City of Grand Rapids Strategic Plan sets goals to create an accessible multi-modal transportation experience and reduce single-occupant vehicle travel.  The main goal presented in the Strategic Plan is to increase the use of public transportation from 20.9 % (current metric from 2017) to 55 % by 2023. By implementing strategies related to this goal the city plans to reduce the number of automobiles on the road, vehicles miles traveled, and GHG emissions within the city limits. Some of the metrics in the Strategic Plan are especially relevant to supporting the goals of the Equitable Economic Development and Mobility Strategic Plan to have 150,000 jobs accessible in a 30-minute transit ride which can significantly reduce the vehicle miles traveled in Grand Rapids. 

Progress Achieved Toward VMT/GHG Targets

The Offices of Sustainability and Mobility/Fleet/Transportation Dept. are working together to align mobility and GHG emission goals. This synergy allowed for the collection of emissions/fuel consumption data associated with fleet transportation, and also identifies opportunities for financing Electric Vehicles.  

This partnership helped identifying that fleet emissions represents 12% of the total emissions for the city operations (municipal owned fleet). As a step forward, the city intends to evaluate cleaner fuels as well as more electric and hybrid vehicles for the City’s fleet in order to reduce the emissions associated with vehicles.  The city is also working on an autonomous vehicle initiative.

Last Updated: March 2020

Location Efficiency List All

Location Efficient Zoning Codes

Areas with high transit access and priority corridors have overlays zoned to incentivize greater density and mixed use, including the city's Traditional Business Area, Transit Oriented Development, and other zoning designations. The City’s current form-based zoning ordinance was unanimously approved in 2007 and has been amended in its entirety several times to increase density, add new uses (such as marijuana), and insure that the appropriate urban design adjustments are made to encourage on-street parking and transit improvements. Both pedestrian and vehicular connectivity is required, as is bicycle parking. There are no exclusive single-family zone districts for the entire city. The ordinance was written after an extensive community engagement process with the understanding that if the code properly reflects the public’s desire for walkable, mixed-use, transit-oriented development, then the project should be approved with administrative approval.

Residential Parking Policies

There are no parking minimums, and there are parking maximums for the Downtown and TOD-zoned properties. In all other neighborhoods, there is a parking maximum, and the Planning Director can halve requirements if transit is present, car sharing, shared parking arrangements, on-street parking, and other mechanisms. In 2007 the Zoning Ordinance was re-written; at that time parking numbers were cut in half from pre-2007 numbers (e.g. 2.5 spaces/1,000 square feet instead of formerly 5 spaces/1,000 sq ft).

Location Efficiency Incentives and Disclosure

Density bonuses are employed to encourage mixed-income housing, affordable housing, and accessible housing.

Last Updated: March 2020

Mode Shift List All

Mode Shift Targets

In the latest strategic plan, Grand Rapids has a goal to achieve 50% total commute trips by transit, walking, biking, and ridesharing.

Progress Achieved Toward Mode Shift Targets

The city plans to update their metrics in their strategic plan every 6 months. An update has not been made at this time.

Complete Streets

Grand Rapids adopted its complete streets policy in 2011.

Car Sharing

At this time, the City does not have a formal policy in place to provide dedicated on-street and off-street parking for carshare vehicles.

Bike Sharing

In 2017 the City of Grand Rapids Conducted a Bike Share feasibility study. In the new Bike Plan, the city has committed to implementing a pilot program to advance bike share in Grand Rapids, but as of yet no program has been started.

Last Updated: March 2020

Transit List All

Transportation Funding

The transportation entities that serve the City of Grand Rapids have received $57,914,908 on average annually between 2014 and 2018. That equates to roughly $54.16 per capita between 2014 and 2018 within the Authority's service area. 

Access to Transit Services

The Transit Connectivity Index measures transit service levels. It is based on the number of bus routes and train stations within walking distance for households scaled by frequency of service. The City of Grand Rapids Transit Connectivity Index value is 6.5, scoring 0.5 points in the City Scorecard.

Last Updated: March 2020

Efficient VehiclesList All

Vehicle Purchase Incentives

Although the city has acquired 3 electric cars and 70 hybrid vehicles as a result of the city’s commitment to reduce emissions associated with the city fleet, the city does not currently offer incentives for the purchase of these types of vehicles.

Vehicle Infrastructure Incentives

Although the city does not offer incentives for electric vehicles,  there is a specific goal in the City’s Strategic Plan to increase the number of city-owned electric vehicle charging stations from 8 to 20 (16 -40 chargers) by 2023. 

Our utility company, Consumers Energy, provides incentives as rebates for commercial and residential vehicle charging infrastructure. The incentives vary from $400 (residential) up to $70,000 for fast charging stations. 

EV Charging Locations

The City owns 30 charging stations available for public use, equating to roughly 14.984 units per 100,00 people. 

Renewable Charging Incentives

At this time, the City of Grand Rapids has no incentives or requirements available for the installation of private or public EV charging infrastructure powered by renewable energy (solar, wind, etc.).

Last Updated: March 2020

Freight System EfficiencyList All

Grand Rapids does not have a sustainable freight transportation plan in place, nor does it have any policies that address freight efficiency.

Last Updated: March 2020

Clean, Efficient Transportation for Low-Income CommunitiesList All

Affordable New TOD Housing Policy

Grand Rapids does not have any requirements or incentives in place to develop or preserve affordable housing in transit-served areas.

Connecting Existing Affordable Housing Stock to Efficient Transportation Options

City Commission approved Grand Rapids’ first comprehensive Bicycle Action Plan on July 23, 2019. The plan includes recommendations for policies and programs to support bicycling year-round and connected, high-quality bicycling facilities. One of the main goals of this Plan is to provide access to bicycling for all members of the community. The Rapid provides reduced fare bus passes for low-income individuals. In addition, the DASH bus system is free. 

Last Updated: March 2020