Grand Rapids joins national coalition to reduce emissions through building standards COURTESY PHOTO

Grand Rapids joins national coalition to reduce emissions through building standards

BY Thursday, January 27, 2022 06:48pm

GRAND RAPIDS — The city of Grand Rapids has joined 32 other state and local governments across the country in the National Building Performance Standard Coalition that the Biden administration rolled out on Jan. 22.

As a member of the coalition, Grand Rapids will be able to leverage technical support through federal agencies including the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The program is meant to drive investment into building retrofits and create jobs that support healthier buildings and lower housing and energy costs with building performance standards.

Buildings are the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., accounting for 35 percent of total energy-related emissions, according to data on the NBPS website.

“We recognize that decarbonizing our buildings is one of the most important pathways to reducing communitywide carbon emissions,” Mayor Rosalyn Bliss said in a statement. “It is critical that equity be a dual priority embedded into any building performance standards or other high performing building programs designed for our community.”

Grand Rapids’ participation in the coalition aligns with the city’s Equitable, Healthy and Zero Carbon Building Initiative that it launched in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council of West Michigan and Urban Core Collective in late summer 2021. The zero carbon building initiative’s goal is to achieve increased affordability, beneficial health outcomes and resilience while reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions in residential and commercial buildings. 

Through both efforts, the city seeks to increase community and local stakeholder engagement to explore co-designing equitable building performance standards and complementary policies and programs, said Alison Waske Sutter, sustainability officer for the city of Grand Rapids. The goal is to present a package of policies to city commissioners in the fall of 2023, and to adopt the policies by Earth Day on April 22, 2024.

“Upgrading and retrofitting buildings to increase clean energy courses and reduce overall energy use can dramatically reduce these harmful emissions,” Sutter said in a statement. “At the same time, energy retrofits and upgrades can be leveraged to concurrently improve a building’s health and resilience for its occupants and surrounding community, while generating jobs and increased local economic investment.”

The city of Ann Arbor is also among the 33 municipalities in the NBPS coalition.

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