GR Making Very Strong Green Pitch

April 9, 2004
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GRAND RAPIDS — The site selection committee of the U.S. Green Building Council will be here this Wednesday and Thursday to see how Grand Rapids stacks up against Denver, Phoenix and Salt Lake City as a convention site.

The committee’s charge is to pick from among the four cities for the council’s 2006 convention and annual meeting called Greenbuild, which would attract as many as 8,000 attendees.

Despite the prominence of the other three cities, local leaders say they believe Grand Rapids is a strong contender for the convention because the West Michigan organizing group of the U.S. Green Building Council — the local arm of the national USGBC headquartered in Washington, D.C. — has been particularly active in the national green building movement.

Moreover, West Michigan is believed to have the nation’s highest concentration of green practices and LEED-certified buildings.

The USGBC sets national standards in environmentally responsible building through its LEED Green Building Rating System.

The site selection committee is to review the town’s lodging, transportation, dining and entertainment venues.

It also will tour several LEED-certified buildings and meet with Peter Wege and Jim Hackett, business leaders who aggressively promote green building, plus U.S. Rep. Vern Ehlers, Alfred Munkenbeck, architect of the new Grand Rapids Art Museum, and George Heartwell, mayor of Grand Rapids.

During the second day of the committee’s visit, the West Michigan USGBC organizing group — together with Haworth Inc. and the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel — will host a chapter meeting that includes tours of five LEED-certified buildings, afternoon presentations, and an evening reception to be addressed by Jim Hartzfeld, board chairman of USGBC National.

According to a release from the Grand Rapids/Kent County Convention & Visitors Bureau, the convention’s 8,000 delegats would generate $1.7 million in visitor spending.

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