Sign In




    ​​​​Climate Change and Resiliency

    ​Photo by 


    The Effects of Climate Change in Grand Rapids​​​​​​  
    Increasing average temperatures in the Great Lakes region put vulnerable populations at risk and can lead to higher insurance costs, emergency management budgets, and greater property damage leading to clean-up and rebuilding costs, and potential loss of tourism and recreation. Additionally, hotter summers and more frequent and severe storms are straining energy, stormwater, and sewer and water infrastructure.
    In response to these challenges, the City of Grand Rapids has already taken a range of cost-effective actions that increase our resilience:  
    • Developed energy conservation strategies that continue to focus on energy efficiency to further reduce its energy consumption and demand throughout the organization and in the community. Current consumption levels are below previous year’s levels, at 99,700 MWh. Since 2006, the City reduced its electric consumption by over 10%. ​
    • Set a goal to achieve 100% of the City’s power from renewable sources by 2020. Diversified energy sources are key for local resilience—including solar, small wind, and geothermal—and key for greenhouse gas reduction. Currently, the City’s renewable energy consumption is over 25% of the entire City’s electricity demand.  Reduced total fuel consumption by 19% over the last eight years. This equates to an annual savings of over $500,000.
    • To offset the urban heat island effect, the City plans to increase its tree canopy cover to at least 37.5% between 2011 and 2015 and diversify the type of tree species planted around the City.
    • The City has incorporated climate adaptation and mitigation strategies and considerations into its Sustainability Plan and its Emergency Action Guidelines.
    • Together, with local partners, the City has developed a Community Resiliency Plan as part of its Sustainability Plan to further provide focus on energy, economy, transportation, and biosystems, and to inform decision making in the areas of sustainability, ordinances, policy, adaptation and mitigation strategies, and the Emergency Plan.

    For more information about the effects of climate change in Grand Rapids, see the following resources:

    Click here to read the 2013 WMEAC Resiliency Report.
    Click here​ to view the Cities with Extreme Weather Climate Fact Sheet.​
    2013 6-17 Mayor and resiliencey.pdf​​​



    Photo by

    Grand Rapids' response to flood in April 2013
    featured in the new report by
    Great Lakes Saint Lawrence Cities Initiative on Adaptation and Resiliency

    In April 2013, Grand Rapids experienced historic flooding.  By April 18th, West Michigan had received four times the average rainfall for the month of April. The Grand River, which runs through downtown Grand Rapids, overflowed, cresting at 21.85 feet in the downtown area - nearly 3 feet above the ‘flood stage’.  Hundreds of residents were forced to leave their homes in surrounding communities in West Michigan. Mayor George Heartwell declared a state of emergency on April 19th. The City of Grand Rapids suffered little damage as a result of the flooding, thanks to preemptive investments, sustainability and emergency planning, and quick response at the time of the event.

    In 2003, 
     Grand Rapids spent $12 million to raise the flood walls that protect the city. The city also invested more than $300 million over ten years to effectively bring an end to combined sewer overflows. On April 18th, with the help of staff and countless volunteers, the city built a six foot sand berm to protect the main sewage treatment plant and provided additional protection at strategic locations downtown. In the words of Mayor George Heartwell, identifying and addressing vulnerable infrastructure in advance ’averted disaster’ in the city.  
    Click on the link below to view the complete report by Great Lakes Saint Lawrence Cities Initiative on Adaptation and Resiliency​: Adaptation and Resiliency to a Changing Climate​