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Grand Rapids Hitting on All Cylinders

Previously filled with manufacturing buildings and warehouses that were in various stages of disrepair, the Grand Rapids Downtown Market is now duly transformed—all of it marked by a collection of food vendors, restaurants, demonstration kitchens and a greenhouse in an environmentally-friendly building.

What started as a dream for a few community members soon became a reality, thanks to the leadership of Grand Action, the planning and consulting of Ted Spitzer, and the design implementation by Hugh A. Boyd Architects.

The Market is a mixed-use facility that brings together local food production, education, and entrepreneurship opportunities. Its indoor facility features a 23-vendor market hall with two full-service restaurants, while dozens of artisans line the outdoor market shed during special events.

Grand Rapids Downtown Market offers several exceptional spaces throughout the site, including a rentable Incubator Kitchen, rooftop greenhouses, and the nation's first kid-friendly demonstration kitchen. The Market is LEED Gold certified, features a green roof, live walls, geotherm wells, a rain garden, and plenty of other innovative, sustainable features.

The developers wanted the Market's location to serve as a focal point within the city while revitalizing a previously neglected area. The Market continues to spark redevelopment of nearby properties while reintroducing community neighbors to a once underutilized Grand Rapids locale.

The Downtown Market was developed by a local non-profit partnership, Grand Action, whose vision has transformed downtown Grand Rapids. Grand Action leverages public and private funds and partnerships for downtown redevelopment, such as the Van Andel Arena and Michigan State University Medical School.

"This project layered many, many incentives and frankly, the project would not have succeeded without them," said John Byl, a project partner from Grand Rapids law firm Warner Norcross and Judd. "The MDEQ grant of $1 million and MDEQ brownfield tax increment financing to address demolition and environmental contamination were essential."

Here are several of the sustainability attributes that depict the downtown market:

Energy. The energy-driven efficiencies are long and widespread—encompassing all aspects of best-practices. The game plan from the outset was to conserve as much energy as possible. Features include 5,000 sq. ft. of green roofing systems, 1,400 sq. ft. live wall and 225 sq. ft. interior live wall. Variable speed fans and pumps, energy recovery wheels, carbon dioxide and occupancy sensors, direct digital controls, outdoor air delivery monitoring, variable air volume kitchen hood make-up air units, and LED lighting—saving $18,000 per year in energy costs.

Recycling. It's doing its part to keep landfills less populated through a variety of initiatives and technologies and are also recycling in a new way. The process entails thinking about where every piece of refuse ends up. Programs and ideas for better recycling include: Storage and collection of recyclables with mandatory tenant participation and the use of a biodigester.

Water Use. It collects, stores and reuses rainwater to keep plants and grounds healthy and also to reduce the need for valuable fresh water. It also made sure that parking lots' porous pavement controls runoff and prevents harmful pollutants from reaching nearby rivers, lakes, and streams.

Photo courtesy of flickr

Materials matter. Building materials contribute to its LEED accreditation. These include: Low VOC emitting material, recycled content, regional materials and recycled wood used throughout the new building. It has also taken care of the things not visible to the naked eye: Construction waste management, construction air quality management, construction activity pollution prevention, tenant design and construction guidelines and non-smoking campus.

Greenhouse. In addition to being home to delicious, local produce throughout all four seasons, our Greenhouse also provides a handful of educational opportunities for green thumbs of all ages. It also has a rainwater harvesting system for irrigation.

Transportation. Whether visitors or residents prefer to bike, bus or walk, the Market provides community connectivity and alternative transportation, bike racks and parking for energy-efficient cars.

Videos are available for his and other projects in the state. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) has released the first in a series of videos showcasing its brownfield redevelopment projects. MDEQ helps communities clean up and safely reuse brownfields with financial incentives and technical assistance.

Videos are available at www.michigan.gov/deqconnect. The MDEQ is dedicated to respect for Michigan's citizens, stewardship of the environment, and support for a sustainable economy.

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