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Grand Valley Sustainablilty Impact: $900 Million

ALLENDALE -- Grand Valley State University's sustainability efforts are worth nearly a billion dollars to West Michigan, the university announced Wednesday.

To be precise, the economic impact of Grand Valley's sustainability efforts in the region is more than $900 million. Grand Valley broke down the funds and resources that were saved at the university and in the region in its first collective sustainability impact report.

The report, compiled by the university's Sustainable Community Development Initiative, uses 2010-2011 data. It includes 11 sections that outline practices used by Grand Valley students, faculty and staff members to decrease the university's footprint and increase the impact of sustainable activity on campus and in the community.

Grand Valley's sustainability journey continues to grow, as illustrated in an assessment report developed in 2005 and an indicator progress report developed in 2008, said Norman Christopher, director of the Sustainable Community Development Initiative.

"This collective sustainability impact report, however, represents a new way to view sustainability from a more in-depth and strategic perspective," he said.

Some highlights from the report include:

* The partnership with The Rapid, the Grand Rapids-based bus service, saved students more than $27 million, including $21 million in automotive costs and $6 million in fuel costs;
* In the President's 50-hour Service Challenge during the university's 50th Anniversary Celebration, 655 volunteers provided 25,733 hours to 930 community organizations, and had an economic impact of $519,151;
* Some 6,811 students participated in internships, practica, and student teaching, which saved employers more than $25 million;
* Student credit hours in sustainability courses totaled 116,991 hours, or 18.4 percent of all student credit hours;
* Grand Valley's fiscal sustainability and economic impact on the region totaled more than $733.4 million.

Christopher explained that the Princeton Review tracked college bound freshman through surveys and found nearly seven out of 10 are influenced by a school's commitment to environmental sustainability.

"This report will be a great way to share those messages with prospective students to show what we're doing and what we plan to do," he said.

Grand Valley President Thomas J. Haas added: "We're a gamechanger. This report demonstrates the things we've done to reduce our environmental footprint. We are excited to share it and hope it gets the campus community even more excited about contributing at Grand Valley."

For more information about the report, contact Grand Valley's Sustainable Community Development Initiative at (616) 331-7366.

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