Catalyst Partners LEEDs the Way

By Jane Whitttington on September 1st, 2015 / Comments

Sustainability, green design, ecological responsibility: these are buzz words we all hear as we adjust to a changing world. To the people at Catalyst Partners, they are more than mere words. The ideas, processes and implementation in the green revolution are creating a better world for us and our environment. And Catalyst Partners are front and center in the effort.

Keith Winn, who founded the company 14 years ago, had been working at Herman Miller. He says, “I was involved with environmental initiatives at Herman Miller both in the building and product development areas. We developed standards for measuring environmental performance. When I left Herman Miller in 2002 to start this company, I continued to work with them as a consultant to further develop and refine measurable standards. Soon, we began working with companies who were planning to comply with these standards, helping them develop plans, designs and implementation.”

A big part of the effort has been centered around LEED certification. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification is a way of rating design, construction, operation and maintenance of green buildings, homes and neighborhoods. Developed in 1998 by the U. S. Green Building Council to bring information and action to the construction and renovation of structures, the council awards LEED points based on several categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, design innovation and regional priority. LEED certification has become highly prized in the industry.

Winn says, “We help manage certification compliance. While this is most often LEED, we work with other certification entities including BREEM, which is the international version of LEED, and others.”

Eric Doyle, Senior Project Manager, adds, “We are essentially business performance facilitators. We are well-versed in various certification programs, but we are much more than that. While our work may start out in that realm, it also includes architecture, engineering, project management and other services designed to meet the clients’ needs. Not all clients are looking for certification; some are looking for improved efficiency, employee health and wellness, energy savings or other factors.”

He continues, “Working with our clients is a very collaborative process. We work to understand what their goals are, and we try to dig deep, asking many questions to fully understand exactly what it is that they want and need beyond just complying with the certification’s requirements.”

Catalyst Partners practices what they preach. Their facility for the past five years has been a 100+ year old former milling company which was later used as a tool and dye shop and then stood vacant and disintegrating for many years. Renovated by Catalyst Partners, it is a showplace. The landscaping is all native plants, with birds and small animals sharing the space. It requires little maintenance and no water. A garden, tended by the staff, produces enough vegetables and flowers to share with neighbors. Solar panels provide energy. It is on a bus route and also encourages both carpooling and bicycling to work. The building includes a fireplace for Michigan winters and an outside balcony for sunny days. Many of the materials used in the building are recycled and repurposed.

Currently, Catalyst employs 13 in their Grand Rapids facility as well as others with whom they partner throughout the United States as well as internationally. The majority of their clients are in West Michigan, but they do go far afield on occasion.

Winn says, “We are a consortium working with many partners throughout the world. The spirit of collaboration, both with our clients and our professional partners, is very important to us.”

Currently, they have a variety of projects throughout the state with Consumers Energy. They have also worked extensively with the Meijer organization, including the two new stores in Detroit. Grand Valley State University in nearby Allendale is another frequent client. The Grand Rapids City Market, completed within the past two years, received a LEED Gold Certification. Just adjacent to the City Market, Catalyst Partners has projects either completed or underway on two other sites. Their website gives a comprehensive listing of their projects.

Without a doubt, the future of the world literally depends on how well human beings use resources. With companies like Catalyst Partners leading the way, we can be good stewards of the earth we share.

About the Author

Jane Whitttington

Jane Whitttington

Jane Whitttington is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Grand Rapids. A Michigan native and Michigan State University grad, she enjoys reading, travel, politics and volunteering.