2015 GLISA Small Grant: Development of an Adaptation Toolkit for Resiliency Champions at Businesses and Institutions in the West Michigan Region

This project developed resources for business resiliency champions to lead their organization through a vulnerability assessment.  The assessments were informed by predicted industry impacts and historical climate data and projections. Outcomes of the assessment include 1) identifying systems to monitor with respect to identified threats and opportunities, as well as 2) increased communication with internal and external stakeholders. The West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum (WMSBF) lead this work by guiding four representative organizations in the West Michigan area through such an assessment.  The participating organizations included a hospitality/restaurant chain, manufacturer, health care system, and public school system all located in the Grand Rapids area. These pilot cases serve as illustrative examples to other organizations in their industry networks and the community in general, encouraging use of the adaptation toolkit and awareness of climate risk among relevant decision-makers.

WMSBF partnered with a sustainability consulting group that developed a climate risk matrix that provided a preliminary assessment of an organization’s vulnerability to climate change and where to direct further efforts.  GLISA’s role was to work with WMSBF and their partners (through informal phone calls, surveys, and meetings lead by WMSBF) to identify the most relevant climate hazards and develop a custom 2-page Grand Rapid’s summary of the historical trends and future projections for those hazards.  Climate information provided in the 2-page summary included extreme heat and cold events (hot/cold days, heat waves), flood indicators (heavy rain at different time intervals), winter storms (snowfall, freezing rain), freeze thaw cycles, wind storms, and drought indicators.

Project Accomplishments

Research Findings

The resiliency assessment process provided and educational opportunity for decision makers on how an organization might be vulnerable to climate change.  The effort inspired organizations to pursue climate adaptation planning and augment andy existing contingency plans to include climate projections.

Project Partners: Daniel Schoonmaker, West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum

GLISA Contact: Omar Gates, Climatologist: gateso@umich.edu


“Our organization had been working to educate our stakeholders on climate adaptation for a number of years before this project, and had struggled to find a resource that fit the needs of the businesses and institutions that we knew would be impacted. We were telling them that they should be concerned about their operations and buildings, but we weren’t able to answer their questions about how they should respond. Having specific climate data to inform these discussions is helping the organizations we work with accurately assess how they are vulnerable to climate change.”

Executive Director, West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum