KCAD Professor, Ferris Trustee Honored by U.S. Green Building Council of West Michigan

Posted December 12, 2023 in Product Design, Master of Arts in Design, Collaborative Design, Faculty

Gayle DeBruyn, a Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University professor, and Ferris State trustee George Heartwell were honored by the U.S. Green Building Council of West Michigan for their efforts to advance sustainability in the region.

DeBruyn was honored with the USGBC-WM Legacy Award and Heartwell was named this year’s 2030 Leadership Award winner at the organization’s 2023 Annual Party & Leadership Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, Dec. 5.

Two people posing with ornate trophiesGeorge Heartwell (left), a Ferris State University Board of Trustees member, and Gayle DeBruyn (right), a KCAD professor, were honored by the U.S. Green Building Council of West Michigan for their efforts to advance sustainability in the region

DeBruyn is a KCAD professor who chairs the Collaborative Design and Master of Arts in Design programs and also serves as sustainability officer. She is on KCAD’s planning team for the Wege Prize international student design competition and Wege Prize High School Collaborative Studio.

She has been recognized with multiple awards for her work in the community, including being inducted in the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum Hall of Fame, and with The Dave & Carol Van Andel Leadership Award.

Given for the first time this year, the Legacy Award recognizes people for their critical work within the community, their character, and the reputation they’ve built in their community as a leader for a sustainable future are notable, and their accomplishments and actions that resonate with the people around them.

DeBruyn said her advocacy for sustainability was inspired by Bill McDonough, who received an honorary degree from KCAD in 1999. McDonough is an architect who that year was named Time Magazine’s Hero of the Planet.

“He delivered a short, compelling speech that changed for me the urgency of the issues at hand,” she said in an interview with USGBC-WM. “From the chemistry used in manufacturing products to the way we mined the materials and embedded energy of transporting materials, to their durability and life cycle assessments.”

Wege Prize invites students in higher education from around the world to form diverse, five-person teams to develop actionable products, services, or business models that address challenges affecting people and the environment.

The Wege Prize High School Collaborative Studio is a summer workshop that immerses student participants in the solving of complex “wicked” problems through the lens of whole systems design thinking, sustainability, and the circular economy.

Heartwell was appointed to the Ferris State board of trustees in 2020 by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and served as Grand Rapids mayor for 12 years after serving eight years as a Grand Rapids city commissioner.

The 2030 Leadership Award recognizes organizations and people who have taken the initiative to decarbonize Grand Rapids and make strides toward global climate goals.

As mayor, Heartwell created an Office of Sustainability and adopted renewable energy goals and a five-year sustainability plan.

He helped launch the Grand Rapids 2030 District in 2015 with business, government, and community leaders, saying at the time that cities continue to play an important role in addressing the root causes of climate change. Grand Rapids partners with private sector partners to help reach our goal of becoming a more resilient community.

“Sustainability is a process, a ‘journey,’ as some have called it, and not fixed outcome,” Heartwell said in an interview with USGBC-WM. “One success leads to another; one failure is cause for learning and correction. Sustainability has become the goal of every organizational board on which I serve.  As an example, Ferris State University on whose board I sit, with my urging, just adopted sustainability as one of its four planning pillars for the upcoming Campus Master Plan and, again with my urging, the board adopted a LEED requirement for every new or renovated building.”

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