WMU new economic development park honored for cleanup, sustainable use of land

Contact: Deanne Puca
Aerial view of BTR Park North

BTR Park North includes 55 acres situated alongside Drake Road between Parkview Avenue and Stadium Drive and is the northward expansion of Western's original business park that is located nearby in the Parkview Avenue Campus.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University's expanded land and economic development project, Business Technology and Research (BTR) Park North, received distinguished recognition for remediating environmentally impacted land and creating space for sustainable businesses and use.

A recipient of the U.S. Green Building Council of West Michigan's (USGBC-WM) Innovative Project Award, Western was set to be honored during a ceremony at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 10, in Grand Rapids as one of the projects that "break the mold of standard building construction, design and operations," according to the regional chapter.

The project, which was completed in fall 2020, used sustainable design principles to create new site-ready property for future tenants. In addition, future tenants are required to follow the sustainable design, maintenance and operations guidelines to be accepted into the park.

"The park development balanced the preservation of natural and sensitive land while also preparing developable land with infrastructure for future tenant developments," a USGBC-WM statement read. "Through these efforts, the project achieved Sustainable SITES Silver Certification, which recognized the integrated design process, sustainable design strategies and ongoing sustainable maintenance strategies for this land development project."

Natural path included in BTR Park North.

Development included incorporating natural pathways in the design.

The inclusive planning and design took about three years, while the remediation and construction took about another year, says David Dakin, director of planning, space management and capital projects for Western.

In addition to the remediation, Western and partners—including the U.S. Economic Development Administration, Southwest Michigan First, Oshtemo Township and Road Commission of Kalamazoo County—alongside the city of Kalamazoo and Consumers Energy considered stormwater management design; open space preservation, including site lighting design to avoid light pollution; and planning for the preservation of endangered animal and plant species.

"We worked the project schedule around the life cycle of the Indian bat and found you can't work on trees during a certain part of the year (to avoid destroying their habitat.) We protected endangered plants and relocated (honey) bees to preserve these species as well," Dakin explained.

Ryan Musch, project manager and senior civil engineer at Fishbeck, adds that BTR Park North is a catalyst for a sustainable site and building development through its sustainable design measures and requirements for new tenants.

"These new tenants will move into a great neighborhood and develop the land and buildings in a sustainable way," says Musch, who also notes that the development features walkways and paths for people to enjoy the natural landscape.

It's first new tenant, the Ascension Borgess Cancer Center, moved into the 55-acre park located near Western’s original business park in the Parkview Avenue Campus in September 2021.


The USGBC-WM Leadership Awards promote outstanding green building initiatives by recognizing projects, organizations and people who have made extraordinary contributions to achieving healthy, energy-efficient green buildings in the state of Michigan, a statement from the organization says.

“We are thrilled to lift up organizations that lead by example,” says Cheri Holman, executive director of the USGBC-WM. “By sharing these accomplishments, we can show that good economic decisions and green buildings can be one and the same.”

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