It’s Grant and Shelby, the Smart Business Challenge Interns! In wrapping up the end of the spring semester, we wanted to tell you about how this year has gone and all the events we were able to experience in this internship.
We began the year learning how to process energy audit requests and Smart Energy Rebates. These tasks allowed us to help keep the Smart Energy program running smoothly and quickly. We then started working with businesses in the Smart Business Challenge that were either ready for recertification or joined the program and needed to be certified.
Taking all of this information we learned, we began to attend the Ames Farmers’ Market in the fall. By tabling weekly at this event, we were able to tell more people about the Smart Energy and Smart Business Challenge Programs and also answer any questions that Farmers’ Market attendees might have. We both found it to be a wonderful experience to assist the public in this way. We are already thinking of ways to improve our attendance at the Farmers’ Market next fall!
We also had the opportunity to help plan and execute the annual Smart Business Challenge Luncheon. On January 19, 2023 the City of Ames celebrated its sixth annual Smart Business Challenge Luncheon. This event is held every year to celebrate the advancements Ames businesses have made within the challenge. The Smart Business Challenge is a program designed to encourage and celebrate advancements businesses are doing to become environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable.
The overarching goal of the Challenge is to celebrate the efforts and dedication of businesses toward the vision of ensuring a sustainable community for current and further generations. The Challenge is focused both on highlighting achievement in sustainability efforts, as well as connecting businesses to resources, experts, and expertise to further assist their mission and goals for a sustainable future. The Smart Business Challenge Luncheon is an opportunity to recognize outstanding sustainability commitment and achievement on a yearly basis.
This year we celebrated numerous businesses. For platinum certifications, our highest level, these businesses included Hach, McFarland, Green Hills Community, The Loft, Duckworth Wearing, Chevron REG, and Morning Bell Coffee Roasters. Additionally, recognition was given to Trilogy Physical Therapy for joining the challenge, Championship Productions, and Ames Chamber of Commerce for achieving silver certification, and Cafe Diem for achieving gold certification.
Participants were also encouraged to talk to the variety of city departments that attended. This open house helped to introduce participants to actions Ames is taking to be more sustainable and what programs are available to help. You can view this year’s Luncheon at the City’s Smart Business Challenge website.
This year’s keynote speaker was Donald Kom, Director of Ames Electric Services. Donald Kom has served as director for 17 years and is a member of the City’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) project team.The Ames City Council has a goal to create a community-wide CAP and has set an aspirational goal of 83 percent reduction in greenhouse gasses below 2016 levels by 2030 and net zero by 2050. Mr. Kom’s keynote, titled “How the Business Community Can Support the Ames Climate Action Plan”, provided comments focusing on opportunities and considerations for Ames businesses to utilize their electricity more efficiently. The presentation outlined detailed information surrounding the current functions of the power plant, as well as key factors to consider in reducing city-wide emissions. Mr. Kom left listeners with three homework questions to analyze in relation to their own businesses electricity usage, as well as how it can be transformed to meet Climate Action Plan goals.
In joining the Challenge, businesses work with the team to complete a comprehensive checklist, covering ten different areas representing environmental, economic, and social sustainability. The checklist encompasses three levels, which highlight a commitment to education and awareness (bronze), incorporation of products and practices (silver), and formulation and implementation of policies and procedures (gold). In completing the checklist, businesses can earn bronze, silver, gold, or platinum certifications.
Challenge members must also complete a recertification. The recertification process happens every three years, as a way to collect more current and accurate information on updates businesses have made that could enhance their checklist. This process also enables the team to be able to research new resources and ideas for the businesses to use in order to further their sustainability goals.
Since the Luncheon, we have been diligently working towards providing Smart Business Challenge members with as many opportunities to engage in sustainability as possible. New resource pages have been created to assist businesses in ways to decrease their environmental footprint while maintaining business functions. Other than these resource documents, we have additionally been creating relationships with new businesses that are joining the challenge! Be on the lookout for social media posts from The City of Ames that highlight our new members! As we are both getting ready to leave for the summer, we are engaging with businesses in discussions related to new opportunities for networking between Challenge members. Stay tuned! When we both return in the fall, we are extremely excited for future events and engagement that we can create with businesses and the Ames community to promote sustainability.
For more information about the Smart Business Challenge, the Challenge participants, or how to sign-up, visit the Challenge webpage on the City of Ames website or reach out to us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have a favorite business, you think would be a great addition to the Challenge, please let us know. We are excited to continue celebrating and assisting all of our impressive businesses who ensure a sustainable Ames!
See you in the fall!