Smart Business Challenge

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Smart Business Challenge

For the past 150 years, Ames businesses have made smart choices when it comes to sustainability efforts. Now,Smart Business Reducing our Footprint Logo businesses are encouraged to become sustainability leaders through participation in the “Smart Business Challenge.”

The Smart Business Challenge began with the citywide sesquicentennial celebration in 2014 and has continued. The City of Ames is reaching out to businesses to participate in a new comprehensive EcoSmart program, Smart Business. We want you to be part of creating a sustainable Ames through special opportunities including: energy and water conservation, transportation, waste reduction, indoor and outdoor environmental quality, carbon footprint, economic efficiency, and community engagement. Businesses can participate in rebate programs and implement a business energy plan that saves money while helping the environment.

Being a member of the Smart Business Challenge provides a business with connections to city and community resources in furthering their sustainable commitment. The Smart Business Challenge Team includes the Iowa State University Director of Sustainability and City of Ames Sustainability Coordinator, Merry Rankin, and two Smart Business Challenge Interns that focus on assisting businesses as they complete the steps of the Challenge and achieve certification.

The business community is encouraged to join the Smart Business Challenge. More than five years ago, with support from the Ames City Council, Mayor Ann Campbell joined mayors from across the country in signing the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement. In the time that has passed, the City of Ames has continued to encourage residential and business sustainability efforts. 


Join the Smart Business Challenge

To join the challenge, here are the steps you and your business need to take:

1) Register your business as an official challenge participant.

2) Sign up for an energy audit through the City of Ames Electric Department.

3) Review the Smart Business Challenge Checklist, document what your business is already doing or has completed and return your completed checklist to the Smart Business Challenge Team. 

This self-evaluation includes questions in several categories representing all components of sustainability - environmental, economic, and social. The checklist is available below.

Smart Business Challenge Checklist

4)  Strategize opportunities to implement additional checklist items with the  Smart Business Challenge team and through the use of of the Smart Business Challenge Resources.

5) Repeat steps 3 and 4 as you increase and enhance sustainable practices in your business.

Some additional conditions for businesses in the Challenge:

  • Businesses have one year from the date of their original energy audit to receive a certification of at least the Bronze Level to ensure inclusion in all Challenge marketing and publicity materials    

  • Personalized annual check-ins through teleconference or one-on-one meeting with the Smart Business Challenge Team to provide resources and assistance as needed

  • A re-certification process every three years a business is enrolled in the Challenge to highlight additions and improvements made in their sustainability practice

  • Recognition for Platinum Businesses based upon the number of years they have maintained platinum (Example: Platinum 3, indicating a business has achieved platinum certification for three consecutive years

Each business that completes certification within one year of joining the Challenge will be recognized on the City's website as participating in the Smart Business Challenge and will be provided a window decal to authenticate participation! Additionally, each business will also receive additional recognition and decals as they achieve Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum status.   

  • Green - Entry Level Participant
  • Bronze - Education and Awareness 
  • Silver - Practices and Procedures 
  • Gold - Policies and Commitments
  • Platinum - Initiatives above and beyond those specifically designated and recognizes a business for the time they have remained Platinum 

 Smart Business Decal - Green Participant

Green - You've joined the team. Great Job! Now let's move forward on plans to become more sustainable. 
Smart Business Decal - Bronze   Bronze - To be considered a Bronze level participant, a business must have established education and or awareness programs in 8 of 10 sections of tier 3. Bronze is an early step to becoming a Smart Business.

 Smart Business Decal - Silver

Silver - In order to be consider a Silver level participant, a business must have received recognition for completing the Bronze level and have implemented practices and procedures in the Silver tier in 8 of 10 sections.

 Smart Business Decal - Gold

Gold - In order to be considered a Gold level participant, a business must have receive recognition for completing the Bronze and Silver levels and have implemented policies in the Gold tier in 8 of 10 sections. 

 pSmart Business Decal - Platinum

Platinum - This level can be obtained by completing the Bronze, Silver and Gold levels and implementing unique and innovative (above and beyond) processes, practices and/or initiatives that have not already been addressed and recognized.


Current participants in the Smart Business Challenge

Below are resources to become a Smart Business and tips for completing the challenge. (Please note these resources are in addition to the resources provided by the City of Ames.)

Smart Business Challenge Resources