Sustainability in Ames

Press Enter to show all options, press Tab go to next option

Biorention cell at City Hall parking lot pervious pavers in City Hall parking lotChevy Bolt parked at electric vehicle charging stationmcfarland clinic west roof solar panels

Sustainable Ames

The City of Ames is committed to becoming a more sustainable organization, promoting conservation, and encouraging renewable energy within our community. As an organization, the City of Ames is committed to making environmentally sound choices in how we operate, in the equipment we purchase, the services we provide, and the policies that guide our organization's decision making. 

Additionally, the City of Ames encourages sustainability through the programs and services we provide to the citizens of Ames. From hybrid public transit buses to bike lanes to electric vehicle charging stations, the City of Ames constantly looks for ways to help citizens make green decisions. Balancing the need to be fiscally responsible with our commitment to a cleaner, greener community, the City of Ames is committed to making the Smart Choice and the sustainable one.

Ames Mayor and City Council History of Sustainability Support 

In the past decade, the Ames Mayor and City Council have made sustainability part of its annual goals. Some major milestones include:

  • More than 40 years ago, Ames became the first city in the nation to operate a municipal waste-to-energy facility. The Arnold Chantland Resource Recovery Plant takes in garbage from throughout Story County, pulls out metals for recycling, and processes the burnable trash into refuse derived fuel (RDF). RDF is sent to the Ames Power Plant to provide a supplemental fuel for producing electricity.
  • In 2016, the Ames Power Plant converted from coal to cleaner burning natural gas reducing its carbon footprint by 40 percent.
  • More than 10 years ago, the Ames mayor joined mayors from across the country in signing the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement. Part of signing the agreement involves conducting a baseline inventory of energy usage, collecting data about energy management, recycling, waste reduction, transportation, and land use. While Ames is working hard on going green, we are encouraging our residents to do the same. 

  • The City of Ames and Iowa State University have partnered to share a Director of Sustainability/Sustainability Coordinator position for more than 10 years. This position looks for ways to collaborate through both organizations and leads efforts to conserve natural resources and improve sustainability.

  • Greenhouse Gas Inventory has been funded. This data would provide a foundation from which to build a climate action plan and community goals for reduction.

Sustainability by the Numbers

• 3,471: Number of LED street lights (and counting)

• 91: Number of hybrid buses

• 40: The percent reduction of greenhouse gases annually by the Ames Power Plant since converting to natural gas

• 36: Number of megawatts of power purchased from a wind farm

• 11: Number of programs offering rebates promoting conservation of resources

• 8: Number of glass recycling locations (14 countywide)

• 2: Number of electric vehicle charging stations

• 1: First in the nation public waste-to-energy facility built in 1975

Sustainability Events in 2020!

Thursday, Jan. 23
Smart Business Challenge Luncheon
Every year the Ames Mayor recognizes Ames businesses that have made great strides toward energy efficiency. This year's event features the Platinum Award presentation to Barilla, 3M and Renewable Energy Group (REG)

Tuesday, Jan. 28; Wednesday, Feb. 26 & Monday, March 30
EcoChats - New Event!
All Eco Chats will begin at 7pm at the Ames Public Library

Saturday, April 25, 9 am to 1 pm at the Community Center Gym, 515 Clark Ave. 

May 11 - 15
Bike to Work Week
City Hall Bike to Work Week Breakfast on Monday, May 11.

Saturday, May 16
Mayor's Annual Bike Ride



EcoSmart is the City of Ames' comprehensive strategy to reduce energy consumption and decrease its carbon footprint. While many of these efforts are new, others have been around for decades.

SmartEnergy Logo Smart Energy is a suite of energy programs aimed at improving comfort, reducing bills, and contributing to the reliability of the electric system. These programs keep electric rates low and improve our environment. Smart Energy programs focus on utility load management, development of alternative energy resources, and education. Smart Energy rebates reward customers for investing in energy-efficient appliance, lighting, construction, and more. Click here for more information on Smart Energy

SmartWater Logo Smart Water is a suite of programs directed at water and wastewater customers, both residential and commercial, to reduce demand and consumption. Programs focus on water-saving techniques, conservation methods, and public education and outreach. Click here for more information on Smart Water


Smart Trash logo Smart Trash focuses on the City of Ames' commitment to diverting trash from the landfill through a progressive waste-to-energy system transforming garbage from around Story County into Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) for the Ames Power Plant. By processing trash at the Resource Recovery Plant, metals are pulled out for recycling. Glass is collected at glass recycling bins at local grocery stores, and more than 70 percent of the community's trash is diverted from the landfill. Click here for more information on Smart Trash

SmartRide Logo Smart Ride focuses on efforts to reduce carbon emissions through increasing efficiency in transportation services both in city operations and in public services. The City of Ames has moved to purchasing fuel-efficient vehicles including sub-compacts, hybrids, and two all-electric Bolts for fuel efficient driving and carbon footprint reduction.


SmartWatershedsSmart Watersheds raises awareness of local storm water and watershed efforts through educational and outreach events to improve water quality of area lakes and streams, and control pollution from erosion run-off. Click here for more information on Smart Watersheds



To promote conservation of resources, rebates are available for Prime Time Power, residential and commercial lighting, residential new construction, high efficiency air conditioners, high efficiency appliances, residential and commercial photovoltaic (solar) systems, native landscape, rain barrel, rain garden, soil quality, and composting.

Click here for Smart Energy Residential Rebate Programs (Prime Time Power, lighting, new construction, high efficiency air conditioners, high efficiency appliances, photovoltaic systems)

Click here for Smart Energy Commercial Rebate Programs (lighting, High efficiency air conditioners, high efficiency appliances, photovoltaic systems)

Click here for Smart Watersheds Rebate Programs (native landscape, rain barrel, rain garden, soil quality, composting)