ICLEI–Local Governments for Sustainability USA has released the Green Business Challenge App, a powerful and customizable web application that now allows any city, town, or county to launch a friendly competition among its business community to save money, energy, water, and waste. The Green Business Challenge is a proven and cost-effective program co-developed by ICLEI and the City of Chicago; it not only helps businesses improve their environmental performance, it helps local governments meet their community-wide energy and sustainability goals.
“The Green Business Challenge program is in high demand among local governments because it is such an innovative and successful way to help their local businesses green their operations and save precious dollars and resources,” said Michael Schmitz, ICLEI USA Executive Director. “ICLEI continues its leadership in sustainability tools development with the launch of our new web App, which will make it far easier for any local government to customize and launch their own Challenge program.”
Chicago and Houston Businesses Save Millions
Nearly a dozen cities and counties have already launched successful Green Business Challenge programs, including Chicago, Houston, Port of San Diego, Arlington County, and Charleston, SC.
In 2011, participants in the Chicago Green Office Challenge saved a collective $17.5 million in energy costs, reduced energy use by 124 million kilowatt hours, kept more than 85,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and diverted 43% of their waste from landfills.
In 2011, Houston Green Office Challenge participants reduced energy use by 28 million kilowatt hours, water use by 74 million gallons, and diverted 40% of their waste from landfills, in addition to many other achievements like adding bicycle parking, implementing flex time and telecommuting policies, and creating office Green Teams.
“The Houston Green Office Challenge is an important part of our City’s strategy to improve the environmental and economic performance of our commercial buildings,” said Laura Spanjian, City of Houston Director of Sustainability. “ICLEI’s support and tools have helped us achieve major energy and resource savings.”
The secret to the Green Business Challenge program’s success is twofold: fun and friendly competition, and media recognition for businesses’ green achievements, typically through an awards ceremony with local elected officials.
An App to Save Local Governments Time and Money
ICLEI’s new App now allows any local government—or school district or corporation—to launch a Green Business Challenge program in weeks, not months, and to administer it with fewer staff and less money. The App serves as the centerpiece of any successful program. Participants access the App through the local government’s website, and use it to register, take a baseline survey, browse a library of tips and resources, update their achievements, view a scorecard that tracks their progress toward goals, read customized suggestions for ways to increase their score, and operate a carbon calculator.
Program administrators can use the App to customize the program, view reports on participants’ progress, and send mass emails to maintain engagement. ICLEI offers an additional guidebook and toolkit on how to run a Green Business Challenge, which incorporates the experience of Chicago and other communities.
To learn more about the Green Business Challenge and the new web App, or view success stories from local governments around the country, visit www.icleiusa.org/greenbusinesschallenge.