How to Launch Your Own Green Business Challenge, Step by Stepby Rena Ragimova
For more than a year now, ICLEI has been fielding the same question from local government staff across the country: How can my community launch a Green Business Challenge of its own?
We now have an easy answer. The new Green Business Challenge Guidebook offers step-by-step instructions on how to develop and launch a customized version of this wildly popular program.
What Is the Green Business Challenge?
The Green Business Challenge is a friendly competition that engages commercial property managers, office tenants, and other business sectors to reduce their energy, waste, and water use while participating in other sustainable business practices. The program helps local governments engage their commercial sectors to help meet their energy, climate and sustainability goals. On the flipside, it allows businesses to get community recognition for their green efforts.
Lessons Learned From the Challenge Pioneers
ICLEI’s new Guidebook is the result of months of hard work by our Climate Program team, which compiled the lessons and best practices learned during the development of the Green Business Challenge in seven pilot communities across the United States. Many of the lessons are distilled from City of Chicago, which pioneered the program with ICLEI’s team. Chicago’s experience proved that the Challenge is a hit: the City engaged 150 private companies, reducing 54,000 metric ton emissions and saving more than $5 million for participants.
So what can the Guidebook do for your community?
“This is a step-by-step guide to developing and launching a Green Business Challenge in a city or county,” says Kim Brokhof, an ICLEI Program Associate who helped developed the Guidebook. “The beauty of the Guidebook is that it is useful for communities that are just starting to consider a Challenge, and also for communities that have already started one and may want more guidance.”
Inside, you’ll find advice on gaining support from elected officials and stakeholders, engaging the potential participants with effective marketing strategies, data collection and evaluation tools, and finally scorecards and guidance on recognizing outstanding Challenge participants.
Customizing the Challenge for Your Community
The Guidebook helps local governments adapt the Challenge to their local circumstances and needs. To do this it draws on the diverse experiences of the pilot communities. ICLEI realized from the start that the Challenge needed to be a flexible program that local government officials could easy adapt to their particular community, however big or small.
“We had this adaptability in mind when we chose our pilot communities,” explains Brokhof. “We have Chicago, IL, and Houston, TX, which are huge cities. Then we have Arlington County, VA, which is a county and has a different structure. We also have Port of San Diego, CA, which is a port. The types of businesses there are different from those in a city.”
To complement the Guidebook, ICLEI has launched the online Green Business Challenge Resource Kit which includes a wealth of supporting materials for a Challenge launch. These include communication documents, marketing materials, as well as proven, effective tactics for getting your businesses involved and enthusiastic. If meeting your sustainability goals is a challenge, perhaps challenging businesses to green their practices could be your key to success.