Ann Arbor launches Green Business Challenge to help businesses become more sustainable

May 15, 2024 | by

The Ann Arbor Office of Sustainability and Innovations (OSI) is launching a Green Business Challenge (GBC) to engage with Ann Arbor businesses who are either seeking to become more sustainable or are currently implementing sustainability measures in their practices. As part of a partnership with Ann Arbor SPARK, interested businesses can participate in the four-and-half-month challenge in a variety of categories, from energy and water conservation to resilience and education. Businesses that complete the challenge will earn a GBC certification at one of four levels: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum.

“If you happen to be working on sustainability initiatives, you may feel alone or not understand there’s a full ecosystem around you,” says OSI Director Missy Stults. “We wanted to create a space to advance sustainability and celebrate what’s already happening, while drawing attention to the fact that sustainability initiatives like this make Ann Arbor special.”

Stults feels that “the most direct line to supporting the community is supporting its businesses,” and that working with Ann Arbor SPARK allowed for OSI to connect with more community members through SPARK’s marketing resources and expertise. At the challenge’s launch on May 7, Stults says businesses across industries, from restaurants to commercial spaces to tech offices, expressed interest in the program and exploring ways to make their practices more eco-friendly. In addition to certification, according to the GBC website, participating businesses will also be afforded “recognition opportunities” when they show year-over-year improvement in GBC categories.

“What’s intriguing is we’ve heard from businesses of all kinds that are looking to get involved,” Stults says. “We’ve made the categories very broad to acknowledge that sustainability is easier in some spaces than others.”

Stults calls this first iteration of the challenge a pilot program. She hopes more businesses will be interested in participating in the challenge in the future, as the program will continuously accept new businesses and recertify previous participants at higher levels as time goes on.

“Right now, we’re in a co-creation phase, but eventually we want to launch this as a continual program for the community,” Stults says. “We want to help create a movement of sustainability throughout all industries.”

The GBC is open to all Ann Arbor business owners regardless of their experience with sustainability initiatives. To learn more about the GBC or to register for the challenge, visit the challenge’s website or email with questions.

“The GBC is meant to nurture, support, and recognize our local businesses, and we’re really excited to work with the community,” Stults says. “We’re looking forward to engaging meaningfully with the community to make sure the program is right for everyone.”

Rylee Barnsdale is a Michigan native and longtime Washtenaw County resident. She wants to use her journalistic experience from her time at Eastern Michigan University writing for the Eastern Echo to tell the stories of Washtenaw County residents that need to be heard.

Photo courtesy of Ann Arbor SPARK.

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