In collaboration with local businesses, the City of Fort Collins and Sustainable Living Association are partnering to reimagine a new sustainable business program. Based on the 20-year old ClimateWise program that ended in 2019, the new program will aim to engage a greater spectrum of organizations and businesses in climate action. In the face of a rapidly changing climate and world, the new program will focus on resilience to ensure that local businesses have the resources and ability to thrive in the long haul, with special attention paid to racial equity, inclusion, and building cultures of belonging. The new program aims to be accessible to all businesses in Fort Collins, regardless of business size, industry, and racial or ethnic representation. The new program seeks to engage and promote the diversity of Fort Collins’ businesses and entrepreneurs and meaningfully recognize those who take climate action.
As a long-standing leader in climate action, the City of Fort Collins recently adopted Our Climate Future, a comprehensive plan which seeks community-centered approaches to achieve Fort Collins’ climate, energy, and waste goals. Through strategic partnerships between the City and community organizations, Our Climate Future outlines how Fort Collins will achieve its ambitious climate goals, including:
This reimagining process seeks to engage and create meaningful relationships with local business owners and organization leaders to better understand the needs of our community while building a new sustainable business program. We aim to empower businesses to climate action while also helping their bottom line, resulting in a more equitable community. Learn more at our Why? page above!
The reimagining process began in June 2020 with the Background Research and Business Engagement phases. Spanning from June to December 2021, we established a great foundation and started receiving feedback from the community about what they want from the next sustainable business program.
The Core Team, comprised of individuals from SLA and the City of Fort Collins, recruited local business owners, community leaders, and government representatives to participate on our Leadership Team, which provides insight and helps us understand the needs of our community. A list of our members can be found on the Team page.
The Core Team and Leadership Team collaborate throughout the reimagining process and have worked to establish a vision for the next sustainable business program, including core values & beliefs, mission, and purpose. In September, our Leadership Team kicked off our community engagement phase by interviewing 30 Fort Collins business owners, organization leaders, and government officials. This information is important to understand the needs of our community and begin to build the new program. For more information, visit our Resources page (above) to check out our Business Engagement Report and Vision!
We’re so excited about the road that lies ahead and to meet you in the process! Check out our Get Involved page (above) to learn more about our upcoming events, including:
As the City of Fort Collins and organizations shift their focus to meeting Our Climate Future goals, it is important that the process is equitable and inclusive to consider the diverse experiences of our community members. Within the focus of fostering an equitable process, the program must lead with racial and ethnic equity. There are barriers to participating or engaging with sustainability, and the purpose of the reimagining process is to identify the structures of the program, the motivation of businesses, the barriers for minority and women-owned businesses, the challenges for non-profit entities, and the alignment of existing City or regional goals. This identification process can help shape a pilot program that will be evaluated.
If you are a local business owner, organization leader, or community member, your insight is so valuable as we seek to understand our community’s needs and build a new sustainable business program! See our Get Involved page (above) to learn more about how you can participate in the reimagining process.
SLA is partnering with community organizations to host a series of networking events during February and March 2022. Get to know your fellow entrepreneurs and business community and learn a bit about our reimagining process! At these events, you can expect to:
Join us for one of these upcoming events and be a part of SHAPING THE FUTURE of business resilience, equity and sustainability in Fort Collins. We’ll DISCUSS the reimagining process of the ClimateWise program for businesses and show you how it aligns with the city’s goals. You’ll LEARN how this effort is being co-created alongside local businesses and how you can benefit from this new program. You’re INPUT is valuable to us and we look forward to your thoughts, ideas and guidance. We hope to see you there!
For those looking to get involved in our reimagining process, our focus groups will provide feedback about our sustainable business program during March and April 2022. Focus groups will be comprised of local business owners, organization leaders, and those interested in shaping local business sustainability. Focus group participants should expect to:
If you would like to participate in a focus group and shape the future of business sustainability in Fort Collins, let us know here so we can keep you updated!
Beginning in May 2022, we will be launching a pilot version of the sustainable business program with 10-15 businesses. We are hoping to get representation from businesses of all sizes, industries, races, ethnicities, and other identities to participate. Participants must:
If you are interested in participating in the Pilot program as one of our 10-15 businesses, let us know by filling out this form so we can learn more about you and keep you updated!
ClimateWise, which sunset in 2020, was the City of Fort Collins’ first sustainable business program. As a free and voluntary program, ClimateWise awarded and recognized local businesses for their commitment to sustainability. In reimagining the sustainable business program, it is vital that we understand the barriers to participation in the ClimateWise program.
In partnership with Auburn University, we have been awarded a Federal EPA grant to conduct a robust, in-depth barrier analysis of ClimateWise, anticipated for April — December 2022.
If you are a local business and want to share your experience (good or bad) with the previous ClimateWise program, let us know so we can keep you in the loop and get you involved in the barrier analysis!
Kellie Falbo | Sustainable Living Association, Executive Director
Jensen Morgan | City of Fort Collins, Climate Action and Community Engagement
Pete Iengo | City of Fort Collins, Utilities
Dustin Spears | Sustainable Living Association, Sustainable Business Program Assistant
Natalia Carminelli | Sustainable Living Association, Bilingual Business Engagement Fellow
Kevin Jones | Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce, Business Advocacy Director
Jacob Sanchez | HP, Global Sustainability Program Manager
Rahshida Perez | June Poppies Bakery, Owner
Becca Walkinshaw | Republic Services, Municipal Liaison
Queen | Queen’s Legacy Foundation, Founder and Director
Alaina Hawley | Platte River Power Authority, Energy Solution Program Manager
Sam Aun | Asiana Foods, Owner
Heidi Pruess | Larimer County, ClimateSmart Director
Hannah Baltz-Smith | Downtown Development Authority, Business Support Coordinator
Zahra Al-Saloom, Sustainable Living Association
Wendy Serour, Fort Collins Utilities
Background Research Report 2021 | Published in July 2021, the BRR gives essential context to guide the reimagining process.
Business Engagement Report | Published in January 2022, the Business Engagement Report provides key takeaways from the Business Engagement phase of the reimagining process, spanning July – December 2021.
Visioning Workshop/Rapid Prototyping Report | Published in May 2022, the Visioning Workshop/ Rapid Prototyping Report provides key takeaways from the Visioning phase of the reimagining process, spanning January – April 2022.
Vision 2021 | Through a collaborative and iterative process, our Leadership Team created a team vision, including core values & beliefs, purpose, and mission, for Fort Collins’ next sustainable business program. The vision was finalized by the Leadership Team in December 2021.
Business Resource Library | Through our business outreach, we learned that businesses lack access to financing for sustainable improvements. Without a financial incentive, many businesses are not compelled to implement sustainable business practices. As a result, our team compiled a library of resources for businesses to tap into local, state, and federal incentives, rebates, and funding for sustainability improvements, thereby proving their financial return and viability.
This library builds on the research of other state and local programs, using their approaches as a starting point, and will be continuously updated as we learn of new resources. Feel free to let us know if you don’t see an important resource on our list!
Our Climate Future | Adopted by the City of Fort Collins in March 2021, Our Climate Future is a comprehensive plan to achieve Fort Collins’ climate, energy, and waste goals using community-centered approaches.