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.
At this point, the Core and Leadership Teams worked on the Visioning Workshop process which laid out the goals and structure of the Pilot Program, utilizing the information from the previous two phases and captured in the Visioning Workshop Report.
In the final phase, 14 businesses participated in the Pilot Program and gave their feedback which was used to create the Final Report which summarized the previous reports and laid out recommendations for the City of Fort Collins to consider for future programming.
For more information, visit our Resources page (above) to check out ALL of our reports and other supporting materials!
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.
Kellie Falbo | Sustainable Living Association, Executive Director
Javier Echeverria | City of Fort Collins, Sustainability Services, Senior Financial Analyst
Pete Iengo | City of Fort Collins, Utilities, Senior Community Engagement Specialist
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.
ClimateWise Reimagining Process Final Report & Recommendations – Published October 2022, this report summarizes all previous reports, the Barrier Analysis conducted in partnership with Auburn University, and the final recommendations to be considered for future programming.
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.