Smart Business Challenge

The Smart Business Challenge kicked off its first year in 2014 during the City of Ames' sesquicentennial (150-year) celebration. The Challenge invites local businesses -- big, small, corporate or mom-and-pop -- to take incremental steps toward making their businesses more sustainable with a variety of eco-friendly initiatives. Business owners can use the Challenge as an opportunity to improve their business methods related to:

  • Energy and water conservation; 
  • Transportation;
  • Waste reduction; 
  • Indoor and outdoor environmental quality;
  • Carbon footprint; as well as
  • Community engagement.

As businesses increase and enhance their sustainable practices, they can achieve five different levels of recognition: Green, Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Seven businesses have already achieved Platinum status!

Check out the ever-growing list of participating businesses! Don't see your favorite Ames business listed? Ask the owner about getting involved, or get in touch with the Smart Business Challenge Team at the contact information below.


The Challenge's Campus Connection

One of Merry Rankin's various roles for Iowa State and the City of Ames is overseeing the Smart Business Challenge.

With more than 30 businesses already participating, interest in adopting eco-friendly businesses practices has been growing. To help sign up new businesses and maintain relationships with current participants, two college students intern cooperatively with the City of Ames and Iowa State University. These Smart Business Challenge interns help assess what businesses are doing well and offer recommendations for sustainable improvement.


"The Smart Business Challenge is an important aspect of the
Ames community because the Challenge's objectives are not only
focused on environmental sustainability, but also on the importance
of being active in the community and Iowa State. Not only is the
Challenge important to the present time, but it is also preserving
our community for the future."

-- Scott Nemec

"My favorite part about being a Smart Business Challenge intern is the opportunity to work with local Ames businesses -- it's always interesting to hear the personal stories about each business and why sustainability is important to them. I feel as if the Challenge is starting to have a ripple effect in the fact that participating businesses are seeing the benefits of being sustainable, which leads them to encourage other businesses to join and do the same."

-- Taylor Silvestrini



Smart Business Challenge Team

Grant Buresh

Smart Business Challenge Intern

Merry Rankin

City of Ames Sustainability Coordinator

Shelby Nechkash

Smart Business Challenge Intern


Grant is a senior in Global Resource Systems and Environmental Studies. He can be contacted via email:

Merry jointly serves the City of Ames in this position while also serving as Director of Sustainability at Iowa State University. She can be reached at or 515.294.5052.

Shelby is a senior in Agriculutural Studies. She can be contacted via email: