Big corporations are often lauded for their efforts to operate more sustainably, whether it’s Hewlett Packard’s decision to eliminate deforestation from certain operations or Caterpillar’s move to slash its greenhouse gas emissions by half. But eco-friendly business practices aren’t just important for big business. Modest green initiatives by small businesses can make a big difference in curbing pollution and protecting the environment.
Municipal leaders in Iowa City, Iowa have decided it’s time to give some love to the little guys by recognizing small businesses that have adopted eco-friendly practices. To that end, Iowa City created its first annual Climate Action at Work Awards last fall.
The awards covered five environmental categories detailed in the city’s Climate Action and Adaptation Plan: adaptation, buildings, transportation, waste management, and sustainable lifestyle. The awards program aims to raise awareness about climate change while also giving a shout-out to businesses that are helping Iowa City reach its carbon emission reduction goals.
Winners from each category received $500 that can be used to help offset the cost of sustainability efforts. Here’s the list of winners:
- Old Brick (Adaptation): “Old Brick” is the name of Iowa City’s second-oldest building, erected in 1856. It serves as a non-profit incubator and rental space for events and offices. Managers of Old Brick were recognized for the installation of a 1,435-square-foot, water-permeable paver patio, which allows water to flow down between stones and into drainage layers, eventually being absorbed into the soil.
- Neumann Monson Architects (Buildings): This architectural firm was recognized for designing more than 2.3 million square feet of first-in-kind Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and net-zero buildings in Iowa, as well as its ongoing commitment to a healthier environment.
- Adamantine Spine Moving (Transportation): A provider of residential, commercial, and specialized moving services, Adamantine Spine was recognized for transitioning toward the use of biodiesel for its trucks, which greatly reduces the company’s health and climate impacts.
- Dumpling Darling (Waste Management): An eatery whose offerings range from pierogies and miso soup dumplings to steamed buns and Korean bibimbap, Dumpling Darling was recognized for implementing a program to compost 100 percent of its waste.
- Crowded Closet (Sustainable Lifestyle): All of the income from this non-profit thrift store is used to support relief and service organizations. Crowded Closet was recognized for selling second hand items that might otherwise end up as waste.
Along with recognizing businesses that have contributed to a greener planet, Iowa City has laid out specific goals as part of its overall Climate Action Plan including reducing emissions by 80 percent by 2050. The strategy is twofold: using less energy overall through energy efficiency improvements, and transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.
The top source of emissions in Iowa City is energy consumption in buildings, followed by emissions from transportation. To reduce the latter source, city leaders encourage increased use of public transit, an increase in electric and alternative-fuel vehicles, and an increase in bicycle and pedestrian transportation.