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Office Depot expands National Green Business Challenge

BOCA RATON, Fla. — Office Depot will team up with ICLEI–Local Governments for Sustainability to expand the National Green Business Challenge, a program that encourages local businesses to take part in a friendly competition to save energy and money, reduce waste and water consumption and procure greener products. 

The program was first piloted in 2010 as the City of Chicago’s "Green Office Challenge."

Founded in 1990, ICLEI is an association of cities and local governments dedicated to sustainability that counts with more than 1,000 local government members in 84 countries. In the United States, ICLEI is a leader on climate action and clean energy provides tools, training and technical support to help cities and counties advance their sustainability goals. Originally called the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, ICLEI revised its mission, charter and name in 2003. 

The four additional cities will receive funding to launch their own Green Business Challenge programs, building on the successful challenges that ICLEI and Office Depot helped launch with local governments in Chicago, Austin, Bellevue, Chula Vista and the Triangle J region.

Office Depot also announced that it will help ICLEI USA establish a Green Business Challenge resource center that will support cities and counties wishing to develop a Green Business Challenge, as well as a network of Green Business Challenge communities to encourage sharing of successful practices.

The announcement was made at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business & Civic Leadership Center’s Bricks & Sticks Sustainability Symposium, an event designed to showcase outstanding examples of public-private partnerships making a difference in the country.

ICLEI USA helped implement the challenge in Chicago, and Office Depot provided core funding and program design support. Chicago businesses that participated in Round 2 of the challenge collectively saved more than 124 million kilowatt-hours of electricity and more than 85,000 metric tons of carbon emissions.

“The Green Business Challenge is a highly scalable idea that brings together the historically separate concepts of ‘fun’ and ‘sustainability,’” said Yalmaz Siddiqui, senior director of environmental strategy for Office Depot. “The challenge helps ‘gamify’ greening, and as such builds on the natural human and organizational impetus to compete. We’re proud to have been associated with the challenge since its inception, and are excited to be able to bring it to four more cities in 2013.”

“ICLEI is proud to partner with Office Depot to bring the Green Business Challenge to four more cities within our network,” said Michael Schmitz, ICLEI USA executive director. “This proven program reflects the reality that environmental improvement doesn’t have to come at the expense of economic performance. The challenge helps local governments reach their energy and climate goals, and helps businesses save money, make their operations more efficient and receive recognition for going green.”

The four new cities will be selected and announced later in 2013 and Office Depot will provide each with a Green Business Challenge implementation pack, which includes cash, in-kind support and training and technical support through ICLEI, as well as a customized Green Business Challenge software tool.

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