116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Iowa City is one of 95 cities in the world recognized by the Climate Disclosure Project as a leader on environmental action and transparency.
Iowa City was the only city in Iowa and among a handful of cities in the Midwest included on the “A List” from the CDP, a not-for-profit that runs the world’s environmental disclosure system for companies, cities, states and regions. A total of 34 cities from the United States received an “A.”
"In many ways, it has been cities who have accelerated the climate action strategies that have been set out by global leaders," Iowa City Mayor Bruce Teague said in a statement. "I am proud to celebrate our community's leadership on this issue and I am hopeful continued regional collaboration will keep pushing this work forward."
More than 1,000 cities reported their environmental impact in 2021, with 965 cities receiving a rating for their climate action.
To score an A, cities must disclose publicly and have a citywide emissions inventory, have emissions reduction and renewable energy targets and publish a climate action plan. Cities must also complete a climate risk and vulnerability assessment, climate adaptation plan and should also have other leadership actions.
Iowa City has been submitting CDP reports since 2016, said Sarah Gardner, the city’s climate action engagement specialist. The city received an A- in 2018.
Gardner said there are two main reasons why the city participates in the reporting: It’s a way for the city to be transparent about climate action efforts and be held to a standard other cities in the world are being held to, she said. It’s also an opportunity to see what other cities are doing and how they’re evolving their efforts, Gardner added.
Gardner said Iowa City has plans for projects focused on resilience in the coming year, as well as expanding on projects already in place.
“A lot of the programs that we've put in place in the last couple years have been pilot programs, and so a big part of maintaining that effort is now building on those successes and expanding those programs outward,” Gardner said.
The community has met the city’s 45 percent greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal for 2030 ahead of schedule, but there still is work to be done to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
“Maintaining that momentum is really key and important,” Gardner said.
One of the pilot projects the city is looking to expand is the Neighborhood Energy Blitz, which launched earlier this year in the South District. Volunteers helped deliver 1,300 energy savings kits to households in the city’s southside. The energy savings are estimated at $75 annually per household if the materials are used, Gardner said.
Gardner said the program was well-received by residents, and there are plans to do another Energy Blitz in 2022 in a different neighborhood. Details are being worked out, but Gardner anticipates it will happen sometime in April.
“Our hope is that eventually we will be able to rotate it around and reach all the different neighborhoods in Iowa City,” Gardner said.
The city is also looking to expand a grant program in the coming year that awards tax-increment funded grants to Iowa City businesses to help with implementing energy efficiency and solar projects.
A project in development that Gardner is excited about will focus on getting more young people involved in the city’s programs and resiliency goals. The goal is to get the program launched in the summer, Gardner said.
The city is also looking at developing an incentive program to help landlords put in electric vehicle charging stations at multifamily properties, Gardner said. A launch date has not been set yet.
“I think that relates very directly to making sure that there's equitable access for these kinds of technologies that are going to pave the way to a cleaner future,” Gardner said about the program.
The Climate Ambassador Program is a way for residents to get involved in the city’s climate action efforts, Gardner said.
Applications are now being accepted for the next free, eight-week training course, which will begin virtually Jan. 17. A big focus of the program is teaching volunteers how to effectively communicate about climate action, Gardner said.
“That's something that many of the people who participate in the program already feel quite passionately about but may not always have the confidence to talk about it with others, particularly with people they think may not be on board with taking climate action,” Gardner said.
Individuals interested in applying for the program can do so online at iowa-city.org/forms/climate_ambassador.
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