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Is your business a leader in local sustainability measures or on its way to becoming one? Apply for a Climate Action Award and share your story!

The City of Iowa City is recognizing local businesses that have implemented sustainable projects, practices, and initiatives, and invites them to participate in the 2nd Annual Climate Action at Work Awards program. A winner from each award category below will receive $500.     

Who can apply?

This program is open to all Iowa City businesses and non-profits. Per City policy to afford equal opportunity for all, businesses with BIPOC, female, or LGBTQ ownership are strongly encouraged to apply. If a business has multiple locations, the primary business headquarters must be located in Iowa City.

Winners will be selected by a panel of judges made up of Climate Action Commission members and City staff. The 2021 application period is open now and the deadline to apply is August 20, 2021.

Apply here for the 2021 Climate Action Awards.

Read about the five 2020 award winners here.

About the program

As part of its Climate Action initiatives, the City introduced this program in 2020 to raise awareness about climate change and recognize businesses that are helping the City reach carbon emissions reduction goals.

Participants are encouraged to include projects and practices related to any one or more of the five award categories in their applications. Climate Action Award judges will determine the applicant’s strongest category for recognition. Applications are due by 5 p.m. on Friday, August 13, 2021.

Winners will be announced and all participants will be recognized at the second annual Climate Action Festival, to be held in September 2021. Stay tuned for more information about this big event!

For details on the program, contact Economic Development Coordinator Wendy Ford at 319-356-5248 or email

Award Categories


Reducing energy consumption in buildings is critical to Iowa City’s ability to achieve its goal of reducing emissions by 80 percent by 2050. Reduction takes form in two basic ways: using less energy overall through energy efficiency improvements and transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, especially moving away from natural gas used in heating. Perhaps you have:

  • Upgraded older equipment/appliances with more energy efficient models
  • Improved the building envelope with more efficient windows, increased insulation, or other measures to decrease energy usage
  • Replaced equipment such as heating systems or forklifts from systems that run on natural gas to those that run on electric power
  • Started tracking energy usage or modified energy use behaviors


Emissions associated with transportation are the second highest source of emissions in Iowa City’s profile after energy consumption in buildings. Increasing use of public transit, using electric vehicles or vehicles with alternative fuels, increasing bicycle and pedestrian transportation and increasing employee commuter options are priorities for the City to reach its emissions reduction goal. Perhaps you have:

  • Promoted carpooling, provided transit passes, installed EV charging stations in employee parking lots, or took other actions to encourage more sustainable commuting options
  • Added electric or other alternative fuel vehicles to the company fleet
  • Adopted an idling reduction policy for company vehicles


The waste sector accounts for approximately 2 percent of Iowa City’s community-wide emissions. Reducing solid waste streams also leads to less energy use overall associated with materials extraction, processing, and transportation. Waste diversion activities, such as those performed by recycling and reuse centers, can generate jobs and support local business development while lessening community burdens, such as land degradation and bad odor. Perhaps you have:

  • Implemented a contract or program to compost organic waste generated at the business
  • Utilized recycled or reused materials in a building construction project or creation of products
  • Adopted policies to reduce waste generated by company events
  • Reused materials for shipping or packaging


The Iowa River in Iowa City reached three of its four historically highest crest (peak water) levels in the last 10 years with records dating back to 1851, providing just one example of how of climate change affects everyone. Addressing climate adaptation touches on Iowa City’s built environment, natural environment, the economy, and both social and human health. Perhaps you have:

  • Added stormwater management landscaping such as bioswales, permeable paving, and/or rain gardens to company property
  • Planted trees at rental properties, in parking lots, or in other business areas or installed green roofs on buildings
  • Increased building resilience by adding floodproofing elements, energy storage, water efficiency measures or other mitigation measures

Sustainable Lifestyle

Four out of five people in a recent survey expressed that the biggest barrier to addressing climate change is “difficulty in changing behavioral habits.” Making broad change requires well-crafted education and outreach that connects what data is telling us to the actions we take in our daily lives. Good examples of success with this kind of cultural shift in thinking are the campaigns created in the 1970s around smoking, wearing seatbelts, or littering. Perhaps you have:

  • Adopted a procurement policy prioritizing eco-friendly or locally-sourced goods
  • Supported initiatives to encourage sustainable behaviors such as walking or biking to work, “Meatless Monday” programs, or container gardens at the business for employee use
  • Created an affinity group for employees interested in promoting sustainability at work and home
  • Encouraged clients or customers to adopt or change behaviors to positively impact climate action

We are excited to share your stories of climate action with our community. Thank you for your interest and participation.

City Government