About the Sustainability Division  

Iowa City is committed to being a leader in sustainable community development. The City of Iowa City Sustainability Coordinator, Brenda Nations, helps ensure that Iowa City's public services and planning efforts are rooted in sustainable principles.

Community Partnerships for Climate Action Grant

Apply for the City of Iowa City FY18 Iowa City Community Partnerships for Climate Action Grant.

The Iowa City City Council approved funding for a grant program to address and enhance local climate action through work performed by community-based organizations. A total of $25,000 has been budgeted for this program starting July 1, 2017.

Applications can be completed and submitted online at, or printed and mailed to:

Iowa City Sustainability Services
Community Partnerships for Climate Action Grant
ATTN: Brenda Nations
410 E. Washington Street
Iowa City, IA 52240-1826

Download the printable form 

Iowa City's 4-STAR Community Rating 

The City of Iowa City received a 4-STAR Community Rating for sustainability excellence by being formally certified in the STAR Community Rating System, or Sustainability Tools for Assessing and Rating Communities. The City’s approved final score is 484.8, which qualifies Iowa City as a Certified 4-STAR Community and the highest-scored city in the state. Iowa City is the fifth community in Iowa and 47th nationwide to achieve certification from STAR Communities, a nonprofit organization that certifies sustainable communities.

STAR is the nation’s leading framework and certification program for evaluating local sustainability, encompassing social, economic and environmental performance measures. STAR helps communities evaluate strengths and weaknesses.

Iowa City will continue to make improvements to its sustainability efforts with help and guidance from STAR Communities. 

Sustainable Iowa City Newsletter 

Stay up to date with sustainability news in Iowa City by subscribing to receive the Sustainable Iowa City Newsletter.

Visit, then enter your e-mail and check the sustainability box. 

Current Issue: July 2017

View past issues to learn about other sustainability projects happening in Iowa City. 

Sustainability Information & Initiatives 


Sustainability Report

The City of Iowa City is committed to improving quality of life through sustainability practices that promote social well-being, environmental health and economic stability. The City Council identified sustainability and inclusivity as overarching goals in its most recent strategic plan, and this report summarizes our 2015 sustainability highlights, as well as initiatives that will be undertaken in 2016.

Climate Projections

The City of Iowa City, in an effort to better prepare for the coming impacts of climate change, has been coordinating with climatologists to predict how we might be affected. This report shows the findings of the study. 

Greenhouse Gas Update

The City's Sustainability Office issues this report to update residents on the success of its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Community emissions have been tracked annually since 2008. The City Council has identified sustainability as an important goal in its most recent strategic plan, and is committed to improving our quality of life through sustainability practices.

Natural Areas of Iowa City

The City of Iowa City owns almost 1,000 acres of natural areas consisting of prairie, wetlands, forest and riparian areas.

The Natural Areas brochure is a reference guide with information and locations of areas. Our 2016 Natural Areas Report contains more information about the native plant communities owned and managed by the City of Iowa City.

Plant Guide - East Side Recycling Center

More than 60 native plant species, with names like Shooting Star, Prairie Sundrops, Side Oats Grama, Windflower, and Queen of the Prairie, are showcased in the gardens at the East Side Recycling Center (ESRC). These plants not only provide colorful blooms from April through October, but also help educate visitors about the role prairie plants play in controlling stormwater runoff. The ESRC, located at 2401 Scott Blvd. SE in Iowa City, incorporates several biocells, which were built to capture stormwater after a rain. Each biocell includes a variety of plants whose deep roots absorb the water, thereby helping to prevent flooding. This list of native plants includes information on the many plant varieties available for viewing at the ESRC, including their height, color, and bloom time. Stop by to enjoy the plants in bloom and purchase some of your favorite varieties for your own garden! 

Sustainability Assessment

This assessment identifies specific indicators that coordinate with the vision and broad set of goals set forth in IC2030, Iowa City’s most recent Comprehensive Plan and the City’s Strategic Plan. The indicators will act as a source of information for the next step of this process: the development of sustainability goals and targets.

Monthly Sustainability SpotlightLucy Joseph 
Lucy Joseph
Lucy Joseph

What does sustainability mean to you, and why do you believe it’s important? 

Sustainability simply means preserving, maintaining, and building better for everyone. 

How is sustainability incorporated into your position? 

With both the Housing Rehab and UniverCity program, our goal is to ensure that we’re maintaining and preserving our housing stock throughout the City. Through various financing, such as federal CDBG and HOME funds, as well as local funding through GRIP resources, we are able to assist  homeowners that do not have the financial means to make those repairs. With these programs we are able to improve the overall housing condition. In some cases we improve the energy efficiency of the home through window and roof repair, installing energy efficient heating and air conditioning, and plumbing. By doing this,we can insure that the homes are  safe and well maintained. In our UniverCity homes, we aim to use energy efficient appliances and re-use/recycle products during the rehab phase by donating items to agencies like Restore.  

What actions have you taken to improve sustainability within your position? 

It is important that for the City continues to provide resources to homeowners that do not have the financial means to fix their homes or purchase a home in our University Impacted areas. This summer we stepped-up our code enforcement in those areas by documenting owner-occupied and rental units that were in need of exterior repairs. We are working to upgrade the safety and appearance of the housing stock and preserve the vitality of these neighborhoods. I would like homeowners and future homeowners to know that these programs exist and encourage them to contact us if they’re in need of assistance.

In your opinion, what efforts can be made to improve sustainability within our community?                     

Education, Education, Education. By continuing to educate and be a resource to both homeowners and renters and emphasizing the importance of maintaining a healthy, environmentally friendly, and energy efficient home, we are integrating sustainable practices into the community. This results from the sustainable practices embedded in our culture in Neighborhood and Development Services at the City of Iowa City.

Past Sustainability Spotlights

Connect with City of Iowa City Sustainability 

Follow the City of Iowa City on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram using #SustainableIC
Contact Sustainability Coordinator Brenda Nations, or 319-887-6161