Welcome to the City of Iowa City Sustainability webpage!
Iowa City is committed to being a leader in sustainable community development. Sustainability Coordinator Brenda Nations helps ensure that Iowa City's public services and planning efforts are rooted in sustainable principles.
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. Learn more about Iowa City's current rating, and efforts to improve to its sustainability practices by visiting, www.icgov.org/STAR.
We invite you to browse our pages and learn more about Iowa City's sustainability efforts:
Take action by participating in current sustainability programs and activities. Browse reports and become educated about Iowa City's current climate situation.
Sustainable Iowa City Newsletter
Stay up-to-date with sustainability news in Iowa City by subscribing to the Sustainable Iowa City newsletter at www.icgov.org/e-subscriptions. Enter your e-mail and check the sustainability box.
Learn more about Iowa City's sustainability superstars who are making our community a better place to live, work and play.April Feature: David Moore, Director of Operations at Big Grove Brewery
What sustainability means to me:
For Big Grove, sustainability means we are good stewards of resources we did not create, like water and energy. It also means we are thoughtful and creative in handling the byproducts of our production. We love our community, and we strive to match our community's efforts and culture of taking care of the land and resources we share.
My actions to improve sustainability:
We have worked hard on initiatives that have helped us meet our sustainability goals. When purchasing the many pieces of equipment for our brewery, we focused on energy efficiency. That focus included everything from our large boiler to heat the water for our brewhouse to our chiller that keeps the beer cold and everything in between. We have also created a specific maintenance program to take care of our equipment so that it always runs efficiently and wastes little energy and resources. We selected LED lights, which use less energy than cheaper lights, for every light inside and outside of our building.
We are constantly looking at ways to make our brewing process more efficient, and we use equipment and technology that allow us to capture resources so that those resources can be reused. For instance, during the brewing process we need to rapidly cool boiling wort (wort is beer that has not begun fermenting yet) before we put it into the fermenting vessel. To do this, we use a heat exchanger where cold water runs opposite a steel plate from hot wort so that the heat from the wort is absorbed by the water. Put simply, we put hot wort and cold water in, and we get cold wort and hot water out. Rather than dump this hot water down the drain, we pump it back into our hot water tank so that we can use it on the next batch of beer. Another example is our handling of malted barley after it has been used in the brewing process. We create tons (literally!) of spent grain each brew day. Rather than dump that spent grain down the drain, we have connected with a local farmer who takes the grain to feed his livestock. We have also worked with smaller hog farmers who bring in five-gallon buckets to collect excess yeast to use as feed.
We strive to be more sustainable when it comes to packaging products. When we package our beer, we use 100% recycled components to hold and ship our beer. If the packaging of a product we use is recyclable, you can bet it is going in the recycling bin rather than the trash. And where possible, we go out of our way to reuse rather than merely recycle. For instance, once or twice a month, one of our brewers will spend a portion of his day cleaning used plastic keg caps that have been returned with dirty kegs so we can reuse those plastic caps. Although some of these steps are small on their own, we believe every little bit adds up to make a difference.
Water conservation and protection is another huge area of concern for us. When we built our Iowa City facility, we used permeable pavers to create our patio. We also created a large green space which buffers our property to the creek. These steps help to prevent water runoff from going into the creek and park that is right behind our property. And as noted above, we are always striving to reduce water usage by reusing the same water during multiple stages in the brewing process.
As a significant part of our culture, we pursue creative opportunities to give our time, money, and gifts to local charities who work hard to preserve our land and to help educate our community. We also created a project called Big Grove For Good that donates a portion of sales from events to local causes.
Other efforts we can consider to advance sustainability:
We are always looking for ways to be more efficient with energy; this is good for sustainability as well as the bottom line. Finding ways to capture more water or using less treated water is a future goal. As we expand our business to canned beer we are working on ways to keep production waste out of the landfill and into recycling or reuse efforts. We are exploring a new system to collect food waste in the taproom so it can be composted. Through Big Grove For Good, we want to continue to provide services and a space for local groups to raise funds, educate, and grow awareness.