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.

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 icgov.org/e-subscriptions, then enter your e-mail and check the sustainability box. 

Current Issue: February 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 Spotlight: Daniel Southwick 

Daniel Southwick is the Research Assistant for the City of Iowa City’s Office of Sustainability. Daniel Southwick

What does sustainability mean to you?

Sustainability is ensuring that your actions of today don't impact society's ability to meet its needs of the future. It is one of the criteria of every project that should be considered with the same or more scrutiny as economics which rarely happens in today's society.

How is sustainability incorporated into your position?  

My position has two major responsibilities relating to sustainability. The first is calculating the emissions of Iowa City as a society and reporting that to the Compact of Mayors, which is a world wide agreement Iowa City joined to try to reduce 2005 emissions created in city limits 27 percent by 2025. The other responsibility is to track and report energy usage and emissions created by city owned interests. This information can then used by the City Council to direct efforts of what areas of interest need the most attention to reduce city emissions.​

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

 Creating and submitting the Global Green House Gas Protocol for Iowa City to the compact of Mayors as well as tracking all of the cities electricity, water, and natural gas.

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

The easiest way to make the biggest impact would be to start an educational campaign to Iowa City's residents of how/what simple actions can reduce waste created at a household level. The most effective way to persuade people to change their actions is to show average dollar amounts that taking these actions will save the individual. 

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, brenda-nations@iowa-city.org or 319-887-6161