Late Fall 2018

  1. Nov. 30 Tour of Compost Operations
  2. Kevin Kirchner's Winter Bike Commuting Tips for 0-20 degrees and 20-40 degrees
  3. Dec. 6 Trees Forever Annual Symposium
  4. Nov. 29 Bioswale Pilot Projects Lessons Learned (for City staff)
  5. Certified 4-STAR Community: Message from City Manager & Goal Area Review
Nov. 30 Tour:  Solid Waste Agency's Compost Operation

City staff and community members are invited to join the
10:30-11:30 a.m. tour on Friday, Nov. 30.

What to expect: 
  1. City staff provide overview of the City's relationship with this operation (City staff/trucks pick up yard waste / compostables in residents' curbside "yardy bins").
  2. Solid Waste Agency staff present on operations (process of turning organic waste into compost; site challenges and future; education for work and home).
  3. After 11:30 a.m., if interested, attendees can hike to the top of Mt. Trashmore (15-min walk each way).

Green Gift Basket: tour attendees may receive the following items (only take what you'll use) after completion of the post-tour survey:

  • Countertop Compost Bucket
  • LED light bulb
  • Travel utensil set
  • Steel pint cup
  • Drawstring bag
Sign up here! »
Zero degrees is Kevin's cutoff for biking to work.  His commute is 7.5 miles each way.  Here's how he does it.

Kevin is the Utilities Business Manager, located in the Water Administration Building on Shaver Rd, just off the Cedar River Trail.  His commute stays on the trail all the way to his neighborhood, just south of Highway 30, near C St SW and Ely Rd SW.

Kevin's 7.5-mile commute to and from work is "peaceful, like a walk in the woods."  

That peacefulness continues all the way down to zero degrees-his cutoff for winter riding.  

There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.
Here are Kevin's winter biking practices:

Year-round gear:  Helmet, goggles with mirror, rear light, headlight, bell, bag of work clothes (shoes + belt in locker at work).

0-20 degrees 20-40 degrees
Head Balaclava Stocking cap
Torso T-shirt, long-sleeve compression shirt, long-sleeve shirt, wool sweater, wind breaking jacket T-shirt, long-sleeve compression shirt, long-sleeve shirt, cotton sweatshirt, wind breaking jacket
Legs Bike shorts, compression pants, wind breaker pants Bike shorts, compression pants
Feet Cotton socks, wool socks, winter boots Cotton socks, wool socks, bike shoes, wind breaking cover for bike shoes
Hands Mittens, hand warmers Warm finger gloves

"It's all about layering," says Kevin. 7.5 miles is a good distance for a commute. It takes 35 minutes. If it took 45 minutes or longer, it would be more of a challenge to keep your hands and feet warm.

The daily 15 miles of warm- or cold-weather riding is a daily ritual that has taught Kevin the value of nature and being outside, which is summed up by the peacefulness and clarity he finds in it everyday.  

If you're looking to start your commute or ride into colder days, following Kevin's tips above might be your key. If you want to connect with Kevin to ask any questions, he's available at or 319-286-5902.
Our Woodland Legacy Symposium - Trees Forever's Annual forum on Dec. 6

Trees Forever invites you to Our Woodland Legacy Symposium, a forum that gives voice and value to our natural assets. Join for presentations and conversation on communities striving to conserve woodland areas and to improve the environment in our urban and rural areas. Learn about new studies showing why we need nature in our communities and find out how we can support our trees and natural areas.
  • Event: Thursday, December 6, 8:30-4 p.m. at the Cedar Rapids Country Club.
  • Register by: Monday, December 3, 2018, 10 a.m.
Nov. 29 Bioswale Pilot Projects Lessons Learned

For City staff:  12:00 - 1:00 p.m. in CSC's Time Check Hall, lunch not provided.

There were 5 bioswale pilot projects that were funded by Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS).  These bioswales were installed in the right-of-way to capture stormwater drainage from the street (Boyson, Council, Wenig, Wilson, 5th Ave SW).  City staff are utilizing these pilot locations to learn from: what worked with design, construction, maintenance, public perception, etc.  The intent is to learn how to begin incorporating green infrastructure on a larger scale throughout the City.  Come listen to what we have learned so far!
Dig into Cedar Rapids' achievement:  
Certified 4-STAR Community
From Jeff Pomeranz, City Manager

After almost a year of work, Cedar Rapids is incredibly proud to have achieved a 4-STAR rating from STAR Communities. STAR is the nation's leading framework for measuring the environmental, economic, and social health of a community. This is a significant accomplishment recognizing years of commitment from City leaders and staff. 

Sustainability is more than a buzz word - it is a fundamental component of strong communities that endure and thrive. Sustainability is woven into our core philosophies at the City of Cedar Rapids, driving our initiatives, goals, and partnerships as we work to become a national model for environmental excellence. Our Certified 4-STAR Community Rating affirms the work we have done and points to future opportunities. 

More than 500 data points reflecting diverse initiatives and accomplishments were submitted to complete the STAR application. Our submission highlighted the City's many successful green initiatives, including projects like the Middle Cedar Partnership Project, the Stormwater Cost-Share Program, and the MICRO loan program. Individuals from throughout the City's many departments, community partners, the iGreenCR Team, and other stakeholders have been key supporters in these initiatives and the data collection. 

City Council and staff can now use the STAR assessment to make more informed decisions for our community and continue this vision of excellence for future generations. Moving forward, we will align insights from the report with Council priorities and key City planning documents such as EnvisionCR to create Cedar Rapids' first municipal sustainability plan, the iGreenCR Action Plan. 

Building a sustainable city requires a commitment from City government as well as every business, organization, and individual. When public and private organizations become better stewards of the environment, they create positive economic benefits for themselves and the entire community. I am proud of the commitment of City staff and the incredible contributions we continue to see from members of the community. 

The City of Cedar Rapids will continue to build on our success and focus on creating a strong, vibrant culture of sustainability, serving as an example for the entire community.
Scroll down for results and highlights from each of the 8 goal areas:
  1. Built Environment
  2. Climate & Energy
  3. Economy & Jobs
  4. Education, Arts, & Community
  5. Equity & Empowerment
  6. Health & Safety
  7. Natural Systems
  8. Innovation & Process
Understanding STAR:  
  • The rating system is comprised of eight goal areas covering 49 objectives. STAR distributes points for outcomes achieved or actions taken in each objective. Outcomes are aspirational levels of achievement. Actions - such as partnerships, education, policies, practices, and assessments - move a community in the direction of an outcome.
  • The first seven goal areas are scored out of 100 points.The eighth goal area is scored out of 50 points.
Understanding whisker plots:
  • Whisker plots below show Cedar Rapids' score (diamond).  Whiskers on far left and right of the graph show highest and lowest scoring communities. The purple bars show the 25th scoring communities on the left and 75th percentile on the right. The white bar in the middle shows the median-scoring community.
More on STAR:
Key Partners

Many City staff and community partners supported and compiled data for the STAR Communities assessment:
  • Alliant Energy
  • Cedar Rapids Community School District
  • Cedar Rapids Linn County Solid Waste Agency
  • Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance
  • Cedar Rapids Public Library
  • Corridor Metropolitan Planning Organization
  • Hawkeye Area Community Action Program
  • The Heritage Agency on Aging
  • Kirkwood Community College
  • Linn County
  • United Way of East Central Iowa
  • UnityPoint Health-St. Luke's Hospital
Fast Facts

Cedar Rapids is the sixth Iowa community to earn STAR certification and the first under the expanded Version 2.0. Iowa has the nation's second-most STAR Communities, tied with Texas. Florida is first with seven. In Iowa, STAR Communities include Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Dubuque, Des Moines, Charles City, and Davenport.
Questions or comments? We want to hear from you!
Contact Eric Holthaus, Sustainability Coordinator, at or 319-286-5927.