March 2017

Prairie provides habitat and food for pollinators.
In the News!

It's been awesome to see the 1,000 Acre Pollinator Initiative reach a national audience. Nearly 72 million have heard the story!
In addition to the benefits that pollinators provide to our health and economy, planting prairie also: Cools the air, improves soil health, decreases flash flooding, and provides more nature access to residents.  For people, simply being in nature decreases stress, decreases blood pressure, and improves attention span.  

There's always more to going green!
 
By Eric Holthaus, Sustainability Coordinator, Utilities
SAVE THE DATE: April 24 @ 6pm
Sustainable City Talk:
City Leaders 
Pursuing Sustainability

Monday, April 24, 2017

 

Downtown Library, Whipple Auditorium

3:00 - 4:30 p.m. City staff and professional partners

6:00 - 7:30 p.m. Community members

Q&A will be 30-40 minutes at the end of each session.

 

Speakers: Sandi Fowler (Assistant City Manager), Steve Hershner (Utilities Director), Sven Leff (Parks and Recreation Director), and Jennifer Pratt (Community Development Director)

Comprehensive Zoning Update: ReZone

The City is working on a comprehensive update to its zoning code, known as ReZone Cedar Rapids.  Simply put, zoning:
  • Provides the rules for WHAT structures can be built and WHERE
  • Outlines how buildings will be USED (e.g. housing, retail)
  • Influences how structures will LOOK (e.g. landscaping, aesthetics)
  • Specifies how MUCH can be built (e.g. height, bulk)
The goals of the project include the development of a code that:
  • Aligns with the city's comprehensive plan, EnvisionCR;
  • Is easier to use through the incorporation of charts, tables, and graphics;
  • Improves predictability in terms of what gets built for both developers and the community; and
  • Encourages mixed-use development and a variety of housing types, while also preserving neighborhood character.
Find out more about the project, review documents, and learn about future public meetings at  www.cityofcr.org/rezone .   Stay connected with us as we ReZone Cedar Rapids!
 
By Anne Russet, Planner III , Community Development
Seth Gunnerson, Planner II
My job is a sustainability job: Seth Gunnerson

Planning is a Sustainability Job because the Three Pillars of Sustainability: Economic,
Environmental, and Social are at the heart of effective City Planning.  The American Planning Association says that "Planners help government officials, business leaders, and citizens create communities that offer better choices for where and how people work and live." 

When we do long-range plans or policy updates, we look at how decisions made now affect the City's ability to provide services to residents now and in the future and how they work towards the City's vision of being a vibrant urban hometown.
 
By Seth Gunnerson, Planner II, Community Development
City of Cedar Rapids installed 90kW solar panels on NW Transit Garage in June 2016. In 9 months, the city has saved $3,220.79.
Solar Ready in Cedar Rapids

Mayor Ron Corbett and City Council committed Cedar Rapids to become "solar ready" with a resolution passed at  the February 14th city council session. Pursuing solar is supported by Cedar Rapids comprehensive plan,
EnvisionCR , and specifically supports goals to pursue sustainability, innovation, and best practices in building design and operation.
 
Cedar Rapids will become "solar ready" by applying the SolSmart Framework, a national program supported by the Department of Energy.  The framework helps cities identify and reduce barriers for homes and businesses that would like to pursue solar. After applying the framework (fall 2017 / winter 2018), Cedar Rapids will earn bronze, silver, or gold status. See the SolSmart program homepage here.

To achieve bronze, two areas of action must be addressed: 1) Permitting and 2) Planning, Zoning, and Development.  To achieve silver or gold, several other categories of actions must be addressed: Inspection; Construction Codes; Utility Engagement; Community Engagement; and Market  Development and Finance.  See the framework and points.
 
Linn County joins Cedar Rapids in this pursuit!  Linn County supervisors also committed to pursuing solar readiness using the SolSmart Framework. City and county staff will work together to identify actions  we can take across our jurisdictions to make solar easy.
 
By Eric Holthaus, Sustainability Coordinator, Utilities

45 attendees completed surveys on their satisfaction and ideas for the event.
Survey results from our 2nd Sustainable City Talk

Following our 2nd Sustainable City Talk: Local Leaders Embracing Sustainability, we surveyed attendees and learned:
  • Did you like it?
    79% liked it or liked it a lot.
  • How did you hear about it?
    36% Facebook; 29% Email
  • Why did you attend?
    52% professional and personal interest; 26% personal interest; 21% professional interest
  • Do you see value in future events like this?
    93% yes
  • Most enjoyable aspect of event:
    Content and speaker diversity
  • Biggest opportunity for improvement?
    More time for Q&A
  • Would you attend smaller, regularly scheduled events like this?
    46% yes and 37% yes but only on topics that interest me.
By Eric Holthaus, Sustainability Coordinator, Utilities
What do you think?
Contact sustainability@cedar-rapids.org.
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