Summer 2019

  1. Storm Drain Art 2.0 - seeking submissions now!
  2. Solar Group Buy 2.0 - attend any one of the twenty scheduled Solar Power Hours
  3. NW Water Plant Tour - sign up for the July 19 tour
  4. Bike Share is here - take a ride!
  5. 1000 Acre Pollinator Initiative is growing low-maintenance native prairie in City parks
  6. Eco Champs! recognized at 2019's Eco Fest celebration
Storm Drain Art 2.0 - Artist submissions due July 1!
In year two of the program, the Metro Economic Alliance with support from the City of Cedar Rapids will paint 8 storm drains with murals.  The murals aim to educate the public that what goes down the drains goes straight to the Cedar River.  Storm Drain art is an educational effort with the added benefit that it brings beauty to the downtown and provides artists $500 stipends for their important talents.

Solar Group Buy 2.0 is here!
Linn County returns with Solar Group Buy 2.0 this summer!

Buying in bulk means lower prices.  Following 2017's successful solar group buy (100 installations!) and with support from the Midwest Renewable Energy Association, Linn County's second group buy returns in 2019.

From July through October, residents of Linn County can participate in the group buy program to achieve price savings on a solar installation on their roofs or in their yards.

The group buy runs for four months, a limited time opportunity.  With every milestone achieved, prices drop for everyone involved (whether you get involved at the beginning or end).  When 50kW is hit, the price drops, and then prices drop again at 150, 250, and 350kW.  
The most important part of the group buy is the education provided.  If you're interested in learning if solar may be a good opportunity for you, attend any of the 20 Solar Power Hours scheduled from June through September.  These 1-hour one-stop-shop educational events feature a presentation by MREA's group buy presenter, which covers the basics of solar technology, how the group buy works, and if your home may be a good fit.  You can sign up for a free site assessment to continue the learning process at your own home.  Also present at the Solar Power Hours will be a Utility rep (in Alliant territory) and the program's selected solar installation company that was chosen through a competitive process.

Participating organizations in the Solar Group Buy, with a goal to provide residents with education on this clean energy opportunity, include Linn County Public Health, Linn County Conservation, City of Cedar Rapids, City of Marion, City of Mount Vernon, City of Center Point, and non-profits Indian Creek Nature Center and The Nature Conservancy in Iowa.
All Solar Power Hours are FREE and open to the public.  
  • 6/25, Tuesday, 6:30-7:30pm, Lowe Park - Kickoff Event! 4500 N. 10th Street, Marion
  • 6/27, Thursday, 6:30-7:30pm, City Services Center 500 15th Ave SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404
  • 7/10, Wednesday, 6:30-7:30pm, CR Downtown Library - Whipple Auditorium 450 5th Ave SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401
  • 7/16, Tuesday, 6:30-7:30pm, Falcon Civic Center 137 Fourth Street North, Central City, Iowa
  • 7/17, Wednesday, 6:30-7:30pm, Indian Creek Nature Center 5300 Otis Road SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52403
  • 7/23, Tuesday, 6:30-7:30pm, Fairfax City Hall - Community Room 300 80th Street Court, Fairfax, IA 52228
  • 7/24, Wednesday, 6:30-7:30pm, Marion Public Library 1095 6th Avenue, Marion
  • 7/30, Tuesday, 6:30-7:30pm, Kirkwood Linn County Regional Center., Room 100 1770 Boyson Rd, Hiawatha
  • 8/1, Thursday, 6:30-7:30pm, New Pioneer Food Co-Op 3338 Center Point Rd NE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52402
  • 8/6, Tuesday, 6:30-7:30pm, Springville Buresh Community Room 264 Broadway Street, Springville, IA 52336
  • 8/7, Wednesday, 12:00-1:00pm, Metro Economic Alliance, Multi-purpose room501 1st St SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401
  • 8/13, Tuesday, 6:30-7:30pm, Mt. Vernon City Hall 213 1st ST NW, Mt. Vernon, Iowa 52314
  • 8/14, Wednesday, 6:30-7:30pm, Wickiup Hill Learning Center 10260 Morris Hills Road, Toddville, IA 52341
  • 8/20, Tuesday, 6:30-7:30pm, Center Point Community Center 720 Main Street Center Point 52213
  • 8/22, Thursday, 6:30-7:30pm, Linn County Farm Bureau 1323 Boyson Rd Hiawatha, IA 52233
  • 8/27, Tuesday, 6:30-7:30pm, Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center with I-Renew 120 East Boyson Road, Hiawatha, Iowa 52233
  • 8/29, Thursday, 6:30-7:30pm, Thomas Park Safe Room 343 Marion Boulevard, Marion
  • 9/10, Tuesday, 6:30-7:30pm, Mt. Vernon City Hall 213 1st ST NW, Mt. Vernon, Iowa 52314
  • 9/18, Wednesday, 6:30-7:30pm, Indian Creek Nature Center 5300 Otis Road SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52403
  • 9/21, Saturday, 10:00-11:00am, CR Downtown Library, 450 5th Ave SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401
For full program information, head to
Sign up to tour NW Water Plant!

Come tour the impressive and complex NW Water Plant on Friday, July 19, from 9:30-11:00 a.m.

The City is a large organization providing many critical, 24/7 services to residents.  Open to both City staff and the public, we enjoy the opportunity to introduce you to the talented staff who run these important operations.

Previous attendees have enjoyed the tour very much and provided following comments:
  • I didn't know it was so complex!
  • The tour guide was great.
  • It was a very welcoming tour.
  • I did not know all the steps.
  • The Cedar River's alluvial aquifer is our source of drinking water.
Sign up for a spot at the Spring iGreenCR Tours - sign-up form.
Photo courtesy of The Gazette
Bike Share is here, and it's a smooth ride!

Cedar Rapids' bike share system launched May 2019. The system allows residents to conveniently check-out and rent an electric-assist bike for short trips, returning them to a designated parking station once they are done. Bike share provides another transportation option in core neighborhoods that promotes physical activity and reduces the need to drive for short trips. The system operates through the VeoRide app, available for free on all app providers. The bikes cost $1 to unlock and 15 cents per minute of riding. First time users can enter the promo code "5seasons" for $5 free credit. To use the system, just open the VeoRide app to find an available bike; scan the QR code or enter the bike's ID number to unlock it; and go. When you're finished with your ride, simply park in a designated area, slide the lock closed, and that will end your trip and the fare. VeoRide may charge a fine for bikes that are parked improperly; park in a bike station to avoid extra fees. 
In June, the City's full custom fleet, made up of 150 green-colored bikes, begins service. The bikes will arrive gradually, with the full fleet expected to be out by the end of June. The existing teal bikes will remain operational during the transition. Although the custom fleet was designed specifically for Cedar Rapids, they function in the same way as the bikes that are currently in operation. Additional stations are also being added throughout the summer. These can be viewed in the VeoRide app, or at the City's website,
The program has already seen incredible success in its first weeks since the launch, with approximately 1,400 users in Cedar Rapids taking advantage of the soft launch. In the first three weeks of operation, the fleet of 45 e-bikes were used for a total of 2,350 rides, with an average of 87 rides per day. 
The bike share program pays for itself through the fares, and is operated by VeoRide. As the vendor, VeoRide is responsible for maintaining the fleet of bikes and has a full time manager, along with part-time technicians who daily return bikes to stations and perform routine maintenance; lost or damaged bikes will be recovered, repaired, or replaced at no cost to the city. To contact VeoRide, call (855) 836-2256 or email to report any concerns.
In August, the system will expand again to include a pilot program of 30 electric scooters.
To see videos on how the bikes work, or for additional safety reminders, please visit
Photo courtesy of The Gazette
1000 Acre Pollinator Initiative continues to grow!

Enhancing the biodiversity of our City parks, the 1000 Acre Pollinator Initiative continues to add native prairie acreage this season.

The 1000 Acre Pollinator Initiative is a partnership between the City of Cedar Rapids, Linn County Conservation, City of Marion, and Monarch Research Project.

City of Cedar Rapids Parks & Recreation will be preparing sites for prairie installation this fall for a total of 27.8 acres at the following parks.  
  • Manhattan-Robins Lake (4.6 acres)
  • Delaney (4.3 acres)
  • Cedar Hills (4.1 acres)
  • Cherokee (4.1 acres)
  • Lincolnway (2.6 acres)
  • Shawnee (3.0 acres)
  • Navajo (5.2 acres) 
The City has also identified City property that is currently being mowed which will be converted from turf to pollinator habitat for the 2020 growing season.
Eco Champs! recognized at 2019's Eco Fest
This year's annual Eco Fest Earth Day celebration featured 14 winners of the first Eco Champ! awards.   Read below to see these leaders and how they're leading positive change in our community.  Their nomination letters are provided. 

Big thanks to Mayor Hart for presenting the awards and to the Eco Champs!  Your work is important, and we appreciate you!
Photo courtesy of Benjamin Handler
August Stolba August is committed to sustainability and to our community.  He has proven to be a dedicated activist in eco friendly practices from his work with Energy efficiency at Green Iowa AmeriCorps as well as Feed Iowa First. He is a model citizen for promoting environmental sustainability.

Cheryl Valenta :  Cheryl heads up Iowa 350, a local climate activist group.  She's a natural organizer and cares very deeply about people and the planet.  Last year, she coordinated the well-received Rise for Climate in Cedar Rapids focused on education and activism.

CRCSD Green TeamsThe Cedar Rapids Community School District Green Teams have a broad impact on our community, for today and the future. Buildings compete to reduce energy & water use. School-based teams increase awareness, provide space for practice, and engage all ages in creative and sustained conservation and awareness practices. From climate change to water pollution, having a major institution in our community fully engaged as an eco-champ makes a big difference!  The new Green Team Coordinator, Kristine Sorensen, is a terrific leader, inspirer, and representative for the work.

Emy Sautter Emy is a terric role model in our community as an environmental advocate.  She works as Prairiewoods' Eco-Spirituality Coordinator and helps individual and groups of all ages find peace, meaning, and positive change in our environment.  She has served on many environmental boards and volunteer efforts in the community.

Erika Derrick Erika works for Washington High School and always promotes environmental health and activism.  Her Student Senate kids run Earth Week activities and pick up recycling from classrooms. The Native Habitat Teaching Garden she started is a constant source of engagement for all students and a great legacy Erika's part of.

Katie Hogg Kate is a teacher and Green Team leader for the Cedar Rapids Community School District.  She engages students in gardening, hydroponic gardening, and waste reduction. She is a key leader in Taylor Elementary's efforts as the Sustainability Magnet School.

Kelli Kennon-Lane Kelli is the Director of Education at Indian Creek Nature Center, inspiring people of all ages to become Champions of Nature. She develops interactive programs for children as well as teaches backyard chicken classes and beekeeping classes for adults. At home, she tends to her garden, edible landscaping, and chickens. Kelli's terrific blog, "The Sustainable Couple," shares her sustainability pursuits with her husband and their dog.

Lisa Welsh Lisa has been a Green Team Leader at Viola Gibson Elementary and constantly takes on new challenges with her young students.  Her work on composting at Viola Gibson has encouraged schools elsewhere to explore the same. She's a great educator for her students and also the staff and teachers around her on how to reduce our carbon footprint.

Marilyn Lodge:   For forming and guiding the "Be Healthy, Be Green" Committee at St. Paul's United Methodist Church.  She's assisted with recycling, composting, promoting reuse, and discouraging Styrofoam.

Nancy Sauerman Nancy and her husband, Bruce, have practiced backyard organic gardening for 30+ years. They use rain barrels for all supplemental watering. They installed solar panels on their house many years ago. They "drive a car till it dies" and they are vegetarians!!! Nancy and Bruce also start all of their garden plants themselves and have donated plants to the Wellington Heights Community Garden for 3 years. We are lucky to have them in Cedar Rapids.

Paige Brandenburg Paige is a frequent volunteer and intern for environmental organizations and causes and is working hard to find an enviornmentally-focused career in the area following her studies at the UI.  She's a terrific person to have in our community and we hope she stays and continues to make our community proud and more sustainable.

Rachel Maker and Claire Jacobmeyer Rachel and Claire are active members in the local Cedar Wapsie Sierra Club organization.  They spearheaded the Waste Less Workshops last year, a 3-part series focusing on reducing waste in food preparation, making your own cleaning supplies, and in building an ethical wardrobe. 

Randy StallmanRandy always strives to reduce landfill waste. In the past.  Working for the City, Randy helped the Traffic Signals Division get onboard with electronic recycling, which came at no cost to the City.  He also coordinates plastic bag recycling in his department and drives them to the local recycling Center. Randy's great to have working for the City.

We want to hear from you!
iGreenCR is a City of Cedar Rapids sustainability initiative.

Questions or comments?

Contact Eric Holthaus, Sustainability Coordinator | 3 19-286-5927