Spring 2018

Storm Drain Art - 7 artists' designs selected!
7 designs were selected out of 35 submitted.  Thank you all who submitted for your time and passion.
35 submissions were received for the City's first Storm Drain Art project.  It was a challenging task, but the judges selected 7, and the Visual Arts Commission approved these recommendations.    

The goal of this project is to use art and beauty to get the message across that storm drains flow directly to the river.  No treatment occurs.  Nothing but water should flow through them!

In a partnership with the City of Cedar Rapids, Iowa BIG, and the Downtown District, these murals will be painted during the week of May 14-18.  On May 18, a short celebration will be held to show the public the finished products and celebrate clean water.  

The high number of submissions from around the region and the high number of Facebook shares and likes demonstrated that people enjoy this idea.  For the City, this confluence of art and sustainability is unique and exciting.  Thank you all for the interest.  

Join us on May 18 to see these awesome designs come to life!
7 storm drains sites are numbered above.  These drains are mostly at the entrance of allies, very close to the sidewalk, and highly visible.  Painting will take place May 14-18.
9th Annual EcoFest - always a treat!
What else could you want?  Trip to the top of Mt. Trashmore?  Check.  A free bike tune-up?  Check.  Electric vehicle ride and drive?  Check.  Live music and tasty food on a day without snow?  We'll guarantee a couple of those.
Learn more at www.ecofestcr.org

Tour the fascinating Water Pollution Control facility!
This facility provides a critical service to the Cedar Rapids community.  Receiving 50 million gallons of waste water from industry and residents everyday, it's treated and pumped back into the river even cleaner than the river itself.  

How does this work?  What technologies are at play?  Who works here, and what types of jobs and education do they have?  What are the issues of the future that are currently being carefully studied?

Tours have been scheduled periodically in the past, but we'd like to build the opportunity into a formal tour.  We love education and building relationships with community members and City staff alike.

We have 10 spots for City staff and 10 spots for the public!

Upon completion, you'll receive a Green Gift Basket!  2 LED light bulbs, a countertop compost bucket, 2 travel utensil sets, and a drawstring bag.  We think the tour is worth it alone, but the gifts might also be appreciated.  And they're gifts that make an impact on waste and energy reduction, so enjoy!

If we get the interest we're hoping for, we'll look to schedule a tour here again and tours of other City facilities and operations, too.

Safety first:  Pants and closed-toe shoes are required on this tour (and a shirt of course).  Safety glasses and hard hat will be provided.  We'll have two tour guides for this 20 person trip.  High school ages and above are welcome to sign up.

Johnson County kicks off Solar Group Buy in April!

Iowa's second Solar Group Buy is coming to Johnson County starting at the end of April.

Using the power of group purchasing, homes in Johnson County have the chance to buy through the program and see prices fall as more sign up.

This 4-month program is managed by the Midwest Renewable Energy Association, and educational events are being coordinated by Johnson County and several cities in the County

Attend one of the many Solar Power Hours scheduled across the County over the next few months.  This is the best way to learn about the program and the basics of solar and to meet the solar contractor.  Cities featuring Solar Power Hour educational sessions include:  Iowa City, Coralville, West Branch, Kalona, North Liberty, Solon, Swisher, Lone Tree, and Oxford.  That's some great collaboration and county-wide access!

Cedar Rapids and Linn County were part of the state's first Solar Group Buy in 2017, which saw over 100 homes install 600kW of solar.  In total, customers are expected to save $70,000 in the first year.

Learn more at the link below and see where and when the many Solar Power Hours are scheduled.

Compost and Tiny Trash coming to 3 City buildings.
Making recycling and composting easier than landfilling is an important step in reducing waste and recovering resources.

To lead by example, three City facilities will see compost bins and Tiny Trashes added, which will become part of staff's daily work-life.

Compost bins added to break rooms will intercept food scraps, paper towels, and coffee grounds.  This material will be emptied into Yardy daily, and the organic material will then be taken to the Solid Waste Agency's compost piles, where materials breaks down and becomes soil again and is sold back to the community.  60% of office trash, by weight, can be composted.  

Tiny Trash will be added at desks, as well.  These tiny bins will not have a liner, and staff will be asked to empty Tiny Trash and recycling into the break room compost, recycle, or landfill bins.  Awareness of waste production among staff will certainly grow.  The elimination of trash liners at desks, which is 5% of office trash, will reduce waste and save money.

This addition is coming to City Hall (Planning), City Services Center (Engineering), and Water Administration Building on April 30.  The City is proud to be a steward of our resources and raise the bar in waste reduction action.
Meet Jordan Venters, a Cornell College student completing his senior capstone with the City of Cedar Rapids.

Jordan will be creating the City's first "Careers in Sustainability" website.  The first focus will be on City staff whose jobs work on the pursuit of sustainability in some way.  Staff profiles and videos will be created and put in one place so as people consider this increasingly popular career path, they can see the varieties of jobs out there--and people in Cedar Rapids--that are working in the field.  Examples of city positions to be covered include a planner, stormwater coordinator, energy management specialist, environmental manager, forester, and traffic engineer.  

Here's a bit from more Jordan himself:

"I am from Fountain Valley, California. I am about to earn my bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies from Cornell College. While I was in high school, a life science teacher that I had caught my interest in the field of sustainability and renewable energy. After college I hope to go back to school to earn my master's degree in either sustainability or a field closely related. Once I have finished my education, I am hoping to find a position in sustainability working for a city, county, or state."

The City is excited to have you working on this important project, Jordan!
Stormwater BMP cost-share for home and business
The Stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) Cost-Share Program provides property owners financial and technical assistance in implementation for improving water quality and reducing the amount of stormwater runoff.  
Financial assistance will help cover the cost of materials and/or contractor labor for completing the projects. Projects can range from rain gardens and bioretention cells to pervious pavement and soil quality restoration.  The City will provide partial reimbursement up to 50% of the project cost.  Maximum reimbursement for residential projects is $2,000; there is no maximum for non-residential projects.
Anyone subject to the City of Cedar Rapids stormwater utility fee will be eligible for participation in the program.
Holly Ruble, Energy Management Specialist, earns "Outstanding Professional" award for tree planting efforts

The Iowa Urban Tree Council recognized Holly Ruble, environmental compliance and energy management specialist for the City of Cedar Rapids, with the Outstanding Professional in Iowa award. The award was presented at the Community Forestry Awards luncheon in West Des Moines on Wednesday.

The Outstanding Professional award honors those who model outstanding efforts to preserve, protect, expand and improve urban forest resources. Through her efforts, Ruble has helped secure funding for - and organized the planting of - more than 250 trees on City property since 2015.

Trees are very important to our community and personal health.  Way to go, Holly, and thank you!
Reusing sand swept up from the streets
In the Spring, the City of Cedar Rapids aggressively sweeps up sand and debris from roadways left over from the winter snow fight.   This effort generates between 2 and 3 thousand tons of debris, much of it sand.  This material is collected by our mechanical street sweepers and hauled to a screen the City owns and processed.   The screen process removes large debris leaving sand and organic material suitable for fill.   This fill material has been used to flatten steep embankments in the County to improve safety, provide fill on non-structural construction projects, and reduce run off and erosion along roadways.   The material compacts well, and because of the organic material, it will support cover growth. 
 
The City invested in the Screen at a cost of $134,000.   The material, if not screened and reused, would be disposed of at the landfill at a cost of $39 per ton.   The annual savings in tipping fees is approximately $110,000.   In addition, the screened material used on construction projects results in a credit for materials from the contractor making the purchase of the screen self-supporting in the first year of operation.   The process has been done since 2009 and is proven to be well worth the investment. 
We got the gold!  Cedar Rapids is Iowa's first SolSmart gold-rated city.

Duncan McCallum (Building Services Manager) and Dawn Kolosik (Building Services Administrative Asst) worked hard to streamline City permitting processes for residents and businesses interested in going solar.

The how-to for solar on the City's building service's website used to be mixed in with other permitting and inspection forms and guidelines--but now solar has its own page with a simple checklist of steps and a simple solar permit application.

These efforts to make solar easy were part of the City's involvement in SolSmart, a national framework that helps communities make solar easy for homes and businesses.  A community can earn bronze, silver, or gold at the end of the assessment, and the City worked hard enough to become gold--the first community in Iowa.  Both Johnson County and Linn County have also achieved gold status in SolSmart.

The City's efforts in installing 4 solar arrays on City facilities (saves the City over $10k per year) helped the City achieve gold as well as participation in the Cedar Rapids - Linn County Solar Group Buy.  

Find out more about City's solar efforts, and if you're a resident of Johnson County, you can participate in their upcoming Solar Group Buy starting at the end of April (see article above for more). 

The annual biking celebration is around the corner.  Saddle up!
Join cyclists from across the community for a week-long celebration of biking as recreation, commuting, healthy living, and community!

MONDAY, MAY 14
Mayor's Bike Ride and Proclamation
7:00 a.m.
Red's Public House (112 2nd St SE)
$5 Breakfast burritos and free coffee for cyclists!

Bike to the Ballpark
6:35 p.m.
Residents are encouraged to bike to Veteran's Memorial Stadium and cheer on the Cedar Rapids' Kernels as they take on the Quad Cities!

TUESDAY, MAY 15
Pit Stop
Stop by for educational material, snacks, & give-aways!
4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Two Locations: 1st Avenue at the trail (across from the Double Tree), and Cedar River Trail at McCloud Run (across the NewPi).

WEDNESDAY, MAY 16
Bike to Lunch at NewBo City Market
Grab your coworkers and bike to the NewBo District for lunch! BikeCR volunteers will also provide a trail update at 11:30 in the market square.

Ride of Silence
6:00 p.m.
Meet at Marion Square, 7th Avenue, Marion

THURSDAY, MAY 17
Pit Stops
Stop by for educational material, snacks, & give-aways!
7:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. at Rockwell Collins (Corner of F Ave/Collins Rd)
4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. at NewBo City Market

Meet Me at the Market
6:00 p.m. Bike Ride
Meet at NewBo City Market

Bike Safety Night at the Kernels
6:35 PM doors open at 5:30
The first 200 kids to stop by the bike helmet booth can get a FREE helmet!

FRIDAY, MAY 18
Handlebar Happy Hour & Group Photo
Join us for the grand finale, group photo, and prizes!
6:00 p.m.
Lion Bridge Brewing

SATURDAY, MAY 19
Corridor MPO Bike Ride
See the new extension of the Cedar Valley Nature Trail in Ely and learn about the future trail connections to Solon and Lake McBride
9:30 a.m., meet at NewBo City Market
Ride is 25 miles, moderate family-friendly pace

Bike Swap at NewBo Market
Noon- 4 p.m.

Learn more: CityofCR.com/BikeCR

Head to Dubuque October 2-3!


This is a terrific event attended by experts and interested people from more more than 10 states.  Many will be attending from Cedar Rapids.  How about you?
Questions, ideas, projects to share, or leaders to highlight?  We want to hear from you!
Contact Eric Holthaus, Sustainability Coordinator, at e.holthaus@cedar-rapids.org or 319-286-5927.
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