Green is More!

You're Invited: Sustainable City Talks.

What is sustainability?  What does it mean for Cedar Rapids?

"What the Science Says," the first Sustainable City Talk, will be held on Tuesday, November 29, in the Downtown Library's Whipple Auditorium.  UI Professors Dr. Craig Just (College of Engineering) and Dr. Chuck Connerly (School or Urban Planning) will present on the environmental and social implications of sustainability and engage in a Q&A in the final 30 minutes. 

The event is 3-4:30 p.m. for city staff and   6-7:30 p.m. for community members , both in Whipple Auditorium.

by Eric Holthaus, Sustainability Coordinator
Do your part:  Reduce unnecessary idling.

Idling cost the City of Cedar Rapids $5,707.24 in October.  Although many people associate unnecessary idling with heavy-duty vehicles, idling occurs in every sector of the City fleet, from large trucks to passenger cars. If your engine is idling and doesn't need to be, turn off your engine after 30 seconds. Concerns about wear or fuel usage with this occasional stop-start is an old, outdated issue. If you're warming your car up when it's cold, idle for no more than 5 minutes.  Apart from cost savings, 38% of airborne pollutants in Cedar Rapids come from vehicles, and those most affected by air pollution are kids.

Click the link below for our engine idling SOP.  How can we work with your department to understand and improve engine idling practices?  

by Joy Huber, Fleet Services Manager
My job is a sustainability job.

As a stormwater engineer, much of my job deals with flowing water.  Older design paradigms valued expelling stormwater as quickly as possible from properties, streets and alleys to creeks and rivers through large, concrete pipes.  We still do that, but we know that flash flooding and polluted stormwater are two downfalls of that approach.  

Working with community members, consultants, and city staff, today we are starting to prioritize capturing and infiltrating stormwater where it falls through features like permeable pavement, rain gardens, bioswales, healthy soils, and trees.  This is a long-term approach and one that takes investment in long term maintenance, but it is a sustainable approach and one that serves to make our city a more beautiful, livable place.

by Sandy Pumphrey, Public Works Engineer
Following up:  Tree planting at Water Admin.

With the help of Alliant, TreesForever, IowaBIG volunteers, and City employees that volunteered, 21 fruit and shade trees were planted at Water Admin and the J Avenue water plant on Thursday Oct 27 th . Alliant and TreesForever provided $1,500 in financial assistance as well as an educational demonstration. 

These trees will provide improved air quality, stormwater retention, and increased energy efficiency as well as fruit for the community. Another community benefit - studies have found that access to nature yields better cognitive functioning, more self-discipline, and greater mental health overall. 

For a list of 22 benefits of trees, visit

by Holly Ruble, Environmental Specialist

Green is More: Behold the power of trees.

Trees soak up water in their roots and soil around their roots--but did you think about their canopies?  Tree canopies hold massive amounts of water and slowly release it over time during a storm, which reduces flooding.  A large percentage of the water trapped in canopies evapotranspires, which means it evaporates or is exhausted (transpired) by the plant, which cools the air around it (other than shade, this is why vegetated surfaces are cooler than concrete), further reducing the risk of flooding.  

Watch this great video on the power of tree canopies to replenish aquifers and reduce storm water. 

by Cara Matteson, Stormwater Coordinator
What do you think?
Contact 319-286-5927 or

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