Celebrating Iowa’s ‘development heroes’ and recognizing smart growth principles across the state

1000 Friends of Iowa proudly announces eight recipients of its Best Development Awards for 2021 in seven categories. These recipients were chosen because they implemented the efficient use of resources to develop sustainable communities and provide a high quality of life.

“Having a wide variety of spectacular work across the state is heartwarming,” according to Julia McGuire, Program Coordinator. The 2021 Best Development Award winners are listed below (category, recipient and project, city):

  • In the specially created Best of Show category, the Tom and Ruth Harkin Center at Drake University in Des Moines, for its comprehensive incorporation of smart building and development practices in one of  the city’s oldest neighborhoods.
  • In the Renovated Commercial category, the Bellevue Button Factory in Bellevue, for converting a vacant factory into a usable space that fills community needs with many positive trickle-down effects.
  • In the Innovative Leadership category, Dupaco for the Voices Building in Dubuque, for converting a vacant manufacturing building into an operations center that revitalizes the Historic Millwork District.
  • In the Renewable Energy – Private category, Kemin Industries for the multiple solar arrays at its Global Headquarters in Des Moines, which are replicable throughout the company’s other sites
  • In the Renewable Energy – Civic category, Clenera and CIPCO for the utility-sized Wapello Solar Field in Louisa County, which can power 45,000 homes
  • In the Renovated Residential category, Mitchell Maskrey Mill in Maquoketa for sustainably repurposing a blighted flour mill into needed housing which continues the momentum in a revitalized downtown area
  • In the Transportation / Complete Streets category, the City of Windsor Heights for its University Ave Reconstruction in Windsor Heights which incorporated multiple modes of transportation, stormwater management, and placemaking.

Additional details about each winning project and their respective categories are forthcoming at the 1000 Friends of Iowa website, 1000friendsofiowa.org.

“By celebrating Iowa’s many great development projects, and the future-minded leaders working behind the scenes, we hope to see an increase in the use of sustainable practices,” stated Kari Carney, Executive Director of 1000 Friends of Iowa. “All of the nominations have brought positive energy to their communities.”

An Awards Ceremony is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, at noon. State legislative leaders will be invited to speak. The ceremony will be open to the public and followed by time for media questions.

The Best Development Award winners are selected from a pool of nominations each year by an independent group of jurors. This year’s jurors were Megan Down, Project Manager for Impact 7G; Jim Engle, Director of Iowa Downtown Resource Center; Jeff Hanson, Community Development Operations Manager of the City of Sioux City; Ulrike Passe, Associate Professor of Architecture and Director for the Center for Building Energy Research at Iowa State University and Bethany Wilcoxon, Senior Adviser for McClure Engineering.

The Best Development Award Program recognizes projects in up to 12 different categories as a way for 1000 Friends of Iowa to express the fact that smart land use and sustainable communities are more than constructed buildings. All of the award recipients help advance sustainability across our state by considering site design, outdoor and indoor environmental impact, community and public use, and long-term benefits.

Founded in 1998, 1000 Friends of Iowa is the only organization in the state focused solely on promoting responsible land use in community, state, and federal development decisions. Its mission is to unite Iowans in efforts to protect farmland and natural areas, revitalize neighborhoods, towns and cities, and improve quality of life for future generations.


For more information about the Best Development Award Program, please contact Julia McGuire at 515-988-1828 or email awards@1000friendsofiowa.org.