2016 BDA winner :: Innovative Leadership :: Johnston County

1000 Friends of Iowa seeks to recognize an individual, group, or organization that has demonstrated exemplary work in the areas of sustainable development, smart growth principles, or the protection of farmland or natural areas through its Best Development Award in the category of Innovative Leadership. Other valued leadership qualities include the positive impact on future generations and inspiring other communities to mirror their efforts with a replicable model.

johnson county, solar array, iowa, renewable energy, best development award

1000 Friends of Iowa had five independent jurors use the following criteria to score nominations.

  • Advocacy: raising awareness, effective communications, and influencing stakeholders to take action in support of projects aligned with the Mission of 1000 Friends of Iowa
  • Conservation: protecting natural and built resources and promoting sustainable practices
  • Community Outreach: creating inclusivity and measuring impact
  • Vision: applying principles and practices of sustainability, conservation or placemaking to programs and projects
  • Replication: encouraging others to follow as a model of success

The 2016 Innovative Leadership winner is Johnson County for its Solar Array and Soil Quality Restoration at Johnson County Administration Building, in Iowa City.

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors had success with solar projects in the past. It saw this project as an opportunity to fulfill goals of its strategic plan — commitment to wise land use and reduction of impact on climate change. It also merged soil restoration with a solar array.

The array sits above a former brownfield site, adjacent to the Administration Building. Soil Quality Restoration beneath the array helps manage stormwater, improving water quality and reducing the amount of water that drains into nearby Ralston Creek, which outlets to the Iowa River. Low-grow, no-mow grass under the array was planted as a turf alternative. Located less than a mile from the center of Iowa City, the array and soil project are visible to thousands of passersby each day.

The County used an internal sustainability reinvestment fund for the project and was the first county to use Power Purchase Agreements. Rebates from utilities will roll into the fund for new projects, and staff has helped many other governments and non-profit organizations study solar feasibility and learn about reinvestment funds. Staff also educated its project partners about each other’s goals, and continues to educate employees in sustainable practices that support the projects of the reinvestment fund and of the fund itself. Energy production is tracked via B3 <click here> .