Category Archives: Press Releases


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,

“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

2016 Best Development Award Ceremony


1000 Friends of Iowa to hold 2016 Best Development Award Ceremony

January 4, 2017 (Des Moines, Iowa) – 1000 Friends of Iowa is pleased to announce the winners of its 2016 Best Development Awards. The awards program publicly recognizes efforts that visibly support the organization’s mission of responsible land use. The winners are models of responsible development practices. Julia McGuire, Award Coordinator, notes, “Our winners and their respective works will positively impact future generations of Iowans and deserve our applause.”

1000 Friends of Iowa will hold an awards ceremony on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017 at the Iowa State Capitol Building 1st Floor Rotunda from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The public is invited to attend and congratulate the 2016 Best Development Award winners.

The 2016 Best Development Award winners are listed below (category, winner, project, city, short description. Long descriptions with photographs are forthcoming on the 1000 Friends of Iowa website):

    • In the Renovated Residential category, Todd Schneider for the School House Apartments in Fort Madison. The School House Apartments, a 37-unit mixed-income apartment complex, includes affordable and market-rate options and was a major reinvestment in an existing public school building. Its close proximity to downtown makes walking and cycling viable for tenants. The complex has a 300 kW solar array system and each apartment features high-efficiency appliances, hybrid electric/heat pump water heater, Iowa Green Streets-compliant plumbing, and insulation to lower the building’s energy costs and resource use.
    • In the New Commercial category, Hope Haven Area Development Center Corporation for the Hopefully Yours Thrift and Gift Shop in Burlington. After a devastating fire burned the old store to the ground, Hope Haven chose to build a brand new store to continue serving its 530 clients with disabilities and promoting the economic growth of downtown Burlington. As the first new construction on Jefferson St. in 40 years, the new store was built on space that had been vacant for nearly a decade. The architecture blends in with other downtown structures, has high efficiency HVAC, and LED lighting. It features thermally dynamic glass in all storefront glazing. The building meets ADA standards and has a Warren lift (hydraulic lift toilet). The nature of the business supports its responsible construction goals by employing 11 persons with disabilities, recycling textiles that are not suitable for sale by baling them, which in turn keeps material out of the landfill. The recycling program was also expanded to include cardboard, glass, and metals. Community support is evident by the tripling of donations and increase in sales. Donations in the new building occur under a covered drop-off area, which is more convenient for donors who are physically disabled or elderly.
    • In the Renovated Commercial category, Blackbird Investments for the Market One Building in Des Moines’ East Village. The Market One Building is on the National Register of Historic Places and adaptively reuses a factory for commercial space. A glass-enclosed conference room and 3,000 square feet of deck and shade canopy were added to the roof. The remainder of the roof was covered with photovoltaic panels and a planted (green) roof system. Additional primary sustainable building elements include: mini-rain gardens, native and perennial plantings, capture and delay water retention, geothermal heating and cooling technologies, solar photovoltaics on the parking canopy, dual flush toilets, permeable walk surfaces, lighting strategies, dedicated parking for High Occupancy Vehicle (also called HOV) workers and four charging stations for electric vehicles, and showers at each floor level. The combination of geothermal and solar energy sources along with LED lighting and an advanced refrigerant-based heating and cooling system has allowed project to achieve net-zero energy usage. The project is LEED platinum eligible.
    • In the Renovated Civic category, Angelo Architects for the Iowa Quilt Museum in Winterset. This 130-year old building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and uses the original hardwood floors, tin ceiling, woodwork, lights, and cabinets. Energy efficient elements incorporated into the project include high efficiency HVAC, LED lighting, and removal of canvas awnings to bring natural light into the gift store. Very little environmental and economic construction impact was sustained because the building was repurposed and utilities already existed; despite minor tuckpointing, its historic status was maintained. By adaptively reusing an existing retail space, the final cost was approximately $15 per sq. ft. as opposed to estimated new construction cost of approximately $250 per sq. ft. minimum.
    • In the Mixed Use category, Indigo Dawn for the Green & Main project in Des Moines. The Green & Main project transformed an historic site from the National Register of Historic Places into a successful mixed use building with a health center on the bottom floors and a residential apartment on the upper level. Sustainability features of the site include soil quality restoration, bioswales, permeable pavers, subterranean retention, a green roof, rain gardens, rain barrels, and passive and active solar strategies. Each room can control its own climate with variable refrigerant flow technology and is supported by a geothermal well. Lighting is controlled by sensors, which feed data to the ISU Center for Building Energy Research. Waste diversion of 90 – 95% was achieved through resale, recycling, or repurposing items through site source separation.  The building sits on a bus route and has an electric charging station for alternative fuel vehicles. It is seeking LEED Platinum status.
    • In the Innovative Leadership category, Johnson County for its Solar Array and Soil Quality Restoration at Johnson County Administration Building in Iowa City. This 85 kW solar array sits above ground on a floodplain and former brownfield and armory site, and delivers 23% of the building’s electrical needs. 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” grass under the array requires infrequent mowing. 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 has taken many outreach and education opportunities to a wide variety of organizations.
    • In the Renewable Energy category, Steffensmeier Welding and Manufacturing for its Solar Field in Pilot Grove. This project was the result of employees meeting to determine the benefits of solar energy at the manufacturing plant. The project is functioning at 100% and will significantly reduce overall costs over a 4-5 year time period with a return on costs after 5-6 years. It was designed to power all of the company’s electrical needs on a net-annual basis and is the first industrial manufacturing operation exclusively using solar energy in Iowa. With net-metering, the array will overproduce electricity in the summer, allowing credit to build with the serving utility. The credit will be drawn upon during winter months when production is lower due to shorter daylight periods and cloudy days.
    • In the Stormwater: Civic category, the City of Storm Lake for its North Central Stormwater Project in Storm Lake. This project was designed to relieve substantial overland flooding from approximately 150 acres of residential and school property. A unique treatment train concept diverts stormwater runoff from the main drainage channel into linear treatment basins instead of traditional pipe conveyance. This cost effective concept reduces infrastructure costs, provides significant regional flood control, reduces pollutant loading to Poor Farm Creek, adds aesthetics to the area, and is adaptive to future flooding. The project is the first in Iowa to use a gabion weir and sand-iron filing filtration system to remove soluble phosphorus.
    • In the Stormwater: Private category, Cherry Glen Learning Farm, for its Designed Watershed Mitigation in Polk City. Cherry Glen Learning Farm is the state’s first watershed mitigation farm. Containing two basins, the system receives mocha-looking high nitrate water and pumps clear and mostly nitrate-free water through irrigation via solar power. Forty percent of the clean water is returned to the aquifer. The farm includes acres committed to prairie and agro-forestry cropping. A high tunnel and attached greenhouse extend the growing season. Indoor and outdoor cooking centers are available for classes. On-site composting supplements the water management and improves soil health. 
    • In the Urban Placemaking category, The Alley KADTS for The Alley in Oskaloosa. An unwelcoming, litter-ridden space was transformed to an open corridor between the local mall to the historic Oskaloosa square. A grassroots group led the effort in a makeover that includes tables, umbrellas, seating, strings of LED ambience lights, planters (repurposed livestock tanks) with attached ‘walls’ for signage displays, and an artistic metal entrance archway. Many community organizations, companies, and the high school metal shop class were involved. The Alley has been used for community events, meetings, collaborations, musical and theatrical performances, as well as informal neighborly gatherings. The entrance arch embodies The Alley’s slogan, “Preserving Our Heritage While Building Our Future.”

The Best Development Award winners are selected from a pool of applicants each year and judged by an independent group of jurors. This 2016 jurors were, in alphabetical order, Liz Christiansen, Director of the Office of Sustainability at the University of Iowa; Maureen Collins-Williams, an Iowa public sector professional who trains, speaks and consults with 21st century entrepreneurs and innovators; Jeff Geerts, Special Projects Manager with the Community Development Division of the Iowa Economic Development Authority; Jeff Hanson, Community Development Operations Manager of the City of Sioux City, and Ryan Peterson, President of Impact7G.

1000 Friends of Iowa, founded in 1998, is a statewide nonprofit organization focused on land use education. 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. Its Best Development Awards program was established in 2001.

Additional details about each winning project and 1000 Friends of Iowa’s smart growth priorities can be found at


1000 Friends of Iowa Announces 2014 Best Development Award Winners


MEDIA CONTACT: Siobhan Spain, 515-707-2783,

January 8, 2014 (Des Moines, Iowa) – 1000 Friends of Iowa is pleased to announce the winners of the 2014 Best Development Awards. The awards program showcases projects that recognize connections between building development and quality of life. With a mission focused on responsible land use, 1000 Friends of Iowa promotes smart growth planning principles that help achieve communities that are socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable.

Please join 1000 Friends of Iowa in acknowledging the hard work of the 2014 Best Development Award winners, and promoting the good happening in our communities that make Iowa great:

1. New Residential: Madison Flats, Des Moines
Neighborhood Development Corporation cleaned up a contaminated site to build an apartment building and spark further developments in a blighted neighborhood with potential. Located across the river from Principal Park, Madison Flats is positioned to make a “catalytic impact in the Two Rivers District, encouraging other good projects in the area,” as one Best Development Award juror stated.

2. Renovated Residential (Co-Winners):
a. 1924 Leyner Street, Des Moines
The ambitious project by Indigo Dawn relocated a dilapidated Victorian-era bungalow and transformed it into a 1500 square foot home with a full basement, porch and updated amenities. It features include an insulated basement floor and walls; diverse stormwater management practices; and use of salvage and recycled materials.
b. 4818 Urbandale Avenue, Des Moines
Not deterred by gaping holes in the roof, a crumbling garage, and a bathtub ready to fall through the floor, David Barzen of Sterling Investments recognized that the 1920 Beaverdale Craftsman had “good bones.” The project is an example of how one person’s passion can make a difference that inspires a community. The neighborhood nuisance property is now home to a grateful family.

3. New Commercial/Civic: Viking Center, Stanton
A strong group of Stanton, Iowa, residents persevered over seven years to plan, build and dedicate the City’s Viking Center, a public building featuring a preschool, library, wellness center, walking track, gymnasium, multi-purpose community room and 625-person tornado shelter. In a community with a population of 700, over 400 people formed a “human chain” six blocks long, passing books hand to hand from the old library to the new center.

4. Renovated Commercial/Civic: Green Pilot Streetscape Project, West Union
A RAGBRAI event motivated community members to turn a standard streetscape infrastructure project into a downtown sustainable revitalization endeavor that included the renovation of 10 building facades; a district geothermal heating and cooling system; and a comprehensive stormwater management project. The Best Development Award jurors join the many voices concurring that this is simply an amazing story.

5. Mixed Use: 421 Main Street, Slater
In 2006, a dilapidated vacant building in Slater, Iowa, collapsed leaving a large clean-up bill, public safety and health concerns, and an economic development void. Learning from this trying event, City of Slater turned another nuisance property into an impactful opportunity. The renovated mixed use building acts as a beacon for other communities faced with similar challenges.

6. Leadership: Woodbine Main Street District, Woodbine
The work began in 2007 when the western Iowa town of 1,500 residents acknowledged their downtown, comprised of three square blocks with 10 vacant and decaying buildings, must be addressed. Prioritizing collaboration, pursuing diverse funding sources and accomplishing project after project has enabled Woodbine to reap the economic and community-building benefits of revitalizing existing assets.

7. Stormwater Management: Bee Branch Watershed Flood Mitigation Project’s Green Alley Program, Dubuque
The urban municipality’s ambitious 12-phase 20 -year community flood mitigation project retrofits alley infrastructure within the city’s Bee Branch Watershed with pervious pavement. By allowing stormwater to soak into the ground, Dubuque is able to reduce stormwater runoff by up to 80%, replenish the groundwater, and lessen the amount of pollutants entering the storm sewer system and ultimately the Mississippi River.

The Best Development Awards are selected from a pool of applications each year and judged by an independent group of jurors. This year’s jurors included Ryan Peterson of Impact7G, Iowa State University graduate student Kristen Greteman, and City of Ankeny Community Development Director John Peterson. Plaques commemorating each 2014 Best Development Awards recipient will be presented to the winners individually.

1000 Friends of Iowa, founded in 1998, is a statewide nonprofit organization focused on land use education. 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.

Additional details about each winning project and 1000 Friends of Iowa’s smart growth priorities can be found at


Press Release: 2014 Best Development Award Winners

Awards Program Redefines How Sustainable Projects are Recognized


November 11, 2014

Media Contact: Siobhan Spain, 515-707-2783,

Awards Program Redefines How Sustainable Projects are Recognized

It’s not just for green building: 1000 Friends of Iowa’s Best Development Awards program helps raise awareness of the wide-ranging efforts happening across the state that enrich our economy, environment and social well-being.

DES MOINES, Iowa – 1000 Friends of Iowa’s annual Best Development Awards offer the most comprehensive recognition program in the state by including not only sustainable commercial, civic and residential property developments, but also storm water management, urban agriculture and nature preservation projects. With a mission focused solely on responsible land use, 1000 Friends of Iowa seeks any nomination project that adheres to Smart Growth principles for creating healthy communities and strong local businesses. The Best Development Awards application deadline is November 30th and the nomination form with guidelines is available at

Categories include New Residential; Renovated Residential; New Commercial/Civic; Renovated Commercial/Civic; Mixed Use; Leadership; and Storm Water Management.

The winners of the Best Development Awards are models of how responsible urban, suburban and rural development practices provide benefits to the local economy, the environment, and quality of life for future generations. The Awards showcase the hard work happening in our communities and inspire collaborative projects that make Iowa great.

There is no entry fee and individuals, contractors, architects, developer, cities, organizations, businesses and others are encouraged to apply. Recipients receive a plaque recognizing their achievement, publicity during announcement of winners, and recognition in 1000 Friends of Iowa’s educational materials, social media and website.

For additional information please visit, or contact Siobhan Spain at or 515-707-2783.