Category Archives: Uncategorized

Leveraging Federal Funds for Clean Transportation!

This summer, 1000 Friends of Iowa has worked with our partners in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan to ensure Federal Transportation dollars are being spent on clean transportation options, such as transit, and other multi-modal options. As part of this work we commissioned a report from the Shared Use Mobility Center called “Flex Your Grants! Leveraging federal dollars for clean transportation projects.”

This report explores different pots of funding and how it can be used for something other than more highways. The report also gives examples of how the funds have been used in other states & communities. Check out the report here:

Click to access FlexYourGrants_Final_September2023.pdf

Stay tuned for ways you can get involved with influencing how federal dollars are spent!

Community Conversations

While most of us have been staying at home during Covid-19, we have been working with sustainability teams across central Iowa to do webinars on critical topics and plan for how to move forward equitable climate and sustainability action on the local level. Check out these community conversations Below:

100% Clean Renewable Cities Panel Discussion

Sustainable City Code with Johnathan Rosenbloom

Transportation in the Metro

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventories and UNI’s CEEE

Stormwater and Flooding

Climate Action Planning

The Intersection of Urban Food Systems and Climate Change

DSM Urban Forest Master Plan and Climate Change

Climate Action – Leading with an Equity Lens

Getting to Zero Waste

Land use, transportation, sustainability, and climate change – webinars and trainings for Cities, Counties and Planners

1000 Friends of Iowa, along with our partners, have started a series of webinars on key topics of interest and importance to city and county staff and planners across the state.

Please check out our first two webinars and stay tuned for more to come! If you have topics for webinars that you would like to have, just email us at

  1. Webinar 1: Zoning for Solar
  2. Webinar 2: EV Ready Communities
  3. Webinar 3: Comprehensive planning with a Climate and Sustainability lens (Coming in February 2022).
  4. Webinar 4: Transportation Planning to Reduce VMTs (Coming in April 2022)

Hiring for Temporary Sponsorship Fundraising Position.

1000 Friends of Iowa is seeking an independent contractor for at least a two to three month contract to coordinate our Best Development Awards Sponsorship Program.

Our Best Development Awards is a 19-year old awards program that recognizes smart growth and sustainable development in Iowa.

A successful candidate must have strong communication skills, be organized, detail oriented and able to work independently. Candidate should have experience with fundraising, prospecting, and direct donor asks; and should be proficient with social media, email, and familiar with Google drive.

Scoop of Work includes, but is not limited to:

Coordinate and implement all tasks related to the 1000 Friends of Iowa Sponsorship program. Tasks include, but are not limited to:

  • Updating and revising sponsorship materials and create other promotional materials
  • Updating and adding to prospect list
  • Coordinating the mailing of sponsorship ask letters and emails
  • Conduct follow up calls to make the ask for sponsorships
  • Coordinate fulfillment of “benefits” for sponsors
  • Create sponsorship acknowledgement materials
  • Communicate KFOI mission, values and Best Development Awards program goals.

This position could be extended for the right candidate to do ongoing and reoccuring sponsorship & fundraising work

Anyone interested in this position should submit a resume and cover letter to or call 515-288-5364 for more information. More information about the Best Development Awards can be found at

2019 Best Development Award Winners announced

1000 Friends of Iowa announces 13 winners, 9 categories, 5 jurors

1000 Friends of Iowa is pleased to announce the winners of the 2019 Best Development Awards. The awards program showcases projects that recognize connections between building and project development to quality of life. With a mission focused on responsible land use, 1000 Friends of Iowa promotes smart growth planning principles that help achieve socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable communities. Projects recognized this year are located in the following communities: Altoona, Belle Plaine, Coralville, Davenport, Dyersville, Fort Madison, Grinnell, Iowa City, Johnson County, Knoxville, Marshalltown, Readlyn, and Stanton.

Plaques will be presented to winning applicants at an awards ceremony on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, at the Iowa State Capitol Building, First Floor Rotunda, from 12 noon to 1:00 p.m. The public is invited to attend. Register here.

The hard work of the 2019 Best Development Award winners is acknowledged today ahead of the presentation ceremony. The category, project name, and city are listed here, followed by a short description and local contact.

New Civic: Unitarian Universalist Society Church, Coralville Over 200 friends and members of the Society informed a zero energy, accessible building that shares parking spaces with neighboring lots; planned the entire site for preservation of natural woodland and stormwater management; solar and geothermal energy; sustainable construction materials and conservation-minded finishes and fixtures. Contact:

Renovated Civic: Grinnell Central Park, Grinnell Gifted to the City in the last 1800’s, generations of citizens experienced Central Park. By modernizing and updating the park, the adjacent downtown has also seen new energy. With a healthy mix of funding sources, the history and culture of Grinnell are honored. Simultaneously, the site’s greenspace, stormwater management, and safety are also enhancing the park to be an asset that its citizens love to use. Contact:

Renovated Commercial: Textile Brewing Company, Dyersville Dyersville Industries took a vacant, blighted downtown “Sewing Factory” building, restored it, and converted it into a place for community. Using contents inside the building and preserving the original structure, history is acknowledged in the walls, decor, and furnishings. The business has caused a ripple effect in tourism, downtown traffic, and awareness of water quality. Contact:

Innovative Leadership: Solarize Johnson County 2018 Many stakeholders executed an education and group-buy program for solar arrays in both urban and rural areas. Using mostly existing rooftops, the project adds 1.12 MW of solar energy to the County. Modeling after another city’s solar group buy, Solarize Johnson County’s is “paying it forward” by presenting their work to other audiences. Contact:

Mixed Use (tie): Lee County Bank and Cattermole Library, Fort Madison Fort Madison’s Downtown Commercial Historic District included the Lee County Bank, built in 1893, and Cattermole Library, built in 1894. Both sat vacant for many years. Barker Companies rehabilitated and renovated the exterior and interior of both buildings, leading to a renewed downtown area. The two upper floors of the Bank were transformed into 14 apartments while the lower floor was left mostly unchanged. The Cattermole Library was also converted to apartments on its upper floor while the lower floor is offices, with the original library circulation desk as the reception desk. Now fully occupied, the buildings are inspiring other activity in the historic district. Contact:

Mixed Use (tie): Mason Building Renovation, Stanton With significant community buy-in, the Mason Building (also called the Tarkio Masonic Lodge), fits 1000 Friends of Iowa’s smart growth principles very well for high quality of life. Using private and public funds, reusing an existing structure built in 1878, the space now houses an apartment and two commercial tenants. Owners of an additional 13 downtown buildings are now looking at uplifting their facades. Contact:

Renewable Energy: Knoxville Community School District, Knoxville With 11 of its 12 facilities installing solar systems, 92% of the District’s electricity is now supplied by solar energy. Financed with a power purchase agreement (with Red Lion Renewables, a previous Innovative Leadership winner), the district expects to save $8500 annually and reduce carbon emissions by 1,235 tons per year over the 30 year lifetime of the arrays. Additionally, live data sharing is available between arrays, and a tool is under development to use this data for student lessons. Contact:

New Residential , Owner-Occupied: Prairie Hill Cohousing, Iowa City Built on an 8-acre infill, the Prairie Hill development supports alternative transportation with its location near downtown, the university, a bus stop, and businesses. Duplexes and 4-plexes were designed to shared walls and roofs to reduce the use of sustainable construction materials, solar panels, and labor costs. The site was planted for low-irrigation and no-mow space, with stormwater management practices installed. The development also supports many price points to make housing accessible and affordable. Contact:

New Residential, Multi-family Rental: Altoona Towers, Altoona The Altoona Towers were built for energy efficiency and include charging stations for electric cars, a bus stop, proximity to bicycle trails. Thoughtful consideration of building and site successfully show that landlords can make capital investments to keep tenant utility bills at a minimum, even if the tenant is not conservation-minded. By using energy efficient construction materials, appliances, window dressings, and lighting in rental housing, energy consumption can affordably be reduced to the benefit of the tenant and the landlord. Contact:

Renovated Residential: Naval Station, Davenport Built in 1904, our Renovated Residential winner has seen many uses as a grade school, a naval training station, and storage facility. Today, it is an excellent example of an adaptive reuse of an historic building with an integrated stormwater management system. After sitting in disrepair as a blighted lot, the Naval Station was renovated and rehabilitated for mixed income senior homes. By addressing the entire site, neighborhood got an uplift from a number of funding sources to the infrastructure and the lot, as well as launching a domino effect in an historic area. The use of salvaged and sustainable construction materials, inclusion of alternative transportation, thoughtful landscaping, and interior work contributes to its positive environmental impact. Contact:

Stormwater Management, Private: Gallery Garden, Marshalltown The land for this project was vacant because of a building fire. It was privately developed into a unique, urban park space that addresses multiple stormwater issues for the area. The focal point is a gallery garden wall, which is irrigated by the stormwater. The resources on the site stay on the site, with the irrigation system, lighting, and cameras all powered by solar panels. With its shelter and seating, the Gallery Garden is a popular public location for viewing artwork and the garden features, events, photography, and more. Its signage educates users about the sustainable practices. Contact:

Stormwater Management, Public: Readlyn Wetland, Readlyn Runoff from more than half of the City flows into this created wetland to reduce stormwater wetland, which benefits everyone downstream in the 95-acre watershed. The property for the wetland was purchased from a private landowner and future plans include a recreational walking trail. Moreover, a trailhead for the Rolling Prairie Trail is nearby and supports a high quality of life for residents. The Watershed Management Authority and the local school have been involved, including a grant awarded for students to install edgeland plants along the wetland in 2020. Contact:

Urban Placemaking/Greenspace: Larry Schlue Memorial Sound Park, Belle Plaine After 5 years of collaboration across many sectors, the City of Belle Plaine converted an underused grassy lot with benches into a space that honors the railroad culture of the town, a man who was a champion for his community, and connects many users to downtown. The Sound Park builds off an earlier revitalization effort to support a thriving and walkable business district. Contact:

Winners of the Best Development Awards are selected from a pool of applicants each year in up to twelve categories by a panel of jurors. This year’s jurors have a variety of backgrounds: Pat Boddy, Stewardship Director for RDG Planning and Design; Megan Down, Project Manager for Impact7G; Jeff Geerts, Special Projects Manager for Iowa Economic Development Authority; Jeff Hanson, Community Development Operations Manager for the City of Sioux City, and Ulrike Passe, Associate Professor of Architecture and Director of the Iowa State University Center for Building Energy Research.

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 the quality of life for future generations.

The Best Development Awards Program, founded in 2001, recognizes the organization’s mission in a tangible manner through awards in twelve categories.


Six businesses join solar tour for state legislators

WHAT: 1000 Friends of Iowa will lead legislators and influencers through Urbandale, Clive, Waukee, and West Des Moines on a fact-finding tour of commercial properties with solar rooftops

WHO: Confirmed tourists are Sen. Claire Celsi (D-West Des Moines), Rep. John Forbes (D-Urbandale), Jake Ketzner (Iowa Conservative Energy Forum), Rep. Jennifer Konfrst (D-Windsor Heights). Rob Taylor (Iowa Conservative Energy Forum) will join starting at the press stop. Confirmed tour guides are Kari Carney (1000 Friends of Iowa), Patrick Snell (The Nature Conservancy, Solarize Waukee) and Allison Van Pelt (Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization). Solar installers will be present at three sites.

WHEN: Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019 from 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

WHERE: Each stop along the tour will last approximately 15 minutes

9:30 – 940 a.m. Medicap, 8170 Douglas Ave, Urbandale.

9:45 Group boards the van at Medicap

9:55 – 10:10 Stanbrough Realty, 10888 Hickman Rd, Clive

10:25 – 10:50 The Palms Theater, 200 NE Westgate Dr, Waukee.

10:55-11:05 Peoples Bank, 1185 SE University Ave, Waukee

11:20 – 11:35 Sun Prairie Apartments, 5901 Vista Dr, West Des Moines

11:45 – 12 travel Ultimate Car Wash, 104 14th St, West Des Moines

12:15 Return to individual vehicles at Medicap, 8170 Douglas Ave, Urbandale

WHY: Solar tax credits, net metering, and grid use fees were topics of debate in the 2019 legislative session. This tour was organized to educate lawmakers for the 2020 legislative session.

HOW: Media are welcome to capture images and video at each stop along the tour; interaction with the “tourists” will occur during the media stop at The Palms Theatre and IMAX. For interviews or additional information please contact Julia McGuire, 515-988-1828,

Climate Action at the local level

DES MOINES: The city of Des Moines is one step closer to moving forward with developing a climate action plan. On May 6, 2019, during a City Council work session, Eric Giddens of the University of Northern Iowa Center on Energy and Environmental Education discussed the results of a newly completed Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory for the city of Des Moines. Check it out here.

The city of Des Moines adopted the energy and water benchmarking ordinance at its June 3rd meeting. The much-watered down ordinance that was passed is not the end of it. The council will revisit the ordinance and a proposed change in August.

Later in the year, the city of Des Moines will be voting to approve an MOU with UNI’s Center for Energy and environmental Education to start the process of creating a citywide climate action plan! These efforts are being lead by the Des Moines Citizens Taskforce on Sustainability.

IOWA CITY: The city of Iowa City adopted a Climate Action plan in 2018. Check out their plan here. We appreciate the cities leadership in creating and adopting the plan. Now we must ensure the city implements to GHG reduction steps laid out in the plan. Stay tuned for how you can get involved.

AMES: The city has established key energy goals to reduce their green house gas emissions. In addition, the city is in the process of updating their greenhouse gas emissions inventory and creating a community solar garden. A community group – the Ames Climate Action Team – has formed to help push the city to do even more to address climate change.



CONTACT: Julia McGuire, Best Development Award Coordinator, 515-988-1828,


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

Dec. 11, 2018 (Des Moines, Iowa) – 1000 Friends of Iowa proudly announces eight recipients of its Best Development Award for 2018. These recipients were chosen because they implement the efficient use of resources to develop sustainable communities and provide a high quality of life.

“These are our state’s ‘development heroes,’” according to Julia McGuire, Program Coordinator. The 2018 Best Development Award winners are listed below (category, recipient, project, city):

  • In the Innovative Leadership category, the City of Storm Lake for building a sustainable community through food, youth service and education, flood control, and stormwater management in Storm Lake
  • In the Placemaking/Greenspace category, Primary Health Care’s East Side Clinic for its Healing Garden in Des Moines
  • In the Renewable Energy category, Stuff Etc. for its unique “solar plus storage” technology in Coralville
  • In the Renovated Civic – Small Community category, the Bricker-Price Block for the restoration of the Bricker-Price Block in Earlham
  • In the Renovated Civic – Large Community, the Davenport Community School District for its J.B. Young Opportunity Center in Davenport
  • In the Renovated Residential category, Professional Property Management for Sun Prairie Apartments in West Des Moines
  • In the Stormwater Management category, the City of Algona for its Downtown Green Parking Lot Infrastructure Renewal in Algona
  • In the Transportation/Complete Streets category, the City of Manning for its Trails Network in Manning

“The nominations for 2018 were very diverse. The jurors really appreciated the number of renovations that were nominated. There are so many great developments occurring in our state,” stated Kari Carney, Executive Director of 1000 Friends of Iowa. “Iowa should celebrate the communities where thoughtful planning is happening. Hopefully other communities can replicate the successes of our 2018 category winners.”

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 Pat Boddy, Senior Partner Emeritus at RDG Planning & Design; 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; Ulrike Passe, Associate Professor of Architecture at Iowa State University and Director of the Center for Building Energy Research, and Ryan Peterson, President of Impact7G.

The Best Development Awards 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, 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 Awards Program, please contact Julia McGuire at 515-988-1828 or email

Mapping City Climate Action

In 2017, President Trump removed the US from the Paris Climate Agreement. In response, many local jurisdictions who often deal with the brunt of the weather related impacts of climate change stood up and declared that they were going to “stay in” the agreement.

1000 Friends of Iowa agrees and believes that we can have the greatest impact working locally for solutions that can add up to real impacts.

Analyses done by ARUP for the C40 Initiative concluded that cities are essential actors in reducing emissions and that the 758 US cities with populations of 50,000 or more can deliver about on third of the US Paris commitment. Cities can deliver emission reductions that are additive to those of nations and states, ARUP concludes, because they control land use, transportation systems, and the attributes of buildings.

They further conclude that there is a deadline. They conclude that cities have until 2020 to get on a pathway to achieving future deep emission reductions. In other words, city action is urgent but harder to get our hands around because it requires hundreds of individual policy and programmatic decisions. To succeed, we must be able to achieve change at scale. We need to work together to figure out how to do that.

About 150 of the 758 cities are in the Midwest. We already know that in general, the core city in each of the largest metro areas is taking some action – often with the help of nonprofits and foundations, such as, Chicago, Madison, Minneapolis, Cleveland. The ARUP analysis tells us that this is not enough.

We know that we need more of the communities across Iowa and the Midwest to take action. While we work with local communities in Iowa, we wanted to do analysis by identifying the status of clean energy, climate work, and sustainability efforts in these cities and to develop a plan of action for spurring all to action.

Partnering with organizations in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan, 1000 Friends of Iowa just completed a comprehensive mapping project looking at whether or not cities with a population of 40,000 or more were currently addressing these issues and what they were doing if they were. In Iowa, there are 13 cities that met the criteria. Eleven of those cities participated in the mapping project.

Of the participating cities, five of them have completed greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventories and four have set GHG reduction goals. Three cities have established an energy plan, climate action plan or resiliency plan. Two other cities are in progress of developing a plan. Five Iowa Cities have energy efficiency goals and Nine of the eleven cities that responded are participating in a sustainability program.

From anecdotal data gathered, the two most important factors that seem to drive a cities success in their efforts to address climate change and become more sustainable were: 1. a supportive city council and Mayor and 2. a staff person who acted as the sustainability coordinator or director for the city. Click here to view an interactive map with the results and Click here to see the raw data results.