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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> .

2016 New Commercial Category Winner: Hope Haven’s Hopefully Yours

1000 Friends of Iowa recognizes organizations that are doing great work toward responsible land use every year with its Best Development Awards. The Award program was established in 2001 and includes New Commercial projects.

The New Commercial category highlights new structures for commercial purposes that minimize environmental impact, utilize energy-efficient technologies, offer placemaking qualities, create jobs, or otherwise positively impact the community. Land use development of brownfield sites, use of sustainable building materials, projects that combined various organizational efforts with a diversity of stakeholders, as well as the inclusion of walkability and accessible transportation aspects are also valued qualities.

Applicants were scored by our jurors for the following:

  • Water saving features, such as dual flush toilets, gray water use, sustainable landscape design, etc.
  • Stormwater best management practices, such as reducing impervious surfaces, soil quality restoration, permeable pavements, native plantings, bioretention practices, rainwater harvesting, and green roofs
  • Use of sustainable or recycle materials in building and structure features or other green infrastructure
  • Energy-efficient construction utilizing high-performance walls, daylighting, and passive solar strategies and efficient technologies such as geothermal, sensors and lighting controls
  • Redevelopment of brownfield or other designated sites, is located within a redevelopment district or corridor, utilizes urban infill, or development practice that minimizes sprawl
  • Renewable energy, such as solar photovoltaics and solar thermal
  • Promote transportation alternatives by providing showers to support biking and walking and incentives for traveling by modes other than single occupant cars
  • Adaptively reuse an existing, underutilized, or vacant building

The 2016 New Commercial winner is Hopefully Yours Thrift and Gift Shop in Burlington, IA.

hopefully yours, winner of 2016 best development award in the new commercial category

Hope Haven has operated a thrift and gift store since 2002. 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 to continue to promote the economic growth of downtown Burlington. As the first new construction on Jefferson St. in 40 years, the new store is close to the old location and takes space that had been vacant for nearly a decade.

Construction was done to be smart on the inside and the outside of the building: the architecture blends in with other downtown structures, has high efficiency HVAC, and LED lighting. It features thermally dynamic glass in all storefront glazing, which darkens when heated by solar gain along the western facade and solar panels. 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 very high for the project, which is seen 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.

1000 Friends of Iowa will publicly recognize Hope Haven at its Best Development Award Ceremony, details <here.>

Iowa communities moving forward with topsoil rules.

Protecting topsoil is one of 1000 Friends of Iowa’s highest priorities. Last fall, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Commission gutted the requirement to maintain at least 4 inches of topsoil on residential construction sites, and we are turning to individual communities to take action.

The City of Clive is in the process of passing an 8-inch topsoil rule. While we strongly support this proposal, there are builders who would like to create a loophole allowing them to avoid maintaining topsoil if they implement other storm water management solutions. Though utilizing additional storm water management solutions is a great idea, it is still critically important that builders maintain topsoil on the property.

The City of Clive is asking for people to make comments on the proposed rule. Go to the link below to voice your opinion on the City’s open forum. Look for “Soil health for construction projects.” The forum is open until 6 p.m. on April 15: http://www.cityofclive.com/government/clive-open-forum#peak_democracy 

We are also encouraging people to email the Clive City Council directly to support the requirement that topsoil be maintained on the property, even with additional storm water management systems. Find their emails at: http://www.cityofclive.com/government/city-clerk/boards-and-commissions/council-members

Please plan to attend the Clive City Council meeting on Thursday, April 14 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Some talking points for the topsoil protection rule:

  • We strongly support requiring that builders maintain 8 inches of topsoil on properties after the build. This rule will not only help to manage stormwater runoff, but it will also reduce water pollution and add value to the property.
  • Topsoil retention is very important to urban landscapes — growing plants need healthy soil. New homeowners with no topsoil left in place are often faced with very expensive soil remediation to even begin to establish healthy lawns, trees, and gardens.
  • We understand that scraping soil is part of the site preparation process, but instead of hauling away the soil that has been scraped off, it can be stock piled and spread out after construction is completed. The extra cost to the building and construction industry for keeping the soil on site are nominal compared to the costs to the homeowners, the watershed and our drinking water if it is removed.
  • When the soil is stripped away, homeowners often turn to fertilizers and chemical amendments to encourage plant growth. Wit no soil to soak into, these chemicals find their way into our waterways after rain events, polluting  our rivers, lakes, and streams.
  • It is costly for homeowners who must spend extra money for repeat fertilizer applications. Keeping soil in place contributes to natural storm water management solutions and helps build healthy, green, and more sustainable neighborhoods for future generations.