Hosted by the City of Dubuque, Iowa and Sustainable City Network, the Growing Sustainable Communities Conference will be held at the Grand River Center located in the Port of Dubuque at 500 Bell Street (View Map). The 11th annual conference was two days of education, inspiration and collaboration on topics of interest to anyone who cares about the convergence of economic prosperity, ecological integrity and social/cultural vibrancy in community design and development.

2018 Session Descriptions and Links to Presentation Slides
(Download as a printable PDF or use our mobile version.)

Programming for the 2019 conference has yet to be determined.

Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018

9:00 – 10:00 am
Coffee in Exhibit Hall
10:00 – 11:30 am
Workshop Session 1
  • Solar + Storage: Taking Advantage of New Energy Technology
    Meeting Room 1
    Sponsored by: Shive-Hattery
    Presenters: Eric Holthaus, City of Cedar Rapids (PDF); Nick Hylla, Midwest Renewable Energy Association, & Becky Soglin, Johnson County, Iowa (PDF); Ryan Young, Iowa Economic Development Authority (PDF)
    Part 1: Strategies for growing solar in a community can take a variety of approaches. Learn how Cedar Rapids, Iowa, worked in-house and in the community to install solar using three different strategies, including the largest solar group buy in the Midwest; using the SolSmart "solar ready" framework to improve permitting, planning, and online visibility; and using power purchase agreements to install solar on city facilities.

    Part 2: The Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) will step through solarize programs the group led in Linn County, Iowa, in 2017 and Johnson County, Iowa, in 2018. Attendees will come away with some considerations for similar efforts in their own communities.

    Part 3: Early this year, the Iowa Economic Development Authority organized an energy storage committee made up of stakeholders across the industry, with the goal of creating an action plan by the end of the year that will recommend what Iowa should be doing to prepare for this new technology (i.e. policies, pilot projects, incentives, etc.). This presentation will provide an update.
  • The Role of Urban Forests in Sustainable Communities
    Meeting Room 2
    Sponsored by: University of Dubuque
    Presenters: Dan Buckler, Wisconsin DNR (PDF); Graham Herbst & Justin Evertson, Nebraska Forest Service, University of Nebraska - Lincoln (PDF); and Ulrike Passe, Iowa State University & David Jahn, City of Des Moines Urban Forestry (PDF)
    Part 1: Whether you see urban trees as art, infrastructure or the lungs of your city, they are important assets in your community. They not only help establish a sense and pride of place, but they also provide many critical ecosystem services. These are the functions of trees which produce measurable benefits related to human health and private and public infrastructure. This presentation will provide an overview of the ways urban trees can be incorporated into municipal planning, with emphases on environmental justice, public health benefits and energy conservation.

    Part 2: In a fun take on the radio program This American Life, this presentation will be co-presented in the style of a radio interview. There is a growing movement to turn to our native trees for solutions to bio-diversity and invasive pest problems. It just seems so obvious, native trees evolved here so they must be best suited to survive. Learn the difference between native, non-native, aggressive, invasive and naturalized species. Translate a biological understanding of tree growing requirements and ecosystems to trees living in urban forests. Strategies will be presented on how, when, and where native species can be successfully incorporated in urban landscapes.

    Part 3: A university-community partnership in Des Moines, Iowa, has brought big data and urban energy modeling together to inform policymakers in developing strategies for improving human health and quality of life in resource-vulnerable neighborhoods. Iowa State University and the City of Des Moines Urban Forestry Division have used diverse data sets on climate variability, urban vegetation, energy use, and population dynamics to create a complex framework for urban energy modeling and simulation. What they've learned is applicable to any low-resource, vulnerable urban area.
  • Sustainability Planning in Small to Mid-Sized Communities
    Meeting Room 3
    Sponsored by: Sustainable City Network
    Presenters: Abby Attoun, City of Middleton & Dan Streit, WECC (PDF); and Emily Wilmsen, City of Fort Collins, Colo. (PDF)
    Middleton, Wis., population 17,000: After drafting its first sustainability plan in 2010, the City of Middleton found itself struggling to meet its goals for a variety of reasons, including limited staff resources, financial constraints, management of sustainability data, and competing municipal priorities. In 2017, the city resolved to conduct a reboot, establishing more aggressive targets and new strategies designed to build on Middleton's accomplishments and overcome barriers that it faced in completing components of the earlier plan. Attendees will leave with insights into how to develop a municipal sustainability plan - what has worked for Middleton, and what hasn't - and will also gain perspectives on how to ensure plans remain current, relevant, and effective in guiding a community's work on sustainability issues.

    Fort Collins, Colo., population 164,000: Recognized internationally for its goal to be carbon neutral by 2050, Fort Collins was the smallest ever to win a C40 Cities Award in 2017, and this year was named one of 35 Champion Cities in the Bloomberg Mayor's Challenge. This presentation will showcase lessons learned in developing messaging for a politically split, medium-sized community on a complex topic like climate action and focusing the messaging on the simple actions people can take. Participants will come away with tools to address transparency, community engagement and messaging for different audiences.
  • Building a Real Estate Design Guide for More Sustainable Development
    Meeting Room 5
    Sponsored by: Shive-Hattery
    Presenter: Chris Chopik, EvolutionGreen (PDF)
    In this fun and interactive 90-minute workshop, design researcher Chris Chopik of EvolutionGreen uses the World Cafe engagement method to help participants collaborate to co-create a useable design guide for Real Estate Industry Literacy about Sustainability. Participants will have the option to be listed as contributors to the design guide, which will be published after the conference.

    We'll supply the markers, craft paper and sticky notes; you bring your ideas and enthusiasm!
  • Green and Affordable Housing Made Easy
    Meeting Room 6
    Sponsored by: Grumman/Butkus Associates
    Presenters: Stefen Samarripas, ACEEE (PDF); David Eldridge, Green Building Initiative (PDF); and Patty Bacon, City of Brookings, S.D.; (PDF)
    Part 1: Low-income families need homes that have both affordable rents and affordable energy bills, and addressing these needs simultaneously requires supportive policies, programs, and financing. This presentation will profile several case studies of multifamily housing projects that used energy savings to preserve affordable housing costs. It will also characterize the role that local municipalities can play in supporting similar projects in their communities.

    Part 2: This presentation will follow a case study of a residential building whose residents worked together to achieve building wide sustainability using the nationally recognized green building standard, Green Globes, to benchmark their success. Attendees will learn about various energy management paths for multifamily buildings specifically within the Green Globes framework, water consumption benchmarking tools and operational strategies to incorporate these practices into new and existing building operations.

    Part 3: The Brookings (S.D.) Affordable Housing Task Force was created to advise city leaders on housing-related issues and help advance the creation and availability of affordable housing for middle and low income residents of Brookings. Task force chairperson and Brookings City Council member Patty Bacon will describe the 18-month study and subsequent recommendations that have since been adopted by the council.
11:35 am – 1:15 pm
Luncheon Keynote Address in the Grand Ballroom
Presenters: Former Iowa Governor and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and former U.S. Congressman and Mayor of Atlanta, Ambassador Andrew Young

Civil rights legend Ambassador Andrew J. Young and former Iowa Governor and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will share the stage at Tuesday's keynote luncheon. Their presentation will focus on the impact of water quality and quantity on resiliency efforts in communities. The two will discuss the impacts of flooding on some of the country's most vulnerable populations, the required partnership between urban and agricultural communities in addressing water quality concerns, and the impacts these topics have on community planning.

Now the president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, Mr. Vilsack provides strategic leadership and oversight of the council's global promotional and research activities, regulatory affairs and trade policy initiatives. This includes working with industry leaders to develop a long-term vision for building sales and consumer trust in U.S. dairy. He joined USDEC in January 2017 after serving eight years as the nation’s 30th Secretary of Agriculture, where he worked to strengthen the American agricultural economy, build vibrant rural communities and create new markets for the innovation of rural America. Mr. Vilsack was the longest-serving member of President Obama’s original cabinet. Prior to his appointment, he served two terms as the governor of Iowa, in the Iowa State Senate and as the mayor of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.

Ambassador Young has earned worldwide recognition as a pioneer in and champion of civil and human rights. His lifelong dedication to service is illustrated by his extensive leadership experience of over sixty-five years, serving as a member of Congress, African American U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Mayor of Atlanta, and ordained minister, among other positions. During the 1960s, Mr. Young was a key strategist and negotiator during civil rights campaigns that led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Appointed as an Ambassador to the United Nations in 1977, he negotiated an end to white-minority rule in Namibia and Zimbabwe and brought President Carter's emphasis on human rights to international diplomacy efforts. As two-term Mayor of Atlanta, Ambassador Young brought in more than 1,100 businesses, over $70 billion in foreign direct investments and generated over a million jobs.

Read more about our keynotes.
1:30 – 2:45 pm
Workshop Session 2
  • Keeping PACE with Clean Energy in Wisconsin
    Meeting Room 1
    Sponsored by: Sustainable City Network
    Presenters: Will Erikson, Wisconsin DNR, Jon Hockhammer, Wisconsin Counties Association & Jason Stringer, Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation (PDF); and Stacie Reece, Sustain Dane (PDF)
    Part 1: Learn how a collaboration of agencies and organizations in Wisconsin are helping municipalities work with private sector lenders to set up Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing programs that impose a special charge on real property to secure loans made for energy efficiency, water conservation, and renewable energy improvements.

    Part 2: In 2017 the City of Madison, Wis., established a goal of 100% renewable energy use and net zero carbon emissions community wide. In this presentation, hear from a member of the Sustainable Madison Committee who will describe the roles of the community, organizations, and elected officials in making this goal a reality. Learn best practices you can take back to your community.
  • Hazard Mitigation as a Local Planning Priority
    Meeting Room 2
    Sponsored by: Impact7G
    Presenters: James Schwab, American Planning Association & Jennifer Ellison, Polk County, Iowa (PDF); and Doug Ongie & Mike Fisher, Impact7G (PDF)
    The two presentations in this workshop will explain why communities can and should make mitigation a priority in their local planning process and become more resilient and better prepared for potential future disasters including the impacts of climate change. Learn the practical steps your community can take to prepare for the next $1 billion storm or flood event.
  • Iowa Watershed Approach Flood Mitigation Program
    Meeting Room 3
    Sponsored by: Sustainable Dubuque
    Presenters: Kate Giannini & Ashlee Johannes, Iowa Flood Center at the University of Iowa (PDF)
    This presentation will focus on the Iowa Watershed Approach flood mitigation program and its efforts to make communities more resilient to floods. Key objectives include demonstrating the use of interactive maps and tools for flood management, highlighting the progress towards flood mitigation planning efforts, and modernizing resources to support education and communication about flood risk to communities.
  • Building Healthy and Resilient Neighborhoods in Distressed Urban Settings
    Meeting Room - Platinum A
    Sponsored by: Conlon Construction
    Presenters: David Doyle, U.S. EPA Region 7 (PDF); and Sharon Gaul, City of Dubuque (PDF)
    Part 1: Since 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been working with federal partners and local stakeholders in St. Louis, Mo., to address stagnant economic conditions there, with a specific focus on issues related to vacant properties. St. Louis has over 20,000 such properties and 7,000 vacant structures with over half of the properties managed by the city land bank. Learn what strategies and steps are being taken, including a comprehensive assessment of the city land bank; rewriting the city's demolition handbook; and developing a vacant structure deconstruction program.

    Part 2: Many residents in Dubuque's Bee Branch Watershed have experienced repeated flash flooding events, including six Presidential Disaster Declarations since 1999. As a result, they are living with residual structural issues, electrical hazards, and chronic mold and mildew problems. The Bee Branch Healthy Homes Resiliency Program is providing $8.4 million to improve housing units where low- to moderate-income residents reside. Structural resilience is implemented with on-site stormwater management principles to decrease environmental health and safety issues from flooding. The program also offers an innovative home advocacy approach that not only improves housing conditions but connects families with the social capital, health care, and economic opportunity they need to build a resilient neighborhood and community. This presentation will describe the program and lessons learned.
  • Regional Solutions in Solid Waste Management
    Meeting Room 5
    Sponsored by: Sustainable City Network
    Presenters: Lelande Rehard & Ramon Garza, Mid Missouri Solid Waste Management District (PDF); and Jennifer Trent, Iowa Waste Reduction Center (PDF) & Jacob Jensen, Loras College (PDF)
    Part 1: The Mid Missouri Solid Waste Management District is a regional waste diversion grant funding agency that supports projects and programs in an eight-county area. The district has assisted in setting up six Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) facilities in the region. Each facility is operated by a city/county partnership and each facility has found unique ways to customize their program to their residents, resources, and environment. This presentation will offer strategies and best practices for offering HHW services in urban, rural, small town and college town communities.

    Part 2: This presentation will detail work done by the Iowa Waste Reduction Center to promote wasted food prevention and reduction in two Iowa communities. Davis County Community School District is partnering with the City of Bloomfield, Iowa, to compost all the district's food waste while preparing to add other food waste generators to the composting operation. In addition, the presentation will detail food waste composting at Central Community School in Elkader, Iowa, and the progression of the project from a floundering failure to a replicable success.
  • Utility Management Through Measurement with Sub-Metering
    Meeting Room 6
    Sponsored by: Crescent Electric Supply Co.
    Presenter: Jack Group, Leviton Manufacturing Co. (PDF)
    Being able to monitor day to day power consumption at a sub-meter level is key to conservation and savings. This workshop will explain sub-metering and how it can reduce overall energy costs and increase revenue. Learn how municipal engineers and city managers can measure and manage their utility consumption, including electric, water, gas and steam. Sub-meter monitoring can be done at all facilities from a central location and is easily retrofitted into existing equipment. Applications are common in multi-unit dwellings, K-12 schools, hospitals, water & waste water plants, and other public-sector facilities. Sub-meters can help attain LEED and other accreditations and provide a key component to your overall sustainability objectives.
2:45 – 3:15 pm
Browse Exhibitor Booths
Join us in the Exhibition Hall for refreshments, networking and exhibitor demos.
3:15 – 4:15 pm
Workshop Session 3
  • The Million Gallon Challenge
    Meeting Room 1
    Sponsored by: Iowa State Revolving Fund
    Presenters: Joe Wagner & Colin Stuhr, City of Iowa City (PDF)
    This presentation will explain how the city of Iowa City saves more than one million gallons of potable water per season at its athletics facilities through best practices in irrigation, bathroom fixtures and other water conservation techniques. Is your community ready to take the Million Gallon Challenge?
  • Strategies in Green Remediation on Complex Brownfield Sites
    Meeting Room 2
    Sponsored by: Jacob & Hefner Associates
    Presenters: Emily Smart, Blackstone Environmental & Steve Sampson Brown, City of Dubuque; and David Kulczycki, Jacob & Hefner Associates (PDF)
    These presentations will step you through the considerations involved in extensive brownfield redevelopment projects:

    Part 1: The former Blum scrapyard, now owned by the City of Dubuque, has been walled off from public view for 70 years. Multiple structures on the property are in varied states of disrepair and contain asbestos, lead based paint, heavy metals, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and petroleum contamination. Once remediated, a bike path trail node, play space, public restrooms, boat ramp, and a mixed-use building are among the goals for the site.

    Part 2: After years of property acquisitions, legal and environmental hurdles, a large vacant property in the city of La Porte, Indiana turned the corner in 2014 towards a viable brownfield redevelopment. With a setting between two lakes and a reviving downtown, the redevelopment needed to incorporate elements that linked and strengthened the existing community assets. The transformation is incorporating green infrastructure, wetland remediation, a pedestrian/bike trail, and lakefront development that will include residential and commercial uses.
  • Parallels, Problems & Possibilities in Urban & Rural Sustainability
    Meeting Room 3
    Sponsored by: Dubuque Bank & Trust
    Presenters: Clint Twedt-Ball, Matthew 25; and Chris Ball, City of Bloomfield, Iowa (PDF)
    This presentation will allow attendees to be part of a discussion on similarities and differences between sustainability in urban and rural areas. You'll engage in a guided conversation with two brothers, one working on neighborhood equity and health issues, including Iowa's first urban farm in Iowa's second largest city, and the other on energy independence and town square redevelopment in a small, rural county seat. Each has led visionary projects that included success and challenge. You will walk away with a deeper understanding of why communication, processes and presentation matter in implementing innovative sustainability projects. By the end of this session, we'll make sure you know more people, understand common challenges and are better equipped to unlock the potential of your community.
  • Smart Energy Neighborhoods
    Meeting Room - Platinum A
    Sponsored by: Crescent Electric Supply Co.
    Presenters: Olaf Lohr, sonnen
    Forward thinking cities are adopting sustainability goals and carbon reduction targets. sonnen has developed the concept of sonnenCommunities as a viable tool to support these goals from a residential development. By partnering with forward thinking builders, the sonnenComunity is not only reducing the energy consumption, it completely reshapes the electric load curve, allows for a wide adoption of renewable energy, and even provides active management resources to the utility grid for it to run more efficiently. sonnenCommunities are springing up in many parts of the US, and are providing a variety of specific benefits.
  • Building Vibrant Rural Communities through Geo-Tourism
    Meeting Room 5
    Sponsored by: MSA Professional Services
    Presenters: Fred Lochner, MSA Professional Services, Inc. & Tim Jacobson, Sustainable Driftless Inc. (PDF)
    The Driftless Region is an enchanted land that a mysterious force shielded for more than a million years from powerful, massive continental glaciers of the last Ice Age. The landscape is filled with rugged, stunning scenery, bizarre microclimates, deep caves and canyons lined by beautiful cliffs and lush with rare wildflowers and archaeological treasures. While the region has been protected from urbanization largely due to its rugged topography, that isolation has also threatened its sustainability. As Americans continue to migrate to cities, rural communities are left struggling to remain vibrant. But, what if promoting the Driftless Region as a premier international geo-tourism destination could both protect its treasured landscapes and produce sustainable vibrant rural communities as a result?

    Scholars have identified the Driftless Region as one of 23 zones in the U.S. that will, in time, be encircled by urbanization, making them prime destinations for geo-tourists from surrounding cities. MSA Professional Services is collaborating with the non-profit Sustainable Driftlesss Inc. to promote the Driftless Region as a national geo-tourism destination. The partnership is dedicated to inspiring resource conservation, vibrant communities, and sustainable growth in the Driftless Region. In this presentation, you'll learn how geo-tourism can serve as a catalyst to better connect and enhance existing conservation, education and sustainable development efforts.
  • Bike and Pedestrian Planning in a Small Community
    Meeting Room 6
    Sponsored by: Sustainable Dubuque
    Presenter: Zoey Mauck, Iowa State University College of Design (PDF)
    The Connecting Jefferson project is a bike and pedestrian master plan project in Jefferson, Iowa, population 4,300. The city has developed a plan for 17.1 miles of dedicated bike and pedestrian infrastructure that will connect parks, schools, homes and businesses throughout the town. This presentation will step you through the planning and design process, how the project was funded, how the community was engaged and how the plan was incorporated into the complete streets portion of Greene County's Vision 2020 plan.
4:15 – 5:45 pm
Networking Reception

Join us in the Exhibit Hall on the ground floor for libations and heavy hors d'oeuvres. This is a chance for attendees of the Tuesday and Wednesday conference sessions to meet and greet their peers and conference speakers, sponsors and organizers in a casual atmosphere.


Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018

7:30 – 8:30 am
Registration & Breakfast in Exhibition Hall
8:45 – 9:30 am
Morning Plenary in the Grand Ballroom
Presenter: Dr. Marccus D. Hendricks

Dr. Marccus Hendricks will launch day two of the Growing Sustainable Communities Conference by discussing the collision of climate and environmental risks and the human-built environment and how using sustainable development to address these issues has to be anchored in equity and environmental justice. Community planning that will ensure durable, adaptive, and thriving spaces has to be bottom-up driven and top-down supported and requires public/private partnerships, community engagement, and innovative thinking. He will discuss how physical settings have to be explored with a progressive lens that views built features as a continuation of social circumstances. He will bring attention to latent environmental issues that don’t make headline news and argue that they are built norms for marginalized communities and most often are inherited due to planning forces that we live by every day. Dr. Hendricks will inspire attendees to lead with just and fair opportunities for sustainable development towards transforming communities to achieve healthier, more equitable places and resilient built, natural and social environments across the U.S. and beyond.

Read more about our keynotes.
9:45 – 10:45 am
Workshop Session 4
  • Attaining Living Building Challenge Certification
    Meeting Room 1
    Sponsored by: Shive-Hattery
    Presenters: Lisa Henderson, Alliant Energy; and John Myers, Indian Creek Nature Center (PDF)
    Indian Creek Nature Center opened its new "Amazing Space" in September 2016 and is seeking to become Iowa's first certified Living Building through the International Living Future Institute's Living Building Challenge program. The Living Building Challenge focuses on true and inherent sustainability in the built environment and requires next to no environmental impact during construction and operation of facilities. The facility is Net Zero water, Net Zero energy, and uses biophilic design principles throughout the building. As a Net Zero energy facility, the Center and Alliant Energy have established a unique, multi-year partnership focused on solar energy research. Through the installation of over 200 panels and four different mounting configurations, data is being collected to determine the effectiveness of each mount over several years. Discover what they've learned after two years in operation.
  • Green Campus Initiatives
    Meeting Room 2
    Sponsored by: Graef
    Presenters: Matthew Bednarski & Tanya Fonseca, GRAEF (PDF); and Jay Womack, Huff & Huff (PDF)
    Part 1: GRAEF led the team that developed a green infrastructure guidebook for the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District. MMSD hopes to encourage schools considering schoolyard or building upgrades, replacements, or additions to use this guidebook in their decision-making. While the guide focuses on K-12 schools, it will also be a useful guide for colleges, universities, nonprofits and other institutions. As schoolyards consist of extensive amounts of paved, or impervious surfaces, opportunities to more creatively manage storm water, increase sustainability and improve schoolyard spaces for students are ever-growing. Learn how your organization can benefit from this guide.

    Part 2: Woodridge School District 68, Woodridge, Ill., had become tired of the headaches and maintenance costs that accompany asphalt parking lots. In 2011, they decided to do something about it. The result is the Green Campus Initiative, a multi-year effort to replace every asphalt surface at all seven schools in the District with permeable pavements. Working with faculty at each school and facility maintenance staff for the District, four of the seven schools have been transformed to include outdoor environmental education space, native plant gardens, and permeable pavement. The results through the first three years have been overwhelmingly positive and somewhat surprising. Learn the pros and cons of permeable pavers, how to get financial support, contractor pitfalls, and more.
  • Revitalizing a Community Impacted by Civil Unrest
    Meeting Room 3
    Sponsored by: Sustainable City Network
    Presenters: David Doyle, U.S. EPA & Cordaryl Patrick, St. Louis Economic Development Partnership (PDF)
    In July 2014, Michael Brown was killed by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer. Following the decision by a grand jury not to indict the officer in Mr. Brown's killing, significant civil unrest took place, which damaged or destroyed numerous businesses in Ferguson and nearby Dellwood, Mo. Some of these businesses were quickly rebuilt, but many of them became empty lots along the main street through Dellwood. In November 2016, the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership (SLEDP) requested assistance from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 7 for environmental and planning assistance to redevelop these vacant lots. Since that time, these partners and the City of Dellwood developed reuse plans for 5 vacant properties along West Florissant Avenue, which was hardest hit by the unrest. Learn how to engage local citizens in redevelopment efforts after civil unrest; how to apply lean urbanism approaches in redeveloping properties in economically challenged communities; and, how to use EPA technical assistance to redevelop vacant properties.
  • The Iowa Talent Bank: A Movement for Inclusion
    Meeting Room 4
    Sponsored by: Northeast Iowa Community College
    Presenters: Monica Stone & Kristen Corey, Iowa Department of Human Rights (PDF)
    This presentation will provide participants with an opportunity to learn about and explore a new technology tool and marketing portal available from the State of Iowa to enhance engagement and bring new people into the civic decision-making process. The platform, available at no cost to any public entity, allows any Iowan to examine how and where they can serve on appointed government boards and commissions, and communicate their interest and qualifications. This innovative tool will also allow government officials to easily connect with those individuals who have interests and talents needed on local boards and commissions. Housed at the Iowa Department of Human Rights, the Iowa Talent Bank:

    1. Helps political subdivisions increase overall diversity on boards and commissions.
    2. Encourages new community members to seek and obtain board and commission appointments.
    3. Creates mentoring relationships between those wanting to learn about public service and those with experience.
    4. Increases civic engagement.

    The Iowa Talent Bank is a multi-organization, multi-agency movement to increase the number of public boards and commissions that enjoy diverse representation of their community members. Participants in this workshop will learn how to use this tool within their own organizations.
  • Winning with Local Food Development
    Meeting Room 5
    Sponsored by: Sustainable Dubuque
    Presenters: Janice Hill & Matt Tansley, Kane County, Ill., Food and Farms Program (PDF); and Mara Strickler, Algona (Iowa) Public Library (PDF)
    Part 1: Public sector planners Janice Hill and Matt Tansley will provide the lessons learned from a three year public-private partnership for a local foods program, including transition to a private sector food hub. Dream Distributors, the new local food hub operation, will allow Kane County farmers to capture a greater share of the growing local food economy while making healthier food options accessible to vulnerable residents. The hub is expected to produce more than $2 million in revenue for agricultural producers in and around the county and have a total economic benefit of $5.9 million.

    Part 2: Through community partnerships and out-of-the-box thinking the Algona Public Library has developed nature-based programs that support the community. Resources range from a garden share program and nature walks to a seed library and more. What can the library in your community accomplish?
  • Nutrient Harvesting to Sustain Water Quality And Reduce GHG Emissions
    Meeting Room 6
    Sponsored by: Sustainable Dubuque
    Presenters: Martin Gross, Gross-Wen Technologies Inc. (PDF)
    This presentation will explain what algae wastewater treatment is and how a new system, invented at Iowa State University in 2012, is being commercialized to treat nitrogen and phosphorus at municipal treatment plants and industries across the Midwest.Algae wastewater treatment is the most sustainable and environmentally friendly approach to removing nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater. Algae is a viable option for municipalities in the Midwest to meet the new nitrogen and phosphorus permits being enforced. A byproduct of using algae to treat wastewater is algae biomass that can be sold to make bioplastics, biofuels and fertilizers.
10:45 – 11:15 am
Browse Exhibitor Booths
Join us in the Exhibition Hall for refreshments, networking and exhibitor demos.
11:15 am – 12:15 pm
Workshop Session 5
  • Partnerships in Energy Planning
    Meeting Room 1
    Sponsored by: Sustainable Dubuque
    Presenters: Tara Brown, City of Edina, Minn.(PDF); and Eric Gliddens, Green Iowa AmeriCorps (PDF)
    Part 1: In 2017, Edina, Minn., renewed its Climate Action Goals. Edina's Energy & Environment Commission, City staff, CEE, and Xcel Energy have collaborated to create an Electricity Action Plan and execute multiple strategies to meet four goals around energy efficiency and renewable energy. This presentation will discuss the Partners in Energy Program, strategies to engage businesses, residents, and city operations to take on energy efficiency and renewable energy actions. Measurements of success and ROI will also be shared. Take-aways will include:

    1. How utilities and cities can partner
    2. Planning strategies at a scalable level to make progress toward GHG reduction goals
    3. Tactics and innovations that deliver the best engagement

    Part 2: Staff from the University of Northern Iowa's Center for Energy & Environmental Education will present on energy planning. The presentation will share how Center staff have become a vehicle to connect the resources of higher education, alongside local government, to address the challenges facing communities to create high impact solutions. Take-aways will include an understanding of specific cases of high impact projects related to energy. The session will also provide Iowa communities specifically with information on how they can plug in to the resources available at the Center for Energy & Environmental Education.
  • Green Infrastructure Metrics and Best Practices
    Meeting Room 2
    Sponsored by: HDR, Inc.
    Presenters: Michael Kurek, HDR Engineering & Sandy Pumphrey, City of Cedar Rapids (PDF); and Megan Barnes, Landscape Architecture Foundation (PDF)
    Part 1: HDR Engineering and the City of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, will describe a variety of green infrastructure projects being monitored within the city and the effectiveness and maintenance expectations of various best management practices. Key take-aways will include:

    1. Identifying the right type of green infrastructure project for the improvement that is intended.
    2. Understanding the benefits of a pilot project and the benefits of diversifying green improvements.
    3. How to get stakeholder buy in.

    Part 2: The Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) will present an overview of its Landscape Performance Series, a set of online resources to help evaluate performance, show value and make the case for sustainable landscape solutions. The award-winning hub brings together information and innovations from research, professional practice, and academia in the form of: Case Study Briefs, a Benefits Toolkit, and Fast Fact Library. Through various case studies and other examples, attendees will learn how they can use these resources and contribute to the growing database. The session will also introduce LAF's Guidebook to Metrics and Methods for Evaluating Performance. Published in 2018, this guidebook provides a starting point for community members, practitioners, researchers, and students interested in measuring landscape performance.
  • Building Coalitions Anywhere
    Meeting Room 3
    Sponsored by: Shive-Hattery
    Presenters: Kathy Kuntz, Cool Choices, Inc. & Lisa Geason-Bauer, Waukesha-Ozaukee-Washington County Workforce Development Board (PDF)
    To meet ambitious sustainability goals, leaders need to engage everyone — which means creating a value proposition that resonates across the whole community, regardless of partisan politics. In this session presenters will share a case study from Waukesha County, Wis., where advocates leveraged workforce concerns to engage business leaders in a program promoting environmentally sustainable practices. USA Today called Waukesha County the reddest county in the U.S. and yet more than 30 businesses recruited almost 600 people to be part of a sustainability initiative. Participants included climate skeptics who were, nevertheless, willing to adopt sustainable practices. Learn how organizers leveraged local concerns about workforce shortages to facilitate businesses engaging their employees on sustainability.
  • Dubuque's Waste-to-Energy Project Update
    Meeting Room 4
    Sponsored by:
    Presenters: Paul Cammack, Black Hills Energy & David Lyons, City of Dubuque (PDF)
    Black Hills Energy has partnered with the City of Dubuque and BioResources Development in the successful start-up of a Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) production facility located at the Water Resource Recovery Center (WRRC) in Dubuque. This state-of-the-art facility is transforming raw biogas from the WRRC into pipeline quality RNG for use in the transportation fuels market.

    Black Hills is also working with the Dubuque Metropolitan Area Solid Waste Agency (DMASWA) in developing a landfill-gas-to-energy project that will produce RNG for injection into the company's gas distribution system. The DMASWA intends to install a landfill gas cleaning system and then market both the physical and environmental attributes of the ultra-clean, low carbon natural gas alternative.

    Hear about the lessons learned and best practices discovered during the planning and implementation of these two exciting local projects.
  • Step into Nature with Marion
    Meeting Room 5
    Sponsored by: Sustainable City Network
    Presenter: Tom Treharne, City of Marion, Iowa (PDF)
    As obesity levels rise, physical activity plummets and our children become more likely to recognize a corporate logo than a flower or insect. We know we need a change in how we lead our daily lives. In 2015 the City of Marion, Iowa, contracted with RDG Planning and Design to complete the Step Into Nature Guidebook, which provides a set of principles and goals that will guide the City's future design decisions to create a community where residents will be empowered and inspired to be active and incorporate nature in their daily lives. The guidebook is built around four principals, Active Living, Active Transportation, Community and Biophilic Design, which is a city abundant with nature that looks for opportunities to repair, restore, and creatively insert nature where ever it can. In this session, the Marion Step Into Nature Guidebook will be presented as a take away for other community leaders to use to guide the future of the communities they live in, as well as understand the concept of biophilic design and the importance of nature in our daily lives.
  • How Variable Frequency Drives Lower Costs in Municipal Pumping Stations
    Meeting Room 6
    Sponsored by: Crescent Electric Supply Co.
    Presenter: James Schall, Crescent Electric Supply Co. (PDF)
    This session will cover the factors that affect the operational costs of pumping systems and how Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) can lower those costs. Topics will include pump system efficiency, system asset management and the true cost of power. Learn how to calculate pump system efficiency, the penalty for operation above and below the best efficiency point (BEP), how efficiency of a pump system relates to equipment asset management and how to tell the difference between total electrical power costs and electrical power rates, usually expressed as kW/Hour.
12:15 – 2:00 pm
Luncheon Keynote Address in the Grand Ballroom
Presenter: Dan Burden, director of innovation and inspiration for Blue Zones, LLC (PDF)

Dan Burden, the Director of Innovation and Inspiration for Blue Zones, LLC, has focused his entire career on helping the world get back on its feet. Dan created the walking audit; a highly interactive way to help people see their community through a sharper, more people focused lens. This popular annual NPSG walking audit workshop is designed to help participants fine-tune their most engaging public interaction skills. By inspiring residents, policy makers, planners and designers to change their built environments to accommodate people, not just cars, Dan has helped more than 3,500 communities take steps to become more walkable and livable. Dan illustrates the benefits of sometimes-simple and oft-difficult changes, and provides a road map for people to create neighborhoods, streets and cities that are more healthy and better connected.

Read more about our keynotes.
2:00 – 2:30 pm
Browse Exhibitor Booths
Join us in the Exhibition Hall for networking and exhibitor demos.
2:30 – 4:00 pm
Workshop Session 6
  • Innovative Community Design
    Meeting Room 2
    Sponsored by: Fehr Graham Engineering and Environmental
    Presenters: Kevin Griggs & Kimberly Perlstein, Iowa Agricultural Mitigation, Inc. (PDF); and Bill Schmidt, Fehr Graham Engineering and Environmental (PDF)
    Part 1: Iowa Agricultural Mitigation, Inc. has partnered with a developer to make use of otherwise unused land at a high-end development in West Des Moines, Iowa. By restoring the formerly farmed area to wetland, the new housing development will have spectacular views and use of green space that otherwise would have been a maintenance burden for the homeowners association. The situation created a win-win for landowners looking to replace farmed wetlands and a developer interested in maximizing his return on the property.

    Part 2: Fehr Graham designed site and stormwater management solutions to help international aerospace parts supplier Woodword Inc. develop its $250 million Rock Cut Campus. Key to the project was blending the proposed development with the surrounding natural landscape of Rock Cut State Park, implementing green infrastructure best practices, including reducing the number of inlets and below-ground piping associated with the collection and transport of stormwater runoff, and providing a source for onsite irrigation. Learn how bioswales, green space, and native and environmentally adapted landscaping were utilized to provide benefits throughout the property.
  • New Tools in the Quest for Resiliency
    Meeting Room 3
    Sponsored by: LEIF, LLC
    Presenters: Rylie Pelton & Andrew Fang, LEIF (Lifecycle Environmental Impact Footprinting), LLC (PDF); Linda Harwell, US EPA (PDF); and Kevin Summers, US EPA (PDF)
    Part 1: The Greenhouse Gas-Infrastructure Vulnerability (GHG-IV) Framework is a novel assessment framework linking the infrastructure-related sources of community GHG emissions with estimates of infrastructure vulnerability. By assessing each infrastructure sector's vulnerabilities, and the percent contribution of each of those sectors to a city's carbon footprint, a baseline is created that serves as the foundation for a low-carbon and resilient capital investment plan, allowing for more effective prioritization of resources to help achieve community resiliency and climate change mitigation goals. To demonstrate the framework, a case study on a Colorado community will be presented.

    Part 2: DISC (Decision Integration for Strong Communities) is software that provides users with access to US EPA tools and potential websites to access information relating to data that could be helpful in community decision making. The presentation will discuss the project, its results thus far, and demonstrate the soon-to-be web-based tool. The audience will take away information regarding access to the tool and its utility for data retrieval and use.

    Part 3: The Climate Resilience Screening Index (CRSI) developed by the US EPA has been developed as an endpoint for characterizing county and community resilience outcomes that are based on risk profiles and responsive to changes in governance, societal, built and natural system characteristics. The framework serves as a conceptual roadmap showing how acute climate events impact resilience after factoring in the county and community characteristics. By evaluating the factors that influence vulnerability and recoverability, an estimation of resilience can quantify how changes in these characteristics will impact resilience given specific hazard profiles. Ultimately, this knowledge will help communities identify potential areas to target for increasing resilience to acute climate events.
  • The Latest in Biogas Conversion
    Meeting Room 4
    Sponsored by: Bartlett & West and Unison Solutions
    Presenters: Phil Gates, Bartlett & West, Inc. (PDF); Jan Scott & Dave Broihahn, Unison Solutions, Inc. (PDF); and Jason Beatty, City of Petaluma, Calif. (PDF)
    Part 1: When Sioux City, Iowa needed to upgrade its wastewater treatment plant, city leaders identified a way to accomplish their goal without negatively impacting rate payers. Learn how the city has partnered with Bartlett & West to produce renewable natural gas onsite, creating new revenue streams and setting Sioux City apart as a unique, innovative leader in the Midwest and throughout the US.

    Part 2: Jan Scott from Unison Solutions, Inc. will walk the audience through a variety of case studies of municipalities and industries across the country that are converting sewage, food & yard waste, and landfill methane into vehicle fuel. If you're not in the game, or just getting started, this session is for you.

    Part 3: Fueling a vehicle fleet with compressed natural gas (CNG) from recovered waste from food and beverage industries provides a community a sustainable 'closed loop' fuel source. The City of Petaluma's Biomass to Biofuel project uses anaerobic digestion and state-of-the-art compressed natural gas (CNG) production technology to transform high strength waste from local food and beverage industries into CNG to fuel the City's refuse collection vehicles. This project is a scalable model for other communities with the goal of enhancing resource recovery of waste products produced within their service areas by turning it into usable energy and cutting dependence on fossil fuels.
2:30 – 4:00 pm
Mobile Tours (Separate Registration Required)
Meet in the downstairs foyer at 2:30 p.m.
  • Alliant Energy's Dubuque Solar Garden
    Come take a tour of a sustainable success story along the Mississippi River. Alliant Energy's Dubuque Solar Garden is a prime example of working together with public-private partnerships to find innovative energy solutions. This 1.2 MW solar garden sits on a former industrial site and has been awarded Envision Platinum. Tour participants will get an up-close look at the synergies this site creates with the City of Dubuque's sustainability initiative and meet several of the team participants such as the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, City of Dubuque leaders, HDR and Alliant Energy.
  • Sinsinawa Mound Collaborative Farm
    The Sinsinawa Mound Collaborative Farm offers land, education, infrastructure, and mentorship to beginning farmers. Launched in 2017, the farm currently consists of four acres in annual vegetable production and cover crops. New farmers (with less than ten years of experience) commit to collaboratively farm the land in an organic manner and are offered farm and business development mentoring. The farmers share access to equipment, a wash/pack shed, irrigation, and more. Hear from organizers and farmers of the land.
  • Bee Branch Watershed Bike Tour
    Sponsored by: IIW, P.C.
    The Bee Branch Watershed flood mitigation and water quality project is reintroducing the confined Bee Branch Creek to one of Dubuque's oldest neighborhoods where hundreds of families and businesses have been repeatedly impacted by flooding. Join us for a bike tour of the watershed and impacted neighborhood. Experience the completed linear park with amenities including habitat restoration, floating islands that improve water quality, a community orchard, unique play spaces, and more. View homes that are part of the City’s recent National Disaster Resilience Competition grant, an effort to assist residents in flood-proofing their homes and addressing other issues to create more resilient families. (Please note bicycles will be provided for all riders by the Dubuque Bike Coop. Helmets are not required in Iowa; however, attendees are encouraged to bring their own helmet as they will not be provided. This tour will occur in flat neighborhoods and is suitable for all biking abilities.)