Iowa City reaches carbon emission goal nine years early

Iowa City has lowered carbon emissions by 49 percent since 2010, beating its goal of lowering carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2030. Iowa City has programs in place that will help them reach its goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.


Iowa City City Hall on Tuesday, July, 6, 2021. City Hall is located at 410 E. Washington Street.

Emily Delgado, News Reporter

Iowa City beat its goal to lower carbon emissions by 2030 nine years early.

Since 2010, Iowa City has decreased carbon emissions by 49 percent, but their goal was to reduce carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2030.

“We are very excited about the emissions reduction progress we’ve made in such a short time, but we know there is still plenty of work ahead to reach our goal of net zero emissions by 2050,” Assistant City Manager Rachel Kilburg wrote in an email to The Daily Iowan.

Iowa City already has plans underway to accomplish its goal, such as the TIF-funded Matching Grant Energy Efficiency Program.

“Through the TIF program, the city has provided approximately $1.4 million in funding to commercial/industrial properties for both energy efficiency and solar projects,” Kilburg wrote. “Our staff are currently planning for expansion of this program to other areas in the city.”

The funds are going to three industrial parts of Iowa City, Sycamore and First Avenue, Heinz Road, and Scott Six Storage.

“To achieve net zero emissions for the city, we need to both reduce energy consumption and have clean sources of energy like solar for the energy we do use,” Iowa City’s Climate Action Engagement Specialist Sarah Gardner wrote in an email to the DI.

In addition to this program, Iowa City also has the Climate Action Grants.

“This year $45,000 in Climate Action Grant funds were awarded to local nonprofits for solar and energy efficiency projects,” Kilburg wrote.

Businesses based on five categories, Adaption, Buildings, Waste Management, Transportation, and Sustainable Lifestyle were awarded at the Iowa City Climate Fest after reducing carbon to help complete the city’s goals:

  • ACT
  • Urban Fuel Express
  • New Pioneer Food Co-Op
  • Bicycle Happiness
  • Haunted Bookshop.

The winner of the Waste Management category was the Haunted Bookshop who have been maximizing recycling and limiting landfill waste.

“We also recycle any books we can’t use, purchase packaging with maximum post-consumer waste content, stock toys made sustainably, or even from recycled materials, with minimal packaging, and have strict rules about reducing, reusing, or if needed, recycling and composting,” Haunted Bookshop Owner Nialle Sylvan said.

Sylvan said that Haunted Bookshop received $500 from the city as a part of the award for helping the city decrease their carbon emission goals. Haunted Bookshop is looking to invest that in weatherizing windows.

“This is the newest in a long line of projects like getting all the lights replaced with LEDs to be fluorescent,” Sylvan said. “This will actually specifically work on the windows. We have to go through a kind of a special expert process to get the building updated, but we’ve been working our way through the building, finding better and better ways to save energy.”

The Haunted Bookshop is housed in an historic building, so in order to get it renovated it is a whole process, Sylvan said.

The business that won for transportation, Bicycle Happiness, is owned by Irene Schroeder who started the business in 1997. Schroeder said her mission was to help people feel comfortable about starting to cycle.

Schroeder said if 20 – 30 percent of people were to start biking regularly that would make a big difference in carbon emissions.

“I think cycling should be taken more seriously,” Schroeder said. “By not only Iowa City’s leaders, but also engineers and citizens.”