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Dubuque and UI collaborate on sustainability

BY JORDYN REILAND | SEPTEMBER 01, 2011 7:20 AM

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University of Iowa graduate students may get their hands dirty in Dubuque this fall.

With the help of an $80,000 grant from the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Research, the second-year master’s students will work on nine projects over the next two years through the UI School of Urban and Regional Planning’s community outreach program.

Formally titled the “Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities,” students will complete five of the projects during this academic school year in order to help Dubuque fulfill the goal of becoming a sustainable city — one of the town’s top priorities since 2006.   

“It’s great to see the whole population come together in order to create a more sustainable community in accordance with the 11 sustainability principles of Dubuque,” said Cori Burbach, the Dubuque sustainability coordinator.

Chuck Connerly, the director of the UI School of Urban and Regional Planning, said the projects originated from meetings with the UI Office of the Provost and Office of the Vice President for Research in December 2010.

Eric Isaacs, a UI graduate student working on the project, said the most important thing about sustainability is the fact that it promotes efficiency at numerous levels and that it can mean more then just being “green.”

“I think this project well help the city of Dubuque by providing tools and information to assist current and future businesses and residents in determining if small-scale renewable energy production is a viable option for them,” Isaacs said.

One of the projects will involve finding alternative forms of energy for Dubuque. The group will research different alternative energy options — ranging from geothermal, solar, wind and biomass — in hopes of finding a solution that will replace Dubuque’s Power Plant by 2015.

Another project will work with local colleges to better link them with local food producers in order to reduce the amount of processed food served.

“When working on a project like local foods, there are many constituencies that have to be at the table,” said Corey Fischer, a UI graduate student and member of the local foods and local institutions project. “I am most looking forward to meeting and gaining relationships with all of the key players in promoting local foods in Dubuque.”

The remaining projects tackle sustainability issues ranging from designing green and healthy residences to assessing community poverty.

“One of the coolest things I think about these projects are seeing all of the students who have worked so hard on in their own groups come together to help the community of Dubuque,” Burbach said.

Connerly said the general goal for these projects is to help assist the city of Dubuque in creating widespread general sustainability.

“These projects will define where Dubuque goes next as a sustainable community,” Burbach said.


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