Matt Krieger, AIA, has been appointed to the Iowa City Climate Action Commission, a newly formed 11-member group charged with advising the City Council on climate issues, analyzing climate actions, and engaging the public on climate and sustainability goals. The Climate Action Commission succeeds a public steering committee that created the City’s Climate Action and Adaptation plan, adopted in September 2018.
Q: Could you share a brief history of the City’s sustainability efforts?
A: Iowa City has been working on city-wide sustainability efforts for many years, being one of the first communities in Iowa to document their carbon emissions and sources. In 2016, the City of Iowa City set ambitious emissions reduction goals to create a more resilient, equitable, and livable community. To achieve these goals, they determined that a formal plan would be necessary to guide efforts toward emissions reductions. In January 2017 the City Council authorized the creation of a Climate Action Steering Committee to oversee the development of its Climate Action and Adaption Plan.
I was appointed as the licensed architect representative to the steering committee upon its formation, which consisted of 13 members. Committee members were selected to provide diverse representation and perspectives from those likely to lead climate action initiatives and be impacted by climate action efforts.
Q: What went into drafting the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan?
A: The Plan was drafted by a third-party consultant hired by the city after a year of input from our steering committee meetings, public workshops, a survey of nearly 800 community members, and work by city staff. These discussions provided critical input, perspective, and expertise in determining the content. The plan was approved by the City Council in September 2018 and details 35 actions spread across 5 action areas that aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent in 2025 and 80 percent in 2050. Action areas targeted for impact include buildings, transportation, waste, adaptation, and sustainable lifestyle.
In August 2019, after receiving additional public input, the Iowa City City Council took the additional step of declaring a “Climate Crisis” and revised their reduction targets to achieve 45 percent reduction by 2030 and reach ‘net-zero’ emissions by 2050. The City Council also requested a report from staff outlining more specific actions beyond the original 35 broad-based actions in the initial plan. 100 days later, the city administrator issued the report, “Accelerating Iowa City’s Climate Actions”. This new document outlined 64 more specific implementation actions.
Q: What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the City in reaching their emission reduction goals?
A: Probably the biggest challenge is building the necessary momentum to make lasting change across the entire community. The city as an organization can only do so much and it will require participation and engagement of the entire community to achieve the ambitious goals. It’s kind of similar to a political campaign, where you need to exhibit leadership, take action yourself, grow awareness, and persuade others to join you.
Q: What are you and the Commission most excited/optimistic about?
A: I’m just excited to be involved in such an important effort. I have always wanted to make a difference, a positive impact in my community, and this is a great opportunity to do that. The commission knows this is a huge undertaking and it can seem overwhelming at times, but we are all optimistic and can now visualize how the change can happen. So now it’s just implementing it!