For Communities

Building sustainable communities requires a collaborative spirit and desire to partner with a diverse array of community actors, including local governments, non-profit organizations, local businesses, and educational institutions. At the IISC, we believe these partnerships are the heart of this work. We partner with communities through a formal Request for Proposals (RFP) process. Typically, the RFP is released in late fall, with communities selected by the IISC Advisory Board in early spring. The IISC partnerships officially launch in the fall semester, with projects kicking off in August and September. Each partnership is one year long, with the option to extend the partnership into a second year. If community partners choose to extend their partnerships into a second year, the RFP may be released every other year.

The Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities is driven by a commitment to reciprocal partnerships with Iowa communities. It is strongly encouraged that communities interested in learning more about or partnering with the IISC contact IISC staff. We are happy to discuss the program, projects that have been completed throughout the state, and our experiences working on sustainability in Iowa's communities. We also have past community partners that are happy to discuss their partnerships with the IISC and their own efforts to improve sustainability in their community.

We encourage communities to  reach out to a variety of sustainability resources that are available in the state of Iowa and beyond. The following resources include opportunities for funding for sustainability projects, technical assistance, and general information on sustainability-related issues.


Utility Programs for Energy Efficiency:

Alliant Energy:


Rural Electric Cooperatives (RECs)

Federal Grants

Environmental Protection Agency:


Iowa Department of Transportation:

Natural Resources

Iowa DNR:

Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship:

Local Soil and Water Conservation District

State Revolving Funding-Sponsored Projects:

Renewable Energy

Iowa Energy Bank:

Technical Assistance and Help

Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

Pollution Prevention Intern Program:This program places top Iowa college students with businesses, institutions and others seeking cost-effective ways to cut or eliminate waste from their operations.

Watershed Improvement: Information on how communities can enhance water quality, reduce flood risks and improve land management practices to support healthy watersheds in Iowa.

Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA)

The Iowa Economic Development Authority provides a variety of sustainable development resources from communities, including a Green Development Plan and Checklist.

University of Iowa

Office of Sustainability: The Office of Sustainability seeks to integrate sustainability into all aspects of the university enterprise - campus operations, academic study and research, and the University's service to the greater society. The office has created a 2020 vision made up of sustainability goals for the university, including achieving net-negative energy growth. Six focus areas of the office include: 1) LEED building at UI, 2) Recycling and waste reduction, 3) Energy and climate change, 4) Sustainable foods, 5) Transportation, 6) Biomass fuel project. Director Liz Christiansen is happy to discuss office initiatives and share information.

IIHR-Hydroscience and Engineering and Iowa Flood Center: A world-renowned center for education, research and public service focusing on hydraulic engineering, and within the Iowa Flood Center, improving flood monitoring and prediction capabilities in Iowa. The Iowa Flood Center and IIHR-Hydrosciene and Engineering collaborate with communities, individuals, government agencies and decision-makers to bring engineering and scientific expertise to flood-related issues.

Iowa Energy Center

The Iowa Energy Center supports economic development, environmental sustainability and social well-being in Iowa through energy innovation, education, and entrepreneurship. The Center provides objective information on energy and efficiency options to Iowa communities.

Iowa Smart Planning Toolbox

The Iowa Smart Planning Task Force initiated the Iowa Smart Planning Toolbox to help implement Iowa's 2010 Smart Planning Legislation. The University of Iowa School of Urban & Regional Planning and the Iowa Chapter of the American Planning Association developed the toolbox.

Environmental Protection Agency

The EPA offers several types of sustainability/smart growth assistance programs. The Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities may be of particular interest to communities.