Mayor Roy Boul: When I talk about planning and sustainability, for me it's generational planning. When I was beginning to think about sustainability, it was when I was being blessed with grandchildren. My wife and I now have nine grandchildren and I thought a lot about the future. You know, if we continue down this path that we’re leading, especially in this country--25% of the energy usage in the world is consumed in the United States of America--we had to make some changes, and major changes; not only in the city of Dubuque but globally. So I’m just very gratified with the progress that we’ve had in the city of Dubuque and the leadership that we’ve provided for other communities in this country and globally. I mean, the city of Dubuque is recognized internationally. We’ve won an International Sustainability Award, the only city in the United States to do that. So one of the secrets that we have--it’s not really a secret, we tell everybody about it--but we plan ahead. We don’t think about today, we have a vision for the future; where we want to be in 2030. That's what guides our current decisions. Our short term, mid-term and long-range planning is all driven by that vision.
Cori Burbach: Even before Mayor ran on the sustainability platform, there was an initiative in Dubuque called Envision 2010 where the community came together and identified the ten big projects that they wanted to see done by 2010. And even though the Millwork District made the list we weren’t saying, “We want to do sustainable project” but they saw what a piece of the community's history and the future that this project was. I love that I have people calling me every day, saying, “How do I put a rain garden in my backyard?” “How do I get my Homeowners' Association involved?” “Where is Farmers’ Market?” We have a great initiative called Dubuque 2.0 that I work with quite a bit which is an initiative of the Chamber of Commerce and The Community Foundation: Greater Dubuque so I get to meet with them and they’re saying, “You know, we want to do an energy efficiency program for residents, we want to do composting in the schools. Can you help us with the technical piece?” But then we have the volunteers who want to do it, and so really, the entire community has embraced the sustainability vision. You know, you can talk about kilowatt hours and carbon in the air all you want but, at the end of the day, the sustainable Dubuque vision is about people connecting to their neighbors more. It’s about inter-generational connection. It’s about people feeling like they’re connected to the street they live on and it’s really quality of life, and that is what made me move back to Dubuque from the East Coast.
[VOICEOVER] Welcome to the Dream Green Series with co-hosts Stuart Tanner and James Moore on solar-powered KRUU-FM. Iowans creating a greener tomorrow today. A journey of discovery across the state featuring innovators, cutting edge projects and communities leading the way to an energy independent and sustainable future. Visit our website at greeniowa.org.
James Moore: And here we are, once again, on another journey. We’re on our way to Dubuque, Iowa. We’re going to visit with the Mayor there, Mayor Buol. We’re going to be talking about what that city has done to sustain itself, to greenify itself to up the ante in terms of a lot of different aspects. It’s another grey day, we always talk about the weather starting off, wouldn’t you say, Stuart, as we wind our way? Or I guess we’re not really winding; we’re straight on to Dubuque here at the moment.
Stuart Tanner: Yes, we’re on our way to Dubuque. We’re looking forward to learning about Dubuque’s plans for a sustainable city which involves a smarter city planning, which is a new angle for us, one we’re quiet keen to hear about because if you think about it in terms of energy efficiency and being sustainable, how you design the actual city is going to be a really important factor. It’s not something we’ve looked a before and I think Dubuque is ahead of the game on this, so that is all going to be very interesting. One of my observations is have you noticed that all the Mayors have what I call ‘Mayor’s hair’? We went to visit Mayor Cownie and he had this wonderful sort of, hair. So does Ed Malloy in Fairfield and so does Mayor Boul. So you have to have this sort of… well Donna Shill is with us today and she described it as ‘poofy’ hairstyle. They always have a lot of hair and it’s sort of, quite high on the head. Do you have to have this hair, James, in America to get elected or something?
JM: I believe it is the 23rd Amendment, I’m not sure. I think it’s under debate right now in Congress. I’m not sure the two sides can come together but I think pretty much everyone, I would agree, is pro-hair on both sides of the partisan line. We’ll be back in just a moment. This is James Moore, co-host Stuart Tanner along with Donna Shill today on our way to Dubuque, to the Mississippi to learn more great, good, green stuff and we’re coming to you from solar-powered KRUU-FM in Fairfield, Iowa. Keep it tuned right here.
JM: And we have arrived in Dubuque by the Mississippi. You get to Dubuque and it’s almost like Bluffy, a little bit like Wisconsin. Not quite. There is something very river-townie about it. Mayor Boul will take us on a walking tour. About 57,000-population and it really… I don’t know, it’s not quite hand able where we’re going to see Mark Twain pop out or Tom Sawyer but a little bit of that vibe, wouldn’t you say, Stuart?
ST: It has a little bit of a southern feel about it, doesn’t it, you know, on the Mississippi. And these houses on the left look dilapidated, to be honest.
JM: With a lot of character, too.
ST: Well, a great deal of character. They look as though they’ve got some characters in them, that is for sure. I think we’re lost as well, so we have to talk to out Sat Nav lady in the sternest terms.
JM: Okay, Ms. GPS, we’re counting on you here. Anyway, we’ll be back in just a moment. We don’t want to keep the Mayor waiting. You’re listening to the Dream Green Series right here on solar powered KRUU-FM.
JM: And we’ve arrived here in Washington Park. I believe we’re coming up on the Mayor right now, Mayor Roy Boul who is sitting comfortably, waiting. Mayor, good to see you.
RB: It’s good to see you.
JM: We’re coming in live. This is James Moore and Stuart Tanner and Donna Shill, who is along as well. Great to see you. How are you doing today?
RB: Oh, it’s great to have you here today.
JM: We’re really delighted to have a chance to meet you and get started with the walking tour. Stuart, do you want to jump right in?
ST: Yeah, perhaps you could explain where we are at the moment. I see you have a beautiful gazebo with some wonderful flowers around it. It’s a nice park here in the middle of the city.
RB: Well, it is. This is our historic downtown area, actually one of the first cultural districts designated in the state of Iowa.
JM: Just give us a little bit of the historical flavor of Dubuque right here by the Mississippi and can we just ask for a little bit of a setting here about Dubuque?
RB: Sure. Dubuque is the oldest city in the state of Iowa. We just celebrated out 175th Anniversary two years ago. It has a rich history related to the river. We were the mill working capital of the country here in Dubuque and they floated all the logs down from the forest, you know, in the north, down the Mississippi in these big rafts and we used to mill them here and do all the windows, doors, millwork type of activities. And then, you know, that kind of, died off and we went into… we were back in the ‘80s when we had the high unemployment we were kind of, a two-business town. You know, we had John Deere, major employer, which had over 8000 employees and the Dubuque Packing Company. And we all know the history there. John Deere, you know, had a different philosophy about how they were going to produce products and went from 8000 down to 1700 employees. The Dubuque Pack eventually closed. So the community came together and we realized we had to diversify our economy.
JM: You’ve been Mayor for some time now. Dubuque has really been kind of, a shinning, leading light in terms of green sustainability approaches and what not. What has your role been in terms of this? I know you started in 2005 as Mayor, is that correct?
RB: Yes, 2005 was my first campaign for Mayor and sustainability was part of my platform. And since that time, in 2006 we made sustainable green community a top priority of the City Council and it has remained a top priority ever since, but I think really, the secret to our success on sustainability is that we turned the project over to a citizen committee to come back to the council about what the citizens and businesses of Dubuque saw as sustainability, what it meant to them, the principles that would guide us in the future around sustainability. That, I think, was really a key secret to our success. It was a grassroots effort that wasn’t driven necessarily by the city of Dubuque.
JM: So you found buy in that way and good ideas as well?
RB: When we turned it over to the citizens and they came back to the council with their program that they developed I called it a home run. They have very good principles that guide us as a community. City staff certainly played a major role in that initial kick off of our program. We have some very committed city staff around sustainability; I think some of the best in the country.
ST: One of the things I wanted to ask you is about the inspiration behind this. I understand that Dubuque, at some point, had above 20% unemployment and of course, there are the fundamental concerns about energy and about, you know, the environment and all those different factors; isn’t it also a strategy for economic development and actually, you know, creating jobs as well?
RB: Absolutely. You know, I have always said that sustainability to the extent that you embrace it, will give you economic, I guess, advantages and we can see ways of saving energy, giving you the information, if you are a business person, that you can make conscious decisions on a real time basis to save energy and save resources. That is going to give you an advantage over other businesses and communities that don’t have that ability and really, that is a driving factor, I think, around sustainability. People want to know, “What is in it for me?”
JM: Fantastic. We promised a walking tour. I guess we’re getting un-rooted here and move our way across the beautiful square here, the gazebo area.
RB: Well, I thought we could walk over to the Roshek Building.
JM: We’ll try not to get hit as we cross the street but what do you want to say as we approach the building here, Mayor Boul?
RB: Well, this, I think, has been the keystone project in our downtown and it literally would not have happened without the strong public-private partnerships that we have in the community. I mean, I look back at a letter that I wrote to the partners who were involved in this redevelopment and to this day, you know when you look at everything that had to happen you would say, “Impossible, it can never happen.” That all happened in a very short period of time; within five months of the time when we had IBM make their announcement we had the top two floors of this facility ready for them. The facility has been redeveloped into what will be a Gold LEED certified building. It was constructed in two phases in 1929 and 1932 and today it is really a jewel of our downtown.
ST: When you started this out, being a leader in this way, you don’t exactly know what is going to happen. Have you been surprised by the ease at which major businesses have come onboard and been enthusiastic?
RB: I would say I’ve been very surprised. I mean, I knew that there was that core of support around sustainability in the city of Dubuque. It was kind of, an unsung support. But when I look back over the past five-to-six-years and look at where we are today from where we started I think almost everyone would tell you that it has been amazing, the progress. But it really, again, speaks to those partnerships and really, I think, the underlying support, not only of individuals but of businesses and industry for our sustainability program.
ST: Give us a little visual here. Radio is one of those things you have to explain; give us a little sense of what we’re looking at across here.
RB: We’re actually looking at our town clock in the center of our historic downtown area, and then behind that is the dome of our courthouse, our Gold LEED dome of our historic courthouse building. It’s really a very historic, beautiful area and, you know, I would certainly encourage any of your listeners to come to Dubuque and we’ll be happy to tell them about our successes.
JM: Well, fantastic. By the way, of course, one of the big success elements for Dubuque is the tourism industry with Mississippi. I grew up in Madison, Wisconsin. For me the Mississippi was kind of, the ocean. Obviously, we have great lakes going the other way but I remember, as children, going over that big river and mother clutching tightly… you know, “Oh, you’re going to…” looking over the bridge but the Mississippi, just such a critical element. And well, thank you for that. Listeners, you got the picture. We’re going to take a quick break here. You’re listening to the Dream Green Series. This is Stuart and James with Mayor Boul in Dubuque. Remember https://greeniowa.org if you want to check out our journey of discovery. We’ll be back with you in just a moment.
And we’re back. We’re approaching the entrance way here to the IBM building and we’ll be going through the doors momentarily, getting sort of, a flavor of that as we enter. We’ll hear the transition. Oh, there you go. Excuse us, and here we are with the IBM exhibit out front, beautiful entrance way. We can see a good amount of traffic. I think there are a few people here, Mayor.
RB: You can imagine, with almost 1300 people just with IBM employed in this building there is a lot of traffic in and out of these doors. We’re standing in the vestibule, one of the three vestibules of the Roshek Building. And everything has been put back with historic condition. We found things like door poles and had identical replications made, brass replications. You’ll see woodwork in here that has been replicated. Everything is back to what it was in 1929 when this building was constructed. You know, this is our cultural center of our community and we have won numerous awards for our historic preservation so we wanted to make this building one of those iconic structures in the downtown and it has already received some awards and we’re looking for more. If you’d like, we can go in and look at, you know, the main floor here and what it looks like today.
JM: We’re right behind you as we head in and… oh, yes, this is… it opens up beautifully. Stuart?
ST: Yeah, the style seems to be art deco, one of my favorite architectural styles as well.
RB: A very beautiful structure. I mean, this was built to last for centuries and, you know, now with this rehabilitation I think we’re going to have this building around for a long time.
ST: The art deco style is inspired by the findings in Egypt, the Egyptian buildings and the Egyptian tombs and so on. If you look down there you see the rows of pillars on either side almost is a bit like being in Luxor Temple, actually.
JM: Which Stuart has been to. I love this sign over here, too, IBM sign – “Let’s build a smarter planet.” I think we’re seeing the tie ins here and as we look on the first floor here, a lot of beautiful businesses. Give us a little bit of breakdown of what is going on here in the building.
RB: Well, on the first floor here we wanted to have businesses, retail centers here that actually complimented the people who were going to be working in this space so we’ve got businesses that serve food, we’ve got kind of, a health club – ‘Body & Soul’, we’ve got a banking opportunity here and you can see space for additional tenants but they’re all focused on, you know, what is going on in this building and attracting people from the outside into this space. This has been restored back to its original condition. This is what you would’ve seen in 1929/1932 when this building was completed.
ST: Absolutely. Everything is in style. The light fittings, I love it. I absolutely love it. I love this style. It is so gorgeous, it feels so good, and it feels so… the environment feels so friendly and human scale. It’s just a really nice building and you can see it has been really lovingly restored and all the light fittings and everything are of the original design. It’s beautiful, a beautiful piece of work, yeah.
JM: It’s fresh, it’s clean, and the air is amazing. And here are some other signs. “Sustainable Dubuque” a little bit of history here – ‘Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.’ We know that that is what LEED stands for. Here we have ‘Battery Recycle Disposal’ right here; we have one for electronics recycling. Fantastic. Yes.
ST: There is an information board here about the building and its LEED status. Water efficiency – all the restrooms are equipped with optimizing water flow faucets and water saving dual function toilet handles. Energy and atmosphere – energy efficient mechanical system, reflective roof, motion sensor and timed lighting throughout the building in offices, restrooms and public spaces; there is more information on that. Using recycled material – a key factor in terms of getting the LEED status, the air quality, locations and linkages, awareness and education. This is what I really like about this kind of smart thinking, is that it’s tying together so many different factors in a way that technology is fairly straightforward in order to produce some stunning results. It’s not like you have to go to Silicon Valley and talk to their tech heads there to do a lot of these things. It’s just really intelligent design and smart thinking and you can produce these stunning results in terms of energy saving.
RB: When I talk about planning and sustainability, for me, it’s generational planning. When I was beginning to think about sustainability it was when I was being blessed with grandchildren. My wife and I now have nine grandchildren and I thought a lot about the future. You know, if we continue t\down this path that we’re leading, especially in this country, 25% of the energy usage in the world is consumed in the United States of America… we had to make some changes, and major changes, not only in the city of Dubuque but globally. So I’m just very gratified with the progress that we’ve had in the city of Dubuque and the leadership that we’ve provided for other communities in this country and globally. I mean, the city of Dubuque is recognized internationally. We’ve won an International Sustainability Award, the only city in the United States to do that. It’s pretty gratifying and, you know, I’m looking for bigger and better things. You know, one of the secrets that we have… it’s not really a secret, we tell everybody about it, but we plan ahead. We don’t think about today, we have a vision for the future; where we want to be in 2030 and that is what guides our current decisions. Our short term, mid term and long range planning is all driven by that vision.
ST: I’m curious to know whether… since you have been a leader of the pack here and are making this work and are getting the economic benefits of it, are you having other people knocking on your door, other cities, other businesses and saying, “Hey, okay, how did you put this together? Share with us some of your knowledge here, your wisdom.”
RB: We have. There was a community in Ohio that brought a busload of folks to Dubuque. St. Cloud came with a busload, Cedar Rapids has been here two or three times with people. A lot of communities have come to see what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. We spend a lot of time, a lot of city staff time meeting those people, giving them presentations on how the process worked and how it can be replicated. So we’re all about sharing what we did and trying to spread this out. It’s a global issue, sustainability, and we’ve got to get the word out as quickly as we can and have everybody copy those best practices that we’re developing.
ST: I mean, that is really heartening to hear and to be applauded because one could easily say, “Well we’re in competition with other cities for businesses and so on. We’d like to keep our economic edge, thank you, and goodbye and good luck” but as you say, these are global issues, the resource crunch and so on. It’s issues through all of Iowa, issues through all of America and for the rest of the world so that wisdom and that vision is totally to be applauded, I’d say.
JM: Well, we’re going to shut off here just for a second. We’ll be back as we wander further afield right here on the Dream Green Series.
JM: And as we walk out the front door, we see the good green stuff right out here. Stuart and Donna haven’t been to Dubuque before. In Iowa you don’t always get this up-and-down quite as much, as we’re here along with the bluffs in that very special kind of setting.
RB: But when you talk about Dubuque and its topography, you know, it’s really different from most of the rest of the state. I mean, Decorah, those areas have the same kind of hills and bluffs that we have here in Dubuque but, you know what? People are always surprised--when they come to Dubuque they’re expecting to see expansive flat corn fields, you know, pastures, that type of thing. But, really, it’s a beautiful area, the Victorian architecture of a lot of the homes that sit on the bluffs. Just a very scenic river town and from the river you can see a lot of those structures and really, I think, adds a very beautiful visual for anyone that's coming into the city from the riverside.
ST: Well, I’m looking across the street and there is a house on top of the hill and I think that's the highest house that I’ve seen in Iowa so far. I think if you were in the bedroom of that house you could probably see the Sears Towers in Chicago.
JM: Spoken like a true Brit.
RB: We have the shortest, steepest railroad in the country in Dubuque, Iowa. It’s right down the street at Fourth Street. It was actually a vernacular that was built by a businessman who worked downtown. I think he was a banker. And he wanted to go home for lunch and he had to go all the way around the bluffs to get up there. Well, he built that vernacular so he could go back and forth from his house and it exists today and is one of our great tourist attractions.
ST: Well, it’s kind of, like a lift chair for the very wealthy.
JM: There you go. Well, we could all use a lift from time to time. Well, we’re going to stop talking if we can. I guess radio doesn’t do too well without it but we’ll reorient ourselves and go from there. [Car honk.] Kind folks of Dubuque honking at the Mayor as we go by. Come on. Is that not 3D radio, folks?
DS: Excuse me. Are you both from Dubuque? We’re doing a radio series and are asking about the green initiatives in Dubuque and we’re wondering if you know anything about the green initiatives in Dubuque?
Female Speaker 1: I know, uh, not really that much. I know a little bit. I mean, I know the water meter system and all that is the major green initiative. I know that Dubuque is big on sustainability. I mean, huge on sustainability – if you do anything in this city, events wise, and you make it sustainable it’s a big deal.
DS: Has that affected your life, living here?
Female Speaker 1: I certainly think it has made me more aware, you know. A bigger awareness, you know, when everyday the local paper has articles about sustainability, you know, I feel like it drives in the idea of sustainability with the rest of the community.
DS: What about for you?
Female Speaker 2: I just agree with her. It’s, like, the water meters and the recycling, that kind of thing has gotten a lot bigger than it has been.
DS: Do you find that you’re more aware of your own energy use?
Female Speaker 2: Absolutely, especially being like, a renter or something like that, definitely, energy use is a lot so like, turning off lights, that kind of thing. So, absolutely, you’re more aware of it.
DS: Do you know anything about what the Mayor's been doing?
Female Speaker 2: No. I’ve been recycling.
JM: You know, the new IBM building that brought in so many people, that whole building is LEED certified. Did you know about that?
Female Speaker 2: Yes, I do know about that.
JM: Tell me a little bit about that that you know.
Female Speaker 2: I understand that they’ve done a lot with the building as far as using materials and making the environment inside the building environmentally friendly.
JM: And you’re talking about the IBM building?
Female Speaker 2: Yes.
JM: And have you been inside that?
Female Speaker 2: Yes. It’s a very nice building.
JM: And we just pulled up and we’re parked in a very… well, it looks like a very smart spot. What is this, you were saying, Mayor?
RB: Well, this is part of our Complete Streets Project in our historic Millwork District that we received a $5.6 million Tiger Grant from the Federal Government to fund this. This is also, we’re standing on the corner where the Caradco Building is, the first building that will be rehabilitated into the 72 housing units and commercial and retail space on the first floor. We’re going to walk down past the Caradco Building to where our Sustainability Cordinator should be located. That's where she is supposed to meet us. These are all new sidewalks and new streetscapes that are being developed here.
JM: What is our time frame here?
RB: Well, by the end of this construction season, the contractor is hopefully going to have all of the complete streets’ work done and the Caradco Building is scheduled to be completed by December of 2012.
JM: Great. So not too far off at all. And how far into it? Obviously there has been some work going on.
RB: It just started this construction season so all of this new work here on Jackson Street was just completed in the past few months.
JM: Now we’re getting into some construction-looking areas here. We’ve got the big cranes out and big mounds of dirt here. So we are walking further down this way?
RB: I’m told that our Sustainability Coordinator would be somewhere in this area. That's the door to the the voices of the warehouse area, and she's supposed to be around here. So we may have to scout around and see where she may be located.
JM: Well, we’ll be scouting and don’t go anywhere, don’t touch that dial. We’ll be back in just a moment with the Dream Green Series. We’ll be talking with Sustainability Coordinator here in Dubuque. Stay with us.
JM: We’ve made it to one of our next people we’d like to speak with. Cori Brubeck, is that correct?
Cori Brubeck: Got it. Thank you.
JM: We’re outside in the wind here. It’s something we do on our very special road series here, the Dream Green Series. I’m James Moore. This is Stuart Tanner; Donna Shill along as well. Great to see you. Stuart, do you want to start it off?
ST: It’s really interesting to be in this part of the city. We’re having a great time. You’re the Sustainability Coordinator. Perhaps you could kick us off and tell us first of all, what you’ve been up to.
CB: Well, the exciting thing about my position--I’m the Sustainability Coordinator for the city--but I tell people I spend about half my time working on city projects and then half my time I get to go out and work with kids in the schools and the banking community who wants to finance these projects and the construction companies who are doing them. So it’s a really exciting time to be in Dubuque because one day I’m out here in the Millwork District, you know, checking out pavers going in on a streets' project and the next day I might be in the schools doing a walkthrough of composting programs that the kindergarteners have set up. So as varied as our sustainability vision is, from local foods to electricity to air to transit. That's what my days are like.
ST: Well, that's a fantastic thing to be doing. Of course, when it’s sustainability, everything and anything is in some way involved with that so it does have a very broad canvas, as it were. So we’re in this district now and perhaps you could talk to us about what's going on here.
CB: Sure. Well, the excitement and the noise that you hear probably in the background is the big project that is going now, our Complete Streets Project, and that was a project that was funded through the Federal Government, the Department of Transportation, Tiger Program. The vision that was put together for this district is, the buildings sat empty for years and years and the community said, “We want it revitalized. We want commercial businesses and housing and we want people walking the streets.” We started from the ground up and that means that for these streets, when we started to tear them up we found, in some instances, wooden pipes under them. We knew we were starting from scratch. So right now what we’re working on is a Complete Streets Project where we’re not only looking at the utilities underneath. So fiber optics and water and electricity, but then up through the pavement, looking at, you know, permeable pavers, making sure that we’re making the corners ADA-assessable. We’re looking at, you know, the social/cultural vibrancy piece to sustainability but then taking it up and looking at things like streetscape, how we use native plants and animals in that streetscaping and how we make sure that we’re incorporating bus stops and pedestrian friendly signage--all those things. So really, from the ground up through the buildings we’re working on the Complete Streets Project and that is really supporting what the private bu sinesses are doing inside the buildings.
ST: One of our first ventures on this series was to go to Des Moines and one of my comments when we were going into the center of Des Moines was, “Where's all the people?” There seemed to be a lot of buildings but very few people walking around. You know, in a way that connects with what you’re doing here because a lot of American cities, it seems to me, are designed so you have zones of business and then zones of shopping way over there and then residences way over here so people are constantly always running in between those things. So perhaps you’d like to explain how a smarter city works in a different way to that?
CB: Sure. Well, actually that's the perfect description of what the Millwork District started out as. A lot of communities across Iowa started out smarter and got away from that. The Millwork District is really the center of… it’s in between our downtown district and our port of Dubuque, which have both undergone revitalization, and then to the north, our Washington neighborhood. And that neighborhood is really where the workers of these buildings used to live and they would walk to work everyday and be able to walk to the bank and the grocery store and then go home. And so that’s what we are trying to accomplish here, is to create an environment that we’re really connecting everywhere from the bluffs all the way down to the river and smarter cities to us are cities are cities where people can live and do all the things that they want to do without having to get in that car all the time. Something that for a lot of cities in Iowa particularly the middle size city really struggle with. They struggle to create a city that the public transit systems works in, that you can bike, and in Dubuque we are still working on that. With the bluffs, that’s a big challenge. We are trying to make it accessible so people can get around without having to get in that car.
JM: Well, fantastic. Yeah, we are, well, the sun’s out now, I don’t know, everything is looking up. We’re getting so sunny here. Donna has a question.
DS: I’m curious. Just having a sustainability coordinator for a city in Iowa, is that unique in itself?
CB: It was very unique when we created it. As a matter of fact Dubuque was the first city in Iowa to have a sustainability coordinator and that came as we had our citizen task force working on sustainability. We really saw the need for staff person to take that vision and implement it. But we're very excited to say that it’s a growing trend across the state and across the country to have these positions. We now have four cities in Iowa that have them and every year I go to a conference of national sustainability coordinators and the position continues to grow as cities are working with private businesses and kind of being that center person for the community to go to.
JM: Let me just follow that up by asking how did you get involved in sustainability yourself, Cori?
CB: The really fun part of these positions for me is that we're still at a point where every sustainability coordinator comes from a different background. We have environmental science backgrounds, business management backgrounds--you name it, and it’s there. So my background actually I have my Masters in Public Administration. My focus was city government before I came into this position and I really fell in love with it because from a city management perspective I think we all need to be looking at sustainability. It’s not a stand-alone subject that you can have one department working on that something our planning department works on daily in terms of historic preservation and smart growth and our engineering department. Every department--we have about 25 in Dubuque--incorporate sustainability and do their daily operations and so that’s been the fun part for me as it touches all those pieces of my background.
JM Well, I get the sense that you’re a bit of an outgoing person. Probably good for this particular job and proudly pretty satisfying. You know, we come from Fairfield; we’re doing this for Solar-Powered KRUU FM. A lot of great, good green work going on there, some great focus. We have Scott Tim as our sustainability coordinator. I am sure you know, connected with ISU extension and lot of excited people but it’s always, part of this series is going around the whole state to see who is doing what, mighty impressed by the good work that’s going on here. I bet you wake up, if not with a smile on your face, pretty charged with the way this community is moving.
CB: Well, I tell you what. I work with Scott quite a bit and that’s one of the fun things is that the communities that get sustainability--and everyday more and more do--they realize it doesn’t stop at the city limits. It’s a regional approach, it’s a statewide approach and it’s, I feel like what we are doing in Dubuque is having an impact at the national level. The other thing that’s really fun for me, I’ll tell you. You got me in a good day. I just came back from maternity leave and every morning you wake up and you see that sustainability and the job that you're doing impacts your kids and that’s what makes it worthwhile. It makes it a fun job.
JM: Wow, well said.
ST: Well, sustaining a kid is quite a job as well, I’d say!
CB: I’m doing my best. [Laughter.]
JM: We know that there are some apartments undergoing renovation. Why don’t we just get a... and, of course, we have a crane right there. Do you hear that? This is 3D radio.
JM: We always try to do that. We’re safely away. Don’t worry, folks, we are only…
ST: It’s a digger, James, not a crane. Okay?
JM: Okay, sorry.
CB: Down, not up.
JM: Yeah, I’m always upside down and inside out but, and I, you can tell I'm very much a big engine and a big vehicle guy. I usually call them apparati but, at any rate, that said, a digger going on just aside from us. Talk to us if you will Cori, just a little bit about the renovations going on. We understand here in Dubuque people are able to get things done in a hurry. So what’s going on?
CB: It is. Actually one of the developers working on these buildings worked with us on the Roshek Building, which was a renovation that happened in the Roshek Building which used to be a department store and now houses IBM. I tell you what, the contractors, when they get a deal going in Dubuque, we tell them you don’t sleep, you don’t take Christmas, and you don’t do anything till the work’s done! But they really work hard and you see it down in this district. Something that’s very important to the developers is marrying that historic preservation with new energy efficiency and new technology and so we run into hurdles all of the time. One of them, they're looking at how we do alternative energy here so solar, wind power, geothermal, all things that they wanted to do in these buildings. But how do you put a solar panel on the roof that has historic preservation guidelines? So we’ve been, you know, looking at hurdles all the time, looking at things like that. One of the other things that they really do a good job of down here, we’re looking at residential on the top floors, commercial on the main floors but all the developers are also looking at how they bring the non-profits to this community. One of the developers, for instance, is working with our Heart YouthBuild Program, which is an alternative education program for youth and they’ve got those kids down here working with the construction experts teaching them about deconstruction, green construction. They’re going to be working really to educate the residents down here about rooftop gardens and recycling. So we're getting the kids involved, too, in these buildings which is great.
ST: Well, that’s one of the wonderful things about this. Mayor Buol is talking about that as well. This touches on all levels and part of that is looking into the future and thinking about the next generations. You know, the educational part of the equation is wonderful to hear about. What about the support of the people of Dubuque? Are they aware of all the things that are going on? What’s the kind of level of interest? How much do they 'get it'?
CB: A hundred and ten per cent and that’s what makes my job doable. The Millwork district is a great example. Even before Mayor ran on a sustainability platform, there was an initiative in Dubuque called the ‘Vision 2010,’ where the community came together and identified the ten big projects that they wanted to see done by 2010. And even though the Millwork district made the list, we weren’t saying we wanted to do a sustainable project. But they saw what a piece of the community’s history and the future that this project was. And so the residents of Dubuque, I love that I have people calling me everyday saying, “How do I put a rain garden in my backyard?” “How do I get my homeowners' association involved?” “Where is farmers market?” We have a great initiative called ‘Dubuque 2.0’ that I work with quite a bit which is an initiative of the Chamber of Commerce and the community foundation of greater Dubuque and they’re really taking that community engagement piece on and saying “You know what, that’s more than a full time job.” So I get to meet with them and they are saying, you know, “We want to do an energy efficiency program for residents. We wanted you composting in the schools. Can you help us with the technical piece?” But then we have the volunteers that want to do it and so that’s really the entire community has embraced the sustainability vision.
ST: Well, we have your number now so I’ll be calling you when I want my roof gsrden. I might need to buy a roof first.
CB: You might need to move to Dubuque first.
ST: Yeah, absolutely.
JM: Well, I think this is the type of city in Iowa that makes every Iowan feel like the possibilities are not in the future. The 'dream green' aspect is really more, like, wake up and smell the possibilities and we really appreciate the good work that you are doing. I’m wondering, in terms of kids, you know, we talked earlier with Frank Cownie, the very first show that we did, about how, talking about sustainability early on was met with a little bit of like, “Oh yeah,” not quite Shirley McClain but maybe somewhere towards California but it doesn’t seem to be that way much more. Obviously a lot of progress has been made with businesses, with corporations but with people as well. How do you factor that and is it filtering more and more into the education system for young kids, too? You mentioned that’s part of what you do.
CB: It is. The great thing when you take that historical piece and then you merry it with the kids that are coming home teaching their parents how to recycle, there is an inter-generational sustainability happening. You know, you have grandparents talking to their kids about how they had gardens and those types of things and then the parents are kind of getting in the middle of that. So it’s a piece that our kids are really taking hold of and I think when you look at the young people that we want to bring to Iowa, whether it’s the five-year-olds or the young professional, that’s what they’re looking for in a community.
JM: I think what I love most about sustainability and these good practices are people take the things that work. It doesn’t matter where they came from. What matters is that they work, that they make sense, that they are, not only the right thing to do, but they provide the kind of economic benefit that is not short termed but continuous. You know, the wind just keeps blowing. You're hearing it here today and Iowa is very big on that but anything else you want to point out?
CB: Sure, I think you make a great point and that’s how really the business community in Dubuque has got on board with this. One of our poster children is AY McDonald. They are a 150-plus year-old business in Dubuque that does water systems, pipes and meters and things like that. And they saw the opportunity with our smarter city project when we were looking for a business to create a device that measured water better so that we could better track the water that’s been used in our homes. We found the only business in the country that had the patent on that device was AY McDonald here in Dubuque. So these companies in Dubuque are realizing that sustainability isn’t about paying more and having to have, you know, special products that you are buying and more regulations. AY McDonald added ten new jobs in their facility just to service the Dubuque project. Sustainability is about building green jobs, it’s about smarter business practices, it’s about cutting down on your operational expenses and that’s why we have the entire community support in Dubuque and I think across the state.
ST: It’s amazing. At the end of the day it comes down to some numbers though. What impact do you think it’s had on employment because I know in the 80s there was like almost 20% unemployment in Dubuque and that was part of the inspiration for some of these fundamental initiatives? What kind of impact has it had already?
CB: Well, that’s a great question. I think it’s something a lot of communities are really just starting to get their arms around. What is a green job? How do we define that? And I gave the example of AY McDonald whose adding jobs. One of the reasons IBM said that they came here was because of our sustainability vision. That’s 1300 new jobs. This year I’ve worked with two new solar companies and a new sustainability media company in Dubuque that are each adding jobs only a year into their creation. So I think across the country we see that and I’m working with all the colleges in Dubuque. They see that their students need to come out of college with a different set of skills. The business community is going to the colleges saying, “Here's what our employees need. Can you help us create programs?" So that we are keeping those students in Iowa when they graduate to fill the jobs that are going to be here five years from now.
ST: Well, there you have it. Sustainability is where it’s at, folks, and if you' re not into it then you are so last century.
JM: That’s right. Man, we're learning a lot today about the good stuff going on in Dubuque but we certainly knew that coming in.
ST: I love the fact that this builds communities. A lot of communities, particularly agricultural communities, have seen populations moving away, have had difficulties diversifying and yet that is a requirement in our century to do that and I think you get a double benefit from being green and energy efficient. You know, that’s money if you're spending it, that’s going out of the state a lot of the time. It’s not being recycled back into the community. When you set up all these projects and you create this kind of network of sustainability and green initiatives, it actually has a really positive benefit on the community as community building, as well. There's quite a big social benefit actually, I think.
JM: Great. I want to ask something else about waste water and geothermal. Who is the best person to answer that? Would it be our sustainability coordinator or Mayor Buol who is generously still here? Do you want to take that one?
RB: Well, we're currently under construction on new wastewater treatment facility. We actually have renamed it to our water resource recovery center and it’s an anaerobic digestion facility and we are going to do things like recapture the methane to actually power the facility and help charge the anaerobic digesters and we hope someday to have excess power that we could even sell back to the grid. It is state of the art facility and certainly a major improvement on the incineration system that we have today. It will help to stabilize the cost to consumers, to our tax payers because of not having that fluctuating cost of energy in the facility and environmentally, it’s a much more robust program.
JM: As you mentioned earlier Stuart where isn’t sustainability if you have the right glasses on that can be applied but maybe over that anaerobic facility we can have an aerobics gym. [Laughter.] Sorry.
ST: Yeah, and then they can hook up the people on the running pads and so on and generate electricity that way. Yeah this is a business we could start, James.
JM: Well, don’t tell anybody, Stuart, because otherwise we'll lose our edge! At any rate, great speaking with both of you. Have we left anything out that we can tag on for this segment of the Dream Green series? Mayor, we'll start with you.
RB: Well, there are a lot of other examples of sustainability in the city of Dubuque but, you know, one point I would like to make because every community has resources like we do in our historic Millwork district. The most sustainable structure is one that already exists and when you rehab a structure, 70% of the cost goes into labor and 30% into materials. So it creates jobs. In a new structure, you're not only using higher carbon content products, but 30% of it is labor and 70% is cost of new materials. So if you're into sustainability--every community has structures like this--repurpose them, rehab them, and you’ll be a long way towards recovering that sustainable asset that you have in your community.
ST: Okay. Well, we, at radio, we like to paint pictures and at the moment we are looking at a digger, remember?
ST: Excavator, Oh, okay. One better than me then.
JM: This is not so bad. We were just up with Larry Johnson at the Biocentury Research Farm. 'So what about that thermo nuclear...' [Groan.] It's thermo chemicals, but at any rate we shouldn’t bring up our flaws.
ST: No, that’s right. If you have a look down on the road at the excavator, James, it’s digging up the street. You have these old mill buildings. They’re rather large, brick buildings. Actually, I mean they look a bit tatty at the moment but those bricks are probably pretty solid. The structure of this building is very solid actually. They will still last a very long time if they're looked after. So what are we going to see in a year’s time?
CB: You are going to see those same bricks. We're going to clean them up but I think that’s part of this district’s importance is keeping the story of the Millwork District. You’re going to see people walking down the street. Hopefully in a year you’ll see some people sitting outside having lunch at some new local food restaurants. So in front of those bricks and the people out on the street eating at their local foods market. We're going to have signage that tells the story of the district and that’s really how you take the story of what happened here a hundred years ago and you teach it to the next generation. And so we can see the Millwork district, you can feel the story of the people walking down here from Washington neighborhood while you're standing in front of a solar panel which tells the story to the next generation.
ST: James, we're going to make a promise now. We’re going to come back in a year’s time and we're going to be sitting in one of those restaurants eating the local food and admiring the new polished bricks on the other side of the road.
JM: Sounds great. I may be eating some polished bricks pretty soon. I think it must be lunchtime. But anyway thank you both so much for spending time with us. We have really enjoyed it and Donna any final thoughts or questions?
DS: I just have one question. Do you think what you’ve done here in Dubuque changes the community’s attitude about living here or the pride they take in the community?
CB: Absolutely. You know you can talk about kilowatt hours and carbon in the air all you want but at the end of the day the sustainable Dubuque division is about people connecting to their neighbors more. It’s about inter-generational connection. It’s about people feeling like they are connected to the street they live on and it’s really a quality of life and that’s what made me move me back to Dubuque from the east coast.
JM: Just for the record you didn’t hear the bike that just drove by very, very quietly and one day we will have electric trucks, won’t we? Any final thoughts, Stuart?
ST: I really like it here actually. I think the town’s got a lot of character. I didn’t know that it was the oldest city in Iowa. I think we should go and explore some more.
JM: Thank you so much, Cori.
CB: We’re glad to have you.
JM: And also Mayor Roy Buol, keep up the great work.
RB: Well, thank you. It’s a pleasure to have you in Dubuque. Come back soon.
JM: We’ll be back. We may stay! At any rate we’ll me back with more of the Dream Green series in just a moment right here on Solar Powered KRUU FM. Remember, we are at greeniowa.org if you want to check out our journey of discovery and part of what we are doing the great work of connecting with all the innovators and educators and cutting edge projects and communities in terms of energy efficiency and sustainability. Just celebrating the possibilities and hopefully you find something in here to do yourself. No pressure. We’ll be back in just a moment.
JM: And here we are and we are walking toward the mighty Mississippi, the ‘Big Muddy’ they call it. Just looking over the ledge here, how many times have I said on the radio, 'like the Mighty Mississippi, we roll on and on, 24/7 without stopping.' Well, here it is right here a few feet below our feet, looks pretty full doesn’t it?
ST: It does. It’s a might river. You do have big rivers in the US. I like that. We’re down here. We can smell the river but it doesn’t smell bad. It smells riverish in a good way and there used to be a time when people didn’t want to live by the river because it stank, because of all the industrial pollution and so on. Well, how things are changing. Now, obviously being in a waterfront development, a loft conversion by the water front or whatever it is, would be a real good thing. A real treat and something whereby you can come out of your house and come down and have a little walksy by the Mississippi.
JM: It’s nice isn’t it? I mean, I don’t see, I’m sure there are bike drills that come through somewhere by here and people probably skate and what not but so this, I guess I am asking is, is this a little bit bigger than the Thames?
ST: Okay, standing in London it’s about the same size, width across if you are in London but it’s certainly bigger than the rivers that flow through Oxford.
JM: And it also might be a little bit longer.
ST: Yeah, it certainly is. It’s longer than the country of the UK.
JM: Well, there is a sea gull. You know, it’s a nice breeze too, isn’t it? This is, I’ve always loved the Mississippi river and we’re not too far from the bridge going over there and you are right, Stuart, what we’re finding, talking in Dubuque about the lofts being built and rented out even before they are done, other cities as well. This is something that, I think it’s a sign of revitalization of the downtown areas and historic preservation and then when you combine, as we’ve been hearing about, some LEED retrofits or at least some sustainable elements added. You know, this idea of bringing young people back into the downtown center of mixes is really something vital. All right, enough reflections on the water. This is Stuart Tanner and James Moore from the Mississippi river and stay tuned. Keep it right here to the Dream Green series on solar-powered KRUU FM, also greeniowa.org.
[Music by Andy Toepel.]
Corey Hickenbottom: All right, Mr. Andy Toepel.
JM: And that was Andy Toepel. Andy Toepel, live in KRUU studios, laying it down on the banjo there. We felt that sort of fit with the Mississippi in its own way and talking about Iowa’s oldest city. So hope you enjoyed that and speaking of Iowa’s oldest city, the oldest city is the newest recipient of the Governor’s Environmental Excellence award. We found out just the day we were visiting Dubuque. Also that day in the papers we noticed an article, the featured article, City planning to reduce green house gases by 50%. Pretty interesting focus on sustainability there. I hope you enjoyed th[s segment. A little bit windy there in the historic Millwork District but nonetheless some great information with the first sustainability coordinator Cori Brubach and Mayor Roy Buol. Coming up down the pike August 18th, there’ll be a spotlight on Davenport and Mayor Bill Gluba and a number of operations there the city is doing, quite impressive. Stuart, I wanted to see if you have any final comments for the Dubuque segment here.
ST: Yes, I’d just like to say that obviously sustainability projects in the city are creating green jobs and improving quality of life and are attracting young people back to the city. This is a great boon for them and also for Iowa in general. And in another article that has just come out, Des Moines was rated in the top three cities in the US for green jobs. So this is a story that is a very good story for Iowa and one that is developing and one that one hopes will continue into the future if there's the ongoing support and also you have the snowball effect of all these green industries establishing themselves in the state and each one feeding into each other and obviously with support of universities, this can all be very supportive for these new industries. And in fact, we are going to visit a company called PowerFilm Inc. and they will be in next week’s program. They are a green jobs' success story. They create solar panels which are very thin, thin films, which have a huge range of different applications. You can put them on fabric. You can roll them up and carry it very easily. It’s very lightweight. So they’re coming up with lots of different ways that this solar film can be used and one of the reasons why they are located in Iowa is because of the support that they got from Iowa State University from all the good people there – mechanical engineers, electrical engineers and so on, quite a few of whom have gone on and then had jobs within the company. So that’s a great story and it’s fascinating, manufacturing process that they have there.
JM: We'll be speaking with CEO and founder Frank Jeffry, Dr. Frank Jeffry and also the Chief Operating Officer and President of the company Tim Neugent. So that’s something you don’t want to miss. Also, we’ll be talking with the director, long time director since the 80s of the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities, Bob Haug. So that’s coming up next week. You were talking about all the different applications that Power Film Inc. had, they work with many different partners. One is a solar-powered hat, folks. You put the hat in the sun and you come home at night and you click under there and you can read in the dark. It’s just an amazing thing. It’s one of the many different applications. We’ll take a walking tour of the facility there and learn a lot about that and we’ll also take a walking tour around the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities building which is LEED-certified and we’ll learn about a very special lay of the land there. So that’s next week. We could talk about a whole bunch more but you can come and check out greeniowa.org, that’s the website. See what’s coming up. Archives of shows that have gone by. We have a great month ahead, two months ahead, of programs so definitely stay tuned. From solar-powered KRUU-FM, we’ll see you next week right here on the dream Green series.
[Music by Andy Toepel.]
VOICEOVER: Produced by Stuart Tanner and James Moore at solar-powered KRUU 100.1FM in Fairfield, Iowa, online at kruufm.com. This series is funded in part by a grant from the Iowa Office of Energy Independence and nearly seventy individuals, companies and organizations. For a list of sponsors, visit our website at greeniowa.org. Archives are available for download under Creative Commons license. Music from Zilla and Andy Toepel.