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State and Local Climate and Energy Program

Smarter, Sustainable Dubuque

Dubuque, Iowa

Federal Funding: $473,136
Project Timeline: February 2011 – December 2013

Latest Update

The City of Dubuque continued to work in partnership with the IBM Watson Research Center and Dubuque 2.0 on the Smarter, Sustainable Dubuque (SSD) initiative. The City recently completed the Smarter Travel pilot in which 500 participants carried radio frequency identification (RFID) tags to track their use of The Jule Exit EPA disclaimer public transportation system. Through partnerships with the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) and US DOT, the City hopes to continue using the Smarter Travel model to improve transit systems.

Building on technology used in previous pilots, the Smarter, Sustainable Dubuque initiative has kicked off the Smarter Health and Wellness pilot and the Smarter Discards pilot. These will continue the momentum of the SSD initiative beyond the duration of the CSC grant. Upcoming activities for these pilots include testing different types of engagement with pilot participants and gathering data to measure impact.

Project Summary

Promoting Community Engagement through Energy Reduction Programs

Over the past 30 years, Dubuque has faced multiple challenges, including economic hardship and significant unemployment. Dubuque's leaders have identified another challenge on the horizon: the quest for sustainability and the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Dubuque is committed to being a national leader among communities with populations under 200,000 in identifying the best practices for sustainability and GHG emission reduction. Under the Smarter, Sustainable Dubuque (SSD) Initiative, the City is helping 1,000 pilot households reduce GHG emissions by reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and more efficient use of water, electricity, natural gas, and waste. Based on the results of the pilot project, the City and its partners will launch a community-wide campaign to engage all Dubuque households and businesses. Climate Showcase Communities funding is being used to implement the transportation element of the larger project.

Pilot households are equipped with advanced electric and water meters as well as RFID tags and smartphone apps to track their VMT. Using these tools, the City is tracking results against baseline energy consumption profiles and providing each household with a weekly report on their electricity and water consumption, and VMT. The City is also providing each household with tools and information on how to reduce their carbon footprint.

Using information collected from the pilot households, the City of Dubuque will partner with the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, the Chamber of Commerce, Dubuque Community School District, and local colleges to conduct a community education campaign and to advance the goal of significant carbon emission reductions in Dubuque. A key component of the outreach campaign will be the development and use of a personal and community dashboard, an interactive website where citizens can monitor their energy use and compare it to their neighbors. The campaign will use social media to:

  • launch a community Green Asset map,
  • highlight best practices of energy, water, and VMT use from the 1,000 pilot households, and
  • promote a Carbon Diet for the community.

The Smarter, Sustainable Dubuque project will create a model that can be replicated in any community, particularly communities with less than 200,000 residents, where 40% of the United States population resides. The City of Dubuque hopes to provide a model that fosters community engagement and education, more energy-efficient ways of operating municipal services and buildings, decreased greenhouse gas emissions, job creation, financial savings, and a higher quality of life for the entire community.

Community Characteristics

Population 57,696
Area 26 square miles
Government Type City
Community Type Small Urban
Median Household Income $41,879

Program Results

  Reported Results (as of September 2013) Estimated Results
Annual GHG Reductions 26 mt CO2e 536 mt CO2e
Annual Gasoline Savings 0 gallons 60,000 gallons
Annual Cost Savings $0 $157,000

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