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State and Local Climate and Energy Program

Smarter, Sustainable Dubuque

Dubuque, Iowa

Federal Funding: $473,136
Project Timeline: February 2011 – February 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 has distributed 500 radio frequency identification (RFID) tags to Smarter Travel pilot participants to track their use of The Jule Exit EPA disclaimer public transportation system. The City has also recruited over 1,000 additional volunteers to install the smartphone app, which will track the volunteers' travel patterns during the program. The East Central Intergovernmental Association (ECIA), who manages The Jule, continues to analyze data received from the smartphone users to identify opportunities for vehicle miles traveled reduction. The success of the smartphone app for this project will help inform Smarter Sustainable Dubuque’s newest venture, Smarter Community Engagement, designed to help residents and the local government make educated decisions through access to better data. Lastly, the City is working on its Community Climate and Resiliency Plan and public outreach efforts focused on transportation choices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is working with its partners to use the results of the SSD pilot and other data collected through the Community Climate Action planning process and Sustainable Dubuque Indicators report to educate the community about sustainability efforts. Upcoming activities include recruiting additional program participants and analyzing smartphone data.

Project Summary

Promoting Community Engagement through Energy Reduction

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 radio frequency identification tags and smartphone apps to track their vehicle miles traveled (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 2012) 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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