Mayor Jon Crews and the City Council took the first step last fall for Cedar Falls to become a Cool City when they supported a resolution to sign the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. Crews joins 775 other mayors across the country and 30 Iowa mayors who also signed the agreement and made a commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in their own cities and pledged to take a leadership role in promoting public awareness about the causes and impacts of climate change.
In a letter to City Council members, Crews wrote, “Our municipal utilities, public school district, UNI and the City have and are working to reduce energy usage. These efforts save us all money, make us more energy independent, and reduce greenhouse gases. As a city, we adopted a 2015 Strategic Plan which calls for multiple initiatives to promote energy conservation and renewable energy sources.”
Cedar Falls is on its way to becoming a Cool City – a campaign of the Sierra Club for cities that signed the Agreement. Begun in 2005, the Cool Cities campaign empowers city residents and local leaders to join and encourage their cities to implement smart energy solutions to save money and build a cleaner, safer future.
Crews also joined the Local Governments for Sustainability (formerly ICLEI), a non-profit organization that provides a software program for local government members to take action on climate change. All city and community entities will begin working to determine the process for the first suggested step – an inventory of all greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from carbon dioxide are affecting the global climate, according to the United National Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
“The Council’s resolution affirms in a formal way the City’s energy reduction goals,” Crews stated. For instance, Cedar Falls Public Works Department’s new vehicle storage facility uses natural daylighting, motion sensing light switches, energy saving fluorescent lighting, and efficient foam insulation. All traffic signal lights have been changed to LEDs (light emitting diodes) for reduced wattage and energy use. The city bought three hybrid vehicles, one compact car, and downsized eight full-sized pickup trucks to smaller compact trucks. Cedar Falls Utilities is planning an extensive energy audit of every residential home over the next 10 years to help people reduce their energy use.
The U.S. Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement urges members to make an effective local climate action plan to reduce by 2012. Other local organization representatives involved in the Cool Cities process include Interfaith Power and Light, and Cedar Prairie Group of Iowa Chapter of Sierra Club.