About RIC

Resilient Iowa Communities (RIC) is a voluntary assistance and recognition program operated by the Center for Energy & Environmental Education at UNI to help cities and counties achieve their sustainability, resiliency, and quality-of-life goals. We define sustainability broadly as integrated action to address environmental, economic, and social challenges to ensure more just, equitable, ecologically healthy, and thriving communities across Iowa.

This continuous improvement program is based upon a menu of optional best practices and a variety of services available to meet the needs of your unique community. Each best practice can be implemented, as decided by city elected officials, staff, and community members, by completing one or more actions at a bronze, silver or gold level, from a list of best practice actions. These voluntary actions are tailored to all Iowa communities. 

The six categories for action are buildings and energy, land use, transportation, environmental management, economics and community development, and environmental equity and inclusion. There are multiple options for actions in each category, providing communities with flexibility to choose practices that are in line with their values, within their capacity, and relevant to the community’s overall needs and goals. Examples of best practices include methods to reduce flooding and costs, developing an extreme weather/community resilience plan, and using free tools to compare the energy use and financial performance of peer facilities. In future years, the CEEE will add additional advanced options, allowing communities in the RIC program to expand on their baseline actions. 

All communities are welcome to join the RIC program, regardless of size or past experience with environmental measures. The CEEE will provide assistance for each of the actions and connect communities with outside resources, including non-profits and state departments. There is no commitment to spend money when joining the program, and for projects that will incur expenses, the CEEE can help the community in applying for applicable grants. Becoming part of the program simply requires a community to pass a resolution affirming their desire to join the RIC program and to choose a point person to act as a liaison between the community and the CEEE.

The RIC program launched in the Fall of 2021 as a year-long pilot program. During the pilot year, we worked with a limited number of communities who focused on a number of self-selected improvement projects in alignment with the programs outlined Best Practices for their community goals. Where it made sense, pilot communities were paired with Green Iowa AmeriCorps volunteers to assist communities with these efforts. Pilot communities were asked to complete a total of one action from six categories to achieve a bronze level recognition and at least two actions from five categories to achieve the silver level. A third tier – gold level - has now been added, along with an expanded menu of options. 

The Resilient Iowa Communities Program grew out of research and work completed by 1000 Friends of Iowa and partners in four other Midwest States. Based on the Sustainable States Network model, the program was designed and developed in partnership with staff from seven Iowa communities, both large and small, two Iowa counties, the League of Cities, staff from Iowa Economic Development Authority and the Iowa Energy Center, non-profit partners 1000 Friends of Iowa, the Iowa Environmental Council, the Clean Energy Districts of Iowa, Des Moines Area MPO, and the CEEE at the University of Northern Iowa. 

For more information, please contact Ashley Coffin, Ashley.Coffin@uni.edu 


What are some of the Benefits of joining RIC?
  • You are able to access our menu of services, including emissions inventory, planning, recognition, and capacity support through Green Iowa AmeriCorps. You are also able to access technical support through webinars, partner resources, and peer to peer networking to learn best practices implemented by other RIC communities. 
Does it cost anything to join? 
  • No, we do not charge any fees to become a member of the RIC program. 
  • The only costs associated with being a member of RIC depend on if a community would like any additional services we provide i.e. emissions inventory, climate action planning support, hosting an AmeriCorps team, etc. Communities are never obligated to utilize these services and will have access to all of the benefits outlined above through their membership. 
What if we aren't sure where to start? 
  • We can help! Start by submitting our inquiry form and we'll schedule a time to meet with you hear more about the ideas you have for your community, whether its starting a conversation, having us give a presentation, or figuring out what to do next after the steps you've already taken.