Community Energy & Climate Action

Closing the door on fossil energy as we open the door on conservation and renewables

  • ICLEI Localizing the Paris Agreement guide cover

Community Energy & Climate Action


The Center for Energy & Environmental Education (CEEE) assists local governments in our region with developing community-wide greenhouse gas emissions inventories and emissions reduction plans. These services are offered to interested local governments in Iowa for a nominal fee.

CEEE staff, Cassie Sonne, leads this work and trains Green Iowa AmeriCorps members and CEEE student interns from the University of Northern Iowa in climate action planning and energy saving across all scales, from schools and small businesses to municipalities. AmeriCorps members and student interns gain valuable experience and marketable skills while working on this program, and participating communities receive data about their emissions as a basis to develop a community energy/climate action plan specially designed for them.

Community energy plans aim to:

  • Reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in communities

  • Inform public officials during goal setting and budget decisions, focusing on reduction strategies over which local governments have control

  • Focus community leaders on developing plans towards conservation and community resilience 

The CEEE is a member of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) and uses ICLEI's ClearPath software to create community energy plans. ICLEI is the leading global network of local governments dedicated to sustainability, resilience, and climate action.

CEEE staff Cassie Sonne also convenes the Resilient Iowa Communities program, which encourages communities to go beyond greenhouse gas reduction measures into broader sustainability actions. This creates a connection between energy conservation and further environmental and community improvements.


It takes energy to do everything, so we need to know what energy is, where it comes from, how it is brought to us, who is affected by its extraction and use, at what ecological cost, and what are our roles as citizens and communities to create energy systems that will meet our needs without damaging other regions and the biosphere.

Energy literacy is an outcome of our work with communities across Iowa. The CEEE’s work in community energy planning and climate action are rooted in basic principles energy conservation, renewable energy, and protection of ecosystems processes.  

“Americans, who have become accustomed to the idea that anyone should be able to use as much energy as they want, whenever they want, for whatever purpose (and it should be cheap!), will face a different reality in an energy-constrained future. In a sane world, we would not blow the tops of mountains in Appalachia to keep coal-burning power plants belching pollution so that office towers can leave the lights on all night. From motorized paper-towel dispensers and illuminated, empty parking lots to the worst inefficiencies of suburban sprawl, there are worlds of energy-wasting products, activities, and living arrangements that can and should simply be abandoned. Curtailment achieved through outright abolition of energy-wasting machines or activities would be controversial. Nevertheless, in an energy-constrained world with a bad case of human-induced hemorrhagic fever, the sooner citizens voluntarily begin curtailment efforts, the more options remain open to transition towards a more durable, ecologically sustainable energy system.” (The Energy Reader, Edited by Tom Butler, Daniel Lerch, and George Wuerthner)


CEEE In Action
Engaging students in the community