Energy and Sustainability Challenges and Accomplishments of West Des Moines

Posted on September 1st, 2012 by

The City of West Des Moines has long had an interest in sustainability and energy efficiency.  In April 2009, an 11-person team of city employees from a majority of city departments identified a vision statement and achievable goals to serve to make the City more sustainable.  This group known as Striving After Sustainable Solutions (SASS) has been charged with continuously reviewing the City’s operations to identify energy savings measures and opportunities to conserve resources.   As part of the work of SASS, the City applied for and received grant funds through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program to make significant investments for energy efficiency in City buildings and facilities, raise awareness of energy efficiency in the community, and set an example for building owners and tenants.

With the EECBG funds the City impacted energy conservation and efficiency in a wide variety of areas.  We made investments in our Law Enforcement Center, Community Center, Human Services building, parking lot lighting in the historic part of West Des Moines known as Valley Junction and rehabilitation of our Historic City Hall.  It’s early, but the results of our efforts in energy efficiency have been impressive thus far with an overall decrease in energy costs of 5.3% directly attributed to improvements we have made to the City facilities or operational changes.  Community outreach efforts include the constructed a “Green” Demonstration Home project incorporating affordable energy upgrades tailored towards households of low to moderate income.  An energy efficiency matching grants program was also created to assist small businesses in West Des Moines in making energy efficiency improvements to their buildings as well.

At the Law Enforcement Center, the boilers, chiller, and water pumps were replaced with high efficiency units resulting in a 28% reduction in energy consumption which is equivalent to over $23,000 in annual energy costs.

The City replaced the Community Center HVAC units with high efficiency units, installed upgraded controls to increase efficiency and sealed and insulated ductwork.  Existing windows were rehabilitated and new double glazed storm windows were added.  Exterior walls and the roof were insulated and a roof membrane was installed with a reflective surface to reduce heat gain.  The city also replaced existing lights with energy efficient fixtures.  This project has resulted in a reduction of total energy costs per square foot of 18% and an annual reduction of 20.5 metric tons of greenhouse gasses.

Parking lot lighting in the Valley Junction area was replaced with energy efficient fixtures reducing the energy consumption for lighting by 27,634 kWh – a 50% reduction!  In addition, the LED lamps provide better light distribution, less light spillover to adjacent residential properties and significant savings in maintenance costs compared to the standard high pressure sodium lighting that was replaced.

During the construction of the Green Demonstration Home, the City partnered with a local sustainable building non-profit to educate the public and building professionals on best practices and techniques by presenting a hands-on training course while constructing the energy efficient home.  During this course, 40 contractors were engaged in sustainable building training.  In addition, a “how to” video was produced that is being distributed to metro homeowners.  This education enables the City to spread sustainability throughout the community beyond City owned buildings and facilities in a way that shows contractors how to affordably incorporate energy efficiency and sustainability within building projects.

Another way in which the City sought to increase energy efficiency in the community is through use of the EECBG funds to create a matching grants program.  Through this program the City provides matching grants up to $1,000 for costs associated with evaluation and implementation of energy efficiency projects.  Thus far, ten awards have been made that together will save 116,864 kWh of electricity on an annual basis and reduce carbon by 162,112 pounds per year – a reduction in greenhouse gasses equivalent to the emissions produced by the energy consumption of seven homes.

As Mayor, I’m proud to say the City of West Des Moines is active in being a good steward of the environment.  As we realize savings in energy costs, we are using a significant portion of that savings to implement further energy efficiency upgrades in our facilities.  The City of West Des Moines recognizes that sustainability and energy efficiency is a journey to travel and not a destination to be reached.  West Des Moines will continue to strive for ever greater efficiency in all that we do.


 Written by Mayor Steven Gaer. Steven is currently serving his second term as Mayor of West Des Moines, after serving eight years as a West Des Moines City Council Member.


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