West Des Moines strides toward sustainability


Photo by jakebouma, Flickr

By taking measures to improve energy efficiency West Des Moines has cut down both energy consumption and cost in recent years. The Des Moines Register reports that West Des Moines’ improvements include energy conservation efforts at 13 municipal building in the city, and the replacement of old lights with LED bulbs at various city-owned properties. These projects are funded by grants and local dollars, but with the money saved by these changes, the expenditures are only a financial loss in the short term:

All the projects will pay for themselves well before the life of the equipment expires, said Linda Schemmel, an associate city planner.

“We’re really trying to incorporate this into where it’s not just about being green, it’s just the way we are,” she said. “It’s a part of daily life.”

West Des Moines has received more than $567,000 from Iowa’s energy independence program and the federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant. A large portion of funds – which have been matched with city money or grants from other organizations – have already been put to use, and West Des Moines leaders are seeing results.

In addition to these energy saving projects, the city has also made an effort educate their community on sustainability:

The city partnered with the West Des Moines-based Center on Sustainable Communities last summer to give public tours of an affordable green home on Maple Street, and government officials are in the process of working with other metro communities to educate residents about ways to save money while being green.

“It’s nice for the city to be able to do sustainable activities and to save electricity,” said Aaron Chittenden, another city planner. “But the purpose of the projects is to encourage people to take actions for themselves. Throughout the city we now have examples of ways to save energy. Residents can look at those and decide for themselves what might work in their own home.”

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