Thanks to DMPS, Des Moines Ranks 4th on EPA’s Top Cities List

Des Moines is ranked 4th in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2017 list of mid-sized U.S. metropolitan areas with the most ENERGY STAR certified buildings. The ranking confirms Des Moines’ commitment to providing building owners and managers with the technical guidance, best practices, and training they need to make their buildings more energy efficient, save money, and reduce carbon emissions.

“Des Moines is honored to be ranked in EPA’s 2017 Top Mid-Sized Cities list,” said Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie. “We are fully committed to environmental stewardship and lowering energy costs, and we are proud to be a national leader in supporting energy-efficiency among buildings and industrial operations.”

Commercial buildings that apply for EPA’s ENERGY STAR must have their performance verified by a professional engineer or a registered architect. ENERGY STAR certified buildings use an average of 35 percent less energy and are responsible for 35 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than typical buildings. Many types of commercial facilities can earn the ENERGY STAR, including office buildings, schools, hospitals, and retail stores.

Recognizing and Supporting Local Efforts

A key player in Des Moines being one of the nation’s top 25 ENERGY STAR cities has been Des Moines Public Schools (DMPS). A total of 57 school district buildings have earned ENERGY STAR certification and, as a result of its efforts, DMPS has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as an Energy Star Partner of the Year for six years in a row.

Key energy efficiency and conservation initiatives at DMPS during the past year include:

  • Maintaining an average ENERGY STAR score of 91 out of 100 across the DMPS portfolio of buildings. · Reducing the district-wide annual source energy intensity from 112.9 to 108.7 thousand British thermal units (kBtu) per square foot.
  • Deploying full-facility light-emitting diode (LED) lighting retrofits for 15 buildings, resulting in the installation of more than 7,200 ENERGY STAR certified LED fixtures and 4,000 ENERGY STAR certified LED replacement lamps.
  • Implementing numerous energy efficiency projects including, but not limited to: installing a highefficiency geothermal heating and cooling system; updating system controls; making heat pump, boiler, and cooling tower improvements; upgrading to direct digital control systems; and replacing inefficient windows and doors with high-efficiency installations.
  • Spending an average of $114 per student on energy cost, more than $90 below the national average of $205 per student.

“The effort we have put into energy efficiency is literally paying dividends for both our students and the environment,” said Bill Good, chief operations officers for Des Moines Public Schools. “Each year hundreds of thousands of dollars are being directed towards education rather than energy costs, meaning additional funds to support our top priority: teaching the children of Des Moines.”

To help others benefit from increased building efficiency, the City of Des Moines provides development incentives for high performing energy efficiency standards. Examples include:

Market One-Modus Engineering Building

City of Des Moines development agreement incentives in 2013 for a $14 million historic rehabilitation of the former Advance Rumely Building at 130 East 3rd, the first steam tractor manufacturing site in the United States.

High performance building design elements include:

  • A photovoltaic structure to be located east of the building that will be one of the largest solar canopies in Iowa, providing the ability for the project to introduce the first net zero commercial building in the State, generating as much energy as it consumes,
  • LEED Platinum designation · Geothermal heating and cooling system,
  • LED lighting
  • Extensive natural lighting usage within the building.

Green & Main

City of Des Moines development agreement including a Neighborhood Commercial Revitalization Loan in 2010 for the historic rehabilitation of a former neighborhood grocery store in the Sherman Hill Neighborhood into a demonstration and education site for high performance building design.

High-performance building design elements include:

  • LEED Platinum designation
  • Enhanced building air quality Energy efficient building systems
  • Material recycling practices and repurposed building materials
  • Ongoing public education to encourage expanded application of sustainable high performance strategies.

Leading by Example

The City of Des Moines currently maintains seven LEED-certified buildings. Building upon its efficiency efforts, in 2016 the City of Des Moines joined the City Energy Project, a joint initiative of the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), in which 20 participating cities have committed to measuring and improving energy consumption in their large buildings. Funded by a partnership of Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and The Kresge Foundation, the City Energy Project helps participating cities craft and implement locally tailored programs and policies to improve building energy use while sharing peer-to-peer knowledge and best practices.

Looking ahead, the City of Des Moines will continue leading by example this summer by benchmarking the energy use of its largest buildings. Benchmarking compares energy use in a building over time as well as in comparison with similar buildings nationwide. Benchmarking provides accurate data in order to better monitor energy use over time, as well as measuring any future energy efficiency improvements. For more information about the 2017 ENERGY STAR Top Cities list, visit