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Plan to ‘Energize Des Moines’ aims to reduce consumption of resources in largest buildings


A program to reduce energy and water consumption in Des Moines’ largest buildings was outlined today to the Des Moines City Council.

Called Energize Des Moines, the voluntary program targets occupied commercial, multifamily, hospitality, industrial and institutional buildings of at least 25,000 square feet. The goal is to reduce energy and water consumption by 10 percent by 2020. Of immediate focus are buildings located downtown; however, owners of any structures that fit the criteria can participate.

There is a bit of gamesmanship that comes with the program. Awards and public recognition will be provided in multiple categories by the end of December 2018, said Kent Newman, who is advising the city on the program. The challenge will continue through 2020 to attract and involve more participants. These awards will be similar to the Environmental Impact Awards that Des Moines used to do, only specifically for energy and water efficiency gains in large buildings, Newman said.

Beyond a savings on utility bills, the program could result in another, immediately understandable award for building owners. According to a pilot study by Principal Real Estate Investors and the U.S. Department of Energy, green buildings have lower operating expenses per square foot and also have lower rental concessions. Conversely, those buildings enjoy higher rents, occupancy, market value and net operating income.

Under the program, which is set to launch later this month, building owners and managers will be asked to benchmark at least 13 months of energy data through October 2017 by using the Department of Energy’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager software and enrolling the building with the city by Dec. 31. 

In addition to benchmarking energy and water usage from November through October 2018 and allowing MidAmerican Energy Co. or third-party vendors to conduct assessments of water and energy efficiency, participants will be asked to implement at least one energy/water efficiency measure and attend networking and education events during 2018. 

The program is sponsored by the city of Des Moines; the Greater Des Moines Partnership; MidAmerican Energy; the Iowa chapter of the American Institute of Architects, central Iowa section; Urban Land Institute Iowa; the U.S. Green Building Council, Iowa chapter; the Iowa Economic Development Authority energy office; and the Iowa Association for Energy Efficiency.

A formal rollout is scheduled for Nov. 17.

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