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State and Local Climate and Energy Program

West Union Green Downtown

West Union, Iowa

Federal Funding: $500,000
Project Timeline: October 2010 – October 2013

Latest Update

Construction of the West Union green streetscape is underway. West Union is continuing to build water and sewer infrastructure for the project, including a new porous paving system. Well drilling was completed in July 2012 and once complete, there will be a total of 130 geothermal wells in Courthouse Square. A pump house and landscape construction is slated to be completed by September 2012.


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Sidewalk under construction.

Porous Sidewalk Pavers


Newly completed street.

A new street takes shape in West Union.

Construction is well underway on West Union's green downtown.

Newly completed street and sidewalk.

West Union Green Streetscape

A full block of porous pavers was installed on both street and sidewalk while runnels were installed using old pavers from the previous street.

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Project Summary

Using Geothermal Energy for a Downtown Heating and Cooling District with Environmentally-Friendly Infrastructure

To reduce greenhouse gas emissions and replace aging downtown infrastructure, West Union, Iowa is installing a geothermal heating and cooling district in six downtown blocks and renovate the area with environmentally-friendly infrastructure. The project is part of the community's Clean Green Climate Action Plan. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has provided input for the project, and green best practices will be integrated into the project. The project will conserve energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and improve downtown pedestrian infrastructure.

The key component of West Union's Clean Green Climate Action Plan is the implementation of a geothermal heating and cooling system for six blocks of the downtown area, including a radiant-heat snow melt system for the streetscape. A new city-owned utility will oversee the system. The geothermal system will heat and cool the County Courthouse as well as residences and businesses in the 60 buildings that lie within the district. These buildings represent 330,000 sq feet of conditioned space, and the system could provide heating and cooling for 80% of this space.

In addition, a green streetscape including rainwater harvesting systems, porous pavement, and rain gardens is being installed, along with energy-efficient street lighting. Bike racks and pedestrian infrastructure improvements will help encourage biking and walking.

The project will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by providing a lower emissions source of energy to offset conventional energy use. In addition, more residents will be able to bike downtown, reducing the use of motorized transportation.

Community Characteristics

Population: 2,550
Area: 2.7 square miles
Government Type: City
Community Type: Rural
Median Household Income: $34,515

Program Results/Estimated Results

Greenhouse Gas Reduction: 320 metric tons CO2e annually
Eligible Building Sq Footage: 330,000 sq feet
Additional Benefits: reduced rainwater runoff, improved pedestrian safety

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