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Two Iowa Organizations Shine Bright As EPA Energy Star Awardees

Photo Courtesy Des Moines Public Schools

In addition to being a national leader in agriculture, Iowa has become one of the most environmentally friendly states in the country. Consumer Affairs ranks Iowa as the 13th greenest state based on metrics such as carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per capita, the percentage of waste recycled, and the availability of urban tree canopies. The Hawkeye State was also an early adopter of wind energy at scale and today ranks as the nation’s second-largest wind power producer.

Iowa’s capital city, Des Moines, has also established a reputation for being eco-friendly. In March, two organizations received 2024 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year program awards from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Des Moines Public Schools (DMPS) and the Des Moines real estate division of Principal Asset Management.

Photo Courtesy Des Moines Public Schools

According to a March 26 EPA news release, the awards recognized the two organizations’ “outstanding leadership in support of the clean energy transition.”

Here’s a quick rundown of what they accomplished:

  • DMPS achieved ENERGY STAR certification at 34 schools and increased the district’s average ENERGY STAR score to nearly 75 out of a possible 100. The school district has been an ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence Award winner for 11 years.
  • Principal Real Estate was recognized for continuing its efforts to integrate ENERGY STAR programs and resources into its energy management and investment strategies. The company has also maintained a corporate commitment to advancing its decarbonization goals and has been named an ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence Award winner for seven years.

According to the ENERGY STAR website, the EPA launched the ENERGY STAR program in 1992, at a time when business leaders and environmentalists recognized that “economic growth and environmental protection can — and must — go hand-in-hand.”

Video Courtesy ENERGY STAR

In the decades since, the ENERGY STAR program has grown to include tens of thousands of organizations, utilities, and state and local governments that have partnered with the EPA to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The DMPS system has become a regular winner of ENERGY STAR awards, having earned national recognition from the program 13 years in a row for working to reduce energy use, save public money, and improve the environment.

“This honor is the result of a lot of good work by the school district’s operations team along with a commitment by DMPS to be energy efficient and fiscally prudent in all of our work,” DMPS stated in a news release. “Even though our school buildings are more than 70 years old on average, we have made improvements to those facilities and managed them in such a way that we have avoided unnecessarily spending millions of dollars in public funds while at the same time doing our part to be environmentally responsible.”

Photo Courtesy Des Moines Public Schools

Here were some of DMPS’s key 2023 accomplishments that led to the EPA recognition:

  • It saved nearly $700,000 in energy costs in 2023 and lowered the school district’s average energy cost per square foot to $0.82, compared to a national average of $1.03 per square foot.
  • It helped Des Moines become the second-ranked mid-sized city on EPA’s 2023 ENERGY STAR Top Mid-Sized Cities list.
  • It used on-site solar energy at Jefferson Elementary, which reduced utility expenditures by $50,000 and saved more than 900,000 pounds of CO2 emissions since going online in July 2021.
  • In 2023 alone, it invested more than $1 million in building automation systems and conducting retro-commissioning projects at 16 facilities.

Like DMPS, Principal Asset Management has a long-standing partnership with ENERGY STAR, having earned Partner of the Year status for nine years.

According to a March 27 news release, Principal “continues to integrate energy efficiency and greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions into its Pillars of Responsible Investing,” which is the sustainability platform for the firm’s dedicated real estate investment team.

Photo Courtesy Principal Asset Management

Principal Real Estate aims to reach a target of a 40% reduction in GHG emissions by 2035 compared to a 2019 baseline.

“The long-standing recognition Principal receives as an ENERGY STAR award winner underscores our commitment to corporate stewardship, sustainability, and responsible property investment,” said Jennifer McConkey, Principal Asset Management’s managing director of sustainability and operations, real estate.


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