DES MOINES, Iowa, October 13, 2009 (ENS) – Iowa Governor Chet Culver today awarded $1 million to the City of West Union to establish an innovative geothermal district-wide heating and cooling system and a radiant-heat snow-melt system.

A city of about 2,500 in the northeastern corner of the state, West Union is the county seat of Fayette County. In 2008, West Union was named one of Iowa’s two Green Pilot Communities by Iowa’s Department of Economic Development.

“This is great news for West Union and our state as a whole,” said Governor Culver. “I am committed to making Iowa the renewable energy capital of the country, and these funds are another step forward in meeting that goal.”

West Union’s planned renovation of six blocks of downtown infrastructure is called West Union Green Pilot Project. The award was made through the Community Development Block Grant’s Downtown Revitalization Fund and Community Sustainability program.

The community will replace aging infrastructure such as water, storm and sanitary sewers, streets, sidewalks and lights using environmentally friendly materials.

The city intends to complete a six-block green streetscape including reconstruction of the streets and sidewalks. Porous pavement, rainwater harvesting and reuse, rain gardens and bioswales for stormwater retention will make the project green and sustainable.

Geothermal conduits using heat from deep within the Earth, radiant snow melt infrastructure and energy efficient street lighting will be installed.

The governor says no other community in the country will have integrated as many green infrastructure practices in one place and at one time as West Union, making the community a destination for planners, architects, engineers, and community officials who wish to learn from the West Union model.

The project began with a visioning workshop in October2007 when the Department of Economic Development completed a technical assistance visit to advise West Union about the potential for multi-purpose pedestrian-scale streetscape improvements.

The next step on the green journey included a Green Pilot Workshop held in June 2008 to brainstorm and research green applications that could be incorporated into the six-block streetscape design.

West Union will receive technical assistance and training as well as financial incentives from IDED to complete the new, environmentally responsible streetscape.

The Iowa Green Streets Criteria will apply to this project. These criteria promote public health, energy efficiency, water conservation, smart locations, operational savings and sustainable building practices.

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