Demonstrating an environmentally-conscious approach to community redevelopment, a completed "green" streetscape design in the city of West Union, Iowa has won the annual Best Development Award for 2014. The award is given by 1000 Friends of Iowa, a statewide nonprofit organization focused on promoting responsible land use in community, state, and federal development decisions.
Conservation Design Forum, the lead designers on the project, worked with the Iowa Department of Economic Development, local government officials, community organizations and residents to formulate a new vision for West Union's downtown district. The new streetscape concepts designed by CDF employed measures to boost walkability, enhance traffic safety at intersections, encourage bike traffic, increase planting areas, capture and treat rainwater, provide new activity areas and seating, upgrade infrastructure, and create a plaza on the courthouse lawn for public events. In addition, an innovative district-wide geothermal heating and cooling system was installed for the entire downtown area with 200 wells located under the courthouse lawn.
Green innovations like porous paving for streets and sidewalks, combined with 36,000 square feet of rain gardens aim to capture and retain 95% of stormwater that falls within the downtown district, relieving the burden on the municipal storm sewer system and detaining urban pollutants from reaching streams and other waterways.
In addition to the streetscape project which was completed in 2013, the City has just completed the renovation of 10 historic building facades within the downtown area, and added 12 new second floor affordable housing units in three historic buildings in 2014.
"We appreciate West Union being recognized by 1000 Friends of Iowa and hope what we have done in our community is a model for other towns in Iowa," remarks West Union City Administrator Teresa Ruroden.
The West Union "Green Streets" Pilot Project, which began in 2008 was funded through a partnership of local, state, and federal agencies. It now serves as an example of sustainability-focused redevelopment alternatives for towns and cities across the Midwest looking to resolve issues of aging infrastructure while at the same time revitalize their downtown business districts.
1000 Friends of Iowa selected the West Union project for the 2014 Best Development Award in the "Renovated Commercial/Civic" category. The innovative streetscape, designed by Conservation Design Forum, was also recognized with a 2014 Unilock Award of Excellence in Design for "Best Permeable Streetscape".