Alliant Energy will be reaching out to a new group of small- and mid-size customers in Eastern and central Iowa to help with sustainability.
The program, announced Tuesday, will work with 11 customers in Cedar Rapids, Marshalltown and Mason City to compare ideas and increase sustainability. The process will generate projects to implement the ideas in March.
Ryan Stensland, spokesman for Alliant Energy, said the customers will create a “Sustainability Circle.” Stensland said Alliant Energy wanted to reach out to smaller customers that may not always get a chance to participate in sustainability efforts.
“Sometimes the focus becomes ‘How can we work with the largest industry or customer to conserve energy?’” Stensland said. “Mid-sized customers are not as targeted. We’re trying to work with those customers to maximize economic and energy proficiency.”
The customers include The Eastern Iowa Airport, the cities of Marshalltown and Mason City, Curries Division of ASSA ABLOY Inc., Fisher Controls International, Iowa Veterans Home, JBS USA LLC, Lennox Industries, Marshalltown Community Schools, Marshalltown Medical and Surgical Center and DuPont Pioneer-Reinbeck.
The Eastern Iowa Airport is the only Cedar Rapids customer of Alliant participating in the program. Airport Director Tim Bradshaw is looking forward to the partnership and increasing sustainability at a pivotal time.
“We are doing renovations to the main passenger terminal, which is 27 years old,” Bradshaw said. “We’ve done little things over the years, but yes, this is the first major effort for sustainability.
"The 'green' effort started a few years ago and has increased. It’s in the best interest of the community to reuse materials in optimal ways, to look at heating and cooling efforts, and to reach the appropriate goals.”
Stensland added while becoming more environmentally-friendly is the main reason for creation of the partnership, helping customers become more economical also is important.
“(Becoming more sustainable) can help businesses become more cost effective," he said. "It can lead to economic development. We get so focused that this is environmental, and it is, but it’s also economic.”
Cost effectiveness also is a reason The Eastern Iowa Airport wanted to participate in the program, Bradshaw said.
“With technology now, things are much more cost effective,” Bradshaw said. “It’s becoming much more economical now, both with cost and payback.”
Cedar Rapids is an innovator in becoming more sustainable, Stensland said, and the program will help continue its efforts.
“The city of Cedar Rapids has been an innovative leader in implementing sustainability,” Stensland said. “This will only help take the city forward in that.”
One area that has been improved in the city over the last few years is the way waste and recycled products are handled.
Bill Micheel, site manager at the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency, said initiatives such as diverting food from landfills is one way the city of Cedar Rapids is improving sustainability efforts, and the rest of the community seems to be following suit.“My feeling is sustainability is on a lot of their minds,” Micheel said, referencing the Cedar Rapids Public Library as one of the newer buildings that is more energy efficient. “...I see evidence a lot of businesses are implementing sustainability. We get a lot of feedback from the community. It’s all very positive.”