DMU Earns Prestigious LEED Silver Certification for Sustainable Practices

Marking a milestone in green building, the RDG-designed campus showcases how educational facilities can excel in environmental stewardship. 

In a significant stride toward sustainability and innovation in educational design, RDG Planning & Design announces that the new West Des Moines campus of Des Moines University Medicine and Health Sciences has been awarded the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver certification. This certification is a globally recognized symbol of achievement in green building strategies and practices. It is a testament to DMU and RDG’s commitment to creating a facility that advances health science education and minimizes environmental impact. 

DMU’s new campus sets new standards in educational facility design and contributes significantly to the region’s environmental sustainability efforts. RDG’s design incorporates energy-efficient buildings, innovative rainwater solutions and a restorative panorama that includes trails and outdoor gathering spaces​​. The campus offers an inclusive and intuitive environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors to connect​. 

“Achieving LEED Silver for such a significant project underscores a collective dedication to creating meaningful environments that positively impact our communities and the planet,” said RDG Senior Partner and Architect Benjamin Kroll, AIA, LEED AP, NCARB. “Through this certification, DMU and RDG set a new standard for how educational institutions can advocate for thoughtful, sustainable design.” 

Located in the West Des Moines Innovation Corridor, DMU’s new campus opened in 2023, coinciding with the university’s 125th anniversary. Designed with the future of health care education in mind, it features technology-rich, flexible educational spaces that promote innovative teaching methods, expand research activity and enhance clinical services. The new campus includes four buildings totaling 382,000 square feet of conditioned area connected by elevated pathways. Each structure houses a variety of classrooms, offices, research labs, a simulation center, a cafeteria and dining area, a wellness center and a covered open-air parking ramp with varying energy intensity, all served by a central high-performance geothermal system. 

The public is invited to experience the new campus during an open house from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, September 14. The event includes a ribbon cutting at 11:30 a.m. and campus tours from noon to 3 p.m.  

“Des Moines University’s mission is preparing future professionals to help individuals and communities achieve and maintain good health. We strive to contribute to the planet’s health, too. That’s why incorporating energy-efficient buildings and features has always been a priority as we planned, designed and built our new campus,” said Angela L. Walker Franklin, Ph.D., president and CEO. 

RDG worked closely with MidAmerican Energy through its Commercial New Construction Program to maximize energy efficiency. DMU’s West Des Moines campus incorporates several energy-efficient measures, including a ground-coupled heat pump system that handles simultaneous heating and cooling loads, an efficient lighting design that reduces energy use by 50% and dims automatically with sunlight, regenerative elevators that convert braking friction into electricity, an occupancy-based automatic ventilation system and a system to recover and repurpose heat from exhaust air. These measures have significantly reduced energy consumption and carbon emissions, achieving a 41 Energy Use Intensity compared to the 90 EUI baseline, a 56% reduction in electric usage, and a 65% reduction in embodied carbon. Verified electric savings have also led to rebate savings for the university. 

 ”Our Commercial New Construction program is designed to help our customers build energy-efficient buildings, and we are proud to partner with Des Moines University to help it have state-of-the-art facilities. Through our energy efficiency programs, DMU will see immediate savings via incentives, and the university will also save energy and money for years to come,” said Kathryn Kunert, vice president of economic connections and integration at MidAmerican Energy.  

The campus is powered by over 88% renewable wind and solar energy generated in Iowa, thanks to MidAmerican’s GreenAdvantage program. 

LEED Silver Certification is a recognition awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council. It signifies that a building has met significant sustainability milestones across multiple areas impacting environmental and human health. For a building to be eligible for LEED Silver certification, it must comply with regional environmental laws and the USGBC’s minimum requirements and demonstrate excellence in sustainable design and construction practices. 

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