Helping Dubuque, and Iowa, improve energy management
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A sample wind map. Courtesy of the School of Urban and Regional Planning.
Power plants go online and offline on a routine basis. Alliant Energy is analyzing the Dubuque Power Plant to determine whether to shut it down in 2015. If it does, local residents, businesses, and industries would need to import electrical power from elsewhere—unless they can develop their own energy sources.
That's where the University of Iowa comes in. Graduate students in the UI School of Urban and Regional Planning are helping the community think smarter about energy, in several ways.
The students are working with the city of Dubuque to identify potential renewable energy sources—including ground source heat pump, solar, and wind—for each building in the city.
Using GIS (Geographic Information System) and 3D modeling, they're mapping a complete picture of Dubuque's energy needs and energy source potential. With these maps, students can show the city of Dubuque how to balance energy use and energy production as the city determines how best to invest in renewable energy sources.
They're developing an economic development tool for the Greater Dubuque Development Corporation that shows current and potential businesses how Dubuque will maximize dollars spent on renewable energy sources.
With their research results, the team is helping to address pressing policy issues that will enable the city of Dubuque—and other Iowa municipalities—to preserve historic character, boost disaster resiliency, and increase accessibility to renewable energy for a more sustainable, viable Iowa.
A sample solar map. Courtesy of the UI School of Urban and Regional Planning.
After the project's completion, the template and a description of mapping process will be available online. By publishing details about this novel approach to urban planning, the UI students hope their work in Dubuque will assist many Iowa municipalities.
These second-year master's students are enrolled in the Field Problems in Planning course, which has developed sustainability plans in eight Iowa towns since 2009. The course is part of the Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities (IISC).
The Dubuque Initiative is a two-year partnership between the UI and the city of Dubuque. This year, students worked with Dubuque area leaders on five projects. In addition to the renewable energy asset mapping project, groups focused on indicators and indicator measurements for the 11 sustainability principles, a portrait of poverty in Dubuque, local foods and local institutions, and the design of the Green and Healthy Homes program.
All five student teams will present their projects from 4:15 to 7 p.m., Tuesday, April 24, in Room 201 of the Continuing Education Facility, 30 S. Dubuque (second floor in the U.S. Bank Building). They will make final presentations in Dubuque to city leaders on Tuesday, May 8.