State and Local Policy Database

Des Moines

City Scorecard Rank


Des Moines, IA

23.00Scored out of 100Updated 10/2020
Local Government Score:
0 out of 10 points
Local Government Climate and Energy Goals List All

Climate Mitigation Goal

Des Moines has adopted a communitywide goal of 28% greenhouse gas emissions reduction by 2025 from 2008 levels, which also applies to municipal operations.

Energy Reduction Goal

We were unable to find information regarding a municipal energy reduction goal.

Renewable Energy Goal

Des Moines has adopted a communitywide goal of 100% carbon-free electricity by 2035, which also applies to municipal operations.

Last updated: June 2021

Procurement and Construction List All

Fleet policies and composition 

We were unable to find information on Des Moines’ fleet procurement policies or fuel efficiency requirements. We were unable to find data regarding fleet composition.

Public lighting

We did not find information regarding the adoption of a policy requiring efficient outdoor lighting, such as the International Dark-Sky Association’s Model Lighting Ordinance. We could not confirm if Des Moines has an outdoor lighting upgrade program.

Onsite and offsite renewable systems 

The City of Des Moines has two functioning solar systems as of 2020 on a municipal library and parking garage.

Inclusive procurement 

We were unable to verify if the city has inclusive procurement and contracting processes.

Last updated: June 2021

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking

Des Moines’s benchmarking ordinance requires benchmarking of buildings over 25,000 square feet.

Comprehensive Retrofit Strategy

The City of Des Moines has leveraged previous utility programs to complete comprehensive audits of the City's portfolio, identify eligible efficiency improvements, prioritize improvements and implement projects.  The city plans to develop an energy master plan.

Last updated: June 2021

Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 3 out of 15 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

The City of Des Moines’s Strategic Plan includes general climate and clean energy objectives.

Last updated: March 2020

Community-Wide Climate Mitigation and Energy GoalsList All

Climate Mitigation Goal

The Strategic Plan includes a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 28% below 2017 levels by 2025. ACEEE was unable to project if the city will achieve its near-term community-wide GHG emissions reduction goal because insufficient GHG emissions data were available for our analysis.

Energy Reduction Goal

We did not find information regarding a community-wide energy reduction goal for the city.

Renewable Energy Goal

We did not find information regarding a community-wide renewable energy goal for the city.

Energy Data Reporting

The city’s greenhouse gas inventory includes energy data for the residential and non-residential sectors.

This section applies only to community-wide energy data reporting. For information on data reporting due to building energy benchmarking and disclosure policies, click on the Buildings tab.

Last updated: September 2020

Equity-Driven Approaches to Clean Energy Planning, Implementation, and EvaluationList All

Equity-Driven Community Engagement

We were unable to determine whether relevant decision-makers have taken a unique and expanded approach in conducting outreach with multiple clean energy initiatives with marginalized groups compared to engagement with other city constituencies.

Equity-Driven Decision-Making

We were unable to determine if the city has created a formal role for marginalized community residents or local organizations representing those communities to participate in decision-making that affects the creation or implementation of a local energy, sustainability, or climate action plan.

Accountability to Equity

We were unable to determine whether the city has adopted specific goals, metrics, or protocols to track how multiple energy, sustainability, or climate action initiatives are affecting local marginalized groups. 

Last updated: March 2020

Clean Distributed Energy SystemsList All

We could not verify if the city has adopted a formal policy, rule, or agreement that supports the creation of clean distributed energy systems.

Last updated: March 2020

Mitigation of Urban Heat Islands List All

UHI Mitigation Goal

We could not verify if the city has adopted a quantifiable urban heat island mitigation goal.

UHI Policies and Programs

We were unable to determine if the city has adopted specific policies or programs that incorporate requirements or incentives to mitigate the urban heat island effect. 

Last updated: March 2020

Buildings Policies
Score: 9.5 out of 30 points
Buildings Summary List All

The City of Des Moines adopted the 2015 IECC with stringent city amendments. Des Moines also requires commercial and multifamily greater than 25,000 square feet to benchmark energy usage. We could not find information on city incentives for clean energy nor requirements for above-code energy saving actions.

Last updated: September 2020

Building Energy Code AdoptionList All


The State of Iowa has set mandatory building energy codes for its local jurisdictions, but also allows localities to adopt stretch-codes that are more stringent than the mandated state codes. All residential construction must at least comply with the 2012 IECC. Commercial construction must at least comply with the 2012 IECC and the ASHRAE 90.1-2007. To learn more about Iowa’s building energy codes, please visit the State Policy Database


Commercial buildings in Des Moines must comply with the 2015 IECC with city amendments. The code uses a commercial zEPI score of 48.


Residential buildings in Des Moines must comply with the 2015 IECC with city amendments. The code uses a residential zEPI score of 51.2.

Solar- and EV-ready

We could not find information on whether the city has adopted solar- and/or EV-ready ordinances.

Last updated: September 2020

Building Energy Code Enforcement and ComplianceList All

Des Moines requires plan reviews and site inspections to ensure code compliance. We could not find information on the number of full-time employees the city staffs to enforce the energy code. We could not find information regarding upfront support for code compliance.

Last updated: September 2020

Policies Targeting Existing BuildingsList All

Commercial and multifamily benchmarking

In 2019, Des Moines adopted the Energy and Water Benchmarking Ordinance, which requires all commercial and multifamily buildings greater than 25,000 square feet to benchmark energy usage.

Voluntary programs

Des Moines runs Energize Des Moines, a voluntary benchmarking program with a goal of reducing energy use 10% by 2020. 

Last updated: September 2020

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Workforce DevelopmentList All

We could not verify if the city has programs committed to developing a dedicated energy efficiency and/or renewable energy workforce.

Last updated: September 2020

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 5.5 out of 15 points
Energy & Water Utilities Summary List All

MidAmerican Energy, an investor-owned utility (IOU), is the primary electric and gas utility for the City of Des Moines. Iowa's utilities administer energy efficiency programs under a regulated structure with oversight by the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) and significant input from the Office of Consumer Advocate. Iowa Code 476.6.16 mandates that electric and natural gas utilities that are required to be rate-regulated (investor-owned utilities or IOUs) must offer cost-effective energy efficiency programs. Energy efficiency plans filed by municipal utilities and electric cooperatives include voluntary goals. The utilities recover program costs of the plans approved by the IUB through tariff riders on customer bills. To learn more about the state requirements for electric and gas efficiency, please visit the Iowa page of the State Database.

Des Moines Water Works is the municipal utility that provides the City of Des Moines with drinking water services, while the Des Moines Metropolitan Wastewater Reclamation Authority provides wastewater treatment and stormwater management.

Last Updated: March 2020

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs and SavingsList All

In 2018, MidAmerican Energy reported 303,980 MWh of net electric savings at the meter, which represents 1.28% of its retail sales across the utility’s entire service jurisdiction, not only Des Moines. In 2018, MidAmerican spent $63,805,000 on energy efficiency programs, which represents 3.71% of its retail revenue.

In 2018, MidAmerican reported 6.91 MMtherms of net natural gas savings at the meter, which represents 1.24% of its retail sales across the utility’s service territory. In 2018, MidAmerican spent $26,851,971 on energy efficiency, which equates to $49.95 per residential customer. These savings and spending figures cover MidAmerican’s entire service jurisdiction, not just the City of Des Moines.

MidAmerican offers electric efficiency incentives and technical assistance to residential and business customers.

At this time, the City of Des Moines does not have a formal partnership with MidAmerican in the form of a jointly developed or administered energy saving strategy, plan, or agreement.

Last Updated: March 2020

Low-Income & Multifamily EE Programs List All

Low-Income Programs

MidAmerican Energy’s Low-Income program provides financial incentives and education to encourage energy efficiency in existing low-income housing. The program is delivered through four separate components to meet the needs of different customer segments. The first component, weatherization, encourages comprehensive energy efficiency improvements in existing low-income housing by providing free energy assessments and free on-site installation of heating, water heating, lighting, refrigeration, and insulation measures. The Iowa Department of Human Rights (IDHR), which manages a network of community action program (CAP) agencies, delivers the program by identifying qualifying households and delivering assessments and weatherization services. The Low-Income program supplements funding provided by the Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program through a long-term contract with IDHR. The program also includes an education component for Low-Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP)-eligible customers and a multifamily and institutional housing component. The second component, Energy Wise, is an education component of the program.

Participating CAP agencies recruit Energy Wise Program workshop participants through day-to-day interactions with their LIHEAP clients. Each household that attends the training receives a take-home Energy Wise home savings kit. The third component is a Home Energy Report program for a select number of eligible customers. The reports are tailored to include low cost and no cost energy efficiency tips. The fourth component, multifamily, includes institutional housing and emergency shelters. The multifamily component is a joint utility program and is administered by The Energy Group, which provides assessment services and reports directly to the three investor-owned utilities.

MidAmerican Energy contracts with the Iowa Department of Human Rights (IDHR) to provide low income weatherization services. The program is promoted by IDHR through local community action program (CAP) agencies. CAP agencies also deliver educational programs to eligible customers to distribute the Energy Wise kits. MidAmerican also works with Green Iowa AmeriCorps to offer supplemental weatherization services for qualifying customers in Blackhawk County that are currently on the waiting list for the traditional Weatherization Assistance Program. In 2018, MidAmerican’s contract with the Iowa Department of Human Rights (IDHR) for low income weatherization services allowed for up to $400 per home to be spent on general repairs in support of the energy efficiency weatherization improvements. IDHR utilizes federal Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) funding to provide weatherization services through local community action agencies in Iowa.

In 2018, MidAmerica’s low-income programs achieved 4,474 MWh and 0.20 MMtherms in savings, while spending $1,343,056 and $2,447,540 on electric and natural gas customers respectively. In 2018, the program served 276 customers through weatherization, provided 1,847 kits, sent 15,006 Home Energy Report customers, and served 183 low income multifamily facilities.

Multifamily Programs

MidAmerican Energy offers the Multifamily Housing program to promote efficiency strategies for existing multifamily properties and provides comprehensive on-site energy assessments, free low-cost efficiency measures, and a comprehensive assessment report that includes recommendations for both individual housing units and common areas. Any prescriptive or cost-effective custom energy efficiency measure is potentially eligible for rebate under the Multifamily Housing program. The Multifamily Housing program provides a comprehensive set of services and financial incentives to serve the varied needs of multifamily property owners, property managers, landlords and renters in existing buildings.

The program includes direct install measures such as water saving measures and LED lighting. The program also includes equipment and insulation measures, such as gas furnaces and boilers, water heaters, heat pumps, air conditioners, programmable thermostats, and insulation. Additionally, low-income multi-family properties, including institutional housing and emergency shelters, received enhanced rebates, up to 40 percent of installed cost, and free professional consultation throughout contractor bidding and equipment insulation.

In 2018, MidAmerica’s multifamily program achieved 9,042 MWh and 0.30 MMtherms in savings, while spending $4,198,873 and $1,843,173 on electric and natural gas customers respectively. In 2018, the program served 370 electric and 410 natural gas customers.

Last Updated: March 2020

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

MidAmerican Energy does not provide building managers with automated benchmarking data through ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager for multitenant commercial or multifamily buildings. The City of Des Moines does not advocate for better access to utility data for ratepayers or the establishment of data-sharing agreements between the city and its utilities.

Last Updated: March 2020

Renewable Energy Efforts of Energy UtilitiesList All

Renewable Energy Incentives

In 2018, MidAmerican Energy did not provide renewable energy incentives for the construction of new distributed solar or wind systems.

City-Led Efforts to Decarbonize the Electric Grid

At this time, we cannot confirm whether or not the city of Des Moines participates in activities or strategies to help spur or encourage more utility-scale or distributed renewable energy generation from its local electric utility, such as testifying in public utility commission proceedings related to renewable energy, creating a formal partnership with the electric utility on renewable generation, or participating in utility planning efforts to increase renewable generation.

Last Updated: March 2020

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

City-wide water efficiency and goals

The energy and water utilities do not currently offer joint energy and water efficiency programs. MidAmerican Energy did offer water saving measures in its energy efficiency programs, such as low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators. At this time, the City of Des Moines and its water and waste utilities have not established a water savings target or goal. However, the city does offer water saving tips on its website.

Water plant efficiency and self-generation

Neither the water nor the wastewater utility has set specific energy efficiency targets or strategies. Des Moines Water Works is part of the Better Buildings Initiative and became the first U.S. water treatment utility to certify a plant to the ISO 50001 standard and SEP program. The city’s water system does not self-generate its own energy.

Last Updated: March 2020

Score: 5 out of 30 points
Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Sustainable Transportation Plan

In 2014 the DMAMPO (Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization) released The Tomorrow Plan, a comprehensive regional planning document focused on creating a more sustainable, equitable, and vibrant Des Moines. The plan has not been updated and includes no explicit VMT goals, but there were progress reports provided in 2015 and 2016.

VMT/GHG Target and Stringency

The City of Des Moines does not yet have a codified VMT reduction target.

Progress Achieved Toward VMT/GHG Targets

The City of Des Moines is not yet tracking community GHG or VMT levels

Last Updated: March 2020

Location Efficiency List All

Location Efficient Zoning 

No data or the city is not pursuing. 

Residential Parking Requirements

No data or the city is not pursuing. 

Location Efficiency Incentives and Disclosures

There are no incentives available through the City to promote location efficiency.

Last Updated: March 2020

Mode Shift List All

Mode Shift Target 

At this time, the City does not have a codified mode share target for trips within the city.

Progress Toward Mode Shift Target

No progress has been achieved, as there are no targets in place.

Complete Streets

The City of Des Moines' "Complete Streets Policy" was given a score of 39.6 in the NCSC 2017 Best Complete Streets Initiative Scorecard.

Car Sharing

At this time, the City does not have a formal policy in place to provide dedicated on-street and off-street parking for carshare vehicles.

Bike Sharing

Des Moines is served by BCycle. The service has 20 stations and 120 bikes in Des Moines. 

Last Updated: March 2020

Transit List All

Transportation Funding

The Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority and the Heart of Iowa Regional Transit Agency that serve the City of Des Moines have received $35,189,492 on average annually between 2014 and 2018. That equates to roughly $53.69 per capita between 2014 and 2018 within the Authority's service area. 

Access to Transit Services

The Transit Connectivity Index measures transit service levels. It is based on the number of bus routes and train stations within walking distance for households scaled by frequency of service. The City of Des Moines Transit Connectivity Index value is 5, scoring 0.5 points in the City Scorecard.

Last Updated: March 2020

Efficient VehiclesList All

Vehicle Purchase Incentives

Mid-American Energy Company (starting March 8th, 2019 through December 31st 2020) offers Iowans a $500 dollar for their purchase of a qualifying low emissions EV. 

Incentives for EV Charging Stations

There are no incentives available for the construction of EV charging infrastructure.

EV Infrastructure

The City has 12 charging stations available for public use, equivalent to 5.534 stations per 100,000 people.

Renewable Charging Incentives

Neither the City of Des Moines nor any of the utilities that service its resident are providing incentives towards the installation of EV charging infrastrucutre powered by renewables at this time. 

Last Updated: March 2020

Freight System EfficiencyList All

Des Moines does not have a sustainable freight transportation plan in place, nor does it have any policies that address freight efficiency.

Last Updated: March 2020

Clean, Efficient Transportation for Low-Income CommunitiesList All

Affordable New TOD Housing Policy 

Des Moines does not have any policies in place to address or help encourage affordable TOD housing development. 

Connecting Existing Affordable Housing Stock to Efficient Transportation Options

Income-eligible persons are eligible for reduced fare trips when commuting to work, looking for a job, or traveling to adult educational and training programs in Des Moines. The bus pass grants recipients unlimited use of DART buses on a monthly basis. 

Last Updated: March 2020