October 15 Indianola Community School District Facilities Director Rick Branson and I had the opportunity to meet with a group that has been working on sustainability and strategic planning for Indianola. The community I moved from, Fairfield, had a very ambitious “Go Green” initiative, so I have been involved in some of these conversations before.

We had some great conversation about the excellent quality of life in Indianola, including a variety of parks and trails, farmer’s market, and other amenities. Whether it’s our community’s new YMCA, an abundance of housing, local medical clinics, restaurants, financial institutions, our PK-12 schools, or Simpson College, the community has so much to offer! This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but the quality of life in Indianola is tremendous.

Indianola Community School District has been intentional about being good stewards and promoting sustainability. Wilder Elementary was built with a geothermal system, and Whittier and Emerson will be converted to geothermal heating and cooling. Each school is equipped with recycling totes, and the district’s waste costs decreased in 2013-2014. Whittier Elementary is being equipped with LED lighting, and other lighting updates have happened throughout the district. Facilities Director Rick Branson purchases “green” chemicals whenever possible. Restrooms are outfitted with hand dryers instead of paper towels, and foam soap is being trialed. To a large extent, district processes are paperless (work order requests, leave and pay system, board information, etc.).

I was interested to learn about efforts being made by Simpson College and Indianola Municipal Utilities, too. Simpson has dramatically reduced paper towel waste and has found ways to use less energy. One novel thing Simpson does is convert waste cooking oil to biodiesel that runs its mowers. IMU purchases a mix of renewable fuels, and customers can choose to purchase renewables for one cent more per kilowatt. This is done through IMU’s “Green Tag Program,” which was started a half dozen years or so ago.

A focus on healthy living and sustainability can contribute to positive quality of life for city residents and can contribute to economic development as well. I am glad that there are various groups who are concerned with being good stewards and ensuring that Indianola remains such a great place to live!