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West Union Green Streets
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West Union, IA
Pedestrian, Permeable

Nestled amidst the picturesque rolling hills of Iowa lies the charming town of West Union, home to nearly 2,500 residents. This quaint community underwent an extensive transformation and a community-wide sustainability initiative. In partnership with the Iowa Department of Economic Authority (IEDA), the Town initiated the Green Streets Pilot Program, which involved an ambitious overhaul of six downtown blocks. The focus was on replacing aging water, storm, and sanitary sewer infrastructure. During the redesign, many of the pre-existing poured concrete sidewalks, crosswalks, and city streets were excavated and replaced with permeable pavement, offering an innovative solution to the town’s infrastructure needs.

The sidewalks were widened and LED street lighting and street furniture were implemented into the space, as well as rain gardens and a district-wide geothermal heating and cooling system. Unilock Eco-Priora™ pavers were selected for the sidewalks, presenting a smooth surface texture that delivers a sleek, contemporary look. Accompanying these pavers, is Eco-Optiloc™ – a heavy-duty industrial paver. That possesses an L-shaped, tri-axis locking principle, which makes it perfectly capable of withstanding heavy vehicular traffic year-round.  Both implemented pavers are permeable, meaning they possess special spacer bars built into the units to create a 7mm gap. This allows for excellent water infiltration and helps minimize the negative effects of stormwater runoff. Not only did this material selection meet the requirements of this sustainability initiative, but it also aided in wayfinding and safety for all users. Key intersections received high-visibility crosswalks for pedestrians through the use of effective color blocking. The charcoal-colored Eco-Priora contrasts with the light grey Eco-Optiloc to pave the way for pedestrian rights-of-way.

The West Union Green Streets Project has received high praise and recognition for its impressive sustainability efforts. In 2014, the project was given the Unilock award for “Best Permeable Streetscape,” and in 2015, it was also honored with the Iowa American Society of Landscape Architects’ Award. These environmentally friendly improvements are expected to yield a remarkable $104 million in cost savings for the community of West Union, and have already spurred an influx of investment and growth in the downtown core. The town of West Union has become a beacon of inspiration and a blueprint for small towns across Iowa and beyond that aspire to pursue a sustainable future.

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