Van Meter Inc., Cedar Rapids, Iowa, opened a new location in Iowa City, Iowa, last month that has a number of unique features, including an indoor drive-thru that customers can use to pick up call-ahead orders without having to exit their vehicles and endure weather conditions, a high-tech training center and a large customer service sales counter. The new branch has also allowed Van Meter to expand its local inventory levels by over 30 percent. Van Meter had outgrown its previous Iowa City location and broke ground on the new 22,840-square-foot facility in July 2011.

The building also acts as a showcase for the company's energy-efficient products and is in the process to become LEED-certified. It features LED lighting and controls, a geothermal heating and cooling system, electric-vehicle charging stations and a 14 kW solar system. The building's performance will be monitored and measured so performance can be viewed and controlled remotely. The building consumes 57 percent less energy than a building of similar size built to current state energy and building codes, translating to an annual savings of approximately $17,504. The remaining energy consumption is significantly offset with solar energy.

One customer said in the press release announcing the opening of the new facility that he is impressed with several of the design features. “We've been doing business with Van Meter since the early 1990s,” said Carl Stieglitz, who works in the Utilities and Energy Management area for the University of Iowa. “The new facility will offer up an extended inventory of the products we use. And the drive-thru is a novel idea. Working with energy, it's great to see other companies embracing sustainability.”

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