Sustainability Newsletter
Summer 2014
Milwaukee Releases Inaugural Report on Sustainable Municipal Water Management Practices

On June 19, Mayor Tom Barrett unveiled Milwaukee's first annual report on local sustainable water management benchmarking and progress, known as the "Sustainable Municipal Water Management Public Evaluation Report (SPER)." The SPER is a pilot program of the bi-national Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Cities Initiative on whose Board of Directors the Mayor currently serves. The Cities Initiative is a coalition of U.S. and Canadian cities whose leaders work actively with all levels of government to advance the protection and restoration of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. The SPER outlines Milwaukee's municipal water management across six broad principles:

  1. Water conservation and efficiency
  2. Shared water stewardship
  3. Shoreline and waterways restoration
  4. Water pollution prevention
  5. Water protection planning
  6. Water preparedness for climate change

The report highlights Milwaukee's progress in 21 sustainable water management milestones under the six principles outlined above, and was a high-priority strategy in meeting Water Chapter goals set forth in the City's ReFresh Milwaukee sustainability plan, published and adopted in 2013. The SPER will be published annually, and allows City leaders and residents to track Milwaukee's progress in protecting and preserving local waters.

Overall, the region's two water-related utilities - Milwaukee Water Works and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District have made great strides across all six SPER principles. Additionally, hard work by area groups like the Southeastern Wisconsin Watersheds Trust, Inc. and Milwaukee Riverkeeper  have ensured that momentum is maintained on water quality improvements and habitat restoration.

"The Sustainable Municipal Water Management Report is a vital tool for developing best practices designed to conserve our most valuable natural resource and enhance the health and beauty of our local watersheds for the use and enjoyment of all of Milwaukee's residents," said Mayor Barrett.

While serving as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Cities Initiative in 2012, Mayor Barrett partnered with Kevin Shafer, Executive Director of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District to champion the idea of a framework for promoting and measuring sustainable water management principles in the Great Lakes basin. As a result, Milwaukee and three other cities - Montreal (Quebec), the Durham Region (Ontario) and St. Catharines (Ontario) - all published inaugural SPERs at the Cities' Annual Meeting in Thunder Bay, Ontario in mid-June.

The Milwaukee Water Works and Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District assisted the City's Office of Environmental Sustainability in developing the report and have been early supporters of this initiative. CLICK HERE to view the complete report. The ReFresh Milwaukee sustainability plan can be viewed at

ParkHOME GR/OWN Breaks Ground on First Neighborhood Park

Ezekiel Gillespie Park is coming soon to the corner of 14th Street and Wright! HOME GR/OWN has kicked off its first major neighborhood project, converting two vacant lots into a well-designed, environmentally sustainable park for neighborhood residents. Mayor Barrett along with 15th District Alderman Russell W. Stamper, II and community residents gathered for the groundbreaking on May 22.  

The pocket park pays tribute to the legacy of Ezekiel Gillespie, who was an African-American civil rights and community leader who won a landmark case securing voting rights in Wisconsin and initiated Wisconsin's first African-American Methodist Episcopal church.

The park will incorporate stormwater management features including an underground rainwater cistern, porous pavers, and a rain garden. The edible components of the park will be the various fruit trees and berry bushes. Thank you to all who support this project, including our partners: Walnut Way Conservation Corp., Energy Exchange Inc., Zilber Family Foundation, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewer District, Neighborhood Improvement Development Corporation, Reinder's, and City of Milwaukee entities including Department of Public Works, Community Block Grants Administration, and the Strong Neighborhoods Plan. Learn more about Ezekiel Gillespie park design, photos, and more HERE.

SBVOver 25 Bay View Homes Adding Solar This Summer

As part of Milwaukee Shines' second neighborhood solar group buy program, homeowners in the Bay View area are adding solar to their rooftops this summer. The solar group buy program, Solar Bay View, allowed home and small business owners an opportunity to take advantage of record low solar pricing through a solar group purchase program. More than 25 homes have committed to adding solar so far. Final numbers will be available August 1.

Solar installs and yard signs can be seen throughout the Bay View neighborhood! 

The deadline to sign up for the program has passed, but more neighborhood programs will be coming this fall. Please email to be notified of the next program or if your neighborhood association is interested in hosting a similar program. CLICK HERE for details on how Milwaukee Shines' solar group buy program works.

The solar group buy programs are being led through a partnership of the City of  Milwaukee's solar program, Milwaukee Shines, the Riverwest Cooperative Alliance, and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association.
Future generation of building analysts
BPIMe2 Creates New Opportunities for Milwaukee Workers & Entrepreneurs

Milwaukee is a city of hard-working people. With an ethic of sustainability, enterprising people have the opportunity to make a living for their family while improving Milwaukee's homes and buildings, land, and water.

The City of Milwaukee's Refresh Milwaukee Plan calls for the development of Human Capital to support the City's other sustainability efforts. Human capital, simply put, is the people part of sustainability. The term "human capital" refers to the skills, knowledge, and social and personality traits (including creativity) that people use to produce economic value. It is closely tied to the need for economic sustainability through employment and entrepreneurship.

The Milwaukee Office of Environmental Sustainability (OES) endeavors to create opportunities for people to work while improving our built environment. Since its inception, the Me2 program has fostered this connection through a Community Workforce Agreement that ensures that Milwaukee workers are employed on all Me2 projects. OES also works with local chambers of commerce and the Multicultural Entrepreneurial Institute to help more small business owners take advantage of the Me2 financing tools.

Through this outreach, OES, its partners, and the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board identified the need to train more local workers and home improvement contractors in home building science. For contractors that wish to do "whole-house" retrofits that include insulation and air sealing for the Me2 program, the contractor must either employ or partner with a Building Analyst certified by the Building Performance Institute. Analysts with a BPI Building Analyst certification are trained and certified to conduct whole house energy assessments.

Utilizing a grant from MAWIB, Me2 trained eight people to become BPI Building Analysts. The trainees each received a week of classroom instruction in building science, followed by a week of hands-on training to evaluate homes in Milwaukee and training in customer relations. The training was conducted by the national training firms CleanEdison and the Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation. A special thank you is due the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee and the River Revitalization Foundation that allowed OES to use their properties for training purposes.

OES and the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board are providing on-going support to the trainees in the program and connecting them with existing Me2 contractors and contractors that are new to the Me2 program.

L-R: OES Director, Matt Howard; Shaiya Morris, HOME GR/OWN; Tim McCollow, HOME GR/OWN; Tim Abair, Co-owner Stark Bros;
Will Allen, Growing Powe
orchardHOME GR/OWN Supports Expansion of
Orchards in Milwaukee

All People's Church Orchard: Just when you thought a steeply sloped piece of land would never be useful, the land is then converted into a fruit tree orchard with storm water management features. This is exactly what happened between 1st and 2nd Streets and Locust Street. Victory Garden Initiative has planted 30 fruit trees on the longstanding, City-owned vacant lots, and HOME GR/OWN will support the installation of a bio-swale and an underground rainwater cistern. The orchard will be maintained by  All People's Church.

Growing Power Orchards: HOME GR/OWN has partnered with Growing Power (pictured above) to both beautify and promote a healthier Milwaukee! With a generous donation of over 2,000 fruit trees from the Stark Bros nursery, the trees will be planted on various City-owned vacant lots throughout Milwaukee later this year. Learn more HERE.

me2Me2 Helps Strengthen Milwaukee
Homes & Neighborhoods

The residential Me2 program has helped nearly 1,300 homeowners make energy saving upgrades in their homes. Me2 makes energy saving home improvements affordable with rebates from the statewide Focus on Energy program and affordable loans through Summit Credit Union. But home upgrades through Me2 do more than just save energy. They can also make the home more durable, safe, and comfortable for building occupants.

Me2 Full Service and Insulation contractors offer whole-house energy evaluations.* A listing of Participating Me2 Contractors is available at

Contractors with the or logos are trained to Home Performance with ENERGY STAR standards.These contractors look for opportunities to save energy, but they also make sure that all of the building systems are operating safely. For example, many homes have improper ventilation in kitchens and bathrooms, which can lead to moisture, mildew, and structural damage over time. So having your home inspected by a Me2 contractor can help you identify and correct issues now before they become major headaches later.

Most people know that insulating a home can reduce winter heating bills. But insulation, air sealing, and proper ventilation can also improve your comfort in the summer. And, just in time for summer! Now, you can use Me2 to finance new high efficiency air conditioning units. Don't wait. Get started today with Me2. Visit

*A whole house energy evaluation is necessary to finance insulation and other "building shell" improvements. A whole-house energy evaluation is not required to finance new mechanical systems such as furnaces, boilers, air conditioners, and hot water heaters. 

Milwaukee Sees Energy Savings in City Facilities

The Office of Environmental Sustainability continues to drive energy savings in City facilities, despite the frigid winter. The City of Milwaukee participates in the national Better Buildings Challenge, with a goal of cutting energy use in city facilities by 20% by the year 2020. As a portfolio, city facility energy increased slightly from 2012 to 2013. However, many facilities saw energy reductions in 2013.  

Safety Academy: The Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) is saving energy at its training center, the Safety Academy. Between 2009 and 2010, the City of Milwaukee implemented a performance contract with Johnson Controls, which identified and implemented energy saving lighting improvements and HVAC improvements. These energy saving improvements continue to help the Safety Academy reduce energy use every year.

Police District 6: The MPD District 6 headquarters is experiencing a 23% reduction in energy use since 2011 due to a complete lighting retrofit and through replacement of a heat pump and dry cooler in the buildings data room. The projects were funded through a grant from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The building had previously used a water cooled system and is now using a closed loop system that saves energy and water. The retrofits created local jobs through the contractors, Dairyland Electric and Mared Mechanical.   

City of Milwaukee
Office of Environmental Sustainability
200 E. Wells St.
Milwaukee, WI  53202

(414) 286-8517


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