Image from Visit Milwaukee
Sustainability Newsletter
Fall 2020

Erick Shambarger, Environmental Sustainability Director
Climate change is here. And it isn't pleasant. Wild fires have devastated the West, extreme storms increase the risk of flooding here in Wisconsin, and storm surges have caused extensive damage to coastal communities like Milwaukee.  Climate change affects all of us, and people of color are especially at risk.  We've got to accelerate a transition to renewable energy, make our homes and buildings more energy efficient, and modernize our transportation systems to burn less fuel. We've got to develop solutions that support racial and economic equity and open new green job and business opportunities in our neighborhoods.  We need climate action in every business and every level of government. 
That's why we're taking bold action here in Milwaukee. Through a partnership with We Energies and the Air National Guard, we've started construction on the largest solar energy project in the history of Milwaukee. You'll also read in this newsletter about many other actions we are taking to reduce the use of fossil fuels in City operations, like purchasing electric vehicles and installing energy efficient equipment in our buildings. If you're a moderate income home owner in the City of Milwaukee, we're excited to announce that our Me2 program is once again offering rebates of up to $1,000 for qualified home energy efficiency projects.
ECO is supporting the work of the City-County Task Force on Climate and Economic Equity. We are pleased to collaborate with Milwaukee County and dedicated citizen stakeholders to begin developing a formal Climate and Equity Plan for Milwaukee. We are hopeful that with the City leading by example, surrounding communities will follow suit so we can have regional impact. Over the summer, we also actively engaged with the Governor's Task Force on Climate Change to share our ideas about realistic actions that the State of Wisconsin can take to support local governments' climate goals. 
In addition to working on climate and energy issues, ECO continues to prioritize action on clean water and re-naturalizing our land.  Our Water Centric City initiative is finalizing the first phases of the Water Walking Tour in Walker's Point, supporting the planning efforts to clean up our rivers, and supporting efforts to reduce plastic waste. And we continue to support pocket parks and neighborhood beautification through our Home Gr/own program.
We are taking action locally, but we desperately need leaders in federal government to understand the science of climate change, invest in the clean energy future, and provide the moral leadership to address the climate crisis. When we collaborate and work together with different levels of government and with responsible businesses, we can lead the way to a healthier, environmentally sustainable, and more prosperous future for our families and our planet.   
ECO is pleased to report that construction is progressing on the largest solar energy project in the history of Milwaukee. As announced by Mayor Tom Barrett and Alderman Scott Spiker in early March, this 2.25 MW solar project is being built on top of a closed City-owned landfill and includes 7,200 solar panels! It is being developed by Sunvest Solar, a Wisconsin-based solar company, on behalf of We Energies, which will own and maintain the system. The City of Milwaukee will receive an annual lease revenue of approximately $96,000 for the project on land that cannot otherwise be developed.    
The landfill is approximately 40 acres in total, and this project encompasses approximately 9 acres. ECO is exploring options to fill the rest of the landfill with additional solar panels, including looking at We Energies' Dedicated Renewable Energy Resource program as a possibility. 
Solar ballasts and racking at the landfill, with panels to follow
The renewable energy from the project will be connected to the grid through the Air National Guard's 128th Refueling Wing right next door. The City of Milwaukee retains ownership of the renewable energy credits so the project counts towards our goal of getting 25% of our electricity for municipal operations from renewable sources by 2025. And, because of its location to the We Energies distribution system, electricity from the project can also serve as a back-up source of power for the Air National Guard in the event of regional grid problems.
The City of Milwaukee is facing severe financial challenges, but we cannot ignore how climate change threatens the safety and well-being of our city and our world. Mayor Barrett has proposed using the $96,000 in annual lease revenues from the project to establish a new Climate Action Planning and Program Fund to support development of a new Climate and Equity Plan and ECO programs to address climate change.      
Solar panels are being installed this week!

Climate and Energyclimate

Climate Task Force & Emissions Inventory 
The City-County Task Force on Climate and Economic Equity completed its Preliminary Report in March. The report recommends developing a formal Climate and Equity Plan, and ECO is playing a key role in this process. Over the summer, we completed the City's first professional Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory for 2018.
This provides an estimate of the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from not only government operations, but the Milwaukee community as a whole. This will help inform actions that might be recommended in the Climate & Equity Plan that is currently under development. If you'd like to participate in developing the plan, please sign up at   
Energy Plan for City Operations  
With support from the Wisconsin Office of Energy Innovation, the City's Energy Reduction Team, led by ECO's Matt Donath, completed a comprehensive energy plan  for municipal buildings and our fleet. The energy plan identifies $8.5m projects to reach 20% energy reduction at municipal buildings. This would result in over $1.5m in utility cost savings per year. The energy plan also included a Green Fleet Study, which reviewed the city's vehicle fleet and helped to identify opportunities to reduce fuel consumption, invest in alternative fuel vehicles, and reduce overall emissions.
Alternative Fuel Vehicles in the City Fleet
With support from ECO, the Department of Public Works will purchase six all-electric Chevy Bolts for the municipal fleet this year. Two of the Bolts will be used in the city's vehicle pool, while the others are being used as parking checker vehicles.
In addition, for the first time, the Milwaukee Police Department will purchase 10 Ford Interceptor Hybrid patrol vehicles.  The hybrid models have the same level of performance as the standard version, but have a higher fuel efficiency while driving and run entirely on battery while idling, making them ideal for use as patrol vehicles. It is estimated that each Hybrid Interceptor will save $1,400 - 
$2,000 per year in fuel costs just from increased fuel economy while driving, with additional fuel savings from time spent idling and reduced maintenance costs.
These initial 10 vehicles will be treated as a pilot study, with MPD and ECO reviewing the potential savings and performance, in hopes of purchasing more in future years.
Solar Energy for Escuela Verde School
ECO's solar manager Elizabeth Hittman worked with Escuela Verde to school to go solar! Check out this video  to see how we helped add solar and provide learning opportunities for students at one of Milwaukee's schools focused on environmental sustainability!

Placemaking and Parks with Home Gr/ownhg
Welcome to ECO's Newest Team Member: Dynasty Ceasar
After 6 years of dedicated work coordinating the Home Gr/own program, Tim McCollow retired from the City of Milwaukee this spring.  Tim made a lasting impact on Milwaukee's neighborhoods. We'd now like to introduce you to the newest member of the ECO team, Dynasty Ceasar! Dynasty is now coordinating the Home Gr/own program and ECO's neighborhood beautification efforts. 
Dynasty has been a leader in the Lindsay Heights neighborhood, serving as the President of the Lindsay Heights Community Planning Council an Community Organizer. Dynasty worked in the past on the Lindsay Heights' Identity Project and with the Department of City Development on Anti-Displacement Initiatives. Thank you for your years of service, Tim, and welcome Dynasty! 
Lindsay Heights
The Lindsay Heights neighborhood has been a special focus area for the Home Gr/own program. This area has been a focus because of the strong foundation of neighborhood organizations with a passion for the environment and healthy food, including Walnut Way Conservation Corporation, Alice's Garden, and Fondy Food Center. This September, Alderman Russell Stamper and ECO unveiled a new sign on North Avenue to welcome visitors to the Lindsay Heights neighborhood and help build a sense place. 
Take a few minutes to watch this Lindsay Heights Neighborhood Tour, presented by Doors Open Milwaukee, to see the vibrant community that is working to support a healthier Lindsay Heights.  
Victory Over Violence 
ECO is collaborating with the Historic King Drive Business Improvement District to restore Victory Over Violence Park.  In order to help bring peace and equality of our City, we need to to support access to parks and nature in all of our neighborhoods. This year, we have begun redoing pathways with an eye toward accessibility for all and adding new lighting.  2021 will bring even more community amenities as this park develops to support a more vibrant King Drive.
Community Murals   
Home Gr/own partnered with the Villard Avenue Business Improvement District to support their Public Art Project initiative this summer. The resident-led initiative produced five murals along the Villard Avenue corridor. Home Gr/own supported a mural developed by Chacho Lopez called "Protecting Our Planet," which is located on Carter's Christian Academy at 5268 N. 35th Street.  

Me2 is Back!me2 
It's time to get ready for winter! The Milwaukee Energy Efficiency program, or Me2, can help you save energy and upgrade your home with an energy efficient furnace, insulation, and windows.  In the last decade, over 1,300 homes owners have enjoyed home energy upgrades, lower energy bills, and helped the environment.  The program still offers affordable loans in partnership with Summit Credit Union. Now, Me2 is also offering hundreds of dollars in rebates for qualified energy efficiency projects, up to $1,000 per household when you work with a participating contractor.  
Example rebates include $400 for high efficiency furnaces, $100 per window for ENERGY STAR windows (up to $400), and $400 for qualified air sealing projects.
Learn more at or call Me2 representative Shidi Chesser at 608-729-6808. 
Cleaning Up Milwaukee's Area of Concernaoc 
Milwaukee is dedicated to being a Water Centric City, but one obstacle still stands in our way. Deep beneath the surface of the Milwaukee, Menomonee, and Kinnickinnic rivers lies some major skeletons in our closet: legacy contaminants from over a century ago, when our waterways served as open sewers and disposing of industrial waste directly into the river was common practice. These pollutants pose serious threats to the health of aquatic ecosystems and the communities that rely on them, and have designated us an EPA "Area of Concern," or AOC. This infamous club of 43 locations along the Great Lakes represents areas where past or present human activities significantly prevent our waterways from reaching their full potential.
Milwaukee River Downtown, Goodrich Dock.1895-UWM Collection
With all this in mind, the idea of fishable, swimmable rivers may sound like the punchline of a joke, but this reality is closer than you might expect. The EPA recently identified Milwaukee as one of ten target AOCs to prioritize cleaning up, and a dream team of city, county, state, and nonprofit organizations have risen to the occasion. The project would leverage over $200 million dollars in local and federal funding to remove the legacy contaminants and safely store them in a new containment facility near Jones Island that will be capped to create a new, lakefront park. 

Interested in learning more? The Community Advisory Committee is comprised of community members dedicated to helping Milwaukee ditch its AOC status and embrace the waterways that make our community special.
City of Milwaukee
Environmental Collaboration Office
200 E. Wells St. Room 603
Milwaukee, WI  53202