Ride the holiday Hop streetcar .  Photo Credit: John December
Sustainability Newsletter
Winter 2019

Happy Holidays!
Erick Shambarger, Environmental Sustainability Director

In 2013, Milwaukee adopted a community-wide sustainability plan, ReFresh Milwaukee to provide a vision for community action to support the triple bottom line: ecology, economy, and what I like to call " ecommunity." Its goals, strategies and targets have guided the Environmental Collaboration Office and our collaboration with other City agencies, academic institutions, and community organizations.

With a small staff, ECO has made an outsized impact on Milwaukee through effective collaboration. We're taking a leading role in tackling the challenge of climate change. We've implemented the comprehensive Better Buildings Challenge program to drive energy efficiency in commercial buildings, with over 133 buildings participating. We adopted a comprehensive Green Infrastructure Plan to add functional green space to our streets, schools,  redevelopment, and parking lots. 
Read the 2018 Progress Report here
We've develop ed realistic pathways to  achieve  our 25% renewable energy goal. We installed solar on three public libraries and are supporting residential  solar though our Milwaukee Shines program.
This year, 48 homes installed solar energy through the program .
We're helping Lindsay Heights and the 5 3206 zip code transform into an "eco-neighborhood" through our HOME GR/OWN program,  with a special  emphasis on equity and green job creation. We built Fondy Park next to the Fondy Food Center.  We supported community solar projects and neighborhood beautification efforts along North Avenue and other commercial corridors, including steps to reduce litter.
The Water Centric City initiative to showcases Milwaukee's global leadership in managing our water resources in a sustainable and resilient way. We're encouraging businesses to reduce single-use plastics pollution through the Lake Friendly Certification. We supported Harbor View Plaza that is catalyzing the redevelopment of the Harbor District. And we're building Milwaukee's brand as the "Fresh Coast" in advance of the DNC.
We're now pleased to present the ReFresh Milwaukee 2018 Progress Report. A lot has changed since ReFresh Milwaukee was published in 2013, and ECO is continually modifying our strategies and metrics to meet the environmental challenges of our time.
While these results are encouraging, we always know that we can find new opportunities to grow our economy while restoring the environment. Facing threats from climate change and recent rollbacks of environmental protections at the State and Federal level, it is our job to continue to advance a vision for positive change locally and collaborate with you all to help Milwaukee become a world-class eco-city.


Erick Shambarger
Environmental Sustainability Director
City of Milwaukee  
Milwaukee Establishes a Task Force on Climate and Economic Equity climateaction
The City of M ilwaukee is teaming up with Milwaukee County to address climate change and support economic equity as we transition to the clean energy economy. In July, the City adopted a resolution to establish the City-County Task Force on Climate and Economic Equity. 
The Task Force will dev elop recommendations  on how to reduce community-wide net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 45% by the year 2030 and achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or sooner. That Task Force will also  make recommendations on how to dramatically reduce racial inequality by assuring that greenhouse gas reduction investments and policies will create the maximum number of permanent living wage jobs for people who live in the most impoverished Milwaukee neighborhoods and have less of economic opportunity.  
Since 2009, ECO has worked to support 
Student Climate Strike (PC_Milwaukee Independent)
economic equity in our programs. The Me2 program, funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, featured a Community Workforce Agreement to ensure that city residents participated in the work and were paid a fair wage.  Our Better Buildings Challenge program supported worker training through a partnership with MATC.  And our HOME GR/OWN program supports local workers from Blue Skies Landscaping and Groundwork Milwaukee.  But we need to accelerate our climate action. ECO has a seat on the City-County Task Force and is working collaboratively with community members to help guide our future actions. Feel free to contact ECO if you would like to participate on a Task Force working group. 

Milwaukee Shines Advances Renewable Energy Goals Solar
Grow Solar Milwaukee is a group purchasing  program  for residential  and commercial solar, spearheaded by the City's Milwaukee Shines program and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association. Group buys and volume purchasing significantly reduce up-front costs of solar installation. 

In 2019, 256 kW of solar was installed on 48 properties. Overall, a total of 817 kW has been installed on 218 properties.  Initiatives like Grow Solar Milwaukee are essential in helping Milwaukee reach its 25% renewable energy goal by 2025. 

The City also completed installations of solar at Central Library, Center Street Library, and Tippecanoe Library. We are also in dialogue with We Energies about building utility scale solar installations. 

Central Library
Center Street Library
Tippecanoe Library

Solar installations from Grow Solar

watercentriccity  Plastic Free MKE Certifies Lake Friendly BusinessesPlasticFree
The City's
Water Centric City Initiative showcases  Milwaukee's global leadership in managing our water resources in a  sustain able and r esi lient way.  Under the Water Centric City banner, ECO has joined the Plastic Free MKE coalition to spread awareness of the damage plastic pollution causes to the lake and our health.   Members of the coalition have been working with businesses across the city to pledge their commitment to eliminate plastic waste.  
Tricklebee Cafe receives their Lake Friendly Business Certification.
Businesses can  pledge to adopt a set of  plastic-free practices with the goal of receiving a Lake Friendly Business Certification.  Certification requirements include providing reusable tableware, degradable  str aws, compostable  to-go packing, stopping use of polystyrene and plastic bags, participating in proper recycling practices, and encouraging patrons to bring their own leftover containers.

Businesses that successfully integrate plastic-free practices  receive a Lake  Friendly stick er in their front window. Showcasing a commitment to eliminate plastic waste can help restaurants stand out in the community as they help make Milwaukee and the lake cleaner.    
In November, the City also passed a new ordinance to prevent local businesses from indiscriminately handing out single-use plastic straws. Restaurants may still provide approved compostable straws or plastic straws upon request.  Wisconsin state law unfortunately prohibits cities from banning or regulating plastic bags or other containers. So we need to create a business and consumer culture that supports re-usable and biodegradable products. 

Water Centric City Design Workshop Prepares Milwaukee for Upcoming Events WaterDesign 
With world-class water technology research, countless community nonprofits, and the nation's leading School of Freshwater Sciences, Milwaukee is quickly becoming a hub for water conservation, education, and recreation. We're grateful to the Fund for Lake Michigan for supporting our efforts.   
Milwaukee is preparing to face the global stage in an unprecedented way with the Democratic National Convention and two large water conventions on the horizon. We want visitors to see we're more than just the Midwest-- we're a coastal city! 
A conceptual design from SmithGroup.
Three design teams were competitively selected to participate in a one-day Water Centric City Design Workshop. Their task? To create  a series of projects to connect the RiverWalk to the Global Water  Center and down 2nd Street to the University of Wisconsin-
Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences. 

During the Design Workshop, stakeholders from environmental organizations, local businesses, governmental agencies, and  community groups gathered to provide feedback to our teams as  they designed art installations, signs and route  markers, light displays, and other creative projects to showcase Milwaukee's water history and  future. 
Stakeholders hear ideas from Chemistry in Place.

Final designs were presented to a committee of local community leaders for review. We're excited to watch these designs become a reality and share them with you! Check out future newsletters and like us on Facebook to stay up to date as we showcase Milwaukee as a Water Centric City!


HOME GR/OWN Fosters Healthy Green Spaces & Neighborhood Beautification

ECO's HOME GR/OWN program transforms vacant lots into
healthy green spaces, increasing healthy food access and 
neighborhood  quality of life. We are proud to report that we  have completed 14  projects in 2019 with seven projects in the works. This year, HOME GR/OWN has supported beautification projects including trash clean-ups, vacant lot conversions into green spaces, neighborhood branding,  and parking lot "greenscaping ." Th e initiative is focused on the Neighborhood Strategic Planning Area and emphasizes i mprovements in the city's major
commercial corridors. We're supporting community signage, litter cans, and healthy green spaces. 
This October, HOME GR/OWN hosted the fifth annual Pumpkin  Giveaway.  Free pumpkins were up for grabs at four locations,  including Fondy Park and Victory Over Violence Park.
On November 27, HOME GR/OWN and the Historic King Drive BID had an event to discuss the latest phase of renovations to Victory Over Violence Park. There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of these improvements in July 2020.  HOME GR/OWN's efforts create healthy green spaces that support environmental sustainability and the Health Department's Blueprint for Peace
18th & Mitchell Seeds of Hope Garden
Rendering of Victory Over Violence Park
Pumpkin Giveaway at Fondy Park
Better Buildings Challenge Boosts Milwaukee Energy Efficiency  BBC
along with local market partners, held their first Energy Efficiency Resource Fair  at MKE Brewing Company. 

The event helped building owners, operators, sustainability staff, or any others charged with  managing energy use, connect with  local  resources  to help reach their 20% energy reduction goal. The  event was attended by building and  business owners, managers, and others, ranging from
Erick Shambarger and Matt Donath give opening remarks at the event.
large property management firms and companies to small businesses and other local governments. Thank you to our event sponsors including Trane, Rivion, PACE Equity, von Briesen and Roeper, and TOTAL Mechanical.

ECO's PACE financing program continues support energy efficient building redevelopment in Milwaukee.  The program has supported more than $14 million in energy efficiency projects since inception, including new projects in 2019 to redevelop the former Grand Avenue Mall. 
City of Milwaukee
Environmental Collaboration Office
200 E. Wells St.
Milwaukee, WI  53202

(414) 286-8556