City of Milwaukee

Sustainability Newsletter

Summer 2022

Message from the Director  

Climate change is no longer a distant threat. It’s here, and it’s creating problems all across America. This includes dangerous heat waves and water supply problems in much of the American west. I recently returned from a family trip to enjoy the grandeur of our National Parks in the Pacific Northwest. But, even there, temperatures reached into the upper 90s. Closer to home, catastrophic floods in Kentucky and St. Louis demonstrate that climate change affects urban and rural communities. And, the risk for similar problems is growing right here in Milwaukee. The good news is that since climate change is becoming more obvious to at least half the country, the U.S. Senate passed the largest climate action bill in U.S. history. If this becomes law, it will provide critical funding to support Milwaukee’s climate action.

Locally, we are getting closer to publishing the Milwaukee’s first Climate and Equity Plan. This plan, built from the recommendations of the City-County Task Force on Climate and Economic Equity, outlines "10 Big Ideas" to move the City toward a 45% reduction in greenhouse gasses by 2030 while improving economic and racial equity. We expect to have an early draft of the Plan from our local

consulting team at GRAEF by September 15. In the meantime, we have scheduled educational and outreach events to inform and collaborate with the public to make sure we get it right. ECO will continue to provide updates on the planning process. 

Collaboration is critical to our work, both with the general public and with like-minded community-based organizations. As an outgrowth of the City-County Task Force on Climate and Economic Equity, the Our Future Milwaukee Coalition has formed to be a champion for adopting and implementing the Climate and Equity Plan. Note, the Coalition is comprised primarily of citizen volunteers and community-based organizations that spearheaded the Task Force and is not officially associated with the City of Milwaukee. Continue to follow ECO for official updates on the plan. You can also sign-up for Coalition updates. 

Finally, even while we work to complete the Climate and Equity Plan, ECO is delivering results to the Milwaukee community. We’re providing practical toolkits to green our festivals, events, homes, and neighborhoods. We’re working with We Energies to create new pathways for large customers to purchase renewable energy. We’re working to expand electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the City, and we’re moving forward with plans to increase energy efficiency in our housing stock. We look forward to working with all of our partners and the Milwaukee community as we strive to become a world-class Eco-City.

Street Festival

Read the NEW Milwaukee Green Events Guide 

Milwaukee is proud to be the City of Festivals, but we're also a Water Centric City that showcases global leadership in managing our water resources in a sustainable and resilient way. Often times public events leave our streets and waterways littered with plastic and debris, posing serious threats to the environment and health.

Use the guidance listed in the City of Milwaukee Green Events Guide to help you take the first steps toward a conscious community event that protects the environment. When making purchases, aim for the best choices you can and work your way to the worst. The best choice starts with reducing waste and the least favorable option is landfilling items.

Download the Printable Milwaukee Green Events Guide Brochure

Update: City Green Fleet Saving Fuel and Money

The Environmental Collaboration Office and City Fleet managers created an Interdepartmental Electric Vehicle Planning Group to transition the City’s fleet to electric or other lower emissions and alternative fuel vehicles.

Last year, the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) began the transition to hybrid vehicles. To date, MPD has purchased a total of 44 hybrid and 15 fuel-efficient vehicles. At the fuel price of $5 per gallon, each hybrid vehicle saves MPD $2,500 in fuel costs annually and burns 500 fewer gallons of gas per year when compared to non-hybrid vehicles.

Currently, the transportation sector accounts for 21% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions within the City of Milwaukee. To reach our targets, we need more clean fuel vehicles on the road to reduce emissions. The City of Milwaukee is doing its part to reduce pollution and GHG emissions from its fleet and lead by example.

Find Resources for a Healthier, Greener Home

Did you know that most people spend 90% of their time indoors? 

Healthy Homes Guide Cover Image

The ECO Healthy Home Guide was developed through a U.S. EPA Environmental Justice Grant in collaboration with the Milwaukee Health Department, Environmental Protection Agency, Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers, Walnut Way Conservation Corporation, and AmeriCorps.

The guide offers a variety of ways to make your home a healthier and greener place for you and your family to live. It includes information on lead, asthma triggers and allergens, carbon monoxide, smoking and vaping, chemical safety, pests and pesticides, radon, mold, and energy.

Recap: The Green & Healthy Schools Conference

The Environmental Collaboration Office proudly sponsored the 6th Annual Green & Healthy Schools Conference on August 5 at Vincent High School. We appreciated the chance to talk with educators, residents, and community organizations about our programs and current projects, as well as learn from them about the great work being done to support schools.

ECO Director Erick Shambarger presented alongside Linda Frank, Nature in the City Working Group Chair for the Milwaukee City-County Task Force on Climate & Economic Equity, during the Local Climate Change Actions panel. Attendees learned how Milwaukee is working toward climate resiliency, preparedness, and a more equitable approach to addressing the climate crisis.

One of the 10 Big Ideas as part of the City's forthcoming Climate & Equity Plan is Protecting and Restoring Nature in the City and includes recommendations to expand the Green & Healthy Schoolyard Redevelopment Program from five school projects each year to ten.

Presenting to a group of people

Additional recommendations as part of the Nature in the City idea include: protecting environmentally sensitive lands (including areas along lakes and rivers), implementing the Branch Out Milwaukee Campaign, and green-cooling commercial lots.

Read More on the Climate & Equity Plan 

Marlow Hotel Receives $2.5M PACE Financing

The City of Milwaukee’s Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing program helps commercial property owners affordably finance energy or water efficiency, renewable energy, electric vehicle infrastructure, energy reliability, stormwater controls or "green infrastructure," and other resiliency upgrades in their buildings.

This public-private partnership leverages private capital to supply upfront funding for the improvements and collects payments through a voluntary municipal special charge (City Ordinance 304-26.5). The special charge is attached to the property, not the owner, and is paid back through a direct billing system over time. Projects are designed so that the annual energy and other savings pay for the special charge, providing a net positive cash flow over the life of the upgrades.

Recently, the Marlow Hotel received $2.5 million in financing. The Marlow Hotel classifies as a high-performance building in the PACE Program. With energy savings that exceed the state code by over 20%, it is the first project to take advantage of the new PACE Program Pathway that encourages property owners to build greener buildings. The upgrades are expected to save the property owner $217,555 a year on utility bills, nearly cutting their annual utility costs in half.

Attend an Upcoming PACE Informational Webinar

Pace Program Guidelines Updates Graphics with Image of a Woman Taking Notes

PACE Program Guideline Updates - Version 3.2

Wednesday, August 24, 2022 from 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM

Join the Milwaukee PACE Program Team for a FREE webinar to learn about recent updates to the City of Milwaukee's PACE Financing Program Guidelines. 

The passing of 2021 WISCONSIN ACT 175 changed the PACE program standards by removing some requirements and adding eligibility for new types of building improvements. Presenters will walk you through changes to the guidelines:

  • Addition of reliability, resiliency, and stormwater as eligible project types
  • Removal of the savings guarantee mandate and savings to investment ratio (SIR) requirement
  • Addition of floodplain ordinance compliance for resiliency projects

During the webinar, presenters will also highlight the unique aspects of the program, like the additional program benefits for High Performance Buildings, explore the current trend toward PACE financing for resiliency projects and discuss how you can take advantage of PACE as a financing mechanism.

Register Today
PACE Financing Green Stormwater Infrastructure Funding Opportunities and Updates graphic of trees in the shape of buildings

Green Stormwater Infrastructure Funding Opportunities and Updates

Wednesday, September 28, 2022 from 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM

The goal of this webinar is to discuss how you can use PACE and other funding sources to finance different types of green infrastructure projects on commercial properties to achieve necessary stormwater management goals. These projects can help reduce localized flooding, erosion and water pollution.

The Milwaukee PACE Program Financing Team will also share project examples and discuss the City's Green Infrastructure goals.

Register Today

Options to Fund EV Charging Infrastructure

Wednesday, October 12, 2022 from 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM

Electric vehicles (EV) are becoming increasingly prominent on our roads, and as charging stations become more and more affordable, commercial property owners are beginning to realize the significant benefits of installing charging stations at commercial sites beyond sustainability. 

The addition of EV charging equipment means property owners leveraging C-PACE won’t just be using the clean energy financing mechanism as a tool to improve their financial position in the near term, but also to modernize their buildings and position them more competitively in the future. Whether building tenants are commercial or part of a multifamily building, properties with charging stations can lead the way, as the EV market continues to grow.

Webinar attendees will learn about how to use the Milwaukee PACE Financing Program to finance the commercial EV infrastructure, among other financing options including utility pilot programs and other emerging opportunities.

Register Today

Register for a Climate & Equity Plan Info Session

Join colleagues and community members for virtual information sessions hosted by the Education and Outreach Work Group of Milwaukee’s City-County Task Force on Climate and Economic Equity. Learn where Milwaukee is at in the Climate and Equity Plan process, more about the coalition's work, and how community members can get involved. You will receive an email with the Zoom link after you register. 

Sign up for one of the four information sessions being held this August:


Aug. 10 at 12 PM

Register here


Aug. 12 at 12 PM

Register here


Aug. 16 at 12 PM

Register here


Aug. 18 at 4 PM

Register here

Subscribe to the email distribution list for the Education and Outreach Work Group of Milwaukee's City-County Task Force on Climate and Economic Equity's Our Future Milwaukee Coalition for updates.

Follow Us On Social Media for Updates

Don't forget to follow the Milwaukee Environmental Collaboration Office on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Search using @ecocitymke.

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City of Milwaukee

Environmental Collaboration Office

200 E. Wells St., Room 603

Milwaukee, WI 53202