Sustainability Newsletter
Winter 2014

ReFreshImplementation Begins for ReFresh MKE
Milwaukee's First Sustainability Plan

Since Mayor Barrett unveiled ReFresh Milwaukee in July 2013, the Office of Environmental Sustainability (OES) and City departments have been moving forward with implementation. Since this summer, over 20 initiatives are underway that help meet different ReFresh Milwaukee targets. Some of the recent highlights include:



Perhaps the most important news on ReFresh Milwaukee since its summertime launch is the fact that Alderman Davis and Alderman Murphy co-sponsored a resolution officially recognizing ReFresh Milwaukee as the city's first sustainability plan and directing its immediate implementation. The Council overwhelmingly passed this resolution in December and directed OES to meet with the volunteer Green Team at least twice a year and then provide an annual update on progress to the public and the Common Council.


OES convened a Green Team meeting in January to identify for each goal and its associated target(s), a responsible agency or group lead, funding needed or attained to reach target and any potential obstacles to successful implementation. Each ReFresh Milwaukee chapter has its own implementation table to help OES measure progress and report back in a transparent manner to the public. Across the eight issue areas are 25 broad goals with 53 targets, most of them measurable. The two catalytic projects identified at the end - HOME GR/OWN and the Inner Harbor Redevelopment - have an additional 3 goals and 10 targets. The importance of measurable targets is simple: that which gets measured, gets improved.


As OES and the Green Team shift into implementation this year, we ask that City departments fully familiarize themselves with ReFresh Milwaukee and begin identifying ways to align their activities and budgets toward the plan's goals and targets.


ME3ME3 Accepts More Applications to Help
Milwaukee's Manufacturers

From 2011 to 2013 the city's sustainable manufacturing program, ME3, was funded primarily through a US DOE Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG). During that time period, OES partnered with the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership (WMEP) and Milwaukee Economic Development Corportation (MEDC) to provide free technical assistance and implementation grants to small and medium sized manufacturers in order to help them cut costs while minimizing the negative environmental impacts of their production processes. This funding, which expired in September 2013, helped improve the competitiveness and sustainability of 22 small and medium sized manufacturers in the city of Milwaukee.


In aggregate, these 22 ME3 firms reduced annual energy use by 3.6 million kWh; diverted 8,600 tons of waste from the landfill; saved $2.1 million annually; and invested $3.6 million in their facilities. The average participant investment was $241,557 and average annual savings were $140,081 with an average payback of 1.7 years. Additionally, over 3,100 tons of GHG emissions were reduced, the equivalent of removing 427 homes in Milwaukee from the electrical grid for one year. "The ME3 program provided fantastic expert assessment, guidance, training and tools to help us achieve our goals as part of our results oriented sustainability program at Visual Impressions. We saved 17.82% on our energy costs," explained Marshall Atkinson, COO, Visual Impressions, Inc. Not only did ME3 firms receive a return on investment, but so did the taxpayers. The return on public funds was 14.3 to 1 (total annual economic activity � total public dollars).   


Because of these results, Mayor Barrett allocated $75,000 in funding to continue the ME3 program in 2014; additionally, MEDC has rolled over $20,000 in unspent funding from the previous two years for a grand total of $95,000 for ME3 in 2014.   


As a result, OES is now accepting applications for the 2014 ME3 program. Current funding levels allow for technical assistance and cost-sharing with 9 firms. Applications will be accepted through March on a first-come, first served basis. Contact Matt Howard at for more information.


Me2Me2 Makes it Easier Than Ever
to Lower Your Energy Bills

Through 2013, more than 1,260 homeowners have made energy efficiency home upgrades with support from Me2. These homeowners felt the comfort and benefits of a well-insulated home every day of this frigid winter. The Me2 program continues to go strong in 2014, offering homeowners hundreds of dollars in incentives from Focus on Energy and affordable Me2 financing through Summit Credit Union. Me2 financing offers city of Milwaukee affordable fixed rates up to fifteen years, with no down payment and no home equity required, so they can pay for home improvements as they save on their energy bill.


Me2 financing is now easier than ever to use. You can work directly with a Participating Me2 contractor and Summit Credit Union to identify eligible projects and get access to financing, which yields faster loan approvals. Eligible projects include insulation, air sealing, and high efficiency water heaters, furnaces, and boilers. Up to 20% of a Me2 loan can also be used for supporting improvements like electrical upgrades, and limited window replacements. For example, an eligible homeowner could get $5,000 of financing to cover $4,000 worth of insulation work and $1,000 of new windows. To further make the program easier to use, a whole house energy evaluation is no longer required to finance furnaces or other HVAC equipment. Energy evaluations are still required for insulation and air sealing work. These evaluations help you understand how your home operates and identify air gaps and opportunities for improvement.  


OES is working to help enroll small local contractors in the program, so that the program helps grow local businesses and create local jobs. All Me2 Participating contractors are required to hire Milwaukee residents. So with Me2, you can invest in your home, the environment, and the community!


Visit to get started today! 

EVMilwaukee Charges Forward:
Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Hit Milestone

OES promotes mobility choices for Milwaukee residents and visitors. The City has worked with four local partners to install electric vehicle charging stations in key locations near Discovery World, Brady Street, Water Street, and the Green Corridor near the airport.

In the past year, these stations have been used to charge electric vehicles over five hundred times by one hundred different drivers. The usage figures demonstrate that the public is taking advantage of the infrastructure.    


The installation of the four stations was designed to help the public become more comfortable with electric vehicles. Going forward, private building owners will play a key role in expanding the availability of public charging stations. Building owners who install charging stations can provide a valuable service to customers or employees, while encouraging those customers to spend more time in their location. 

WindMilwaukee's Wind Turbine Marks
Two Year Anniversary this Month


February 27, 2014 marks the second anniversary of the wind turbine at the Port of Milwaukee. The wind turbine is an important symbol of Milwaukee's clean energy future, and is paying annual dividends to local property tax payers.

To date, the turbine has generated nearly 300,000 kwh of electricity. That electricity offsets the electricity used at the Port Administration building, and provides surplus back to the grid. This surplus created $13,353 in revenue for the City in 2013 in addition to about $6,000 in electricity savings, for a total annual economic impact of about $20,000. As a result, the Port Administration building is the first City of Milwaukee municipal facility that is a "net zero" electric energy user. OES is currently planning additional solar energy projects to complement this renewable energy source.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the project and see live production data. 


  Milwaukee Shines Launches
Second Solar Group Buy Program

After Milwaukee set a record in 2013 for number of solar installations, the City's solar program is hoping to build  on that record by expanding its successful solar group purchase program.

In 2013, more than 30 solar installations went on rooftops around the city. This far outpaces the most recent years (10 installs in 2012, and 12 installs in 2011). Part of the dramatic increase was the success of Milwaukee's pilot solar group buy program, Solar Riverwest.  



Now, our second group buy program,Solar Bay View, allows home and small business owners an opportunity to take advantage of record low solar pricing through a solar group purchase program.  


Solar Bay View is 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. The program is open to Milwaukee-area residents outside of Bay View, but its main outreach focus will be within the neighborhood.

How to Get Involved: Attend a Solar Bay View Educational Session: You'll learn about the basics of solar, get an overview of incentives and financing solutions, and find out details on how to enroll in this group buy program. For details and list of education sessions, visit

HGHOME GR/OWN Gears Up for 2014 Projects


The HOME GR/OWN team has been concentrating on breaking ground on vacant lot beautification projects and extensive community outreach for the past several months. Several vacant lot beautification projects are nearing shovel ready for spring including a new pocket park in Lindsay Heights and stormwater features on vacant lots.  


There are many other great ideas and potential projects coming from community members but resources are simple not available for every great idea. Nevertheless, the HOME GR/OWN team is preparing for an extensive fund drive in 2014. We are currently pursuing all types of funding sources: local and national foundations, federal grants, and a few "outside the box" fundraisers we hope to roll out soon in addition to the City resources already allocated to HOME GR/OWN.


In addition to the projects already mentioned above, there are many projects currently underway as the HOME GR/OWN team continues to work on all fronts:

  • New orchards, stormwater parks, community gardens and urban farms in Lindsay Heights and surrounding neighborhoods;
  • One-stop shopping on HOME GR/OWN website for FAQs on working with the City on community food issues;
  • Coordinating vacant lot rehabilitation efforts with the Mayor's SNIP Initiative
  • Working on updating urban agriculture ordinances;
  • Serve on Steering Committees for Milwaukee Food Council and the Institute for Urban Agriculture & Nutrition;
  • Link between new grower training efforts among local providers;
  • Sustaining and expanding Healthy Corner Stores;
  • Creating on-the-job training for a crew of City residents building new green infrastructure;
  • Furthering the community discussions of a new Milwaukee Food Hub; and
  • Commercial corridor improvements on North Avenue and Fond du Lac Avenues.

These projects reinforce our credo of creating multiple sustainability impacts within a single HOME GR/OWN project. Examples include new food production sites that double as stormwater mitigation while creating safe, new neighborhood gathering spots; underemployed local residents building a new pocket park which educates school groups on green infrastructure techniques; and, revised City ordinances that reduce unintended obstacles for new growing operations. Ultimately, our 2014 goal is to improve10 vacant lots this year! More details on our 2014 food system and HOME GR/OWN goals are found at

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

(414) 286-8517


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