City of Milwaukee
Sustainability Newsletter
Fall 2021
Message from the Director 

So far, 2021 has been another year underscoring the need for climate action. In Milwaukee, we experienced severe storms in August that caused significant damage from downed trees and power lines. Indeed, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change notes that the dangerous effects of climate change are getting more intense, meaning we need to accelerate climate action at every level of government. To that end, I'm pleased to report that the City of Milwaukee has allocated over $3 million through funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) for climate action. I appreciate the support of Mayor Barrett and the Common Council to include these investments which were recommended by the City-County Task Force on Climate and Economic Equity.

First, with concerns about climate change and challenges with high utility bills for low income households, $2 million will support weatherization and energy efficiency work for qualifying households. We aim to coordinate this work with an additional $26.5 million in lead abatement in these same neighborhoods. To help with coordination, we will be working with experts from the national Green and Healthy Homes Initiative to design a holistic approach to addressing lead, energy efficiency, and other home health hazards.

Second, Milwaukee has a need to grow the supply of new affordable, durable, and climate-ready homes. As part of a much broader housing package, $1 million has been allocated to ECO to support our proposal to attract a new housing factory manufacturing facility to Milwaukee to build homes or housing components "off-site." The business case for the project highlights how the project supports our housing, manufacturing, environmental sustainability, and equity goals. With concerns about contractor capacity across our whole economy, we need to pursue innovative solutions to increase the supply of new homes in our city and rejuvenate sustainable manufacturing. We also need tp coordinate efforts to ensure that all city investments in housing are done with energy efficiency in mind.

Third, we understand the need to bolster our workforce to support green jobs and support racial equity in Milwaukee. The City has allocated $3 million in ARPA funds to support workforce development related to lead abatement training and related green jobs, including weatherization work. We look forward to working with Employ Milwaukee Inc and related educational and training institutions to prepare a local workforce for existing City investments in healthy housing as well as potential future federal infrastructure investments.

All of these investments and actions on climate change need to be done with racial and economic equity in mind. To be a world class eco-city, we need to have a just and equitable society where we treat each other with dignity, respect, and equal opportunity. We recognize that racism has caused tremendous harm in the history of our country and continues to limit opportunities for communities of color in the Milwaukee metropolitan area. At ECO, we reject overt and more subtle forms of racism, and work to improve climate justice and racial equity in our programs and initiative. We look forward to collaborating with our partners to bring improvements to our homes, neighborhoods, and City at large. We continue to solicit your feedback on the forthcoming Climate and Equity Plan.

Thank you to all of YOU who have supported the work of ECO and embraced the broader vision of climate action in our community. You'll also read in this newsletter the many exciting efforts from ECO to support our neighborhoods and build Milwaukee's image as a Water Centric City that supports sustainable and healthy water systems. Together, we can continue to make tangible improvements to Milwaukee and be part of the broader international effort to support a livable planet.

ECO Awarded EPA Environmental Justice Grant

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it will provide $200,000 to the City of Milwaukee and partners for Environmental Justice (EJ) initiatives through funds allocated to EPA under the American Rescue Plan (ARP). In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress designated this funding for grants, contracts, and other agency activities that identify and address disproportionate environmental or public health harms and risks in underserved communities through a range of local initiatives. 

This State Environmental Justice Cooperative Agreement (SEJCA) grant will support ECO’s Healthy People, Homes, and Neighborhood Project to assemble mobile resource teams who will provide healthy homes resource guides, ECO neighborhood toolkits, and workshops for residents. Health and economic disparities in Milwaukee are well documented, including the disparate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color. The City of Milwaukee and community partners will coordinate a Healthy People, Homes and Neighborhoods campaign to conduct outreach and education to predominately African American and Latinx neighborhoods

ECO is excited to partner with the nonprofits Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers and Walnut Way Conservation Corporation on the outreach and education components for this grant!

Grow Solar Greater Milwaukee
We are excited to announce our 2021 Grow Solar Greater Milwaukee group buy program was a huge success! Due to the overwhelming interest this year, our solar installer is still finalizing a few remaining contracts, but we'll be announcing the total kilowatts soon and we couldn't be more excited.

We held 17 webinars, attended events and farmers markets around greater Milwaukee to get the word out, and reached nearly 400 people.

A huge thank you goes out to our nonprofit partner the Midwest Renewable Energy Association and, of course, our solar installer Arch Electric. And thanks to all our program partners including the Bay View Neighborhood Association, Sherman Park Neighborhood Association, Walkers Point Neighborhood Association, St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Murray Hill Neighborhood Association, the City of Glendale, and the Villages of Bayside, Fox Point, Shorewood, and Whitefish Bay.

We also wanted to thank everyone who attended one of our webinars and congrats to all those home and business owners who went solar this year! You are helping to make greater Milwaukee a more sustainable and resilient place!
Residential Solar Install 2021
ECO Welcomes James Jedibudiah!
James Jedibudiah is a UW-Madison graduate with a degree in Conservation Biology, a certificate in Environmental Studies, and a focus on Sustainable Business Practices. In addition, he is also certified as a Green Associate with the US Green Building Council, and a member of The Natural Step.

James’ previous work experience includes the title of Corporate Sustainability Coordinator for Ovations Premium Services at the NBA arena in Portland, Oregon, where he played a role in helping the facility achieve L.E.E.D. Gold EB certification and implement the first public composting program in a major sports venue. He recently held the role of Healthcare Sustainability Specialist with Stericycle, Inc, working with 54 hospitals in 4 states on sustainability goals and educating staff on compliant waste disposal.

James comes to ECO via his first year of membership with AmeriCorps and will be assisting the Plastic Free Milwaukee, the Water Centric City Initiative, and supporting ECO’s climate and equity work.
Water Centric City
Milwaukee's waterways are for everyone! As part of our Water Centric City program, ECO partnered with DPW, DCD, and local artist Melanie Ariens to show off a few of the downtown public access points along the Milwaukee River. Next time you're kayaking with your family or out for a stroll on the historic Riverwalk, keep your eye out for one of Melanie's beautifully painted dock murals.

Support provided by Brico Fund and the Fund for Lake Michigan.
Is your home drafty? Need to replace your furnace? Want lower energy bills? The Milwaukee Energy Efficiency Program (Me2) is here to help!

Me2 makes it easy and affordable to make energy-saving upgrades such as insulation, air sealing, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters, air conditioners, and now, windows! The program offers an accessible, low-interest loan that can help you decrease your costs and increase your savings. You can find additional savings with rebate incentives from Focus on Energy and up to an additional $3,000 in Me2 Bonus incentives for City of Milwaukee homeowners with eligible property. If a loan isn't right for you, the project can be completed and you can still take advantage of the incentives!

Waterscapes 2071

What could our Water Centric City look like in 2071? Based on aerial imagery from Google Earth, the nonprofit Reflo and UW-Milwaukee’s Community Design Solutions created three future vantages for the Milwaukee Community Map—a free holistic suite of interactive maps you can use to explore our hidden Water Stories.

These compelling new renderings imagine Milwaukee’s waterscape 50 years in the future, informed by community aspirations in 2021. Envisioning a water-centric city from above, the imagery is designed to provoke discussion and support education and contemporary collaborative efforts around water.

Check out the renderings today at On the web page, you can use sliders to toggle between contemporary Google Earth views and the 2071 visions for Milwaukee's Confluence, Corridor, and Coast. You can also access annotated PDF posters to learn more.

The 2071 renderings are being integrated into new interactive map layers in the Milwaukee Community Map to further engage young people in our community with Water Stories about climate change, public project collaborations, and tourism.

The work is supported by a grant from Wisconsin Coastal Management Program.
City of Milwaukee
Environmental Collaboration Office
200 E. Wells St. Room 603
Milwaukee, WI 53202