Making Milwaukee County a Leader in Fighting Climate Change Through Buildings
Our community is perfectly suited to embrace energy-efficiency, and renewable energy. It is both a smart economic investment and a conservation obligation.
Fighting Climate Change in Milwaukee
Buildings – municipal, residential, commercial and industrial – make up nearly 40% of all direct and indirect carbon emissions that contribute to climate change. This means that without a strong commitment to energy efficiency, renewables and electrification from government, residents, businesses and a strong construction workforce, we cannot restrain climate change fast enough.
Methods for Fighting Climate Change in Milwaukee County
Three major efforts must be underway to significantly restrain carbon emissions, in order of impact:
- Deep building energy efficiency retrofits – Reducing extra heat and conditioned air loss. Creating jobs in insulation, weatherization, window installation, HVAC and plumbing.
- Widespread renewable energy use – Reducing use of fossil fuels. Creating electrician, technician and HVAC jobs in solar power, wind turbines and geothermal heating/cooling.
- Electrification – Replacing carbon emitting gas fuel use with renewable electricity. Creating jobs in assembling and installing electric appliances, water heaters, lighting and space heating/cooling.
Achieving these three goals in buildings would represent 68% of CO2 emissions that need to be reduced by 2050.The energy efficiency sector is also a powerful job creator. And while Wisconsin currently has more clean energy jobs than Minnesota, we are significantly slipping behind. The two fastest growing jobs in the US are in clean energy, jobs that aren’t even in Wisconsin’s top ten. 
Milwaukee County is home to many high-skilled, outstanding construction trades professionals that are vital to solving the climate challenge. We are committed to working with these leaders, and especially with union, minority-owned and woman-owned contractors based in the county.
A greener Milwaukee County would advance the following vision:
- Become a national leader in aligning a vision for zero emissions together with intentional targeting of racial and economic equities goals, as jumpstarted by the new Milwaukee City-County Task Force on Climate and Economic Equity.
- Upgrade all Milwaukee County municipal buildings to be net zero carbon emitting through energy efficiency, renewables and electrification. Using Energy Services Performance Agreement and/or Green Bonds to safeguard Milwaukee county finances while investing in energy-saving, carbon cutting improvements such as geothermal heating, electric heat pumps and solar panels.
- Advance privately owned building energy efficiency through fair energy lending programs. Commercial buildings can access financing to create green jobs cutting carbon emissions provided the program saves more in utility bills than it costs to install, through Milwaukee County’s 2018 Property Assessed Clean Energy ordinance.Milwaukee County also should consider establishing a Green Revolving Fund to help residents finance energy-saving, carbon cutting improvements. By working to especially support large apartment complexes, hospitals, office buildings and manufacturing centers together with contractors, energy experts and unions, Milwaukee County can significantly improve quality of life for all residents.