The Office of Sustainability, also known as Milwaukee County Sustainability, is responsible for coordinating Milwaukee County's environmental sustainability program. As part of the Department of Administration, Facilities Management Division, we promote environmental stewardship in county government operations, infrastructure and services to enhance community equity, health and resilience.
Do you know that roughly 68% of Milwaukee County government's carbon emissions are from building operations? We recently published an Energy Dashboard to share information about Milwaukee County's building energy use and carbon emissions. This tool provides energy-related data for 300+ county properties including transit garages. View the Energy Dashboard.
The latest Sustainability Update highlights Milwaukee County's efforts to reduce single-use plastic, provides an update on our commercial PACE financing program, and introduces a new team member. In 2023, we'll continue coordinating a climate action plan for county operations and launch a lighting jobs program for youth workers. Read the newsletter.
Share Your Voice
Milwaukee County residents - can you spare five minutes to share how climate change impacts you? Please take this brief survey from the County's Sustainability Task Force. Milwaukee County will use the survey results to help ensure the Climate Action 2050 Plan reflects residents' diverse interests, needs and priorities. To begin, select your preferred language: English | Spanish | Hmong |
Programs & Services
The Office of Sustainability is excited to launch a new, $1.9 million, ARPA-funded program to improve the efficiency of Milwaukee County buildings while creating career pathways for area youth. Beginning in 2023, the Lighting Jobs Program will provide training and job experiences for Milwaukee County high school students who are interested in careers in the skilled trades. Students selected for the program will work closely with Milwaukee County staff and contractors to survey and recommend interior lighting upgrades in county buildings. To the extent possible, students will also assist Milwaukee County with completing the required electrical work. The program aims to not only save energy and reduce emissions, but also to dismantle barriers to entering the trades - particularly for low- to moderate-income households, women, and Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC) communities.
In 2018, Milwaukee County joined PACE Wisconsin, a statewide program that helps commercial property owners to obtain low-cost, long-term, private loans for energy efficiency, renewable energy and water conservation improvements. Administered through the Wisconsin PACE Commission, the voluntary program helps boost the efficiency and sustainability of commercial buildings at no cost to taxpayers. As of November 2022, the program has provided $14,963,032 in private financing to a variety of development projects in Milwaukee County. In addition to boosting property values, these projects have created around 225 jobs and provide a lifetime environmental benefit equivalent to removing 6,000 passenger vehicles from the road for a year.
Solid waste diversion conserves natural resources, reduces pollution, and supports approximately 97,000 jobs in Wisconsin (source: Recycle More Wisconsin). The Office of Sustainability strives to reduce, reuse or recycle solid waste generated from Milwaukee County operations. We work with Architecture, Engineering, and Environmental Services to achieve 50 percent or greater waste diversion for the County’s new construction and major renovation projects. During 2019, we coordinated development of a waste minimization plan for Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport. In 2023, we will manage implementation of a new policy to reduce and eliminate single-use plastic products and polystyrene from Milwaukee County properties.
The Office of Sustainability collaborates with Milwaukee County departments to incorporate economic, social and environmental sustainability into their planning. In 2016, we helped the Milwaukee County Zoo develop a Clean Energy Plan. The plan sets goals and provides actions the Zoo can take to reduce its energy and water use while increasing its use of renewable energy. We serve as a resource to Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport as it implements a Sustainability Management Plan for airport operations. The plan supports the "quadruple-bottom line" of the airport: economic viability, operational efficiency, natural resource conservation and social responsibility.
The Office of Sustainability supports and promotes efficient and safe alternatives to automobile travel, including carpooling, taking public transit, bicycling and walking. Since 2014, we have hosted an annual Bike to Work Day for Milwaukee County employees. During 2015 to 2017, we hosted a workplace bicycling challenge with UWM, MMSD, Marquette University, Alverno College, MATC and Froedtert Health that grew to over 250 participants. In 2017, from May to September, bike challenge participants pedaled a total of 164,670 miles and accrued the third-most points of any National Bike Challenge league. During 2019, we helped Milwaukee Transport Services study facility improvements and/or modifications that will be necessary to support a fleet of battery-electric buses.