It’s crucial for government entities to have a stand-alone sustainability office, says Erick Shambanger, director of environmental sustainability for Milwaukee, where he heads the Environmental Collaboration Office (ECO). He adds that it’s important to have sustainability champions spread across municipal government with whom administrators can collaborate on key issues. “The reason it’s important to have a sustainability team within an administrative office is that it’s imperative to do sustainability work within city operations, but it’s also important demonstrate leadership in the community and establish programs throughout the community, not just within city operations. These artificial limits tend to occur when cities insert a sustainability office within a facilities department, for example. “
The Shambanger team is working to reduce the use of fossil fuels in city operations. Part of this task is to reorient existing spending on energy. He explains, “We use energy savings performance contracts to basically take some of the money we spend on fossil fuels and invest it in energy efficiency and pay it back over the long term. We recently signed a $ 2 million energy savings performance contract in our central library. The energy savings over the life of this project will pay off. “
Reducing the use of fossil fuels has been a long-standing goal in Milwaukee. In 2012, the city made what was “possibly the most significant renewable investment” it has ever made and built a wind turbine next to its port authority building to power it, Shambanger said. Cooperative solutions.
Milwaukee had received funding from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and had made many internal energy efficiency improvements to its buildings, Shambanger said. However, city leaders wanted a “visible symbol of the clean energy economy” and also set a goal of getting 25% of the city’s energy from renewable sources here. 2025.
Thanks to the city’s efforts, the Milwaukee Wind Turbine was built on the Lake Michigan coast. “When people come in… on the ferry, it’s one of the first things they see in Milwaukee,” Shambanger says.
Alternative energy achievements continue to happen in Milwaukee. “Yes, we have accomplished a lot at ECO. This year, we completed Milwaukee’s largest solar project, a 10-acre solar field on a city-owned landfill in partnership with our local electric utility and the Air National Guard, ”Shambanger said. His team is currently developing a Climate and Equity Plan for the city. The team also developed several major proposals to support climate action through the city’s allocation of US bailout funds.
Milwaukee has used cooperative contracts to make sustainable purchases, including low-emission vehicles. “We are using the Wisconsin State Administration (DoA) cooperation contract to purchase Ford hybrid interceptors for the police department. We bought 10 last year and 30 this year. We buy the majority of our vehicles under this contract and they also have other fully electric vehicle options, ”said Matt Donath, Milwaukee Environmental Sustainability Program Coordinator. He adds that the city has purchased four Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrids for its fleets, with other orders pending. The city, says Donath, frequently uses DoA cooperation contracts for its vehicle purchases.
Donath, who worked in Milwaukee’s purchasing department before joining the city’s ECO office, said the city is considering using cooperative contracts for other sustainability initiatives. “We haven’t pulled the trigger yet, but we will need to purchase charging infrastructure for electric vehicles (EVs). We are therefore considering using the state cooperation contract for ChargePoint EV charging stations through the University of Wisconsin system. The stations would recharge the vehicles of the city’s fleet; they would also serve as public charging stations. ChargePoint is the world’s largest network of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in North America and Europe.
For procurement teams, Donath believes cooperative arrangements can help save time and improve staff efficiency rather than launching formal offers. “Absolutely, these are time savings, especially for certain raw materials. Taking cars and trucks as an example, it’s obvious that from source to source, you get the same vehicle — there’s not much difference between them. So especially for things like this where it’s more of a commodity, you can save a lot of time rather than going through a formal bidding process. This way, you don’t put more work on the purchasing department’s plate. Cooperation contracts are therefore a big advantage in this area.
Donath says EV infrastructure is another area where cooperative contracts can yield positive results. “There are so many different suppliers that are constantly appearing and new to the market. If you bid with some of those bidding, there might be someone who might end up at the top of the supplier list, but they don’t have the length of experience; you don’t know if the business will be there in a few years. Having this state cooperation contract that established entrepreneurs like a ChargePoint is really a plus for us. We don’t have to go through the whole formal bidding process and then try to deliberate and figure out who really is the best solution. So these contracts absolutely save us a lot of time and effort. They save time for our office as well as purchasing and other departments.
ECO staff hope to finalize Milwaukee’s climate and equity plan in 2022. Part of the plan is to put in place a program to build net zero energy homes in an industrial environment in the industrial manufacturing corridor of Century City in Milwaukee. “The houses would be installed on vacant land in the city to help meet our affordable housing challenges, but also our energy efficiency goals. The idea is that if you can build a house in a factory environment, you can do it with much more precision and that it is really much more energy efficient than just standard construction, ”says Shambanger.
Plant staff, Shambanger adds, could train and prepare community residents for green careers. He adds that the plant could provide weather training opportunities for workers already completing lead reduction and energy efficiency projects in Milwaukee.
Beyond 2022, the Shambanger team is doing long-term planning for the use of electric vehicles in Milwaukee. ECO employees are also looking to establish energy benchmarking requirements for commercial buildings in the city.
Michael Keating is editor-in-chief of US city and county. Contact him at [email protected]