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Success storiesLegacy Communities

Eau Claire County Recycling Division recognized with a DNR Recycling Excellence Award

Eau Claire County Recycling creates a new Recycling and Disposal Guide

Eau Claire County representatives with award

The Eau Claire County Recycling Division received a Projects and Initiatives Award from DNR for focusing on education through a multi-faceted communications plan. The county wanted to improve its residents’ access to information about recycling and proper disposal of various waste types. It created a new Recycling and Disposal Guide and mailed it to all residents. The county revamped its website to include more images, hyperlinks, graphics and the new guide, which receives about 350 views per month. The county increased its social media postings to five per week and its Facebook posts reach 23,600 people. The county’s Summer Clean Sweep recycling event had the largest turnout on record. Learn more here.

City of Fitchburg solar panels have produced over $30,000 worth of electricity

Less than a year after the City of Fitchburg installed solar panels on four city buildings, the results are in: 21 percent of the electric needs for those city buildings are supplied by renewable energy. The solar panels installed last year have already produced over $30,000 worth of electricity.

The city gets renewable energy from multiple sources. In 2009, 12.3 KW of solar panels were installed on the roof of City Hall, and in 2011 an additional 9.9kW of solar panels were added by the public works garage. The city also participates in MGE’s Business Renewable Energy Program to purchase additional renewable energy as a percent of billed energy use. These initial investments led renewable energy providing 57,033 kWh per year since 2012, or about 3 percent of the city’s buildings’ electric needs.

As of July 2018, combined renewable energy sources amounts over 300,000 kWh or 21 percent of the total electricity needed in the city’s buildings. The new rooftop installations on the Fitchburg Public Library and City Hall began operating in December 2017. The solar panels on the West Fire Station and public works garage went live in January 2018. The four additional installations generated 276,431 kWh between January and July 2018.

Fire Chief Joe Pulvermacher said, “We understand the need for energy efficiency and the long-term benefit of renewable energy. Working with the city’s sustainability team, the Fire Department was able to address our impact on utility use. We see the value of positively addressing our over-all operational footprint through infrastructure and procedural modification.” The East Fire Station, currently being built, is designed to be solar ready.

This brings the city closer to the 25×25 Energy Independence Goal signed in 2009, when the Common Council declared Fitchburg a partner with the State of Wisconsin in pursuit of the generating 25 percent of electricity and transportation fuels from renewable resources by 2025.

For more information about solar energy in the City of Fitchburg, contact Ellen Geisler, sustainability and neighborhood development specialist, at 608-270-4274 or ellen.geisler@fitchburgwi.gov.

Read the article on Channel 3000.

Middleton commits to using renewable energy sources in 100 percent of energy consumption

The council of the City of Middleton, Wisconsin unanimously committed to transition the city to 100 percent clean, renewable electricity by 2040 and 100 percent clean, renewable energy sources for all energy sectors by 2050.

This is the 2nd city served by Madison Gas & Electric to make this commitment, and the 74th U.S. city that is #ReadyFor100 percent, as well as committed to 100 percent, clean energy!

Read more.

Fitchburg’s Healthy Neighborhood Initiative Grant

Local organizations awarded $46,000 from Fitchburg’s Healthy Neighborhood Initiative Grant

Five organizations were selected to receive this year’s Healthy Neighborhood Initiative grant from the City of Fitchburg for a total of $46,000. The proposals were selected based on their ability to serve the needs of the community and enhance the quality of life for those living, working and recreating in Fitchburg.

This year’s recipients work throughout the city.

  • Latino Academy of Workforce Development, awarded $10,000, will form Latino “resident” panels to increase civic engagement in the North Fish Hatchery neighborhood.
  • Madison Metropolitan School District – Trails to Success, awarded $10,000, has staff working at Chavez School to Increase capacity for after-school education program and neighborhood engagement planning.
  • Badger Prairie Needs Network, awarded $10,000, will undertake food pantry outreach, identify partners and offer food-related education at several locations.
  • Community Groundworks, awarded $6,000, works to reduce food insecurity by supporting a gardener-in-residence to oversee community garden and formation of garden committee for neighborhood engagement planning.
  • Unidos, awarded $10,000, supports culturally-relevant domestic/sexual violence helpline throughout Fitchburg.

The City of Fitchburg Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative is a pilot program designed to work with community partners to address specific barriers to opportunities in specific city neighborhoods. The Initiative is proposed to be data-driven, with desired outcomes to include:

  • enhancing the quality of life for those living, working and recreating in the city,
  • building on the mission and goals of the city,
  • increasing collaboration of common goals with neighborhood partners, and
  • improving city services.

For more information about the Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative in the City of Fitchburg, contact Ellen Geisler, sustainability and neighborhood development specialist, at 608-270-4274 or ellen.geisler@fitchburgwi.gov.

Fitchburg’s Solar Initiative

The City of Fitchburg is committed to renewable energy – having installed solar panels on the roofs of their buildings starting in 2009. Fitchburg has added almost 1,000 panels (362 kW) to the West Fire Station, City Hall, Public Works Maintenance Facility and the Fitchburg Public Library, accounting for the addition of about 452,000 kWh of renewable electricity. The 362 kW of solar electric will replace about 10 percent of the city’s total electricity usage, helping the city meet its pledges to generate 25 percent of its energy with renewable sources by 2025 and to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Solar panels on the LEED Gold-certified Library
Solar panels on the LEED Gold-certified Library

The City of Fitchburg is working toward its goal, by 2025, to generate 25 percent of their power from renewables. This latest project helps them gain 10 percent toward that goal.

The project, totaling $580,000, has an estimated payback time of about 9 years. “In addition to environmental and public health benefits of renewable energy, the project will also significantly lower the city’s electricity costs over the 40-year lifespan of the panels. Projected cost savings will be $54,000 in year one alone, and by year 40 will top $3 million.”

“Fitchburg is committed to clean, renewable sources of energy for the long term, and we will continue to expand our renewable energy capacity as opportunities arise. There’s a strong business case to continue investing in renewables, and it’s a win-win as the stewards of our environment and of our taxpayer dollars. This solar initiative also establishes Fitchburg as a leader among cities in Dane County working hard to combat climate change,” says Mayor Jason Gonzalez.

Read more about the solar project on the Fitchburg website and on the Legacy Solar Co-op website.

PACE Program Funds Revitalization Efforts in Waterloo

This article is reposted from the Lake Mills Leader.

Posted: Thursday, March 8, 2018

-Submitted by ThrivED

The economic development toolbox contains a variety of tools to promote business retention, expansion and attraction to a community or region. One of the tools used in Jefferson County is a program called Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE).

PACE enables property owners to obtain low-cost, long-term loans for energy efficiency, renewable energy and water conservation improvements. Revitalizing aging properties can be cost prohibitive. PACE can lower the cost of doing business and reduce building owners’ overall cost of capital to fund necessary building improvements that result in lower operating costs.

The PACE program is utilized in communities across the United States to drive economic development. Improvements can include, among others, new windows, insulation, lighting and new boilers. Currently, 27 counties in Wisconsin participate in PACE, including Jefferson County.

Recent upgrades to the Waterloo Technology Center, located at 575 W Madison Street in Waterloo, are financed through PACE. The 55,000 sq. ft. corporate headquarters for Perry Printing Corporation was first occupied in 1985. When the company was sold in 2003, the building became vacant until 2014, when it was converted to the Waterloo Technology Center through a public private partnership between Rediscovered LLC and the City of Waterloo.

Rediscovered LLC has updated the building’s features to provide a Class A technology facility to meet the needs of cutting edge companies. The building features incubator/shared office space, where start-up companies can receive assistance from the building owner. Currently, the building has three tenants.

The 2018 PACE project includes the complete replacement of fluorescent and HID (MV) lighting to LED lighting, updated hot water systems and installation of high efficiency, state of the art heating and air conditioning systems. It is the first project utilizing PACE financing in Jefferson County.

According to architect Craig Ellsworth, tenants of the Waterloo Technology Center have already noted the increase in quality and efficiency of the new LED lighting. Some of the heating zones are already installed and are functioning with excellent results in comfort levels, efficiency and controls. The incubator space is fully operational and accepting new tenants.

The result of the rejuvenation of the Waterloo Technology Center is that this location, once vacant, is now the home of over 50 new economy jobs and growing. The PACE program, and the cooperation of the City of Waterloo were instrumental in making this happen, noted Ellsworth.

“Many of Waterloo’s century old downtown buildings can also benefit from PACE financing. The City of Waterloo offers façade grants and interior build-out grants of commercial spaces. PACE fits in nicely in combination with these direct cash benefits,” said Waterloo City Clerk/Treasurer Mo Hansen.

For more information about the PACE program, visit PACE.

Appleton is the 1st community in Wisconsin to pass a Health in All Policies ordinance

This article is reposted from League of Wisconsin Municipalities January 2018 Magazine – The Municipality

Creating a Healthier, More Equitable Appleton

-by Kurt Eggebrecht, Health Officer, Appleton Health Department

Appleton recently became the first community in Wisconsin to pass a Health in All Policies ordinance. At its core, Health in All Policies is a collaborative approach to improving the health of all people by incorporating health considerations into decision-making across sectors and policy areas.

Health in All Policies is based on the recognition that our greatest health challenges – for example, chronic illness, health inequities, climate change and rising healthcare costs – are complex and often linked. Achieving healthy communities requires that we address the social determinants of health, such as transportation, education, access to healthy food, economic opportunities and more.

County health rankings
University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.
County Health Rankings & Roadmaps 2018.

As the graph illustrates, most experts agree that approximately 20 percent of health can be attributed to access to medical care; 30 percent can be attributed to health behaviors, such as use of nicotine and lack of exercise; and 40 percent is attributed to socioeconomic factors, such as employment and income. The remaining 10 percent can be attributed to the built and natural environment, including influences such as air quality, affordable housing and transit. It’s important, then, to consider the consequences of city planning, transportation or food systems policies which result in lifelong effects on the health of the whole community. Having a Health in All Policies ordinance builds a culture of health, where health is integrated into decisions made in all sectors of society.

Health is influenced by every aspect of how and where we live. Neighborhood characteristics have significant impacts on health outcomes, in part because they influence an individual’s ability to adopt behaviors that promote health. In Appleton, our efforts to change behaviors that impact health are most effective when we also address the environment in which our residents make their daily choices. For example, people whose neighborhoods lack parks and trail connectivity or have higher crime rates, have less access to safe places to play or walk. Similarly, people in lower income neighborhoods often have less access to affordable, healthy retail food options and have more access to less healthy fast-food outlets. As a result,  serious health problems are concentrated in a fairly small number of distressed neighborhoods and the health problems of high-poverty neighborhoods remain substantially more serious than those of our more affluent neighborhoods.

People living in neighborhoods with high rates of poverty often have shorter life expectancies than those who live in neighborhoods with less poverty. We have known for a long time that poor health disproportionately burdens people who live in places that limit their opportunities to live long and well. Parents want to raise their children in neighborhoods with safe parks and quality schools but many do not get to choose where they live.

Economic well-being is one of the most critical determinants of health. Unemployment is associated with poor physical and mental health outcomes. Education is another key determinant of health. People with higher levels of education experience lower risks for most illness and have increased life expectancy. Health and education go hand-in-hand. Education leads to future economic well-being while educational attainment is shaped by health. For example, the physical and mental health of students significantly impacts school dropout rates, attendance and academic performance.

The Health in All Policies ordinance also speaks to equity. People of color have consistently lower incomes, less household wealth and lower educational achievement levels than whites. Children of color are more likely to be living in poverty. Even at equivalent income levels, people of color consistently experience significantly higher rates of illness than their white counterparts. These gaps in health outcomes are costly and preventable. The Health in All Policies ordinance is a way to create more equitable opportunities. Equitable opportunity means having a fair chance to lead the healthiest life possible by addressing key drivers of health such as education, employment and housing.

Why a Health in All Policies Ordinance in Appleton?

We want to reshape the places that shape us – our neighborhoods. The goal of the Health in All Policies is to ensure that all decision-makers are informed about the health, equity and sustainability consequences of various policy options during the policy development process. This approach brings data and expertise to decisions that shape the living conditions and opportunities for health.

Over time, each department director will work with the mayoral-appointed Health in All Policies team and report on progress and challenges from his or her respective department. Department directors are committed to working with their respective departments to integrate and track health and health equity indicators for his or her department and also commit to attending ongoing health equity training. Health equity means that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be healthier. This often requires removing obstacles to health such as poverty, discrimination and providing better access to a quality education and housing, a safe environment and access to affordable healthcare. Department directors will also assist with the writing of a tri-annual Health in All Policies report. This report will include the status of health and health equity in the City of Appleton and progress of Health in All Policies implementation for the Common Council, city staff, community organizations, residents, businesses and other governmental agencies within the city. This Health in All Policies ordinance directly aligns with the City of Appleton’s Strategic Plan.

What do we hope to accomplish in Appleton?

The Health in All Policies ordinance in Appleton will open up dialogue between government, key stakeholders and residents most impacted by gaps in health outcomes. By doing so, we will not only prevent costly, preventable illness, this work will lead to a shared community goal of inclusion. No matter your country of origin, native language, sexual preference, household income, whether or not you have been incarcerated or live with a disability or pre-existing health condition, you are welcome here. We want to live where residents know we have their backs and their health matters to us and impacts our own well-being. It is in this spirit that meaningful discussions can occur that lead to improvements in the social determinants of health.

Early in our journey, we want to study and act on accessible built environments that promote health and safety, including improved pedestrian, bicycle, and automobile safety, parks and green space and healthy school siting. Over time, the Health in All Policies ordinance will impact the availability of resources to meet the daily needs of our residents including: safe housing; access to healthy and affordable food; access to educational, economic and job opportunities that lead to sustainable employment; improved neighborhood safety and reduced crime, violence and social disorder, like the presence of trash and other forms of blight. Perhaps most important will be trending data on social norms and attitudes such as discrimination, racism and socioeconomic conditions such as concentrated poverty and the chronically stressful conditions that accompany it.

The Health in All Policies team recognizes that leadership and innovation is not always easy, but we owe it to the people we serve to work together to find the best ways to solve complex problems, and this strategy will help us do this. Investing the time and creativity now to consider how health will be impacted by the decisions we make, will lead to solutions that will be win-wins and move us all toward a shared goal of creating a healthier, more vibrant and equitable Appleton.

About the author:
Kurt Eggebrecht has served as Appleton’s Health Officer since 2000. Prior to his appointment he worked nine years at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) where he managed the health promotion services for employees of Johnson Controls Inc., located in 48 states. Before working at MCW Kurt worked eight years at the Milwaukee Health department where he established the wellness program for management staff of the city. Kurt received his undergrad degree from UW La Crosse and his master’s degree from the University of Virginia, both in Community Health Education.

Contact Kurt at Kurt.Eggebrecht@Appleton.org

Success Story – Eau Claire County

Eau Claire County: Savings by the Bundle

There’s no formal policy at Eau Claire County about building energy efficiency and sustainability measures into the county buildings, but it’s something they’re very interested in for a variety of reasons.

“You need to set an example for the community,” says Matt Theisen, Eau Claire County facilities director. “You can’t ask people to do what you’re not doing.” Theisen says energy costs are his single biggest expense after personnel costs, making energy efficiency a big part of the bottom line.

So when they remodeled the government center and built the adjacent jail, their first order of business was to bring Focus on Energy and Xcel Energy on board to help them figure out the many ways to save.

Retrofits and savings

Theisen and his team are no strangers to energy efficiency and renewables. They’ve completed a number of conservation and load management measures in a variety of buildings in the county and use the ENERGY STAR® portfolio manager to benchmark their energy use.

“Meeting with Xcel Energy on a regular basis helps us figure out what to concentrate on,” Theisen says. “And we’re always looking at what the next step should be.”

Eau Claire County was also one of the first Solar*Connect Community subscribers in the area. Like other Wisconsin Xcel Energy electricity customers who subscribe to the community solar gardens, they will receive a monthly solar energy credit on their bill.

For the courthouse, Theisen and his team retrofitted and recommissioned the entire building. They used variable frequency drives (VFDs), an energy recovery system, LED lighting and motion sensors on exterior lighting and parking areas and have participated in Xcel Energy’s Saver’s Switch program for several years.

“We reduced our usage by 31 percent at the courthouse alone,” Theisen says. “On average, we have saved 25 percent on energy bills for our buildings.”

Part of those savings came from moving to high efficiency LED lighting. They retrofitted the parking lot first, then moved to the courthouse exterior.

“We changed out 8,000 lights and got a 7-watt savings per bulb,” explains Theisen. “The lighting was a lot brighter even with the reduced wattage and we save $15,000 each year.”

Next, they’ll remove the T-8s inside the courthouse and replace those with LEDs, too.

“Matt takes the initiative to investigate energy savings measures and implement the ones that make sense for Eau Claire County,” says Oscar Brandser, Xcel Energy account manager. “He’s clearly committed to saving energy and money for the county.”

Spreading the word

In addition to working on their own energy efficiency, they participate in Xcel Energy-hosted training events and are members of the local Association for Facilities Engineering Chapter that enables networking with other facility managers. The goal is to share best practices and get new ideas for other projects.

They don’t plan to slow down any time soon. They’ll keep working with Xcel Energy and Focus on Energy for ideas and incentives for years to come.

To learn more about Xcel Energy programs like Solar*Connect Community visit xcelenergy.com.

Download a printable pdf.

Wisconsin’s Recycling Leader Looks to Water

Water Use and Conservation Initiatives in Fitchburg, Wisconsin

In April Fitchburg participated in the Wyland Foundation Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation, ranking 13th amongst communities of similar size. This Challenge encouraged residents to conserve water throughout the year by pledging online. The April kick-off event included information on existing groundwater supplies in Dane County, how to fix your toilet and outdoor water wise landscaping.

The City of Fitchburg Water Utility has also begun installation of an Advance Metering Infrastructure (AMI) system for water meter reading and residential cross connection surveys. As part of the installation of the AMI system, the city will be upgrading all water meters to a newer wireless technology that provides hourly water consumption data. With this upgrade, the city will no longer need to drive by each property to collect meter reads; they will be able to better track water consumption, provide timely and accurate responses to billing questions and will be able to provide faster customer leak identification.

In 2011, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) created the Rock River Basin Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) standard. Several water ways within the Rock River Basin are listed on the state’s 303(d) list, including the Yahara River and Nine Springs Creek. With financial support from the Wisconsin Urban Nonpoint Source Water Pollution Abatement & Stormwater Management Grant Program [PDF], the City of Fitchburg has conducted stormwater planning activities to ensure the Nine Springs Creek Watershed meets standards set forth by the Rock River TMDL while also protecting public/private safety.

By Kristofer Canto
Sustainability Specialist

Last revised: Wednesday June 05 2019