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Local Government Spotlight: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Driving Participation and Action Through the Energy Reduction Team

Summary

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, created the Energy Reduction Team, composed of facility managers from the Departments of Public Works, Police, Fire, Health, and Port of Milwaukee, that met quarterly to review the city's energy use and progress on sustainability goals.[1] Through these meetings, the city identified a number of opportunities for improvements, including low-cost interventions with significant impacts on reducing energy use. In one case, the team identified simple changes to the ventilation protocol in a parking garage, cutting the facility's electricity use by nearly 50% from 2011 to 2012.

Goal: Reduce building energy consumption by 20% by 2022 from 2009 baseline year.

Barrier: Limited understanding of how to communicate savings in line with key stakeholders' goals, motivations, and priorities.

Solution: Created the Energy Reduction Team, composed of facility managers from the Departments of Public Works, Police, Fire, Health, and Port of Milwaukee, that met quarterly to review the city's energy use and progress on sustainability goals.

Outcomes: Identified simple changes to the ventilation protocol in a parking garage, cutting the facility's electricity use by nearly 50% from 2011 to 2012.

Background

Located on the shores of Lake Michigan, Milwaukee, is a top-50 city in terms of population with just over 590,000 people.[2] Milwaukee has a strong track record of innovation in manufacturing, clean energy, green infrastructure, urban planning, and water technology.

Implementation Strategy

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, created the Energy Reduction Team that met quarterly to review the city's energy use and progress on sustainability goals. The Office of Environmental Sustainability (OES) chaired the Energy Reduction Team, which was composed of facility managers from the Departments of Public Works, Police, Fire, Health, and Port of Milwaukee.[3] In these meetings, participants prioritized building energy improvements, identified energy saving projects, and shared ideas on how best to implement projects and perform ongoing monitoring and continuous improvement.

The diverse expertise of the attendees, including energy system engineering, data analysis, and community and organizational practices, helped to identify the root causes of usage anomalies, as well unexpected energy savings opportunities. Distinguishing between usage anomalies caused by data entry errors versus actual changes in operations or other issues saved time and effort in investigation.

Key factors for success:

  • Developed collegial relationships with staff doing the groundwork
  • Solicited input from facility managers to identify opportunities for energy savings
  • Communicated energy performance at both the facility and city levels.

Outcome

Through these meetings, the city identified a number of opportunities for improvements, including low-cost interventions with significant impacts on reducing energy use. In one case, the team identified simple changes to the ventilation protocol in a parking garage, cutting the facility's electricity use by nearly 50% from 2011 to 2012 (Figure below).

Bar chart showing the electricity use in the parking garage.

Note: The information in this case study is based on primary research conducted in 2013–2014. Learn more about the guide's research and development.

To learn more about how to engage key stakeholders and communicate results to hardwire energy data management in your organization, see Step 7.