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Green is the smart choice for Milwaukee

Kimberly Kujoth
Environmental Policy Analyst
Department of Public Works
City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett believes Green is the smart choice for Milwaukee. "Green" is a sustainable strategy that addresses today's needs without compromising the ability to meet the needs of future generations. Unveiling his Green Vision for the city, Mayor Barrett announced it's time for Milwaukee to think green and act smart. His Green Vision recognizes the link between the economy and the environment and that one need not be sacrificed to improve the other.

"It is time for us to realize that our economy and our environment are interdependent," Mayor Barrett said. Leading by example, Mayor Barrett formed the Milwaukee Green Team to focus on ways the city can improve stormwater management, increase energy efficiency and create green jobs. The Milwaukee Green Team, a group of business, university, government and community leaders, presented the Mayor with a series of recommendations to make Milwaukee a greener, more sustainable city.

Mayor Barrett created the Office of Environmental Sustainability to lead the City's sustainability efforts. As the Director of Environmental Sustainability, Ann Beier will develop a comprehensive green plan to ensure smart choices are made to keep our air and water clean, our resources conserved and our people prosperous. The Director will serve as a resource for the private sector, and will educate the public on the benefits of green and "green" Milwaukee's image. Using the Green Team recommendations as a basis, Mayor Barrett outlined his leadership by example with immediate steps to improve the city's sustainability:

Step One: Mayor Barrett directed City departments to reduce stormwater runoff from City properties by 15% and called for businesses and residents to join the team effort. As one initiative to help meet this reduction, the City will retrofit a City-owned parking lot using best management practices including pervious asphalt and a rain garden.

Step Two: Mayor Barrett directed a 10% reduction in energy consumption for City Hall in 2006 and a 15% reduction over the next six years. An energy walkthrough of City Hall and the adjacent Municipal and 809 Buildings revealed opportunities to implement low-cost, high-yield energy efficiency measures. Implementation of these measures is complete and will reduce energy consumption by 10% in 2006 saving over $55,000.

Step Three: Calling for the City to purchase renewable energy, Mayor Barrett encouraged residents and businesses to do the same. With its purchase of 10% renewable energy, the City became a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Green Power Partner.

Step Four: Mayor Barrett asked for the development of business-friendly green industrial corridors to share resources, stimulate a green economy and create green jobs. Development in the Menomonee Valley uses the Sustainable Development Guidelines (www.renewthevalley.org/design) that call for use of green space and onsite stormwater management, and incorporate green building design (see illustration at left).

Step Five: To reduce waste and conserve resources, Mayor Barrett called for an increase in citywide recycling participation. In 2006, the City partnered with the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District to open a household hazardous waste (HHW) facility at the Milwaukee Lincoln Avenue Self-Help Center located at 3879 W. Lincoln Avenue. This HHW facility is open year-around. The incorporation of HHW collection at an urban self-help facility improves access to safe disposal of HHW, protects the environment and promotes intergovernmental cooperation.

By making smart choices—green choices—and leading by example, the City can reduce stormwater runoff, improve energy efficiency and conservation, and create a green economy that provides family-supporting jobs. By working to improve the environment, the City will improve the economy and our quality of life. To learn more about Mayor Barrett's Green Vision or to read the Milwaukee Green Team and City update reports, visit www.milwaukeegreenteam.org.

Kimberly Kujoth can be reached at (414) 286-5453 or kkujot@mpw.net.