Local officials contend a new comprehensive energy-efficiency initiative should help the owners and developers of commercial buildings find all the information they need to have their buildings go “green.”
The new initiative is meant to make it easier for building owners to take advantage of various incentives encouraging them to undertake energy-efficiency projects. It’s being tied to the city’s involvement in the Better Buildings Challenge, a separate program with a goal of having commercial, institutional and apartment buildings and industrial plants become at least 20 more efficient within 10 years.
As part of its involvement in the Better Buildings Challenge, the U.S. Department of Energy has awarded the city $750,000. Local officials have used the money in their attempts to make it easier for developers and building owners to take advantage of green-building incentives.
As part of those efforts, developers and building owners will be able to match themselves up with guides who can help them identify incentives that can be claimed for a particular energy-efficiency project, said Korinne Haeffel, director of community advancement, Wisconsin, for the U.S. Green Building Council. The council helps developers and contractors obtain LEED certifications, which are awarded for the use of green features in building construction.
Haeffel said developers who were trying to learn about the incentives in the past often would often find they had to deal with more than one agency and become frustrated.
Erick Shambarger, sustainability director for Milwaukee’s Environmental Collaboration Office, said the new initiative should centralize the system.
“We’re creating a single point of contact where people can call,” he said.
The city and various groups now offer a long list of incentives to encourage green building. They include:
City officials and others plan to talk about the new system at a kickoff event at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Zimmerman Architectural Studios, 2122 W. Mount Vernon Ave. The goal is to have 200 commercial-building developers taking part by July 2018.
Milwaukee officials, meanwhile, are also aiming to have local buildings’ energy use reduced by at least 20 percent. Shambarger said the city is putting an emphasis on older commercial buildings.
The event on Wednesday is also meant to draw attention to recent progress toward making Milwaukee a greener city, Haeffel said.
“It’s a celebration of the work that’s been accomplished over the past year getting to this point,” she said.
Shambarger said that people spend 90 percent of their lives on average in buildings.
“That has a huge impact on our community,” he said. “So we’re trying to create a more sustainable city one building at a time.”
Shambarger said anyone interested in the new system for green development can learn more by going to milwaukee.gov/bbc or calling 1-877-775-7256. Follow @alexzank