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DSPS secretary announces contractors, engineers, renewables experts as members in sustainable buildings council

Construction industry officials, engineers and renewable energy nonprofit officials met for the first time at the Wisconsin Advisory Council on Building Sustainability meeting in Madison on Monday.

Department of Safety and Professional Services Secretary-designee Dan Hereth announced appointments for 11 council members, which included two professionals from local construction companies and several directors from renewables and sustainability organizations. Members will find ways to update building codes and push the construction industry toward clean energy, which is part of an effort to put Gov. Tony Evers’ Clean Energy plan into action, officials added.

Here is a list of the council’s newly appointed members.

  • Ben Austin, Madison-based J.H. Findorff & Son’s sustainability lead
  • Megan Dyer, GuideHouse’s associate director of energy, sustainability and infrastructure
  • Alan Eber, La Crosse-based Gundersen Health System’s director of facilities, engineering and energy management
  • Scott Hackel, Madison-based energy innovation nonprofit Slipstream’s director of research
  • Monika Hermann, architect and associate professor in the Department of Engineering and Technology in the College of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Management at University of Wisconsin-Stout
  • Missy Nergard, University of Wisconsin-Madison director of sustainability
  • Victor Nino, founder of Milwaukee-based engineering firm EcoBalance Technologies
  • Tim O’Brien, a green building practices home builder who works in Madison and Milwaukee
  • Francisco Sayu, Madison-based nonprofit RENEW Wisconsin director of emerging technology
  • Keith Swartz, Elevate Energy’s associate director
  • Christi Weber, Madison-based TDS Construction’s director of design and founding member of the Wisconsin Passive House Alliance

Officials said the council will review all building and construction codes and find ways to nudge commercial and residential construction toward clean energy, adding incorporating clean energy priority in building codes is the next step to more resilient communities.

“This council has the expertise and experience to create more opportunity for sustainable design and renewable energy and material use in Wisconsin,” Hereth said in a statement. “I look forward to learning from them as we work together to put more of Gov. Tony Evers’ Clean Energy Plan into action.”

The council will consider expanding use of new building materials like mass timber, the expansion of alternative energy capability and creating incentives that encourage climate-smart design and construction, officials said. Evers’ plan also calls for funding and support to move toward electrification and other sustainable energy sources, in addition to updating building codes.

Nergard will serve as the council chairperson and Sayu and Weber will be the vice chairperson and secretary respectively, officials said. The 2023 calendar will be finalized and published soon.

Evers announced the Clean Energy Plan in April of 2022, which ordered a shift to ensure Wisconsin electricity would be 100% carbon-free by 2050. According to the order, the state pledged to fulfill the carbon reduction goals of the 2015 Paris Climate Accord.

Former DSPS Secretary Dawn Crim first announced applications for the council in May. Council members will work closely with the Commercial Building Code Council, Uniform Dwelling Code Council, and Plumbing Code Advisory Committee, officials added.

About Ethan Duran

Ethan Duran is the construction and development reporter at The Daily Reporter. He can be reached at (414) 551-7505 or [email protected]

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