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Dane County Office of Energy & Climate Change

Climate Stories from Across Dane County

Wherever you are in Dane County you're likely to see progress on climate change. Individuals and organizations are implementing innovation solutions to reduce emissions and increase prosperity in every corner of the county. 

Bayview Housing Development: Building Design Champions

Bayview, a community-focused, low-income housing development located in the Greenbush neighborhood of Madison, has recently completed the first phase of a redevelopment effort of their existing townhomes and community center. Through the redevelopment process, Bayview has prioritized sustainability and energy efficiency upgrades that aim to mitigate the impacts of climate change on residents such as flooding, extreme heat, poor air quality, and high utility bills. 

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Wind turbine

Businesses, local governments, schools, nonprofits and individuals across Dane County are taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to make our communities more resilient to climate change. Tell us about what you are doing and we might feature our story!

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Madison Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends: Building Design Climate Champions

A historic building in downtown Madison just got a new lease on life thanks to the efforts of the Madison Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. Originally built in 1914, the Meetinghouse has always been a house of worship. Through the years the building has hosted five different faith communities, finally ending up in the hands of the Religious Society of Friends, also known as Quakers, in 1982. 

With their energy-related improvements and efficiency upgrades, the Dane County Office of Energy and Climate Change is proud to recognize their efforts this year as 4-star Climate Champions in the Building Design Category.

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LED Lightbulb Exchange

Wind Turbine

Partnerships are key to climate action, and one such inspiring example is a collaboration among the City of Middleton Sustainability Committee, the Middleton High School Green Team, and the St. Bernard Catholic Church Creation Care Team. Together, in 2021 they earned Climate Champion status in the Catalyst category.

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2021 Catalyst Climate Champion

Project Home staff

One of the Dane County Office of Energy and Climate Change’s most varied categories for Climate Champions is Catalyst. Catalysts are organizations and advocacy groups that help individuals and businesses choose climate-friendly options.

One such Climate Champion Catalyst is Project Home, a nonprofit that serves low-income families in Dane and Green Counties by helping to weatherize their homes or apartments, and repair or replace non-functioning furnaces. 

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2021 Employee Commuting Climate Champion

The recent shift to telework necessitated by the pandemic has created opportunities for more accessible methods of communication, more flexibility, and fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Earlier this year, County Executive Joe Parisi encouraged local employers to embrace teleworking because of its many benefits, including lower vehicle emissions, travelling costs, waste, real estate, and parking infrastructure, as well as decreased traffic.

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Monona Development Focuses on Sustainability

As development partners, Christopher Gosch and Jason Iverson of Lithosphere LLC emphasize sustainability for the future. The partners know that the decisions they make are critical opportunities to reduce our environmental impact. 

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The Path Forward - Forest Edge Elementary School Update

Forest Edge Elementary opened in September of 2020 as the first net-zero energy school in Wisconsin. According to the New Building Institute it is the largest verified Net Zero School Educational building in North America.

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Western Dane County Residents Go Solar

Trisha McConnell and Jim Billings were convinced it was the “right thing to do.” And they had been thinking about making the move for more than a year. 

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Wisconsin Creation Care Ambassadors Make Clean Energy Easy for Faith Communities

Big projects run smoother when we partner with an accomplished team. That is the core idea behind Wisconsin Creation Care Ambassadors.

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Sun Prairie Schools Showcase Energy Efficiency

The Sun Prairie Area School District received Climate Champion 3-Star status for Energy Use at two schools. 

The district’s two new elementary schools, Token Springs Elementary and Meadow View Elementary, both feature energy efficient design and energy-saving practices and both use about 75% less energy than a typical primary school. 

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Clear Roads that Cost Less

The Dane County Highway Department has been transforming its fleet of vehicles. They are systematically replacing inefficient diesel snowplows with plows that operate on renewable natural gas (RNG) from Dane County’s landfill. Today half of the county’s snowplows are RNG rather than diesel. The result is a lower cost per mile and fewer emissions.

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Henry Vilas Zoo Employees Opt for Active Transportation

Henry Vilas Zoo has achieved Climate Champion status in the Employee Commuting category for their efforts in encouraging employees to use active modes of transportation to and from work.  

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EPA Recognizes Madison College's Leadership

Madison College has been awarded the 2020 Green Power Leadership Award by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This program recognizes EPA Green Power Partners that set a precedent in sustainability by using a variety of financing structures to access renewable energy-based green power.

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Oregon Opens First Net-Zero School in Wisconsin

In 2020, the Oregon School District opened Forest Edge Elementary School, a 126,000 square foot new construction elementary school. 

"The school has been designed to efficiently use and conserve energy.  In fact, it is a "net zero" building, which means it will produce at least as much energy as it uses in a year."  

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Artisan Dental: First Carbon Neutral General Dentistry Practice in U.S.

Artisan Dental has become the first general dentistry practice in the United States whose operations have reached the status of carbon neutral.

“Carbon neutral” means all carbon and greenhouse gas emissions associated with patient care at Artisan Dental are offset through the purchase of carbon credits. 

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New Exact Sciences Facility Showcases Environmental Leadership

Exact Science’s Discovery Campus laboratory and warehouse on Madison’s near west side is a showcase for resource efficiency and climate leadership. Opening in summer 2019, the Exact Sciences building has earned LEED Gold certification.  

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Building Sustainable Food Systems

Food waste is one of the biggest drivers of GHG emissions. The much-celebrated book Drawdown; The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming ranks reducing food waste as the third most impactful action that can be taken globally to reverse global warming. 

Here in Dane County there are several groups that are doing great work to reduce food waste.

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Partnering on Jobs, Clean Energy: SunPeak and the Urban League of Greater Madison

Dane County convened the Dane County Council on Climate Change to create this Climate Action Plan. Little did we expect that Council members would partner together to reduce emissions and increase equity before the plan was even finished—but that is exactly what happened.

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Former Oscar Mayer Site to Be Revitalized via PACE Financing

(Madison, WI) Like many American kids, you may have grown up singing the catchy jingle that started with, “My baloney has a first name, it’s O-S-C-A-R, my baloney has a second name it’s M-A-Y-E-R.” The song brings back fond memories of my childhood, when I ate baloney sandwiches and a time when the Oscar Mayer plant was headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin. 

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Zerology Envisions Unparalleled Transportation Options with Zero Emissions

Zerology is a start-up company that envisions Dane County with fewer cars and greater clean transportation possibilities. Zerology Founder and CEO, Shree Kalluri, sees a future where it’s affordable for anyone in Dane County to use a shared electric vehicle for day trips or to run errands.  

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First Unitarian Society of Madison Campus Reflects Commitment to Earth

First Unitarian Society of Madison is most physically recognizable as the "Frank Lloyd Wright church." As a Unitarian Universalist congregation, we are rooted in a tradition based on the "respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part." In 2008, we built on our legacy and tradition with our 2009 LEED-certified Atrium Addition building, which included the installation of a living roof, a rain garden, geothermal heating and cooling, and a permeable pavement parking lot. 

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Madison's Fire Station 14 Shows What's Possible

A LEED Platinum building, Fire Station 14 is a model of energy efficiency and environmental sustainability for the Fire Department and the City of Madison. The design process for this project followed the AIA Framework for Design Excellence (formally known as the COTE Top 10). Through a truly integrated design process, the whole team was brought to the table early in the project to highlight opportunities, set goals, and establish roles and responsibilities from design and construction through the occupancy period.  

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A Youthful Climate Justice Hero Emerges

“I felt my heart pounding. I felt my whole body shivering, yet I held the microphone tight knowing that what I was about to say was right. I felt empowered, despite the hours that had gone by screaming through the day’s climate fight.  Little did I know that as I spoke truth to power that my words would have such might..." 

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Promega's Parking Lot Gets a Sustainability Makeover

As Promega grows globally and locally, the construction of new and expanding facilities are considered with great care to ensure a commitment to sustainability. Between April and November of 2019, the parking ramp located near the Feynman Center received a massive upgrade with long-term impacts on the company’s sustainability goals.  

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Yahara Pride Farms Encourages Environmental Stewardship

Established in 2012, Yahara Pride Farms is a farmer-led 501c(3) non-profit organization that strives to preserve agricultural heritage while simultaneously encouraging farmers to engage in proactive environmental stewardship within the Yahara Watershed. Participating farms employ practices that result in the preservation and enhancement of soil and water resources for today, and for generations to come.

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Students Lead Efforts to Get Solar on Schools

In 2017, a coalition of students and staff at Madison West High School launched a campaign to install solar panels on the school’s roof. This group, West Green Club, created an adopt-a-panel program in which individuals and organizations could adopt and name a solar panel with a $500 donation. 

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Geothermal Pays Off for Edgerton Hospital

What really puts Edgerton Hospital on the map as a pioneer in green building is the fact that it’s the first hospital in the State of Wisconsin, as well as the first critical access hospital in the United States, to be built using geothermal heating and cooling.

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Sustainability at Henry Vilas Zoo

The polar bear has become, to some extent, the poster child of climate change impacts.   The loss of arctic sea ice is making it increasingly difficult for polar bears to find and capture their primary prey -- seals.

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MGE Partners on Electric Transportation

MGE partners to electrify transportation, working with residential, and commercial and fleet customers, both public and private.

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Please let us know if you have a story to share!