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Dane County Office of Energy & Climate Change

Climate Champion Recognition Categories

four gold stars

To apply, go to the relevant category and click "Apply". You may submit more than one application for each category. 

This category recognizes buildings that are still in the design phase--either new construction or major retrofits that are in the design or construction phase and do not yet have 12 months of energy data to qualify for the Net Building Energy Use category. In the design category we recognize both the design team and the building owner. To be eligible, the project must be located within Dane County.

For the Building Design category the primary metric is Energy Use Intensity and then there are two ways to earn bonus points—all electric buildings and buildings with reduced embodied carbon.

Energy Use Intensity (EUI) is energy usage per square foot. In this category we use the same table of standards from the Net Building Energy Use category.

Bonus points: an entity can increase their rank by one star via two paths:

1) All Electric buildings are moved up one star. So, for example, an office building that was designed to be 30% more efficient than typical, would qualify as a Climate Champion with 1 Star; if the facility was all-electric it would be 2 Star. This bonus aims to reinforce the need to reduce fossil fuels in new buildings.

2) Embodied Carbon, which is the emissions associated with the manufacturing, transportation and assembly of building materials as well as their end-of-life emissions. Entities can earn one additional star if they have considered embodied carbon and implemented at least one feature that reduces embodied carbon by 10% or more.

  4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star Average
Grocery Store/ Food Sales 0 60 110 170 221
Health Clinic 0 70 110 140 175
Hospital 0 70 120 180 232
Hotel 0 55 80 100 125
Office 0 25 45 65 85
Primary School 0 25 60 75 94
Secondary School 0 25 40 60 75
Restaurant - Sit Down 0 275 445 555 694
Restaurant - Fast Food 0 430 680 850 1,063
Retail - Standalone 0 25 50 70 96
Retail - Mall/ Strip Mall 0 35 75 100 136
Retail - Service 0 25 35 50 69
Public Assembly 0 25 45 65 86
Religious Worship  0 15 25 40 57
Public Order and Safety 0 25 45 70 93
Warehouse 0 15 25 30 41
Apartments/ Condos (>3 stories) 0 35 60 75 94
Apartments/ Condos (<3 stories) 5+ Units 0 20 35 50 66
Apartments/ Condos (<3 stories) 2-4 Units 0 20 40 60 80
Residential - Single Family 0 15 25 35 48
Mobile Homes 0 20 40 65 86

For the design category, we ask the owner or design team to submit the modeled EUI for the facility.  

Note that if a facility has on-site solar, the energy model will take that into account, reducing the total electric consumption. 

Download the Building Design Climate Champions application form for details about how to apply for recogniton in this category.  Note that the application is set up to apply for recognition of one building at a time.


Apply

This category recognizes buildings that use less energy per square foot than a typical comparable building. This metric, energy use per square foot, is often called energy use intensity (EUI). Because different kinds of buildings have different levels of energy use intensity, we base the recognition level on the type of building. To earn 4 stars a building must be net zero energy, and a building that is at least 25% more efficient than typical building of that type can earn 1 star. The chart below provides energy use intensity data for various building types.

  4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star Average
Grocery Store/ Food Sales 0 60 110 170 221
Health Clinic 0 70 110 140 175
Hospital 0 70 120 180 232
Hotel 0 55 80 100 125
Office 0 25 45 65 85
Primary School 0 25 60 75 94
Secondary School 0 25 40 60 75
Restaurant - Sit Down 0 275 445 555 694
Restaurant - Fast Food 0 430 680 850 1,063
Retail - Standalone 0 25 50 70 96
Retail - Mall/ Strip Mall 0 35 75 100 136
Retail - Service 0 25 35 50 69
Public Assembly 0 25 45 65 86
Religious Worship  0 15 25 40 57
Public Order and Safety 0 25 45 70 93
Warehouse 0 15 25 30 41
Apartments/ Condos (>3 stories) 0 35 60 75 94
Apartments/ Condos (<3 stories) 5+ Units 0 20 35 50 66
Apartments/ Condos (<3 stories) 2-4 Units 0 20 40 60 80
Residential - Single Family 0 15 25 35 48
Mobile Homes 0 20 40 65 86

We measure the EUI metric in kbtu/square foot where kbtu stands for thousands of British thermal units of energy; kbtu is total energy used--combining electric consumption with natural gas or other fuels. When you provide us with the building energy usage we calculate the kbtu.

Note that this category is net building energy usage, which means that if a facility has on-site solar, the calculation takes that into account, reducing the total electric consumption. This category does not recognize Renewable Energy Credits or carbon offsets, though you can claim credit for those efforts in the Net Emissions category. 

In 2023 we are introducing an alternatice path to recognition in this category. If you benchmark your building using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager and your building scores 75 or higher, you can use that score to achieve Climate Champion recognition in this category. Because ESPM takes into account building types, we have one set of metrics for how ESPM scores earn Climate Champion Status:

  1 Star 2 Stars 3 Stars 4 Stars
ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager Score 75-84 85-94 95-99 100

Download an Energy Use Climate Champions application form for details about how to apply for recogniton in this category.  Note that the application is set up to apply for recognition of one building at a time.


Apply

A variety of vendors and advocacy groups help individuals and businesses choose climate-friendly options. We created the Catalyst Climate Champion category to recognize the various partners helping individuals achieve a clean energy future. Our aim is to recognize the entities that help customers choose:

  • Energy efficient solutions that save energy and reduce emissions
  • Efficient electric solutions that replace fossil fuel systems (e.g., vehicles, building systems)
  • Renewable-natural gas vehicles
  • Solar energy systems

In this new category in 2021 we are going to measure both the level of effort entities put into promoting clean energy options and their level of success.

As is the case with other categories, we expect the practices recognized in this category to expand over time. If you have ideas for additional practices we should recognize, please email us

Download the Catalyst Climate Champions application form.


Apply

Organizations can have a big role in influencing how their employees get to and from work.  At present, in Dane County about 73% of people drive alone to work. We are recognizing entities that have successfully encouraged employees to shift to cleaner commuting options and we are recognizing entities that are making it easier for their employees to shift to clean and active modes of transit. The chart details the two ways you can earn recognition in this category.

  4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star Baseline
Employees Driving Alone 0% 20% 40% 55% 73%
Employees Driving Alone + Commuter Amenities 20% + 5 amenities 40% + 4 amenities 55% + 3 amenities 73% + 2 amenities 73% + 0 amenities

Here we are measuring the typical way an employee commutes. Acceptable alternatives to driving alone include:

  • Carpooling
  • Mass transit
  • Biking
  • Walking
  • Telecommuting

Entities also earn credit for offering amenities that encourage fewer single-occupancy vehicle miles, such as:

  • Provide employees with free or discounted bus passes
  • Offer emergency rides to employees who took bus/biked and have an issue at home
  • Offer on-site showers to make it easier for employees to bike or walk to work
  • Offer covered storage area for employees' bikes
  • Facilitate carpool arrangements
  • Encourage regular telecommuting for all feasible positions (at least one day per week)*
  • Other 

*If your organization started allowing employees to telecommute during COVID-19 and you intend to continue that practice after the pandemic ends, you can consider this amenity met.

Download the Employee Commuting Climate Champions application form.


Apply

If your organization owns one or more vehicles you can receive recognition for having a clean energy fleet. Right now the typical fleet is 100% gas and diesel. We want to recognize entities converting to electricity, renewable natural gas, and biodiesel because each of those alternatives reduce emissions.

  4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star Average
Fleet Vehicles 100% 75% 50% 25% 0%

For these awards we are defining clean energy vehicles to include:

  • Battery Electric Vehicles
  • Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles
  • Natural Gas Vehicles
  • Biodiesel vehicles

Download the Fleet Operations Climate Champions application form.


Apply

We want to recognize entities that are making progress reducing their total greenhouse gas emissions. For this category we again compare entities to peer organizations using the Cool Carbon Network business calculator. When you enter basic information about your organization into the calculator it generates a ‘typical’ emission profile and enables you to compare your specifics--energy usage, fleet, employee commuting, supplies--against a typical similar organization.

In this category we’ll recognize entities that have lower emissions than their peers, either based on the Cool Climate Calculator or based on other sustainability reporting.

  4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star Average
% Emissions lower than average for that type of entity 100% 75% 50% 25% 0%

The Cool Carbon tools are the most peer-reviewed carbon calculators in the United States. Businesses can enter their location, kind of business (e.g., bakery or insurance company), annual revenues, and number of employees to see a ‘typical’ carbon footprint for that business. And if your organization purchases renewable energy credits or carbon offsets you will be able to document that in the calculator. 

Download the Net Carbon Emissions Climate Champions application form.


Apply

Land use practices can have a large effect on carbon emissions and storage. For this category, we are recognizing farm and land managers who are actively taking steps to increase the amount of carbon sequestered on their land.

  At least one of the following; you do not need to achieve 2 stars status to be eligible for 3 stars
2 Stars Reduced or no-till agriculture
  Establishing and maintaining year-round vegetative cover, such as cover crops
  Increased nitrogen use efficiency
  Active tree planting, maintenance, and disease prevention (e.g., integrated pest management)
3 Stars Rotational Grazing
  Transferring manure to digesters or composting manure
 

Restoration activities, such as grasslands, prairie, riparian, or wetland restoration

 

Conducting an operational energy or water audit

As is the case with other categories, we expect the practices recognized in this category to expand over time. If you have ideas for additional practices we should recognize, please email us

Download the Sustainable Land Use Practices application form.


Apply

Possibly your organization has achieved significant climate success in an area not covered by the categories listed above. If that’s the case we invite you to describe what you’ve accomplished here. In your description be sure to include:

  • What actions were taken
  • The estimated impact of the actions
  • When it happened
  • Any other details you think are relevant

Download the Other Efforts Climate Champions application form.


Apply

Manufacturing and distributing products as well as materials used in our everyday lives and in the workplace take substantial energy and natural resources. Understanding an organization's waste stream provides valuable insight into operations and potential areas for efficiency. Therefore, we recognize organizations that divert waste from landfills or incinerators and focus on waste reduction, reuse, composting, and recycling. The objective is for entities to strive for Zero Waste as defined by “the conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health” (Zero Waste International Alliance).

Entries to this category will be evaluated based on Waste Diversion Rate (WDR). WDR represents how much waste is diverted from traditional disposal methods (incinerators or landfills). To the right is the equation and ranking system for evaluation. Waste diversion from landfills occurs in this calculation when materials are donated, recycled, or composted. 

Equation for waste diversion

Each organization within this category must, at a minimum, establish baseline waste generation and diversion rates through waste tracking.  Although WDR is the easiest and most efficient way of assessing your organization’s efforts to minimize waste disposal, it does not always capture all the efforts put forth in waste reduction and reuse. Organizations that focus on waste minimization and reuse will be assessed favorably, regardless of waste diversion percentage.
 

           4 Stars     3 Stars     2 Stars      1 Star    Average
Waste Diversion Rate

>90% + Waste avoidance tracking in at least one area

>60% + Waste avoidance tracking in at least one area

>30%                                                            Baseline + Policy                                                         No Policy                                           

Additionally, to assist in capturing waste generation avoidance, organizations may compare how much waste they are currently producing, compared to waste production from previous years. The calculation below illustrates how to determine how much waste was avoided at the onset:

Waste avoided equation

  • Baseline Waste Generated: the amount of waste an organization was historically generating. This includes any waste that will be managed through landfilling, recycling or composting.
  • Current Waste Generated: the amount of waste generated during the most recent tracking period. This includes any waste that will be managed through landfilling, recycling or composting.
  • Adjustment Factor: takes into consideration organization’s growth or reduction, either in number of employees, production, or customer base, compared to the baseline year.  The appropriate adjustment factor should be selected based on the driving force behind an organization’s waste generation, which may either be the number of employees on the team, production, or customer base.

              Adjustment Factor Examples: 

              A restaurant saw 10,000 customers during its baseline year where it tracked its waste generated. It is currently serving 30,000 customers, which is 3 times the amount  the restaurant saw in its baseline year. Therefore, the adjustment factor is 3. 

              A tennis shoe manufacturing company focused on making aglets reduced the number of aglets it produces by 50% compared to its baseline year. The adjustment factor is 0.5. 

              An office building’s employee occupancy number remains the same. The adjustment factor is 1.

  • Waste Avoided: captures the reduction of the amount of waste generated overall. A negative value indicates more waste was generated than in the baseline year, while a positive value indicates waste was reduced.

Organizations can increase their waste avoidance by reducing, reusing and engaging in sustainable procurement practices.

Resources referenced in the application for this category include:

              Dane County Landfill Site No. 2, 7102 US Highway 12 & 18, Madison, WI 53718. Register for a tour here. Call 608.206.6952 or email Sujata Gautam to arrange a tour to meet your group’s needs

              Pellitteri Waste Systems, 7035 Raywood Road, Madison, WI 53713. Call 608.257.4285 or email staff to arrange a tour.

Download the Waste Diversion Practices Climate Champions application form.


Apply

Sustainably managing water resources is critical in mitigating and adapting climate change impacts. Distributing and treating water across Dane County requires significant energy, and protecting it as a basic right for all residents is a top priority. Entities are recognized in this category by completing two or more of the following sustainable water actions:

4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star Average
All 10 Actions 7 Actions 5 Actions 2 Actions 0

Download the Water Saving Practices Climate Champions application form. Applicants must include photos of at least two of the activities they report.


Apply