Seal of Dane County County of Dane
Dane County Office of Energy & Climate Change

Climate Champion Celebration


It was an incredible experience at last week's Climate Champion celebration to meet with our current and past Climate Champions and celebrate everything they’ve done to make Dane County more sustainable.

This is now the third year of the Climate Champions program through the Office of Energy and Climate Change, and after two years of Covid, it was our first opportunity to celebrate everyone’s climate successes in person. In total, we had around a hundred people from nearly 50 different organizations attend.

Some highlights: 

  • Sun Prairie School District was the only attendee to win awards for every single year of the Champion program: two different elementary schools and a high school won Building Energy Use awards in 2020 and 2021, and their newest high school, West High School, just won a Building Design award this year.
  • Full Spectrum Solar is a champion among Champions: the business has won five different awards over two years (Building Design, Building Energy Use, Employee Commuting, Fleet Operations, and Water Saving Practices), including one 4-star award for their involvement in the Madison Friends Meetinghouse project.
  • Young people had the opportunity to participate as well: several students from Patrick Marsh Middle School represented their school’s food waste reduction program, while four members of Girl Scout Troops #1477 & #1952 and their troop leader Julia Pooler enjoyed leaving school early for the day to spread the word about their efforts to educate people about “green” (low embodied carbon) concrete.

Joe Parisi with girl scouts
(County Executive Joe Parisi, Dane County Office of Energy & Climate Change Director Kathy Kuntz, Girl Scout Troop Leader Julia Pooler, and Girl Scout troop members.)

  • This year we updated the Sustainable Land Use category. Five organizations were awarded in that category.
  • Another new category is Building Design, for buildings which are either still in the design phase or still so new they don’t have a year’s worth of energy data. It was inspiring seeing not only so many building owners but also representatives from so many of the design and engineering companies that made those energy efficient buildings possible, including: Ferch Architecture, HGA, Hooper, Ideal Builders, JSD Professional Services, OPN Architects, and Full Spectrum Solar.

Joe Parisi at celebration
(County Executive Joe Parisi)

The event began with some brief remarks from County Executive Joe Parisi, who gave his appreciation for everyone’s hard work on climate action. He highlighted how the Climate Champions program is an opportunity both to celebrate people who are already making changes and to inspire further enthusiasm for climate action around the county. Kathy Kuntz, Director of the Office of Energy & Climate Change, then gave more background about the program, acknowledging all the categories of winners. 

Kathy Kuntz at celebration
(Kathy Kuntz, Director of the Office of Energy & Climate Change)

As a Climate Action Intern, one of my projects this past summer was finding organizations to invite to apply to be Climate Champions. Four months ago, most of these companies were simply names and webpages to me. Now, getting to see the culmination of that work and meet so many Champions in person, knowing so much more about all the incredible work they’ve been doing, was incredibly exciting. And many thanks to the Green Buildings Project of 350 Wisconsin's Community Climate Solutions Team, who also helped to recruit sustainable buildings under development and encourage them to apply to be Champions.

Networking at Climate Champion celebration
(Networking at the Champion Celebration)

It was a beautiful fall day to spend outside, and even better to spend it surrounded by like-minded people who are dedicated to taking actions to protect this world for future generations. Thanks to everyone who attended, and we look forward to continuing to celebrate the work of our Climate Champions throughout the year. 

Heath Phelps

Heather Phelps


Heather is passionate about protecting our climate and inspiring communities to take action for a sustainable future. As the Climate Action Intern, Heather is focused on outreach for the Climate Champions program and sharing climate action successes through blog posts, the Clean Energy Map, and stories of the county’s new Climate Champions. Heather has a background in education and library work, including teaching English in the Philippines and China, where she’s seen first-hand the challenges of a changing climate. Heather has a Master’s of Library and Information Studies from the University of Wisconsin - Madison and a Bachelor’s Degree in political science from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire. In her free time, Heather enjoys reading, playing handbells, painting, baking, and playing with her cat.


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