In February Dane County and the City of Madison hosted a virtual meeting of the Sustainability Leadership Collaborative (SLC).
Created in 2019 the SLC brings together local governments from across Dane County. The SLC facilitates information sharing and collaboration, with the idea that we can all achieve a clean energy future faster when we work together.
Initially, the SLC included elected officials and staff from Dane County’s 50+ cities, towns and villages. In 2021, though, we expanded SLC membership to include local schools districts as well. Multiple school districts in our area are leading on sustainability, creating energy efficient and even net zero energy schools. Plus we are seeing more and more collaboration between local governments and school districts; this expansion celebrates that collaboration.
The goal of the February event was to recognize and celebrate the progress communities are making while also setting the stage for even more achievements in the next year.
Local accomplishments to date are considerable. The meeting slide deck features successes from numerous communities, showcasing achievements around renewable energy, green fuel fleets, energy efficient buildings and more.
Additionally, the meeting featured some exciting news about future initiatives. It will be easier for Dane County homeowners to purchase a solar system for their house in 2021, for example, because Dane County communities can access two solar energy group buy programs.
Still, the challenges ahead are also considerable. Dane County aims to cut countywide emissions in half this decade and we cannot do that without support from every city, town and village in the County.
Reactions at the SLC meeting suggest that we have that support. I left the virtual meeting feeling optimistic and energized. Ten communities in our region now have some sort of a sustainability committee that is helping to accelerate local efforts. There are more than 70 solar energy installations on schools and local government facilities across our county, which means everyone has the opportunity to see renewable energy in action. And more than 50 people participated in the call, including multiple staff from local school districts and a variety of mayors and other elected officials. Clearly, there is an appetite to act locally on climate challenges and clearly, folks see the value of collaboration.
If you are part of a local government and have not participated in the SLC, reach out to me to find out how you can get involved. We are planning multiple events this year to support local efforts on various fronts and we would love to have your community involved.
And if your community is part of SLC, thanks for being part of the solution. We are grateful for all the local leaders—elected officials, local government staff and citizen volunteers—who are part of these efforts in Dane County’s cities, towns and villages. The climate challenges we are facing are substantial, but we can make a difference, together, Dane County.
Kathy is the Director in the Dane County’s Office of Energy and Climate Change. In that role she's leading efforts to implement the Climate Action Plan. Prior to coming to Dane County, Kathy led Cool Choices and, prior to that, she led Wisconsin's Focus on Energy program.
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