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Dane County Office of Energy & Climate Change

Blog Posts

blonde man standing in front of powerpoint
Youth Leadership in Waunakee - 2/23/2024

My name is Isak Drangstveit, I’m a senior at Waunakee Community High School and a co-leader of the Dane County Youth Environmental Committee (DCYEC).

Mel and Kate at Sustain Dane Summit
Kate's Internship Reflection - 1/18/2024

As I reflect on my time with the Dane County Office of Energy and Climate Change (OECC), I can’t help but think about my first physical day on the job; I dressed in outdoor attire and wore gardening gloves at a tree planting event

team members standing together
2023 Reflections - 1/1/2024

As 2024 begins, now is a good time to reflect on what we have accomplished and where we need to focus our energy next.

conference attendees at round tables
Empowering Youth Around Climate Action - 11/20/2023

This last Saturday more than 120 high school students, college students, and even a few eighth graders gathered to talk about the climate crisis.

Our Roadmap to Carbon Neutrality - 10/2/2023

Almost eighteen months ago we awarded the contract for Dane County’s Comprehensive Energy Assessment to HGA, a national engineering and design firm with offices in Middleton.

group standing in front of the capitol building
Happy Birthday IRA - 8/31/2023

The Office of Energy & Climate Change had the opportunity to join some of our friends and allies to celebrate the first anniversary of the Inflation Reduction Act.

picture of a tall building that says bankers hall
There's a Place for Everyone - 7/31/2023

Last week I had the opportunity to speak to a group of local bankers about climate action. I talked about Dane County’s ambitious Climate Action Plan and the federal funding that can help individuals, businesses, local governments and nonprofits pursue clean energy solutions. And I suggested some ways that banks and credit unions could help us address climate change.

people at event outside in a smoggy day
A Summer of Extremes - 7/25/2023

As residents of a place with long, bitter, winters, the summertime months typically gleam in the back of our minds and get us through March blizzards and April flurries. But, is that sparkle of excitement leaving our “how to get through Wisconsin winter” tool pack?

Kids lean over tree being planted
Tree Plantings at Crestwood Elementary - 6/21/2023

I couldn't picture a better way for me to begin my journey with the Office of Energy & Climate Change (OECC) than how I spent my morning on May 26th at Crestwood Elementary School. In partnership with The Urban Tree Alliance, I was able to spend time as a volunteer for a tree planting project at the school, and I met some of the inspiring individuals I will be working closely with throughout the rest of my internship.

Emma's Internship Reflections - 5/23/2023

When I accepted an internship at the Dane County Office of Energy and Climate Change, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Well, now that the semester has flown by and my internship comes to a close, I am thankful to say I was able to contribute to many different projects in the Office, learn more about the field of energy, and experience an exciting time for energy policy nationally and in Dane County!

Heat Pump Conference Success - 5/16/2023

There’s nothing more exhilarating than being in a room where you can feel change happening. I had that experience on May 3 when our office partnered with HVAC industry partners to host almost 100 HVAC contractors for a conversation about air source heat pumps in Dane County.

More Inflation Reduction Act Momentum - 4/17/2023

The Dane County Office of Energy & Climate Change’s enthusiasm for the Inflation Reduction Act is well known. We have created a webpage to help locals access the various IRA benefits (e.g., Tax credits for home energy upgrades! Tax credits for EVs! Tax credits for solar and geothermal on homes, businesses AND nonprofits!)

Sara stands in front of a mountain
Get to Know Sara Pabich, Climate Data Assistant - 3/31/2023

Curious about what happens behind the scenes at the Dane County Office of Energy and Climate Change? One important initiative is tracking and reporting on Dane County's energy, water, and fuel usage. These reports help guide the OECC to most efficiently achieve the goals set forth by the Climate Action Plan. Sara Pabich, a current UW-Madison graduate student, is behind this work; hear from her about the scope and impact of her work in Dane County and beyond.

Food is cooked by a person using an induction stovetop in their kitchen.
Why Induction Stoves Are Better - 2/20/2023

Most people are used to their cooking routine— gather the ingredients, prep the food, and hear the gas stove start to click as they light it. I myself am used to this convention, usually fiddling with the gas stove until my food suddenly turns out burnt and I have to turn down the heat.

Kathy's black EV car
Electric Vehicle Range Anxiety - 1/30/2023

I have been driving an electric vehicle (EV) for more than five years now, which means part of my winter ritual is offering advice to newer EV drivers who anxious to know whether driving in cold weather will affect their vehicle’s range.

Picture of downtown Middleton and Middleton sign
Hat Tip to Middleton - 12/29/2022

In December 2022 Kelly Hilyard, the Sustainability Coordinator for the City of Middleton, presented to a local group on Middleton’s sustainability efforts.

Diverse cartoon adults talking
Conference Affirms that the IRA Can Change Everything - 11/29/2022

If you have spoken with me lately, it is likely that I mentioned the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) at least four (or seven) times in our conversation. If that was annoying, buckle up because you can expect that I will be talking about the IRA a lot more going forward.

students sitting in conference room in round tables
Local Youth Lead on Climate Action - 11/28/2022

“This is our time. This is our space,” asserted Stephanie Janeth Salgado Altamirano during the opening plenary at the 2022 high school climate conference which was titled Gen Z: Meeting the Challenge of Our Changing Environment.

Groups at tables talking
Environmental Justice Conversations - 11/1/2022

Anyone who knows me will attest that I am not likely to be sitting quietly in the corner, especially when people are talking about energy and climate issues.

Internship Reflections - 10/26/2022

It’s sad to be saying goodbye to the Dane County Office of Energy and Climate Change. Over the last five months, I’ve had the opportunity to be part of incredible projects and meet really amazing people

Joe Parisi at celebration
Climate Champion Celebration - 10/13/2022

It was an incredible experience to meet with our current and past Climate Champions and celebrate everything they’ve done to make Dane County more sustainable.

Outside Dane Williams house
Using Heat Pumps in Wisconsin Winters? Absolutely. - 10/10/2022

Dan Williams has always been interested in sustainability. His older home was heated by a fossil gas-fueled boiler and cooled with traditional central air conditioning. In order to reduce his future reliance on fossil fuels, he decided he wanted to transition to an air-source heat pump to heat and cool his house.

People at round tables discussing sustainability
Stoughton Sustainability Community Dialogue a Huge Success - 9/26/2022

If it takes a village to raise a child, then surely it also takes a community to accelerate sustainability and climate action. I saw that in action at the “Sustainability Community Dialogue” in Stoughton.

Cultural Institutions in Dane County Examine Energy Use - 8/29/2022

How can you reduce your carbon emissions if you’re not sure what you’re using right now? That’s the premise behind Culture Over Carbon, a research study currently in progress that’s aiming to collect and analyze energy use data from over one hundred museums and cultural institutions across the country - including right here in Dane County.

Willy St. solar panels
Two Co-ops Making a Difference - 8/22/2022

Atop Willy Street Grocery Co-op East are 80 solar panels producing up to 25.6 kW of energy. The story of how they got there is a unique one, and serves as a model for over forty other projects around the state, with more to come.

Graph showing how much CO2 emissions avoided from IRA legislation
The Inflation Reduction Act Will Spur More Action Locally - 8/15/2022

This month the US Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which represents the largest investment in climate action in US history. The IRA commits about $369 billion to climate action.

Clouds with sunlight
Faiths Connect for Climate - 7/25/2022

At a climate protest last week, I saw a sign that said, “Only everyone can save us now.” It’s a powerful reminder that climate action isn’t individual, but instead requires all of us to work together.

SunVest Solar logo
Women in Solar - 7/22/2022

What image comes to mind when you hear “solar energy professionals?”

Yahara Solar groundbreaking
Yahara Solar: An Important Milestone - 6/27/2022

On June 22 Dane County Executive Joe Parisi stood with partners from Alliant Energy and SunVest to announce Yahara Solar, a 17 MW solar project that will enable Dane County to achieve a big goal, the goal of getting all of the electricity used in Dane County’s facilities from renewable sources.

Cord cutting at Monona Grove
Monona Grove Solar Installation Offers Important Lessons - 5/24/2022

When a community comes together to make change happen the results are inspiring.

Electrical lines in dawn
The Buzz Around Electrification - 5/11/2022

If you follow climate news (and it’s obvious you do – because you are reading our blog!) then you may have seen references to electrification and you might have questions.

People load bikes onto the bus
Catch On To Catching the Bus - 4/26/2022

Adopting new practices—like riding the bus to work instead of driving—can mean replacing familiar habits with less familiar ones.

No Mow May
No Mow May - 4/1/2022

Sometimes the easiest actions we can take to better our neighborhoods, communities, and natural ecosystems is doing less, not more. This spring, consider doing less by participating in No Mow May, an initiative with the best interests of pollinators in mind.

Earth Day Everyday
It's Earth Day, Always - 3/29/2022

Often I feel a little ambivalent about Earth Day. I appreciate the efforts of millions of regular folks- adults as well as children- who mark the day by taking action on local environmental issues.

Celebrating the 2021 Climate Champions - 3/14/2022

Last week we had the opportunity to take a closer look at the top 2021 Climate Champions, the entities that earned 3 or 4 Stars in one or more categories.

Climate Change and Healthcare - 2/21/2022

Because climate change is an environmental and economic and public health issue, we need to leverage voices and active participation from all parts of our community.

Solar field
Solar Maps in Dane County - 2/10/2022

Often after we try something new – perhaps test driving a particular car model, for example—we suddenly notice that thing all around us.

New Year, New Challenges - 1/10/2022

The cold days of early January spur all of us to take stock of what was accomplished during the last year and look ahead to the challenges of the new year. We – and I’m including here all of the folks committed to climate action across Dane County – had some substantial wins in 2021.

Catholic Multicultural Center Engages Members Through Community Environment Program - 12/29/2021

CMC is a local social services agency providing educational services as well as spiritual and cultural activities to the public.

Communication Internship Reflections - 12/13/2021

When I first heard about a Communications Internship with the Office of Energy & Climate Change I knew I had to apply. I felt a sense of clarity and knew this opportunity was meant for me.

Portfolio Manager
Behind the Scenes Utility Data - 12/13/2021

As a climate data assistant at the Office of Energy and Climate Change (OECC), my responsibilities are to make sure the utility data such as electricity, natural gas, and water are correctly and successfully uploaded to our energy tracking software (EnergyCAP). These tasks involve data collection from a variety of utility vendors, data processing in excel, and software deployment to keep track of the county statistics.

Sustain Dane Summit climate commitments
Sustain Dane Summit Inspires Climate Action - 11/29/2021

Last week I had the privilege of attending the 2021 Sustain Dane Summit. This annual gathering, hosted by Sustain Dane and co-sponsored by the Office of Energy and Climate Change, was a clear call to climate action, providing me and the rest of the attendees with an actionable framework to reduce my carbon footprint and inspiring me to make changes to my everyday life.

Re-Wear It Participants
Re-Wear It Offers Opportunities for Sustainability and Fashion - 11/15/2021

Re-wear It is a UW Madison club focused on promoting conscious consumerism by encouraging ethical, sustainable lifestyles and purchasing habits. Yvett Sanchez started Re-wear It in 2020, fueled by her passion for fashion and climate change mitigation. The purpose of the club is to provide education about the negative environmental impacts of the fashion industry. I heard about the club at a Sustain Dane event and knew that I wanted to learn more. On October 30th they hosted their first clothing swap.

Climate Change Summit participants
Climate Summit Delivers Big Dose of Hope - 11/10/2021

The “Glasgow to Dane County: A Youth Climate Summit,” a local climate event in Oregon, Wisconsin was held in parallel to the COP26 proceedings last weekend. This one-day climate summit for local high school students at the Oregon High School showcased more than 50 local high school students, a handful of school green team advisors, and about a dozen volunteers.

Susan stands in front of her house
Madison Resident Goes All-Electric - 10/7/2021

Susan Millar has been concerned with the impending effects of climate change since she was a teenager. Over the last few decades her sense of urgency about climate change has steadily increased. With this frame of mind, she has become a trailblazer when it comes to energy efficiency.

EPA Recognizes Dane County's Clean Energy Efforts - 9/30/2021

On September 28, 2020 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the 2021 Green Power Leadership Awards. There were just five winners – Boston University, the University of California system, Microsoft, Starbucks, and Dane County, Wisconsin.

Covenants & Climate Change: An Internship Reflection - 9/17/2021

It’s been a pleasure to serve as a Climate Action Intern for these past three months. As a lifelong resident of Dane County, the work I’ve done has felt additionally rewarding as I am actively able to help the community that I call home transition towards a climate friendly future.

Let’s Map That: Reflections of a Carbon Data Intern - 9/17/2021

I’m really glad I got to spend my summer working with the Office of Energy & Climate Change (OECC). This internship has been fulfilling and it has taught me a lot about environmental work.

Girl Scouts Offer Concrete Climate Solutions - 7/1/2021

The vast majority of Dane County residents understand that climate change is happening. So what does it take to move folks to action? Local Girl Scouts are hoping that they can spur action by showcasing an issue we do not talk about a lot, the carbon embedded in our buildings.

Getting Results - 6/17/2021

As our nation emerges from the pandemic, some folks are asserting that governments at all levels should get back to addressing the climate emergency. I hope local stakeholders understand that here in Dane County we never paused in our efforts to address the climate crisis. Even at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dane County was making progress on its ambitious countywide climate agenda.

An Electric Vacation - 6/8/2021

We spent a week and a half showing my sister from California around Wisconsin via a delightful pre-pandemic-style road trip (1,319 miles) in our electric vehicle (EV).

Climate Action Change Will Happen - 6/7/2021

I have been thinking a lot lately about the pace of change. I think about how quickly the world shifted to wearing face masks to reduce the risk of COVID-19, about the speed at which a clever meme travels the internet.

Our New Normal - 6/7/2021

There is a lot of talk about the ‘new normal’ as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. That “new normal” terminology is deliberate, recognizing that whatever happens next will be different from the pre-pandemic normal, the “old normal”.

Creating a Climate Action Plan - 5/28/2021

Creating a science-based county-wide, economy-wide Climate Action Plan (CAP) that can get us on a path to deep decarbonization is a big task. Really. It's the sort of thing that can keep you up at night--trust me, I know. Luckily I didn't have to do this task alone. One of the great things about Dane County is the people and A LOT of people contributed to our soon-to-be-released CAP. In so many ways the CAP already belongs to the people of Dane County because so many people helped to create the CAP

Earth Day EV Parade - 4/30/2021

If every day is Earth Day then every day is an EV (electric vehicle) day in Dane County. Indeed, Dane County is home to more EVs than any other county in Wisconsin. And the local array of EVs were on full display at the Second Annual Earth Day EV Parade in Madison on April 22, 2021.

Embrace All Solutions for Earth Day - 4/12/2021

This Earth Day let’s embrace the numerous tools and activities available to address climate change. Yes, numerous. I’ve been thinking a lot about how some climate advocates are one-solution advocates.

Local Momentum on Climate Action - 3/1/2021

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.

A Greener Approach to Snow - 1/19/2021

Of the various chores that come with adulthood, I like shoveling snow. I appreciate the sense of accomplishment I get when I look back at a clean sidewalk. Shoveling is a good form of exercise. I also appreciate that I can think about other stuff while I shovel without jeopardizing the quality of my efforts; whereas cooking means I have to be attentive, nobody complains if I daydream while I shovel the driveway.

Boy running through sprinkler, 2020 Dane County Climate Action Plan
Leading Our Climate Action Efforts - 11/17/2020

Dane County’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) is enormously ambitious and profoundly practical. As a private citizen, I was delighted to play a small role in helping to create some of the recommendations in the CAP and I was proud of Dane County’s outstanding leadership on climate action. Today I am even more delighted to be the Dane County staff person leading efforts to implement the CAP.

Dane County Is Still In on Climate Action - 11/5/2020

Amid all of the election news this week, it is plausible that you might have missed the important climate milestone. On November 4, 2020 the United States officially withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement.

Adaptation and Resiliency: Guiding Principles in Practice - 9/14/2020

“Adaptation and Resiliency” is one of the six guiding principles of the Dane County Climate Action Plan. But what do these words really mean? From an ecological perspective, adaptation and resilience are a natural system’s ability to adjust to change and bounce back from a disturbance.

Farmers planting using no till method
CSAs See the Impacts of Climate Change - 8/17/2020

Climate change is already impacting organic vegetable farmers in our area according to Claire Strader, Organic Vegetable Educator for Dane County Extension. Strader should know. A former organic farmer herself, she currently works with organic vegetable farmers across Dane County.

Neon sign that reads Change
Framing the Message for Climate Action - 8/13/2020

Deep into a summer during which multiple of our society’s wicked problems seem to be coming to a head, I sought inspiration in a webinar... The message that we need to move away from framing environmental issues as fatalistic problems resonated with me.

People gathered around a table, looking at a laptop
Green Teams Vital to CAP Implementation - 8/5/2020

The County cannot reduce all emissions unless all stakeholders—businesses, nonprofits, farms, individuals—are part of the solution. So engagement is an important part of our strategy. Indeed, we are hosting a virtual meeting on August 20, 2020 to engage one really important set of stakeholders—the people who are part of green teams at their workplaces.

Men standing in circle in front of snow plow
Mechanics Talk Shop, Inspiring Change - 7/21/2020

“There's an old African proverb that says ‘If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ We have to go far — quickly.” - Al Gore, March 23, 2016 Communities across Dane County aim to address climate change—they aim to go far and they aim to go fast. It is good, then, that we are all working together.

Young girl offering food to kangaroo
Reflections on My Journey: Sophia's Reflections - 6/16/2020

It has been a long and fun journey to Madison and my work at Dane County Office of Energy and Climate Change (OECC). I grew up in a city in South Korea and I traveled around the world thanks to my uncle and aunt who lived in Australia and France. This wonderful opportunity gave me a chance to experience different kinds of nature compared to South Korea, including this interaction with a baby kangaroo. I think my kangaroo encounter was the start of my interest in the environment.

Seeking Climate Justice - 6/15/2020

The murder of George Floyd has prompted thousands of protests around the US and the world as well as millions of conversations about racism. Everywhere I look I see conversations about policing and community justice. I am hopeful this is the beginning of a long-overdue discussion about racism in the US. And I’m hopeful that we’ll address a comprehensive set of issues affected by racism, that we’ll address everything—including climate change.

Picture of Keith Reopelle
Keith Facilitated a Vision - 5/13/2020

It’s a challenge to mark milestones amid the pandemic. Our office has had some significant milestones of late. Not only did we issue a groundbreaking economy-wide Climate Action Plan in April but, in May, our founding director, Keith Reopelle retired.

Salmon filets
Sustainable Seafood - 4/14/2020

I cycled through the Ozarks last fall with a friend who is a fisheries biologist from Washington state. We camped out on mountain peaks and refueled in small towns. Overall, our dietary preferences were extremely compatible. Motivated by hunger, we efficiently re-stocked our panniers off the shelves of mom-and-pop gas stations and Super Walmarts - we were in rural Arkansas - without much debate. Our joint mission ground to a halt, however, the first time we encountered seafood.

COVID-19 & Climate Change: Increasing Our Resiliency - 3/26/2020

COVID-19, caused by a new coronavirus, has quickly become a global health crisis, a pandemic. It deserves everyone’s full attention, collaboration and cooperation. I truly hope that you, your family, friends and co-workers are exercising extreme caution, are supporting one another, and are safe and healthy over the coming days and months.

Jeans with boro stitching
Cutting Carbon Amid COVID-19 - 3/19/2020

Without overlooking the devastating impacts of coronavirus, perhaps we can embrace the opportunities afforded by a slower rhythm of life to better care for ourselves and our planet. In the past several weeks, our worlds have shrunk dramatically while impressing upon us the fragility and resiliency of life.

Pile of junk mail
Eliminating Junk Mail - 3/11/2020

When I moved into my house four years ago, catalogs and junk mail flooded my mail stream. Most of this mail wasn’t even for me! The bulk of it arrived addressed to members of the previous household, and even the owner prior to them. The average American receives 41 pounds of junk mail a year.

Public opinion map of the US on climate change
Public Opinion on Climate - 2/27/2020

As our office shifts into engagement mode, I am spending more and more time talking with different groups about our work here at the Dane County Office of Energy & Climate Change. I am privileged to talk about Dane County’s leadership and the hundreds of people that contributed to our Climate Action Plan, for example, and I also get to see the momentum that’s building around our efforts to take action to reduce emissions. In these conversations it’s common for someone to ask me whether our efforts will be jeopardized by climate deniers.

Basket of vegetables
Strategies for Reducing Food Waste - 2/12/2020

Climate change can often feel overwhelming. In the face of a global crisis, our individual actions may seem inconsequential. Maybe rinsing out a can of refried beans before placing it in the recycling isn’t going to “Save the World,” but our consumer choices are significant. The impact of any given action is additive when it becomes a habit, and multiplies when we share our climate hacks with friends and family. To that end, I hope that this blog will provide actionable steps that support your journey toward living more lightly on our planet and that you, in turn, will share them with others.

Climate Champions: Accelerating Local Leadership - 2/10/2020

We are in the process of identifying Climate Champions across Dane County. These are folks leading on energy and water efficiency, on clean fuels, on sustainable farm practices and on climate more broadly.