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

Implementing Our Climate Action Plan

A rural farm scene in Dane County.

How Will We Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 50% by 2030?

Our Climate Action Plan identifies a series of outcomes that are critical to reducing emissions in the next decade. Having a plan is a critical step forward but it’s just the beginning. The heart of the challenge is acting on the goals outlined in the Climate Action Plan to reduce county-wide greenhouse gas emissions. Here at Dane County we're all about getting things done.

  • In 2018 Dane County had about 14 MW solar installed in Dane County; our goal is to increase that to 1200 MW by 2030.
  • Since 2018 we have completed and in-process installations totaling more than 20 MW in the County.
  • Achieving this goal is dependent on achieving both more utility-scale and community solar within the County.
  • Key activities include promoting the benefits of solar and helping individuals and businesses access financing for new systems.
  • In 2016 Dane County had 10 MW of wind power; the aim is to grow that to 700 MW by 2030.
  • Longer-term we aim to get all of our electricity from wind and solar.
  • Key activities in this area include working with utilities and other stakeholders on wind projects.
  • The typical home or business in Wisconsin has multiple opportunities to save money by reducing energy usage.
  • Focus on Energy, Wisconsin's statewide energy efficiency and renewable energy program, currently works with residents and businesses to save about 1% of usage annually. We want to double those results in Dane County by 2030.
  • Achieving this goal will require increased conservation and efficiency measures across all parties, including local governments, businesses, farms, community groups and residents.
  • Key activities include helping individuals identify where they are wasting energy right now and in ensuring that everyone has access to the technical and financial resources available to increase efficiency.
  • We want new commercial buildings in the County, including hotels, restaurants, office buildings, to use 75% less energy by 2035.
  • Dane County's population is growing so we have a substantial amount of new construction each year.
  • Achieving this goal means working with designers, developers and builders to increase the efficiency of new buildings.
  • Key strategies include recognizing leaders and promoting financing tools.
  • We need to transition from homes that are heated with fossil fuels to all-electric homes.
  • Initially we will focus on encouraging the change from propane and fuel oil to electricity because those homeowners will see the biggest financial benefits.
  • We also want to encourage builders to build all-electric net zero energy homes. 
  • Key activities include recognizing leaders and promoting the benefits of all-electric living.
  • In 2016 Dane County has about 4.1 billion VMTs for personal. We want to reduce that to 3.5 billion by 2050.
  • Dane County's population is growing and our VMT goal is about total VMTs, which means we want to see every person drive less.
  • Achieving this goal will require more people shifting from driving alone to carpooling, biking, transit and other options.
  • Key activities in this area include increasing access to transit as well as safe places to bike and walk.
  • Currently less than 1% of vehicles sold in Wisconsin are electric.
  • EVs are cheaper to own than cars fueled by gasoline because maintenance and fueling costs are much lower.
  • Key activities include educating the public on the benefits of EVs and ensuring a adequate EV infrastructure.
  • In addition to cars and other light duty vehicles, we have thousands of buses and heavy-duty vehicles in Dane County. Many of these vehicles run on diesel.
  • Our goals are to transition 60% of heavy-duty vehicles to renewable natural gas by 2026 and 50% of transit buses to electricity by 2035.
  • The biggest local bus fleet is Madison's Metro system, which has committed to transitioning to a 100% electric fleet by 2030.
  • Key activities include working with local governments and businesses to encourage them to transition their fleets.
  • Currently about 5% of the manure in Dane County is processed in anaerobic digesters; our goal is to increase this to 50% by 2030.
  • In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, processing manure in a digester reduces phosphorous in our lakes and creates new revenue streams for farmers.
  • Key activities include helping farmers collaborate on regional digester solutions.
  • In 2016 water usage per capita in our region was about 41 gallons per day.
  • Saving water is important because substantial energy is required to pump water and process wastewater.
  • Key activities include working with stakeholders to install water efficent appliances and to minimize water waste.

What Progress Have We Made?

We have already made substantial progress to fulfill the Climate Action Plan goals. Read more about our recent progress:

  • The Dane County Landfill began accepting from biogas from area manure digesters at its landfill gas processing station. By making it more profitable to process manure, the project encourages more dairy digesters across the county. To learn more about the project, watch this short video.
  • We completed a white paper on Green Infrastructure; the white paper is the first step in promoting more green infrastructure across the county.
  • We began encouraging solar on affordable housing developments. Already there are five projects underway with plans to include solar energy, reducing energy costs for residents.
  • We posted an interactive map of clean energy and carbon sequestration projects on our website. In additon to county installations the map includes clean energy projects at local governments, schools, businesses and nonprofits. More than 150 clean energy projects are currently featured on the map. If you have a clean energy project that belongs on the map, tell us about it.
  • We partnered with Middleton to secure a USGBC grant enabling Middleton to pursue LEED for Cities certification.  This certification will help us understand how our communities compare with others across the globe.
  • Dane County has made several land purchases that facilitate land conservation and wetland restoration. These purchases will increase our ability to sequester carbon.
  • We launched the Climate Champions program to encourage businesses to reduce their carbon footprint and be publically recognized for their work.

What's Next?

Our climate efforts are constantly evolving based on the latest insights from science and market opportunities. We will update the status of all metrics at least annually and upate the Climate Action Plan every four to five years. And as we work to implement the recommendations outlined in the CAP, we will also spend time exploring emerging opportunities to further reduce emissions. Some of the ideas we're monitoring include:

  • Energy storage options 
  • Measuring eco-system benefits
  • Grid modernization initiatives  
  • Heat pump technologies that enable us to electrify buildings

If you know about a technology we should consider or have an idea about how we can accelerate our efforts, please share it with us. And to stay informed on our progress, subscribe to our e-newsletter.