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Dane County Office of Energy & Climate Change
 

 

How Climate Champions Works
Man holding up arms in triumph

Our aim is to recognize local entities leading on climate and clean energy.

And we want to make it as easy as possible to apply for recognition.

We have 9 categories of recognition for businesses, nonprofits and local governments.  Whatever climate action you are taking, we want to applaud your efforts!

Within each category you will find a description of our award criteria, a sample of the application form and a link to the online form you can use to apply for recognition. 

Recognition is based on your organization's performance over 12 months (we accept January-December 2020 or a different recent 12 month period if that is more convenient for you).

In 2021 we are accepting applications on an ongoing basis through November 8, 2021. We will announce new Climate Champions quarterly.

Additional award guidelines are here.

 

The 2021 Climate Champion recognition categories are...

Building Energy Use


For entities with very energy
efficient buildings.

Fleet Operations

 
For entities with a fleet powered
by clean fuels.

Employee Commuting

 
For entities where the workforce commutes via bike, walking, transit or telecommuting.

Water Saving Practices

 
For entities that have implemented practices to reduce water usage.

Waste Diversion Practices

 
For entities that have strong waste diversion practices.

Agricultural Practices

 
For farms with strong
sustainability practices.

Catalysts


For entities who help others
take climate actions.

GHG Emissions

 
For entities that have reduced
their carbon footprint.

Other

 
For entities who have taken actions
that don't fit into other categories.

 

 

 

Net Building Energy Use

This Climate Champions category recognizes buildings that use less energy per square foot than a typical building. (This metric, energy use per square foot, is often called energy use intensity or 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 while 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.

Chart of various star levelsWe 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. But don't worry about that - 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 (RECs) or Carbon Offsets (you can claim credit for those efforts in the Net Emissions category). 

Download a sample copy of the Energy Use Climate Champions application form to see what information is required to apply for recogniton in this category.  Note that the application is set up to apply for recognition of one building at a time.

 

Fleet Operations

If your organization owns one or more vehicles, you can get 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 (RNG) and biodiesel because all of those options reduce emissions.

chart of star levels

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

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

Download a sample copy of the Fleet Climate Champions application form to see what information is required to apply for recogniton in this category.

 

Employee Commuting

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. 

In this category we have two ways to earn recognition. 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.
chart detailing star levels

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. Entities indicate if they:

  • 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 a sample copy of the Employee Commuting Climate Champions application form to see what information is required to apply for recognition in this category.

 

Water Saving Practices

Sustainably managing water resources is critical in mitigating and adapting climate change impacts: Moving water around Dane County and treating it requires a lot of 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 sustainable water actions. 

chart of star levels

Sustainable water actions are: 

Water is something that all people, all businesses touch in some way, and therefore everyone plays a role and has a responsibility to conserve it, protect it, and reflect the value of it in their actions. 

Download a sample copy of the Water Saving Practices Climate Champions application form to see what information is required to apply for recognition in this category. Applicants must include photos of at least two of the activities that they report having done.

 

Waste Diversion Practices

For this Climate Champions category, we’re recognizing organizations that divert waste from landfills or incinerators and that focus on waste reduction, reuse, composting, and recycling. In this Climate Champions category we recognize entities that 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).

The energy and natural resources it takes to manufacture and distribute products and materials used in our everyday lives and in the workplace substantially contribute to our environmental footprints and carbon emissions.  Understanding an organization's waste stream provides valuable insight into operations and potential areas for efficiency.  

Waste Diversion Rate (WDR) will be the primary means of evaluating submissions.  WDR represents how much waste is diverted from traditional disposal methods (incinerators or landfills).  Below is the equation and ranking system for evaluation:

Equation for waste diversion
 

Each organization must, at a minimum, establish baseline waste generation and diversion rates thrchart detailing star levelsough waste tracking to be eligible for this Climate Champions category.  Although, WDR is the easiest and most efficient way of assessing your organization’s efforts to minimize waste disposal, it does not always capture efforts in waste reduction and reuse. Organizations who focus on waste minimization and reuse will be assessed favorably, regardless of waste diversion percentage.

Resources referenced in the application for this category include:

  • Definition of Zero Waste, from the Zero Waste International Alliance
  • Waste Audit Tool Kit
  • Contacts to arrange a tour of an area waste facility:
    • Dane County Landfill Site No. 2, 7102 US Highway 12 & 18, Madison, WI 53718. Call 608.509.6681 or email staff to arrange a tour.
    • Pellitteri Waste Systems, 7035 Raywood Road, Madison, WI 53713. Call 608.257.4285 or email staff to arrange a tour.
    • Purple Cow Organics, 3395 Meier Road, Madison, WI 53718. Call 608.831.0349 or email staff to arrange a tour.
  • TRUE Certification for your facility

 

Download a sample copy of the Waste Diversion Practices Climate Champions application form to see what information is required to apply for recognition in this category.

 

Agricultural Practices

We will recognize farmers and land owners for climate-friendly practices associated with both dairy and crop farming.  Our focus is on dairy operations that are transferring manure to digesters (which has a substantial impact on methane emissions as well as groundwater) and on croplands that are converted to continuous cover crops or grasslands (which has substantial benefits for the soil in addition to sequestering carbon emissions).

chart detailing star levels

Download a sample copy of the Agricultural Practices Climate Champions application form to see what information is required to apply for recognition in this category.

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

 

Catalyst

A variety of vendors and contractors help individuals and businesses choose climate-friendly options so this year we created a new category, the Catalyst Climate Champion, to recognize the various parties that are helping folks achieve a clean energy future. Our aim here is to recognize the businesses 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.

Download a sample copy of the Catalyst Climate Champions application form to see what information is required to apply for recognition in this category.

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

 

Net Carbon Emissions

We encourage all kinds of entities to think about their total greenhouse gas emissions. And 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. To do that we use 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 that typical.

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.
chart detailing star levels

The Cool Carbon tools are the most peer-reviewed carbon calculators in the US. Essentially a business can enter its 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. That becomes the custom benchmark for that business. 

If your organization purchases renewable energy credits (RECs) or carbon offsets you will be able to document that in the calculator. 

Download a sample copy of the Net Carbon Emissions Climate Champions application form to see what information is required to apply for recognition in this category.

Other Efforts

It is possible that your organization has achieved significant climate success in an area not covered by the six 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 a sample copy of the Other Efforts Climate Champions application form to see what information is required to apply for recognition in this category.

 

Award Guidelines

We are accepting applications throughout the year in 2021; the final deadline for submitting an application is Monday, November 8, 2021 at 5 pm. 

The Office of Energy & Climate Change will review all submitted applications and notify applicants of their status on an ongoing basis. Typically you will hear from us within 2-3 weeks of your submission. We anticipate celebrating new Climate Champions on a regular basis throughout 2021.

The Office of Energy & Climate Change may contact applicants to verify data submitted. In some cases we might ask applicants to supply documentation for the data submitted.

Climate Champions will receive official recognition for their efforts, including signage they can post in their facility. We will also recognize Climate Champions on a map of successes in Dane County.

Entities that are out of compliance with Dane County regulations may be ineligible to receive the Climate Champion designation.

If you have questions, email oecc@countyofdane.com. 
 

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