Milwaukee Launches The Better Buildings Challenge

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The City of Milwaukee is seeking to accelerate smart city plans, focusing on increasing the number of smart buildings which would feature smart heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in addition to motion-sensitive lights.

To this end, Milwaukee is leading The Better Buildings Challenge – Milwaukee (BBC-MKE) – a comprehensive energy efficiency program that provides all of the tools and resources that building owners and property managers need to make energy efficiency retrofits easy, affordable, and compelling. Funded by the Department of Energy, the program will provide energy bench marking, energy assessments, PACE financing, and other energy efficiency project resources with workforce development, technology transfer, operations and maintenance support, and marketing and awards for participating buildings.

Program objectives include:

  • to impact at least 200 buildings in Wisconsin through energy assessments and bench marking;
  • to increase Wisconsin’s footprint of the Better Buildings Challenge;
  • to integrate existing DOE tools throughout Wisconsin’s building efficiency delivery system;
  • to train the next generation of building efficiency workers with state-of-the-art technology and tools, and
  • to demonstrate how energy efficiency increases profitability of buildings.

Erick Shambarger, environmental sustainability director for Milwaukee’s Environmental Collaboration Office (ECO), said he shares the Energy Department’s goal of cutting energy use by 20% by 2020. Since 2009, Milwaukee municipal buildings have trimmed energy use by 10%.

One response to Milwaukee’s push for more smart buildings is the Milwaukee Area Technical College’s new one-year diploma degree in Automated Building Systems. The Automated Building Systems program prepares students for entry-level careers as technicians and specialists in building automation and controls.

“Through the Better Buildings Challenge, we’re working to rebuild Milwaukee from the inside out. With energy efficiency projects, our historic existing buildings can save money, create local jobs, and contribute to a more vibrant community,” said Mayor Tom Barrett.