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Fresh Coast. Fresh Ideas. A Vision for Community Sustainability. The City of Milwaukee Sustainability Plan.


  • FRESH COAST. FRESH IDEAS.A Vision for Community Sustainability

    City of Milwaukee Sustainability Plan 2013-2023

  • City of Milwaukee Sustainability Plan

    Published July 2013

    This document was printed on post-consumer recycled paper.

  • Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett announced at his 2012 State of the City address that he wants to work with the community to build a smarter city through sustainability and directed the Citys

    Office of Environmental Sustainability Director to begin a sustainability

    planning exercise immediately.

    Milwaukee was among nationally leading municipalities when it

    published the 2005 Green Team Report and created the Office of

    Environmental Sustainability in 2006. In order to maintain momentum

    and build on early successes, the Mayor has asked for the creation of a

    strategic road map for a more sustainable Milwaukee.

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  • Buildings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

    Energy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21

    Food Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29

    Human Capital . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35

    Land and Urban Ecosystems . . 41

    Table of Contents

    Mobility . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49

    Resource Recovery . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55

    Water . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61

    Catalytic Projects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69

    Implementation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77

    Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

    Appendix A . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87

    Sustainability Plan 2013 / 5

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  • There are several ways to think about the concept of sustainability. The earliest uses of the term de!ned sustainability

    as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.1 From this perspective, many people viewed sustainability simply as a waste-not, want-not approach to living. As policy and thought on sustainabilitys application in modern life has evolved, the de!nition of sustainability has expanded, incorporating the concept of balance. As cities, states, and nations grow, they must balance sometimes competing needs among di"erent groups of people with protecting resources and providing a means of living to citizens.

    Today most policymakers and municipalities have moved beyond an either-or competition between people and the environment to think about sustainability as a concept that supports and balances three pillars of demands: environmental (planet), economic (pro!ts), and social (people). They understand that short-term bene!ts for one of these pillars may have signi!cant negative consequences for another pillar. For a city or business to be sustainable under this way of thinking, new policies, products, and plans for growth must consider whether the resulting impacts are good for the planet, pro!ts, and people. The three pillars of sustainable development have become the de facto standard by which cities promote and track

    What is Sustainability?their sustainability-related performance.Drawing on this de!nition, but framing it from a business perspective, author John Elkington developed the triple bottom-line approach to growth wherein pro!ts are not just monetary in reference to a single bottom-line, but are based in bene!ts to the planet and people as well and not just in monetary senses.2 This is the lens through which the Mayors Green Team views sustainability. As such, the Green Team has formulated the goals, targets, and strategies identi!ed for community action in this strategic planning document, or Sustainability Plan.

    Why Sustainability Matters to MilwaukeeGeneral de!nitions of sustainability are helpful, but not necessarily clear in how we as Milwaukeeans should apply them in our city. As it turns out, the meaning of Milwaukee ties directly to the modern concept of sustainability. There are several Native American tribes and words that inform our understanding of the origin of the citys name. Perhaps foremost is the word ominowakiing, which is the gathering place by the water, the Ojibwe word from which Milwaukee is thought to be derived. This history indicates that natural resources have sustained Milwaukee since its founding and have helped make this city great. Quite simply, Milwaukee exists because of its link to water. Its iconic industries rely on water both as a resource and as a source of inspiration. From yesterdays tanneries to todays craft breweries to the promise of the water tech industry in the economy of tomorrow, our environment is inseparable from who we are as Milwaukeeans and as a city. As a result, sustainability matters to Milwaukee.

    Although sustainability can be a somewhat di#cult concept, which some people choose to ignore or about which some people simply assume they do not know enough to have an opinion, it does matter. Residents, businesses, and our local environment are a"ected every day, in every Milwaukee neighborhood, by our overall acceptance, rejection, or indi"erence to sustainability. The following three examples help illustrate sustainabilitys importance to our city.

    Sustainability Matters to People: Parts of Milwaukee saw over 7 inches of rain in several hours one late afternoon day in July 2010. Stormwater inundated roads and waterways and as a result, eleven thousand residents reported basement backups of $ood water or raw sewage. In addition, several homes were demolished because they were beyond saving. People su"ered. Unfortunately, because of the changing climate in southeastern Wisconsin, intense rain events like this one will be more frequent than we used to predict. These events will continue to burden sewerage infrastructure that was designed to accommodate a previous era that had a lower statistical probability of dramatic rain events.

    Sustainability Matters to the Planet: The Menomonee Valley Redevelopment is a national model for sustainable industrial redevelopment. The City of Milwaukee partnered with many stakeholders in the industrial redevelopment of one of the states largest Brown!elds, resulting in 1,300 new jobs, new sustainable manufacturers, and an array of live-work-play amenities. The redevelopment embodies all three pillars of sustainable development. One of the most noticeable results has been the revitalization of the Menomonee River itself, which borders the industrial redevelopment zone. Recently a nearly dead and heavily polluted river, today the Menomonee River runs in parallel with a state hiking and biking trail (the Hank Aaron Trail), and is a focus of !shing activity in the spring and fall with the steelhead trout and salmon runs, respectively. The transformation of this once destitute and polluted waterway, so important to Milwaukees industrial history, into a regional center of $y-!shing is a marvel, and it has all occurred alongside new manufacturing facilities

    Nelson Soler, the President

    and CEO of the Multicultural

    Entrepreneurial Institute,

    encouraged the Green Team

    to use sustainability to create a

    new brand and a new economic

    vitality for the City, through

    these initiatives to address

    the issues of opportunity,

    advancement, and inclusion.


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    Sustainability Plan 2013 / 7

  • and a vibrant downtown. The public-private e"orts have yielded a cleaner, healthier river and new jobs and re-connected residents with the river and its new Three Bridges Park and Urban Ecology Center amenities.

    Sustainability Matters for Pro!t: Sustainability as a competitive advantage is not just a policy for large corporations and multinationals with extra cash to spend. The waste-not, want-not aspect of sustainability helps local Milwaukee companies save money while protecting the environment. Small companies are driving job growth in the United States as they do in Milwaukee with our small- and medium-sized manufacturers increasing sales and workforce. The Citys sustainable manufacturing program (ME3) has helped over 20 small- and medium-sized manufacturers cut costs while reducing the negative environmental impacts of their business. City neighborhoods are experiencing less pollution and waste to land!ll, while Milwaukee ME3 !rms are seeing collective annual savings of nearly $5 million, with a payback of just over 1.5 years on their environmental investments.3

    These examples are not disconnected vignettes of life in Milwaukee; they are data points in a substantial thread of evidence that demonstrates that our everyday actions at home, in our neighborhoods, at work, and at play have meaningful e"ects on our lives and our city. Although thinking about how to combat climate change overall may


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    seem di#cult, some basic actions are easy to complete and o"er signi!cant bene!ts for our city. For example, inspiring ourselves to properly insulate our homes, !x leaking pipes, and refrain from spraying chemicals on our lawns results in tangible changes to our ground, air, and water quality. Each of these actions can help make our community more sustainable, and in turn, each action bene!ts our comfort, our wallet, and our local landscapes where we recreate. These are three simple actions that show how sustainability matters. There are a million more.

    In fact, many Milwaukeeans live this ethic each year some without realizing it. Springtime in the city means residents gather in force to clean up city streets, neighborhood parks, our yards, and rivers.