The Madison Common Council adopted in late March a resolution setting 2030 as the deadline to achieve a 100% renewable energy and net-zero carbon goal for city operations. Spearheaded by the Sustainable Madison Committee (SMC), the resolution empowers city staff to lead by example and initiate aggressive policies and practices designed to reduce carbon emissions across the community.
Madison’s action comes on the heels of similar resolutions adopted by its neighbors, specifically the cities of Fitchburg and Monona, committing themselves to procure renewable energy sources to power their operations.
In late February Fitchburg’s Common Council resolved to offset 100% of the city’s electricity demands from renewable energy resources by 2030. A week later, Monona adopted a resolution establishing an identical goal and deadline for its own electricity use, and coupled it with a renewable energy commitment by 2040 applicable to other energy uses, such as heating buildings and fueling vehicles.
With these resolutions on the books, there are now five Wisconsin cities that have embraced a 100% renewable energy (or electricity) future for its operations, and have set deadlines for achieving it. The other two cities on that list are Eau Claire and Middleton (see comparison here).
Adopted on March 19, 2019, Madison’s resolution emerged from a report commissioned by the city in March 2017 to analyze three different scenarios for achieving 100% renewable energy use and net zero carbon emissions. Of the three scenarios examined in the HGA/Navigant report, the SMC selected the 2030 pathway (Scenario 3), after a spirited discussion to identify certain implementation steps necessary to ensure that all City residents benefit from this transition.
The resolution commits city staff to engage “committees and commissions to review and develop plans for policies, programs, and procedures to achieve the goals and targets in Scenario 3.” Between now and the end of the summer, SMC members will work with the relevant committees and commissions to shape and guide these implementation plans. These plans will be submitted in September.
The HGA/Navigant report estimated $95 million in up-front investments over 12 years to achieve the City’s 2030 carbon reduction goals. Under Scenario 3, a combination of heightened building energy efficiency, additional supplies of renewable energy, and an increasingly electrified vehicle fleet produced the broadest array of benefits for city residents, including lower operating budgets and reductions in health-related expenses. According to HGA/Navigant, the social and economic benefits from this transition, coupled with the energy savings, would far surpass the original investment.
At $60 million, the investment in electric buses shapes up to be the costliest element among the strategies analyzed, but one likeliest to yield substantial health benefits to the entire community.
Already, the City of Madison has committed more than $2 million in project financing to leverage the construction of five solar arrays in western Wisconsin totaling 10 MWac. Construction has already begun on these arrays, and all will begin generating power this summer, enough to offset 37% of the City’s electric load on an annual basis. The arrays, owned by BluEarth and developed by OneEnergy Renewables, will serve the municipal utilities of Argyle, Cumberland, Elroy, Fennimore, and New Lisbon.
(Note: See images of BluEarth projects under construction.)
Over the past three months, RENEW Wisconsin has been participating in an exciting and audacious challenge to develop ways to bolster the middle class of Dane County. UW-Madison was selected as one of four universities nationally to participate in a competition sponsored and funded by the Schmidt Futures Foundation, led by Google’s former CEO Eric Schmidt. UW’s program is called “Dream Up Wisconsin.”
The challenge is to increase the net income of 10,000 Dane County Families by 10%.
Our Plan: to “Power Up” Dane County families and communities with clean energy! We were one of 46 original applicants, and we were fortunate to be one of 11 applicants to receive $10,000 to more fully flesh out our proposal.
Our vision for Power Up Dane County is to create buzz about clean energy and provide community members the tools to adopt clean energy to reduce their monthly bills, create new jobs, and build a healthier community. We want everyone to have access to clean energy, from efficient homes to solar panels on their roof, and electric vehicles in their garage.
However, many middle class families don’t know that these technologies are available to them. Power Up is our idea to change that.
The program would start by empowering households to take control of their electricity bills using “Neighborhood Champions.” These champions will be excited members of the community who will help households install efficiency kits and the home energy sensor, Sense. Sense measures electricity consumption in real-time, and gives users a visual indication of their energy use through an app. By learning which devices in their home use the most electricity, residents can unplug energy hogs and save money.
After they have more efficient homes and a better understanding of their energy use, we want to connect participants with solar installers, home weatherization technicians, car dealerships that specialize in electric vehicles, and additional rebates for their clean energy investments.
Power Up will make it desirable, easy, and financially feasible for participants to adopt clean energy, like solar panels and electric cars. These clean energy technologies will reduce air pollution and save families thousands of dollars per year on their energy bills.
Power Up is competing against 11 other proposals for the top 3 spots. Should we be selected for the next round of competition, we will pitch our proposal to Schmidt Futures in Arizona in late January.
We believe in a future that is “Powered Up” with clean energy technology. That future includes millions of dollars of in energy bill and healthcare savings, new clean energy jobs, and a healthy and prosperous middle class. The momentum around clean energy is building by the day. With Wisconsin utilities, counties, and municipalities committing to 100% renewable energy, we know the future of Wisconsin will be one with extensive clean energy adoption. Power Up is one vision for how to get there.
Acquisition Broadens HGA’s Expertise in Sustainable Energy Planning
MILWAUKEE — HGA has acquired the Sustainable Engineering Group (SEG) in Madison, Wisconsin, a leading engineering firm focused on energy optimization and sustainable design. The acquisition reinforces and broadens HGA’s existing expertise in energy and infrastructure planning and design for leading national clients in healthcare, academic, corporate, and public sectors.
“SEG’s approach and deep knowledge will allow us to better serve the energy needs of our growing client base,” said Rick Hombsch, PE, LEED AP, vice president and HGA’s Energy & Infrastructure market leader. “Their team brings technical insights into emerging energy technologies and renewable resources that build on our existing strengths in high-performance energy systems, commissioning, retro-commissioning, energy auditing, and central energy plants. By combining forces, we are creating a more robust in-house practice that will enhance our capabilities to research, plan, and implement highly advanced energy systems that benefit our clients economically and environmentally.”
Founded in 2004 by Manus McDevitt, PE, LEED AP, and Svein Morner, PE, PhD, LEED AP, Sustainable Engineering Group quickly established itself as a regional leader in energy systems modeling, commissioning, retro-commissioning, LEED certification, and advanced research, with specialized focus in geothermal systems, renewable energy systems, and carbon reduction/net zero campus planning.
McDevitt has more than 25 years of experience in energy-efficient HVAC design and engineering systems. Morner has comparable tenure in mechanical engineering, with a research focus in thermal storage systems, energy self-sufficient buildings, fuel cell design, and solar panels.
SEG’s 12-person team works out of an historic commercial building that has achieved net zero energy using strategies that include waste heat recovery, natural ventilation, a photovoltaic roof system, and real-time energy-use monitoring.
“Clients are concerned about reducing their carbon footprint and exploring the most efficient designs for the life of their buildings,” said McDevitt. “HGA has a demonstrated track record as well as a clear sense of responsibility around designing healthy, energy-efficient buildings—which aligns with our mission. Joining HGA provides the opportunity for our team to work with a more diverse portfolio of clients and project types, to build our expertise in new technologies and research; it allows us to expand our scope to make an even more significant, positive impact on the built environment, which is our real passion.”
Both firms have extensive experience in energy and infrastructure planning and design. Here are just some examples of their work:
The SEG acquisition is part of HGA’s strategic focus on elevating its national excellence in sustainable design and energy planning. With the addition of Lisa Matthiessen as National Sustainable Design Director in 2017, HGA is building new structures and deepening its expertise to explore new directions in planning healthy buildings that help create a more profound impact for clients and end users.
The acquisition is effective July 1, 2018. SEG officially will change its name to HGA and merge operational and administrative functions.
HGA is a national multi-disciplinary design firm rooted in architecture and engineering. Founded in 1953, we believe that enduring, impactful design results from deep insight into the people and passions that animate each unique environment. Our nine offices from coast to coast craft specialized teams to serve clients in education, arts, healthcare, corporate, government, community, and energy industries. Visit HGA.com or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.
Erika Eklund, HGA (612) 758-4000
Gretchen Reisetter, Evans Larson (612) 338-6999