In 2011, President Obama launched the Better Buildings Challenge through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), a national initiative to improve the energy efficiency of commercial, public, industrial, and residential buildings by at least 20 percent over ten years. The program calls on leaders of U.S. companies, universities, school districts, multifamily organizations, and state and local governments to significantly reduce the energy usage of their buildings and to share the energy reduction strategies they use and the results they achieve.
The City of Milwaukee became a partner in the Better Buildings Challenge in 2012, pledging to reduce the energy use of the City’s building portfolio 20 percent by 2020. The City developed a Showcase Project with the Milwaukee Central Library and created a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing program as an implementation model for other cities to replicate. Milwaukee's leadership on the Better Buildings Challenge was recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy and received local coverage from CBS 58 and WUWM.
In 2015, the City of Milwaukee’s Environmental Collaboration Office received a $750,000 award from DOE to expand the Better Buildings Challenge – Milwaukee (BBC-MKE) program by developing and implementing a comprehensive energy efficiency program for private buildings. The expanded program bundles a streamlined customer experience involving energy benchmarking, energy assessments, and determination of next steps with operations and maintenance support, workforce development, technology integration, marketing, and awards.
Over 3 years, the City and its partners are aiming to impact 200+ buildings, in particular Class B & C commercial buildings, small commercial buildings, and K-12 schools.