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Vel R. Phillips Youth & Family Justice Center

Photo of the Vel R. Phillips Juvenile Justice Center

The Vel R. Phillips Youth and Family Justice Center offers a variety of services and programs intended to divert youth from court and to provide them with opportunities to become more productive citizens. The building houses 120 beds for youth awaiting trial, supported by over 500 non-profit, State, and County employees.

In recent years, Milwaukee County has ramped up its efforts to make JJC more energy efficient. Minor renovations as well as capital projects have led to a number of significant upgrades in the building. 

I am pleased to lead Milwaukee County’s participation with the Better Buildings Challenge. Milwaukee County strives to be a model for efficient and effective government, and saving energy in our facilities is a win-win for local residents, businesses and our environment.
Gordie Bennett, Milwaukee County Sustainability Director

Energy Performance

The source EUI for Vel R. Phillips Youth and Family Justice Center has increased since 2014, Milwaukee County's baseline for energy performance. The increase may be due to changes in building occupancy and operating hours that have occurred over this period. Still, Portfolio Manager® data indicates that, relative to similar buildings nationally, the Vel R Phillips Youth and Family Justice Center is quite energy efficient. For this reason, Milwaukee County is working toward ENERGY STAR® certification for the building.

Chart of the weather normalized energy use intensity of the Vel R. Phillips Juvenile Justice Center

Completed Projects

Lighting Project Completed Icon Plug Loads and Controls Project Not Completed Icon Building Envelope Not Completed Icon HVAC Project Completed Icon Appliances and Equipment Project Not Completed Icon On Site Generation Completed Icon Water Project Completed Icon

Plug Loads
& Controls



& Equipment




  • Electronic ballasts in 2011 - Electronic ballasts control the flow of electrical energy from the circuit to the energy device which allows for more efficient electrical gas discharge.

  • LED lighting in 2011 in the parking structure

Plug Loads & Controls

  • BAS upgrade in 2011 - JJC added more equipment to the existing building automation system to allow for more control over energy use, specifically in regards to HVAC and lighting.
  • Air Heating Unit (AHU) to Direct Digital Control (DDC) in 2011


  • New chiller plant and boilers in 2013-2014  - JJC converted from chilled water to air cooled chillers, and from steam piping to gas-fired boilers with DDCs. 

On-Site Generation

  • Solar thermal - The building has solar panels on the roof that are used to heat the water for the center showers.  


  • Water-efficient toilets/urinals and faucets in 2011

Future Plans

Vel R. Phillips Youth and Family Justice Center received an energy assessment from Franklin Energy through We Energies and plans to tackle some of the opportunities that were identified, including lighting upgrades and retrofitting vending machines with occupancy sensors.