The city of Milwaukee Office of Environmental Sustainability (OES) was created by Mayor Tom Barrett to position Milwaukee as a leader in environmental sustainability and performance. The creation of such an office emerged from the community input received by the Milwaukee Green Team, commissioned by Barrett in 2004.
Examples of sustainability initiatives that Milwaukee has implemented include the Milwaukee Energy Efficiency Program (ME2). ME2 is a voluntary program to help homeowners afford the up-front costs for weatherization, new heating equipment, and other energy saving upgrades in their home. The program will pair a new loan offer with existing Focus on Energy incentives and federal tax credits. Homeowners can then repay the ME2 loan as they reap the energy savings. The program will also reduce the hassle factor for homeowners by guiding them through the entire weatherization process.
OES has also begun a city and community-wide inventory and analysis of greenhouse gas emissions. This inventory will follow the ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability model and be utilized to form the basis of a climate action plan. The climate action plan will work towards reducing community-wide emissions. The city's Department of Public Works has begun using a biodiesel fuel blend (B-2) in its vehicle fleet. Use of biodiesel will improve the city's environmental sustainability and will have a positive impact on air quality. These retrofits will reduce particulate matter pollution by up to 50 percent, carbon monoxide by up to 90 percent, and toxic hydrocarbons by up to 70 percent.
In addition, the public works department has been installing LED traffic signals throughout Milwaukee, and this conversion has brought a 60 percent reduction in energy use and an anticipated savings of $340,000 in energy costs.