The Madison City Sustainable Design and Energy Committee outlined ways to make Madison a green capital city Monday in a revised blueprint central to Mayor Dave Cieslewicz’s plan for the city.
“We really need to update the plan or rewrite it because it is so dated,” said Jeanne Hoffman, Facilities and Sustainability manager for the city. “After it is rewritten, we can hopefully encourage other cities to follow our plan.”
Last updated in early 2005, the blueprint for building a green capital city was recently established and approved by City Council and now must be implemented, according to Sherrie Gruder, sustainable design specialist for the University of Wisconsin Solid and Hazardous Waste Education Center.
However, many committee members criticized the blueprint for being too broad, calling the blueprint unrealistic for the city to put into practice.
“To me, the blueprint is too confusing and covers too many things,” said committee member Paul Muench, vice president of Commercial Leasing & Development at Urban Land Interests.
The revised blueprint outlined several goals to establish a “Madison Sustainable City Program,” including changing existing buildings and constructing new ones to maximize energy efficiency and seeking out new sources of renewable energy.
The blueprint also suggests decreasing water use and landscaping maintenance to reach those goals.
“Our goal is to reduce the city’s energy use by 10 percent by 2010,” Gruder said.
The blueprint also emphasized the importance of taking frequent assessments of Madison’s progress in becoming a green capital city.
“We need to compare our carbon footprint now to what it was in years past,” Gruder said.
Hoffman added several projects, such as a program that aims to improve the “totally and utterly inefficient lighting in the city,” have already begun and are making great strides.
Additionally, the blueprint suggests Madison work with Dane County to make all future residences green. It also intends to identify and eliminate all zoning and building procedures that “don’t support green design” and hopes to provide economic incentives to carry out such plans.
The final section of the blueprint proposes implementing training programs for city department workers and public officials to educate city staff about the positive effects of a green community.
After several committee members raised concerns about the extent of community involvement in the project, Gruder said the purpose of the blueprint was primarily to meet the citizens’ needs.
“We need to know what makes a city sustainable to the citizens,” Gruder said. “It could mean reducing the mercury content in fish or reduced asthma in our kids because the air quality is better.”
Hoffman also proposed to implement an additional program where the city issues “energy efficiency loans” to homeowners and taxpayers to upgrade their houses.
According to Hoffman, Milwaukee has also shown interest in introducing such a plan, while cities like Berkeley, Calif. and Denver have already employed similar strategies to create more sustainable cities.