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Dane County

Local leaders to reconvene to continue sustainability, climate change efforts

The countywide Sustainability Leaders Collaborative was created in 2019 to bring together elected officials, administrators, and staff who work on sustainability issues from nearly two dozen cities, villages, and towns in Dane County

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Cities, towns, and villages across Dane County planned to come together on Feb. 24 to assess progress on clean energy and sustainability and to look ahead.

The countywide Sustainability Leaders Collaborative was created by Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway in 2019 to bring together elected officials, administrators, and staff who work on sustainability issues from nearly two dozen cities, villages, and towns in Dane County.

“When we first discussed forming this countywide group, our vision was to enable collaboration so that one community could learn from the experiences of another to move further and faster on sustainability efforts,” Parisi said in a release.

On Feb. 24 the collaborative’s full membership, that now also includes school district officials, was to reconvene, focusing on successes and future collaborative opportunities.

“The time is right to reflect on all that communities have achieved since 2019 and also to think strategically about the opportunities ahead with a new federal administration,” said Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway.

When it met in 2019, participants were broken into four work groups to collaborate on ideas related to solar development, renewable fuel usage for municipal fleets, energy efficiency/sustainability for facilities, and green infrastructure to manage run-off from heavy rain events.

The full collaborative later gathered to review progress made by the work groups and develop sustainabillty strategies in the public and private sectors.

Significant achievements since 2019 include:

• Cottage Grove, Cross Plains, McFarland, Shorewood Hills, Sun Prairie, and Verona established sustainability committees, joining Fitchburg, Madison, Middleton, and Monona that had previously done so.

• More than 50 solar installations on local government and schools across Dane County For details see Dane County’s Clean Energy map: https://daneclimateaction.org/maps#CleanEnergyMap

• The Oregon School District opened the first net-zero energy school in the state of Wisconsin.

• Town of Vermont residents worked with others in western Dane County to facilitate a solar group buy in 2020, resulting in 17 installations.

• Seven communities achieved Climate Champion recognition from Dane County for their efforts in 2020.

“City of Madison staff have worked hard to green Madison’s operations and we are happy to share our experience in energy efficient buildings and clean-fuel vehicles with others around the county,” said Rhodes-Conway.

The February 24 event will also focus on opportunities ahead. In 2021, residents across Dane County will have access to two Solar Energy Group Buy opportunities, for example.

“Given all the progress we have seen since 2019, we are excited to see what communities will accomplish in 2021 and beyond,” said Parisi.

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