The City of Sun Prairie, the Sun Prairie Area School District and Sun Prairie-based WPPI Energy were among the entities identified as Climate Champions by Dane County recently.
Dane County officials toured Oregon School District’s Forest Edge Elementary, the first net-zero energy school in Wisconsin, on Dec. 4 as part of an event celebrating Dane County’s 2021 Climate Champions.
In its first year of operation, the school produced more electricity than it used for all school activities, including heating and cooling. The Climate Champions program through the Office of Energy and Climate Change (OECC) recognizes local entities that are leading on climate action.
The aim is to celebrate local leadership in fulfilling the goals set forth in Dane County’s Climate Action Plan, which commits Dane County to reducing greenhouse gas emissions 50% county-wide by 2030 and puts the county on a path to be carbon-neutral by 2050.
This year, Dane County recognized 48 Climate Champions from 29 organizations.
“Across Dane County, local businesses, municipalities, and non-profit organizations are doing vital work to reduce their emissions. The Climate Champions program enables us to recognize and celebrate those achievements and hopefully inspire additional action by other entities across the county,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. The Office of Energy & Climate Change recognized achievements across nine categories, including:
• Building Energy Use — for entities with very energy efficient buildings.
• Fleet Operations — for entities with a fleet powered by clean fuels.
• Employee Commuting — for entities where the workforce commutes via bike, walking, transit or telecommuting.
• Water Saving Practices — for entities that have implemented practices to reduce water usage.
• Waste Diversion Practices — for entities that have strong waste diversion practices.
• Agricultural Practices — for farms with strong sustainability practices.
• Catalysts — for entities who help others take climate actions.
• GHG Emissions — for entities that have reduced their carbon footprint.
• Other — for entities who have taken actions that don’t fit into other categories.
Entities that achieve Climate Champion status will receive signage and recognition on the OECC website.
Within each category are four levels of distinctions, with four stars indicating the highest level of achievement in that category.
In 2021, five entities—Artisan Dental, Epic, Forest Edge Elementary, Green Life Trading Company and WPPI Energy—achieved the highest level of achievement.
In addition, five local entities—American Family Insurance, CUNA Mutual Group, Exact Sciences, Full Spectrum Solar and WPPI Energy—received awards in three or more categories.
“The 2021 Climate Champions are helping us accelerate climate action in Dane County. Their leadership is an inspiration to others and a critical part of helping us achieve our emission goals,” said Parisi.
Sun Prairie 2021 Climate Champions
WPPI Energy, located at 1425 Corporate Center Drive in the Sun Prairie Business Park, achieved six Climate Champion awards in 2021:
• WPPI Energy pivoted to telecommuting in 2021. The company updated its personnel policies and offered support for home office set-ups. (4 Star/Employee Commuting)
• WPPI Energy’s office in Sun Prairie is LEED Gold certified and features a geothermal heating and cooling system as well as a solar array. (2 Star/Energy Use)
• WPPI Energy has planted native grasses and used permeable pavement to reduce runoff. They have also invested in a variety of water-saving technologies. (2 Star/Water Conservation)
• Through use of renewable electricity, strong efficiency measures and a commitment to telecommuting, WPPI Energy’s corporate emissions are less than half that of a comparable company. (2 Star/Emissions)
• WPPI Energy’s Sustainability & Energy Management Policy addresses recycling, waste management and sustainable purchasing. (1 Star/Waste Management)
• WPPI Energy supports the sustainability goals of various local governments. WPPI Energy provides electricity and support services to member communities. (Catalyst).
“Member-owned, not-for-profit WPPI Energy is dedicated to supporting and improving the well-being of the communities we serve, and this includes protecting the environment,” remarked WPPI Energy President & CEO Mike Peters.
“By taking steps to reduce emissions and conserve energy—both in our Sun Prairie Office and Operations Facility and throughout the 51 communities served by WPPI member utilities—we will continue working to do our part to address the important issue of climate change,” Peters concluded.
Sun Prairie Area School District
The SPASD achieved 2021 Climate Champion status for two schools:
• Sun Prairie’s Creekside Elementary School features a geothermal heating and cooling system and uses less than 25% of the energy consumed by a typical elementary school. (3 Star/Energy Use)
• Sun Prairie East High School features a geothermal heating and cooling system and uses about 30% as much energy as a comparable high school. (2 Star/Energy Use).
SPASD officials did not respond to email requests seeking comment on the awards before press time on Wednesday, Dec. 8.
City of Sun Prairie
The City of Sun Prairie has established a Sustainability Committee, created a new staff position solely focused on advancing sustainability efforts, and invested in public engagement around sustainability issues (2 Star/Other).
“We are very excited to be recognized as a 2021 Climate Change Champion. Our organization is highly motivated to further its sustainability goals by continuously investing in resources that ensure these efforts are successful,” said Scott Semroc, City of Sun Prairie Sustainability Coordinator.
“We applied for this award as another step in demonstrating our commitment to this important work, and we’re excited to pursue future opportunities by completing projects that optimize resource use (energy, water, materials, time), provide efficient systems (energy, transportation, food, waste recovery), and empower our residents and businesses to collectively maximize positive impact,” Semroc added. “Our mission is to promote and enable our community to embrace a culture that is inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.”