State and Local Policy Database


City Scorecard Rank


Milwaukee, WI

31.00Scored out of 100Updated 10/2020
Local Government Score:
2 out of 10 points
Local Government Climate and Energy Goals List All

The mayor issued an executive order to cut energy use in local government operations by 15% between 2005 and 2012, but Milwaukee does not have an overall post-2012 energy-related goal for local government operations. However, Milwaukee is a Better Buildings Community Partner and has a goal to reduce the energy intensity in a portfolio of municipal and private buildings by 20% by 2020 relative to a 2009 baseline.

Climate Mitigation Goal

We did not find information regarding a municipal climate mitigation or greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal.

Energy Reduction Goal

The ReFresh Milwaukee plan includes a goal to reduce municipal energy use 20% by 2020.

Renewable Energy Goal

Milwaukee has a goal to increase the city's renewable share of its electricity 25% by 2025. 

Last updated: March 2020

Procurement and Construction List All

Fleet Policies and Composition

Milwaukee has 46 hybrid passenger vehicles in its fleet and is planning to add more hybrid vehicles, but we could not confirm if the local government has fuel efficiency requirement in place for its public fleet. Milwaukee has comitted to purchase electric vehicles as part of the Climate Mayors. We were unable to find data regarding fleet composition.

Public Lighting

Milwaukee has not yet adopted a policy requiring efficient outdoor lighting, such as the International Dark-Sky Association’s Model Lighting Ordinance. Although there is no formal replacement program in place, Milwaukee has replaced 2% of their streetlights with LEDs. The city won a $10,000 award from the Wisconsin State Energy Office to install 54 LED streetlights which will replace the HPS currently in use. Streetlights are timed to operate only when necessary.

Onsite renewable systems 

Milwaukee has installed multiple onsite renewable energy systems. The city installed 209kW of solar capacity on public libraries in 2019. 

Inclusive procurement

We could not verify if the city has inclusive procurement and contracting processes, but Milwaukee has purchasing requirements such as the Resident Preference Program and the Small Business Enterpries requirement. 

Last updated: July 2020

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking 

In Milwaukee, all municipal buildings are benchmarked and then exported to Portfolio Manager.  

Comprehensive Retrofit Strategies 

Milwaukee has implemented HVAC and lighting retrofits in many public buildings. The city has contracted with Edison Energy and has completed work on a Preliminary Energy Reduction Study which provides the foundation of the Comprehensive Energy Plan. The city recently wrapped up a $2 million ESPC and has completed a comprehensive energy assessment of all municipal buildings.

Public Workforce Commuting

Milwaukee city departments allow telecommuting for public employees.

Last updated: July 2020

Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 5 out of 15 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

The City of Milwaukee released the ReFresh Milwaukee Sustainability Plan in 2013.

Last updated: March 2020

Community-Wide Climate Mitigation and Energy GoalsList All

Climate Mitigation Goal

Milwaukee adopted a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 45% below 2018 levels by 2030. In accordance with the Paris Climate Accord, Milwaukee also maintains a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 26-28% by 2025. ACEEE was unable to project if the city will achieve its near-term community-wide GHG emissions reduction goal because insufficient GHG emissions data were available for our analysis.

Energy Reduction Goal

Milwaukee participates in the Better Buildings Challenge and thus established a goal to reduce energy use 20% below a 2009 baseline by 2020.

Renewable Energy Goal

We did not find information regarding a community-wide renewable energy goal for the city.

Energy Data Reporting

The city does not report community-wide energy data. 

Through the Better Buildings Challenge, the city reports energy data on select buildings. 

Last updated: September 2020

Equity-Driven Approaches to Clean Energy Planning, Implementation, and EvaluationList All

Equity-Driven Community Engagement

We were unable to determine whether relevant decision-makers have taken a unique and expanded approach in conducting engagement for multiple clean energy initiatives with marginalized groups compared to engagement with other city constituencies.

Equity-Driven Decision-Making

Council resolution 190445 established the Climate and Economic Equity Task Force. Membership includes representatives of organizations that represent the interests of marginalized communities. The task force is charged with making recommendations on how to meet Milwaukee's emissions reductions goals (see Climate Action and Energy Planning Goals above) and mitigate racial and income inequity through green jobs. The task force's work can be tracked here, including their preliminary report

Accountability to Equity

We were unable to determine whether the city has adopted specific goals, metrics, or protocols to track how multiple energy, sustainability, or climate action initiatives are affecting local marginalized groups. 

Last updated: June 2020

Clean Distributed Energy SystemsList All

The city has supported the creation of a solar field at a closed landfill site near an Air National Guard base. The solar field will integrate with an existing microgrid at the base and provide it with power in the event of an emergency. 

A district cogeneration plant provides electricity and steam to downtown Milwaukee. 

The Harbor District Water and Land Use Plan outlines support for the installation of district cooling systems using water from Lake Michigan. 

Last updated: June 2020

Mitigation of Urban Heat Islands List All

UHI Mitigation Goal

The ReFresh Milwaukee Sustainability Plan includes a goal to double urban tree canopy coverage to 40% by 2023.

UHI Policies and Programs

For both public and private developments, Milwaukee requires developers to install green infrastructure to capture the first half-inch of rainwater on-site. The city also provides incentives for commercial proprety owners for the installation of green infrastructure such as a credit on the quarterly stormwater management charge.

Last updated: June 2020

Buildings Policies
Score: 7.5 out of 30 points
Buildings Summary List All

The City of Milwaukee enforces the state energy code. The city offers several incentives for energy improvement projects. We could not find information on city mandated benchmarking policies or above-code energy action requirements.

Last updated: September 2020

Building Energy Code AdoptionList All


The State of Wisconsin requires local jurisdictions to follow the state building codes. Residential construction must follow the Wisconsin Uniform Dwelling Code. The Wisconsin Uniform Dwelling Code incorporates the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). Commercial construction must follow the Wisconsin Commercial Building Code, which is based on the 2009 IECC. To learn more about Wisconsin’s building energy codes, please visit the State Policy Database.


Commercial construction in Milwaukee complies with the Wisconsin Commercial Building Code. The city’s zEPI score for their commercial energy code is 53.8. The City of Milwaukee works with USDN to advocate for more stringent state energy codes. 


Residential construction in Milwaukee complies with the Wisconsin Uniform Dwelling Code. The city’s zEPI score for their residential energy code is 63.6. The City of Milwaukee works with USDN to advocate for more stringent state energy codes. 

Solar- and EV-ready

We could not find information on whether the city has adopted solar- and/or EV-ready ordinances.

Last updated: September 2020

Building Energy Code Enforcement and ComplianceList All

The city requires plan reviews to ensure code compliance. We could not find information on the number of full time employees the city staffs to enforce the energy code. We could not find information regarding upfront support for code compliance.

Last updated: September 2020

Policies Targeting Existing BuildingsList All


The Milwaukee Energy Efficiency (Me2) program offers rebates to Milwaukee homeowners for energy efficiency upgrades. Me2 also offers commercial PACE funding and rebates for energy efficiency upgrades for small buildings and manufacturing facilities.

Milwaukee's Targeted Investment Neighborhood and low income weatherization programs grant energy efficiency upgrades and weatherization work to low income homes.

Last updated: September 2020

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Workforce DevelopmentList All

As part of the city’s Me2 initiative, the city entered into a community agreement to provide more job training to women and people of color.

Last updated: September 2020

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 8 out of 15 points
Energy & Water Utilities Summary List All

We Energies, an investor-owned utility (IOU) and subsidiary of WEC Energy Group, is the primary electric and natural gas utility serving the City of Milwaukee. The State of Wisconsin requires spending and savings targets for its electric and natural gas utilities through a PSC act. The utilities pool their required spending totals into the Statewide Energy Efficiency and Renewables Administration (SEERA). SEERA is required to create and fund Focus on Energy and to contract, on the basis of competitive bids, with one or more persons to administer the programs. To learn more about the state requirements for electric and gas efficiency, please visit the Wisconsin page of the State Database.

Milwaukee Water Works provides drinking water services to the City of Milwaukee. The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) is a regional wastewater utility that serves Milwaukee.

Last Updated: March 2020

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs and SavingsList All

In 2018, according to We Energies and Focus on Energy, We Energies achieved 216,560 MWh in net incremental savings from We Energies’ ratepayer funded efficiency programs, representing 0.89% of retail sales. In 2018, We Energies spent $55,824,164 on energy efficiency programs, which represents 1.97% of its retail revenue.

In 2018, We Energies and Focus on Energy reported savings of 10.25 MMtherms from natural gas efficiency programs, representing 0.88% of retail sales. In 2018, We Energies spent $26,314,062 on energy efficiency, which equates to $25.72 per residential customer. Savings on electricity represented in this section cover the entire Wisconsin service territory, not just Milwaukee.

Focus on Energy offers electric efficiency incentives and technical assistance to residential customers.

Milwaukee signed a MOU with the Focus on Energy small business program to market the program as part of its Me2 outreach efforts, and the city has submitted comments to the Public Service Commission expressing its support for strong energy efficiency spending.

Last Updated: March 2020

Low-Income & Multifamily EE Programs List All

Low-Income Programs

Focus on Energy, in partnership with We Energies, provides larger incentives to income-qualified customers for its energy efficiency programs. These larger incentives can be used for participation in the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® and the Heating and Cooling Improvements programs. The Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program uses a whole-home energy audit to determine energy-efficient recommendations for the home. The Heating and Cooling Improvements program provides incentives for improvements made to a home’s HVAC systems. The program is not specifically designed for low-income customers but does offer larger incentives for low-income households in order to lower barriers to participation. The programs address both electric and natural gas end uses, include health and safety funds, and address water efficiency, and target high energy users, the elderly, and households with children. Standard installations for the Home Performance program include carbon monoxide detectors, testing for and repairing gas leaks, and completing combustion safety notification forms for the health and safety of our customers. We Energies operates an additional program called the Residential Assistance Program (RAP), which pays for the full cost of low-income weatherization. The program includes a home energy assessment and comprehensive measures such as attic and wall insulation, dryer venting, and LED lights. We Energies partners with local nonprofits and community organizations to identify candidates for their low-income program through participant referrals. They also provide money saving kits to community organizations for distribution to customers.

In 2018, according to We Energies, across We Energies and Focus programs, it achieved 3,900 MWh and 0.80 MMtherms, while spending $18,254,296 and $8,501,879 on its electric and natural gas low-income programs, respectively. We Energies served 4,586 and 4,620 electric and natural gas low-income customers.

Multifamily Programs

We Energies, through Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy initiative, offers the Multifamily Energy Savings Program. This comprehensive program offers prescriptive rebates for eligible measures, including common area lighting, and custom incentives for performance-based projects. The Multifamily Direct Install Program offers free, direct installation of LEDs, specialty CFLs, pipe insulation, pre-rinse sprayers, faucet aerators, and showerheads as well as water heater temperature setback services and also offers no-cost vending misers and LED retrofits for exit signs in common areas.

In 2018, according to We Energies, across We Energies and Focus programs, it achieved 8,881 MWh and 0.36 MMtherms, while spending $1,027,392 and $382,348 on its electric and natural gas low-income programs, respectively. We Energies served 220 electric and 71 natural gas low-income customers, respectively.

Last Updated: March 2020

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

We Energies does not provide building managers with automated benchmarking data through ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager for multitenant commercial or multifamily buildings. In terms of advocacy for policy improvements in data provisions, Milwaukee currently undertakes advocacy efforts though the Refresh Milwaukee plan.

Last Updated: March 2020

Renewable Energy Efforts of Energy UtilitiesList All

Renewable Energy Incentives

In 2018, We Energies, through the Focus on Energy program, provided $1,203,455 in incentives for the installation of 4,598 kW of new distributed solar systems, equating to $262/kW installed.

Focus on Energy offers two separate programs for renewable energy projects. The first is the Prescriptive Renewable Energy Program for eligible residential and small business customers.  Incentives for solar electric PV are 12% of installed cost not to exceed $2,000 for residential, and 12% of installed cost not to exceed $4,000 for small business. The incentive for geothermal heat pump systems is $650 both residential and small business customers.

The second program is the Renewable Energy Competitive Incentive Program (RECIP), which is available for business customers.  Incentives are awarded through a competitive proposal process and based on the estimated first year net energy production (or offset) of the system. Applicants must propose a $/kWh and/or $/therm amount, up to $0.50/kWh and $1.00/therm. The maximum combined incentives from the program (including both energy efficiency and renewable energy) is capped per calendar year at $400,000.

City-Led Efforts to Decarbonize the Electric Grid

The City of Milwaukee advocated to the PSC in favor of solar tariffs and distributed solar generation. In 2018, city officials published a letter to We Energies urging the utility to create large scale renewable energy options. After working with the City, We Energies created two new renewable energy tariffs: Solar Now and the Dedicated Renewable Energy Resource (DRER).

Last Updated: March 2020

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

City-wide water efficiency and goals

Focus on Energy distributes low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators, funded by a surcharge on utility bills. There are no water efficiency goals or full programs in place for the City of Milwaukee.

Water plant efficiency and self-generation

MMSD’s Vision 2035 contains climate change mitigation and adaption strategies with an emphasis on energy efficiency, with the goal of being energy self-sufficient by 2035. The regional wastewater treatment plant uses landfill gas to generate energy onsite.

Last Updated: March 2020

Score: 8.5 out of 30 points
Transportation Summary List All

The transportation authority serving Milwaukee is Milwaukee Transit Services (MTS). MTS provides the public transportation for the city and the broader metropolitan area, including bus services. The Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC) is the MPO in charge of conducting metropolitan transportation planning. Its area of jurisdiction encompasses seven counties, including Milwaukee County, in the southeastern region of Wisconsin. Milwaukee’s Department of Public Works is charged with managing the city’s transportation network.

Last updated: January 2017

Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Sustainable Transportation Plan

We were unable to confirm if Milwaukee has a sustainable transportation plan in place.

VMT/GHG Targets and Stringency

Milwaukee does not have a VMT/GHG target in place for the transportation sector.

Progress Achieved Toward VMT/GHG Targets

Milwaukee does not track progress towards a VMT/GHG target.

Last Updated: March 2019

Location Efficiency List All

Location Efficient Zoning Codes

The city has adopted an LB3 zoning code to promote compact, pedestrian-friendly development along business corridors.

Residential Parking Policies

Milwaukee does not have required parking minimums for single-family and two-family homes, although it is unclear if there are parking requirements for multifamily housing. Parking requirements are also reduced in some districts of the city that are best served by transit. There are no other incentives available to promote location efficiency.

Location Efficiency Incentives and Disclosure

Milwaukee has development incentive zones in neighborhoods of the city in order to create new development projects that are more compatible with existing development and are pedestrian-friendly.

Last Updated: March 2019

Mode Shift List All

Mode Shift Targets

Milwaukee does not have a mode shift target in place for the transportation sector.

Progress Achieved Toward Mode Shift Targets

Milwaukee does not track progress towards a mode shift target.

Complete Streets

Milwaukee passed a complete streets policy in 2018.

Car Sharing

Milwaukee does not have a supportive parking policy for carsharing vehicles.

Bike Sharing

Milwaukee does not have a supportive zoning policy for docked bike share facilities. The city has 125.98 docked bike share bikes per 100,000 people.

Last Updated: May 2019

Transit List All

Transportation Funding

Milwaukee spends an average of $42.04 per capita on transit.

Access to Transit Services

The city has an All Transit Performance score of 7.6 out of 10.

Last Updated: March 2019

Efficient VehiclesList All

Vehicle Purchase Incentives

Milwaukee offers discounts on purchases of the Nissan Leaf.

Vehicle Infrastructure Incentives

The city does not have any incentives in place for EV charging infrastructure installation.

EV Charging Locations

Milwaukee has 4.54 publicly available EV charging locations per 100,000 people.

Renewable Charging Incentives

We could not confirm if Milwaukee has any incentives for the renewable EV charging infrastructure installation.

Last Updated: March 2019

Freight System EfficiencyList All

Milwaukee does not have a sustainable freight transportation plan in place nor does it have any policies that address freight efficiency.

Last Updated: March 2019

Clean, Efficient Transportation for Low-Income CommunitiesList All

Affordable New TOD Housing Policy

Milwaukee does not have any requirements or incentives in place to encourage the development or preservation of affordable housing in transit-served area.

Connecting Existing Affordable Housing Stock to Efficient Transportation Options

Milwaukee is served by the Bublrbikes bike sharing program, which provides discounts for low-income members.

Low-Income Access to High Quality Transit

64% of low-income households (those that earn less than $50k annually) are located near high-quality, all-day transit in Milwaukee.

Last Updated: April 2019