CCST Action Highlights

Achieving Climate Goals at the Local Level

The Community Climate Solutions Team (CCST) began actively operating in January 2020. We hold monthly meetings to which our 100+ members are invited in order to learn about the work of our various Community Working Groups and  plan new initiatives. Learn more about how our Community Working Groups are achieving their goals below!

Our Climate Action Mapping Project launched in spring 2021 with the goal of creating a web-based resource that helps organizations (including nonprofits, businesses, and municipalities) and individuals interested in a particular climate-related issue find like-minded others in our community and learn what initiatives are already under way. As of September 2021, we have established a strong collaboration with the Climate Action Mapping Project Bay Area and are still in the design phase of our project. We believe our online “mapping technology” will encourage collaboration and innovation, while breaking down barriers to climate action. If you are interested in helping realize these goals, please complete the CCST interest form here.

Using the county’s comprehensive Climate Action Plan as a guide, the Dane County Community Working Group has approached local engagement on multiple fronts. This includes meeting with local practitioners of sustainable agricultural practices and recognizing and promoting local low- or no-carbon buildings. Before the April 2022 election, we sent several interview questions about climate and climate justice to the county supervisor candidates so that voters could know where each stands on these positions. In the summer of 2022, we mailed postcards describing the benefits of heat pumps to homeowners identified as still having gas-powered furnaces.

One of our members acts as the liaison for both the Dane County Board of Supervisors and the Capital Area Regional Planning Commission; he seeks to keep climate action at the forefront of these decision-making bodies. We are also working to identify potential candidates for the Climate Champions program hosted by the Office of Energy and Climate Change, particularly for the categories of Sustainable Land Use and Water Saving Practices. In early 2023, we plan to launch a campaign to inspire public enthusiasm and advocate for Dane County’s proposed sustainable business park to divert waste and create local circular economies. If you are interested in participating in one of these projects, please complete the CCST interest formIf you are interested in participating in one of these projects, please complete the CCST interest form here.

One of our newest working groups, the Energy Equity Working Group is dedicated to ensuring a just and equitable transition to a fossil fuel–free energy system for all Wisconsin residents, including the most economically vulnerable.  In spring 2022, we produced a report on the problem of high energy burden and energy insecurity among low-income households in Madison, which was disseminated to city staff, alders, and other local stakeholders. Currently, we are preparing similar reports for other Wisconsin communities and counties, as well as launching efforts to reach out to frontline communities and organizations that are advocating for climate-friendly, equitable solutions to energy inequities. If you are interested in working with us at the intersection of climate and energy justice, please complete the CCST interest form here.

For four years, we have advocated for policies that help increase the city’s generation of clean energy. For example, in 2022 we spoke in favor of an alder’s budget amendment to allocate an additional $20,000/year (for 10 years) to increase the percentage of electric and hybrid vehicles in the city fleet. In July 2022, we testified in favor of Alder Gabriella Gerhardt’s amendments to the Capital Improvement Plan, which would invest in solar canopies on city parking lots when upgraded. We also wrote emails in support of Alder Gerhardt’s proposal for a solar roof on the Hub Park canopy.

We testified in support of allocating $25,000 (from American Rescue Plan Act and Tax Incremental District retirement funds) to hire a consultant to develop a City of Fitchburg Sustainability Plan. The request for proposals for the Fitchburg Sustainability Plan is scheduled to be completed in January 2023. In September 2023, we did some preliminary scouting of Fitchburg neighborhoods that would experience higher energy burden, according to the LEAD data also being used to assess Madison energy burden.

If you are interested in working on any of these projects, please complete the interest form here.

We established the Local Content Engagement group in September 2021. Our goal is to create content for use on all of 350 Wisconsin’s community-facing channels designed to educate, recruit, and promote all that CCST is doing to improve the region’s climate outcomes. Among our communication channels are a Podcast series that features local changemakers and officials describing how they are making Madison more sustainable, contributions to 350 Wisconsin’s blog, and infographics and visuals for use on social media, the 350 Wisconsin Climate Newsletter, and anywhere else where lively and timely content can more effectively share our messages. Are you interested in creating content through a climate lens? If so, please complete the CCST interest form here.

Our members (including college students, young professionals, parents, and many older citizens) participate in various project groups designed to focus our city’s staff and elected alders on the urgent importance of achieving the city’s stated climate goals. 

Between summer 2020 and summer 2022, we completed many projects, including helping the city pass a tougher stormwater ordinance; garnering citizen support to pass Madison’s EV Readiness Ordinance; bringing public attention to the climate goals of candidates for the 2021 alder election; sending the Mayor research-based memos urging the city to act on its stated goal of encouraging the owners of large buildings across the city to benchmark their energy use; urging the Plan Commission to expect higher green building standards by making comments at their bimonthly meetings; publishing a case study–based report on green building incentive programs designed to spur the planning departments in Madison and surrounding communities to use incentives to reward developers who use green building practices; and publishing a report on financial strategies for a Madison version of the Portland Clean Energy Fund.

In fall 2022, we launched our Alder Election project, which seeks to establish ongoing climate-related interactions between our working group’s members and each of Madison’s 20 elected alders. With the help of our college interns, this group produced our Low-Income Energy Burden in Madison, Wisconsin: A Climate Justice Challenge report, which we are sharing with the alders and many others. 

If you are a Madison resident who wants to help with these projects, please complete the CCST interest form here.

We have engaged in multiple initiatives to help our city’s officials advance policies and decisions that reduce climate change. We frequently provide public comment at City Council and other municipal meetings, publish articles in local media, and meet individually with the mayor, mayoral candidates, alders, and city staff. Our alder engagement project assigns volunteers to specific elected officials to sustain communication about climate issues. We also participated in the Middleton Sustainability Committee to propose revisions for the energy and greenhouse gas chapters of our city’s Sustainability Plan.

Our “greener golf course” and “fleet electrification” projects made initial inroads with staff. However, these efforts must continue in order to overcome concerns about new technology, capital budget limits, and planning cycle constraints. With additional volunteers, these and projects focused on idling, bike advocacy, and solar energy will build on our promising initial discussions with city staff. If you are a resident of Middleton who would like to help with these projects, please complete the CCST interest form here.

Although our launch was slowed by the COVID campus shutdown, we began by developing a list of key climate-action players at UW–Madison and across Wisconsin’s four-year university and technical college systems. We used this list to launch our “climate-aware Get Out The Vote (GOTV)” initiative, which went into high gear during summer 2020. Our climate-aware GOTV work used both digital and socially distant in-person events to provide students with detailed information about voter registration, absentee ballot voting, and so forth, and to highlight the connections between climate change, social/racial justice, and climate resilience. If you are interested in participating in these projects, please complete the CCST interest form here.