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 to learn about the work of our various community working groups and plan new initiatives. Learn more about how our working groups are achieving their goals below!

  • Early in 2023, the CWG shared the Fitchburg Energy Burden (from the Energy Equity Working Group) report with the mayor and alders.
  • In spring 2023, we advocated for the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) section of Fitchburg to support MMSD school bus contractor, First Student, in applying for EPA grants to bring the first electric school buses to MMSD. 
  • In December 2023, the city embarked on a process of creating a formal Sustainability Action Plan (SAP), with PaleBlueDot consultants.
  • Two of our CWG members serve on the SAP team. A proposal will be presented to the Common Council for consideration, amendment, and approval in summer,2024.

If you are interested in working on any of these projects, please fill out the “Join CCST” form or contact Judy Stadler.

Our members (including college students, young professionals, parents, and many older citizens) participate in various project groups designed to help our city’s staff and elected alders prioritize and achieve the city’s stated climate goals. Recently, we also have participated in helping the Madison Metropolitan School District achieve its climate goals.

Between June 2020 and fall 2023, we completed many projects. Some of these include:

Most recently, we began working intensively with UW–Madison administrators to bring strong public support to bear on their goal of sustainably developing a major portion of the campus. Other projects in motion include:

  • Working with Planning and Sustainable Madison staff on city website enhancements to alert developers to tax and other incentives for exceeding state energy standards;
  • Encouraging the Common Council to adopt building height bonuses for incorporating sustainable features;
  • As part of the now-sunsetted Dane County Community Working Group, many of our Madison-based members garnered significant support for Dane County’s Climate Champions Program, focusing on green building champions (go here to see brochures we produced for some of these buildings) and bringing attention to the role that “green architects” play in producing green buildings.

If you are a Madison resident who wants to help with projects like these, please fill out the “Join CCST” form or contact Susan Millar.

Middleton has longstanding community policies to address climate change in a variety of ways, but city staff and elected leaders have not been effectively held to account concerning these policies. A multiyear effort to influence climate-impacting city decision-making processes, particularly when it comes to new budget purchases, has gained significant traction in 2023. This is due to electing climate-conscious politicians, educating them and city staff, plus following up with emails and public comments, as well as tracking. The city now has a Sustainable Purchasing Policy, and with the help of two of our members, an Implementation Plan will soon get approved to require acquisition decisions by city departments to first consider climate-optimal options.

Mid-2023, we turned greater attention to our school district, and we have increasingly encouraged the superintendent and board to address goals laid out in their 2021 Sustainability Resolution via an email campaign with public comments involving students at board meetings. This gained traction as it became clear that the district planned to plow extra funding into athletic facilities without apparent consideration of using some of it for climate measures. There is now a visible multiyear sustainability planning effort that has drawn much attention and that we will continue to monitor. 

Local spring 2024 elections for the city council and the school board will create additional opportunities to increase our activism and educate candidates on existing policies and our related concerns.

If you are a resident of Middleton or the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District and would like to help with these projects, please fill out the “Join CCST” form or contact Kevin Spitler.

Although our launch was slowed by the COVID campus shutdown, we began by developing a list of key climate-action players at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (UW) and across the UW System. We used this list to launch our “climate-aware Get Out The Vote (GOTV)” initiative, which went into high gear during the summer of 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 fill out the “Join CCST” form or contact Mark Johnson.

Our Climate Action Mapping Project (CAMP) launched in the spring of 2021 to create 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 their community and learn what initiatives are already under way. We are planning the soft launch of our website by spring 2024.

  • We have a WordPress version of the CAMP website, where an initial organization directory and organization profiles are uploaded. For now, we are prioritizing the directory upload, events, messaging/forums, meetings, and tags/focus areas.
  • We have compiled a directory of 440 organizations and counting.

If you are interested in helping realize these goals, please fill out the “Join CCST” form or contact Elise Couillard.

This 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. Here are some of the highlights of our recent activities:

  • We updated the existing Low-Income Energy Burden Reports for Madison, Middleton, Fitchburg, Janesville, and Beloit to reflect the most recent available data. We created new reports for Baraboo and McFarland; these reports will be posted once local stakeholders have provided their feedback.
  • In the fall of 2023, Team Lead Liz Hachten provided testimony based on the low-income energy burden reports to the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) as part of 350 Wisconsin’s intervention in the MGE and WPL rate cases. Along with other intervening groups such as Blacks for Political and Social Action in Dane County, she urged the PSC to take note of this crucial climate justice issue and to formally endorse the principle that energy burdens (e.g., the percentage of a household’s income spent on energy bills) should not rise above the generally accepted 6% “affordability threshold” in the state of Wisconsin. She asked the commission to require both utilities to create new low-income assistance programs to help struggling customers pay their current bills and improve the energy efficiency of their homes to reduce both energy burdens and carbon emissions. 
  • We were gratified that the PSC Commission members cited the 350 Wisconsin energy burden reports favorably in their decisions to order both MGE and WPL to create new affordability programs for their low-income customers. The team plans to continue to participate in these proceedings and advocate vigorously for climate justice-focused solutions. 
  • Team members are developing new informational resources to help spread awareness of the importance of centering energy equity in a just transition to a fossil fuel–free future. Our fall 2023 interns created an interactive guide “Closing the Gap: Innovative Approaches to Ensuring a Just Energy Transition for Low-income Wisconsin Residents” that will be going live soon. The focus in spring 2024 will be to develop and disseminate “Energy Equity Scorecards” for the major investor-owned Wisconsin utilities.

If you are interested in working with us at the intersection of climate and energy justice, please fill out the “Join CCST” form or contact Liz Hachten.