Sustainability in Marshfield, WI

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On Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - 21:22
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In Marshfield, it’s easy being green – and getting easier every day.

Thanks to efforts spearheaded by the Sustainable Marshfield Committee, the city has joined the ranks of Wisconsin Energy Independent Communities. To qualify for this innovative partnership between the state and its cities, Energy Independent Communities voluntarily agree to adopt the goal of getting 25 percent of their electricity and transportation fuels from renewable sources by the year 2025.

Marshfield had already started down that road when it was chosen as one of 10 pilot communities to be awarded a 25x’25 Grant from the Wisconsin Office of Energy Independence. The majority of the $28,750 grant was designated for creating a plan to reach that goal. Amy Peterson, a LEED-accredited planner with MSA Professional Services, has been helping draft the formal plan that will energize the city’s efforts going forward. “Buildings are the biggest energy users in our communities, so the first thing we will be looking at is retrofitting buildings to make them more energy efficient,” she says. “Receiving the 25x’25 Grant really puts Marshfield at the forefront of sustainability in the state and places the city in the running for other competitive grants.”

Building Renovation

Already in the works is the Energy Efficiency Conservation and Block Grant, through which federal monies distributed by the Wisconsin Department of Commerce could funnel up to $225,000 into Marshfield to replace lighting, windows and HVAC systems in municipal buildings. The city also has applied for the $500,000 EPA Climate Showcase Communities Grant, which would fund an energy manager for the city, among other things. “Of course, none of this would be happening without the passion of the Sustainable Marshfield Committee and the support of the city,” Peterson adds.

Powered by the efforts of Sustainable Marshfield, achievements to date include Natural Step sustainability training for city officials; Marshfield Utilities’ purchase of a hybrid truck; energy audits of municipal buildings, businesses and homes; passage of green legislation; 3,000 compact fluorescent light bulbs given out to the community; the first annual Green Living Expo; and a new fire station that is being built to LEED-certification standards. “We’re pretty young as a group,” says Marty Anderson, chairman of the Sustainable Marshfield Committee, which officially launched in September 2007, “but we’ve already achieved some significant successes. I’ve been amazed."

“We held our first Green Living Expo on Oct. 3, 2009. We wanted to focus on giving people tangible ways to implement sustainable practices into their everyday living. The community has responded positively, and we’ve had very strong support from the city leadership.” Jim Benson, energy and water conservation coordinator for Marshfield Utilities, uses a thermal imaging camera and a computer program to conduct energy audits and generate reports detailing the ways homeowners can make their dwellings more energy efficient. “With just a small amount of promotion, Jim is booked solid,” Anderson adds. “Marshfield Utilities will probably have to hire one or two more Jims.” And Marshfield’s efforts are spreading.

Sustainable Marshfield has delivered presentations throughout central Wisconsin and served on several advisory panels for other communities. Wisconsin Rapids-based Energy Composites Corp., a manufacturer of components for wind energy and other clean technologies, is working with the National Energy Research Laboratory and the Department of Energy to develop a certified training program for wind-energy component workers. The first such program in the world, it will be offered at Mid-State Technical College and will likely serve as a model for industry certification throughout the country.

Find more on green living in Marshfield, WI.