Milwaukee County recently unveiled its Sustainability Management Plan (SMP) for General Mitchell International Airport (MKE), titled “Journey to Sustainability,” as one of several projects that commit to more sustainable practices.

The SMP establishes 11 broad focus areas for benchmarking MKE’s sustainability performance, including economic prosperity, operational efficiency, community engagement and customer experience. Actions identified under each focus area provide a roadmap for MKE to reduce its environmental footprint and positively contribute to the region’s social and economic well-being.

“At a time when environmental policy is being challenged, it’s even more critical to show our commitment to cleaner, healthier and more environmentally sustainable operations,” said Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele. “Mitchell Airport continues to grow as a regional leader in many categories – including environmental responsibility. This is an important step in tracking success toward our goals.”

General Mitchell International Airport offers nonstop flights to 48 destinations coast-to-coast, and 160 international destinations are available from Milwaukee with just one connection. MKE is owned by Milwaukee County and operated by the Department of Transportation, Airport Division, under the policy direction of the Milwaukee County Executive and the County Board of Supervisors.

“Milwaukee is well known for energy and sustainability leadership, and the airport wants to help build upon this reputation,” Airport Director Brian Dranzik said. “In developing and implementing the SMP, we hope that the airport can contribute to the health of our region’s environment, people and economy.”

Beyond the airport, Milwaukee County continues to identify areas to improve energy efficiency in order to increase fiscal and environmental stewardship, as well as address social equity issues. Recent initiatives include:

  • Saving energy: During 2017, the County saved $4.4 million by reducing building energy consumption.
  • Zero Landfill Initiative: The House of Correction (HOC) has already significantly reduced the amount of food and other waste being taken to landfills by opening a new compost site, which also accepts waste from other County departments – such as herbivore excrement from the Milwaukee County Zoo. In pursuit of its Zero Landfill Initiative, HOC was recognized with an Innovation Quotient (IQ) award from the BizTimes.
  • Better Building Challenge – Milwaukee: Two County buildings, Marcia P. Coggs Center and Vel R. Phillips Juvenile Justice Center, have joined the Better Buildings Challenge-Milwaukee, a City of Milwaukee program that promotes energy awareness and efficiency among commercial building owners. The County has committed to reducing energy consumption in those buildings by 20 percent over 10 years as part of the program.
  • Ditch Your Car program: The Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) recently announced a challenge asking Milwaukee County residents to use alternatives to cars for 30 days as part of the Ditch Your Car program, in partnership with Lyft, Bublr Bikes and Zipcar. From the residents who signed up, 50 have been selected to participate in the challenge starting on Oct. 8 and receive over $500 in transportation credits.

“With the broad array of assets and services Milwaukee County maintains, we have enormous potential to lead in nearly every area of energy efficiency and environmental sustainability,” Abele added. “It’s the right thing to do for our residents, for our bottom line and for our community’s future.”

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Lee Matz