Cross-posted from EarthTechling with permission

By Susan DeFreitas

Milwaukee, one of the greenest cities in the country? Scoff all you want, Left Coasters, but the city has announced that it will be leveraging funds it received through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to provide up to $60 million in enhanced private-sector financing for building owners to pursue energy-efficient retrofits and renovations.

The program, known as the Me2 Clean Energy Financing Program, works to connect property owners with energy contractors and private lenders, eliminating those upfront costs that keep so many of those who’d like to make energy efficient improvements from pursuing them. As with other such financing programs we’ve seen (for instance, in Louisiana), costs are then recouped via the savings that result from reduced energy use.

The program has secured a high-profile partner in Johnson Controls, which brings extensive experience in building efficiency upgrades to the table, having led or participated in numerous retrofit projects around the world, including the Empire State ReBuilding project expected to decrease the iconic New York City highrise’s energy bills by 38 percent and save $4.4 million per year.

The first Me2 project has already launched at The Newport, a co-op project located at 1620 N. Prospect Avenue in Milwaukee, where Johnson Controls is implementing the removal of existing heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems and replacing them with more energy-efficient equipment. A new building automation system will also be installed to control the HVAC equipment that serves the building.

The overall goals of the Me2 program—which, it has been emphasized, is conducted entirely without the aid of local public funds—are to reduce pollution, create hundreds of private-sector green jobs in the area, reduce energy bills and improve the commercial buildings and houses in Milwaukee. More about the program is available online.