Dane County

Dane County

Location: Madison, Wisconsin

About: Dane County is a special place. It is home to more than 500,000 residents, Wisconsin’s State Capitol, the world-class colleges and universities including the University of Wisconsin and Madison College, good schools, more than 60 cities, villages, and towns and some of the most productive farms in the state and the nation. Dane County is home to beautiful natural spaces as well, with fish-filled lakes, rivers and streams and parks abundant with opportunities for rest and relaxation. Dane County is also home to one of the few free zoos in the country, and an airport that connects our businesses and citizens to the world.


The county has placed a priority on operating and managing in a more sustainable way. Through previous retro commissioning projects on existing county facilities, the county has reduced energy consumption by 17% and reduced annual operating costs by $137,000 on the buildings that were affected. Commissioning and retro commissioning on county facilities can help the county to avoid unnecessary operating costs at the design and construction stages for new buildings, and remedy inefficiencies in existing buildings, by identifying opportunities to maximize building performance. This policy supports Dane County Board Resolution 103, 12-13, Adopting Sustainability Principles to Guide County Operations, Management, and Policy Making and Dane County Board Resolution 299, 1999-2000, Dane County’s Green Building Policy.

Dane County Green Building Policy: The overall goal of sustainable building by Dane County is to protect human health, be environmentally responsible and fiscally prudent over the life of the building in the delivery of all new and renovated facilities. To meet this goal, construction planners, engineers and contractors for Dane County shall:

  • Strive to exceed all local, state and federal environmental standards;
  • Use resources efficiently and minimize the consumption of raw materials and resources (energy, water, land, and materials) during the construction and life of the facility;
  • Maximize the reuse of resources;
  • Minimize or eliminate the use of toxic materials;
  • Seek out renewable energy sources as opposed to using fossil fuels;
  • Create a healthy environment for workers, visitors, and neighbors;
  • Design facilities for long term durability, flexibility, and eventual reuse; and
  • Protect and restore the natural environment.

It is recognized that for many environmental topics (such as erosion control or indoor air quality), it is not possible to calculate a strict financial payback. In applying the green building policy, the County will be guided by the following principles:

  • Precautionary principle – it is best to error on the side of adding more environmental and human health protection rather than have too little.
  • Life cycle analysis – we will take a long term look at alternatives, not just the initial costs.
  • Pollution prevention – it is best to not produce a waste product or emission, rather than work to manage it later.
  • Leadership and education – we will provide leadership to others for the adoption and implementation of green building practices.
  • Continual improvement – we will work for continual improvement, including an annual self-evaluation of our policies and practices.


Dane County has made it a priority to become more environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable in its planning, operations, management, and policymaking.

To guide its efforts, the county has adopted the following sustainability principles to provide a systematic approach and a framework to make informed and strategic decisions regarding all aspects of county operations. In order to achieve greater sustainability in everything we do, we will:

  • Reduce and eventually eliminate Dane County government’s contribution to fossil fuel dependence and to wasteful use of scarce metals and minerals;
  • Reduce and eventually eliminate Dane County government’s contribution to dependence upon persistent chemicals and wasteful use of synthetic substances;
  • Reduce and eventually eliminate Dane County government’s contribution to encroachment upon nature and harm to life-sustaining ecosystems (e.g., land, water, wildlife, forest, soil, ecosystems); and
  • Reduce and eventually eliminate Dane County government’s contribution to conditions that undermine people’s ability to meet their basic human needs.

Internal Incentives: N/A

Best Practices: 

  • Alternative powered non-road vehicles
  • GPS tracking
  • Route optimization
  • Non-motorized locomotion
  • Telecommute/car sharing
  • Idle reduction training
  • Eco-driving training
  • Green policy using landfill gas
  • Green purchase policy
  • Green vehicle purchase policy
  • Car sharing/carpooling program
  • Preferred parking


  • 100% of the fleet to be a dedicated alternative fuel
  • 90% of the fuel used by the fleet to be alternative fuel
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