April 02, 2019
Sharon Corrigan, County Board Chair 608.333.2285
County Board

Sustainability effort cuts emissions, conserves energy – and saves money


Set amid sparkling waters and lush green fields, Dane County has long enjoyed a close relationship with the environment.


And thanks to targeted investments via the SMART Fund, local government is leading the way on saving energy, reducing carbon emissions and conserving vital resources.


Since it was established in 2012, the SMART Fund has invested some $4.2 million toward over 80 projects designed to make Dane County government and buildings function in a more sustainable manner.


Those awards have resulted in annual cost savings of more than $720,000, according to conservative estimates from the Office of the County Board’s Sustainability and Program Evaluation Coordinator, Lisa MacKinnon.  In addition, through the state’s Focus on Energy program, the county has received another $400,000 in one-time project incentives and rebates that include many of its SMART Fund projects from 2012-2018.


“The SMART Fund makes sense both from an environmental and financial perspective,” says County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan (District 26, Middleton). “Any investments we make now continue to deliver results year after year while showing that Dane County remains a leader in protecting the environment.”


For example, the SMART Fund has helped Dane County government cut its CO2 emissions by over 3,200 metric tons annually. This emissions reduction is the equivalent of:


• Taking 673 passenger vehicles off the road annually

• Reducing passenger vehicles miles driven by 7.75 million miles annually

• Not burning 356,701 gallons of gasoline annually

• Not burning 3.5 million pounds of coal annually

• The average annual energy use of 553 homes

"Sustainability is an important issue to many people in Dane County,” says Supervisor Chuck Erickson (District 13, Madison) who chairs the County Board’s Public Works Sustainability Subcommittee. “Due to the SMART Fund, Dane County government has saved on lighting costs at the Alliant Energy Center, utility costs at the Henry Vilas Zoo and we will be seeing green roofs soon on the City-County Building. These initiatives will save Dane County taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars over time."


In particular, the Alliant Energy Center has been the recipient of several grants over the past years that has helped the county-owned facility operate in a more sustainable manner. Upgrades so far in 2019 include exterior LED lighting and a new high-speed door for the Coliseum.


The SMART Fund is essentially responsible for the Alliant Energy Center and Coliseum being able to replace all of its inefficient lighting with LED lighting over the past several years, which is saving the county an estimated $100,000 in annual operations costs just at this facility.


“With the pending redevelopment of the Alliant Energy Center campus, the SMART Fund has already helped us get a head start on turning an outdated facility into a modern, energy efficient-asset that will more than pay for itself going forward,” says Supervisor Dave Ripp (District 29, Waunakee) who serves on both the County Board’s Public Works Sustainability Subcommittee and the Alliant Energy Center Redevelopment Committee.


The SMART Fund is part of the county’s continued efforts to ensure that important natural resources and ecosystem services are maintained for the future. The fund can be used by county departments and constitutional offices to help implement strategies identified in the Dane County Government Sustainable Operations Plan available here: https://board.countyofdane.com/documents/pdf/final_dane county sustainable operations plan_jan2016.pdf