Milwaukee alderman proposing solar requirement for some new residential projects

Tony Zielinski says investment will pay for itself

The office building at 1433 N. Water St. has a solar panel installed on its roof to promote energy efficiency.

Milwaukee Alderman Tony Zielinski is proposing legislation that would require developers constructing new residential buildings that are shorter than three stories tall to include solar-powered energy systems.

The cost, according to Zielinski would be about $10,000 per residential unit.

The office building at 1433 N. Water St. in Milwaukee has solar panels installed on its roof to promote energy efficiency.

“That will be quickly recouped in energy savings for owners and investors,” Zielinski said in a written statement. “Those reduced energy costs will help people pay off their mortgage sooner and will help reduce greenhouse gases that are negatively impacting the environment.”

The legislation is currently being drafted by the Legislative Reference Bureau. It would be similar to solar requirements for residential housing required in California, Zielinski said.

Developer Stu Wangard put solar panels on the roof of the office building his firm, Wangard Partners, developed at 1433 N. Water St. in Milwaukee. He said Friday he doesn’t believe solar should be mandated.

The Metropolitan Builders Association of Greater Milwaukee said until the legislation was evaluated by its membership, they did not want to comment.

Projects that have begun prior to Jan. 1, 2019 and any site where the effective annual solar access is restricted to less than 80 contiguous square feet by shading from any existing permanent natural or manmade barrier external to the dwelling, including but not limited to a tree, hill, or adjacent structure, would be exempt, Zielinski said.

The proposal will be scheduled Common Council’s Zoning, Neighborhoods and Development Committee.

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