The city also implemented new water usage efficiency measures, such as low-flush toilets. The change produced a 77 percent drop in Waukesha City Hall's energy bill alone, Jelacic said. City Hall's water bill averaged $1,650 before Waukesha's green initiative, and now it averages about $300. In addition, City Hall used 323,000 gallons of water per month before the initiative and now uses 74,000 gallons. Heating ventilation and air conditioning offered another conservation opportunity: Waukesha switched to energy-efficient boilers in four buildings.
Green technology is one of the rare areas where some governments try to influence the private sector to adopt a technology, rather than the opposite. Some local government officials implement major solar panel deployments in part to raise the solar energy's market profile. Nelson is planning a marketing campaign to prospective Waukesha businesses encouraging them to embrace green architecture. He said Wal-Mart already took the lead on green architecture.
"We just made preliminary approval for the first Super Wal-Mart that's going to have [more than] 100 skylights in it," Nelson said. "I have two pages on what Wal-Mart is doing to make their building more green and sustainable. This is something Wal-Mart's top leadership decided two or three years ago.
"They were going to change the way they did business. They realized they could save a ton of money."
He said the city's planning commission is still establishing the types of green architecture it would mandate, but it had already mandated some construction features.
"We have a 55-acre infill development that's going to have a Target store as its anchor. Part of the approval for their preliminary plan was to have a connection to a bike and hiking trail with a little park area in the upper northwest corner of the development," Nelson said. "We're having more green space and trees than the normal amount of parking -- where you'd have massive parking and very little green space."
Green and Trendy
Local governments, Hirschbach said, are far ahead of state governments at going green.
"A lot of cities, especially in California, are embracing green technology to solve their energy woes," he said.
And bottom lines in government and the private sector are what finally mobilized green technology beyond fringe users, Nelson said.
"It's not like 10 years ago when people were saying these environmental measures would hurt business and economic development. The opposite is the case. There is recognition that these green sustainable practices are good for business, local governments, homeowners and taxpayers. I think we're at the cutting edge of what's going on here," Nelson said.