Three major issues affect our building stock: aging structures, the foreclosure crisis, and state law restricting green building practices. Many areas of the city suffer from old and severely dilapidated buildings. The real estate market in Milwaukee continues to be depressed in many neighborhoods and the expense of building improvements or a replacement is cost-prohibitive.
Options for requiring green building guidelines or systems, like Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®), are limited in part because the building code in Wisconsin is a minimum/maximum code that heavily restricts municipalities from requiring green building features; the code is more restrictive than the law.
A number of different technologies and practices can be incorporated to create "green" buildings that, in addition to the stormwater benefits, have lower impacts on the natural environment and are more aesthetically pleasing. The City operates programs like the Façade Grant program to help improve the attractiveness of commercial buildings and the ME3 program to help improve the sustainability of small- and medium-sized manufacturers' facilities and operations. The benefits of developing sustainable buildings include improved energy and water efficiency, reduced waste and air pollution, and an overall improvement in occupant satisfaction.