Renewable Energy

Renewable energy systems are at the forefront of making UWM more sustainable; however, it is critical to manage our energy usage to maximize the effectiveness of these investments. The Department of Energy defines renewable energy as wind, solar, geothermal, hydrogen, and biomass. As an urban campus, our options lie primarily in solar and geothermal, while wind is viable only in specific locations, but worthy to consider as well.

The current and potential progress on renewable energy at UWM lies in the research of our School of Engineering, taking advantage of current incentives and grants, as well as a thought out planning process to find the best sites. Renewable energy can also be purchased through our local utility.


Solar Electric (PV)

Pending roof structure and building position, solar photovoltaic is a great option for renewable energy in the city. Technology is always changing, to improve the efficiency of the panels. It is best to place solar panels facing a southerly direction, without the occurrence of too much shading throughout the day.

PV_Bolton Hall

Bolton Hall- This 74 panel solar energy installation is a perfect example of using the campus as a living laboratory. The drive behind this installation is research being conducted by UWM’s College of Engineering and Applied Science. Each panel produces 205 watts.



Cambridge Commons- Solar panels are located on the 6-story core of the building.


pv panels looking west

Golda Meir Library-The newest solar addition on campus is the 30-kilowatt system of solar cells on top of Golda Meir Library that is sponsored by WE Energies, with the support of Focus on Energy grants.


Additional Information

 Bolton Solar installation  Bolton Hall Solar Panels
 UWM roof becomes solar energy lab


Solar Thermal

Solar thermal systems collect heat from the sun to store, traditionally for building hot water needs. This is a very viable renewable energy option in Wisconsin, and the City of Milwaukee.

Klotsche Pavilion- Intended to heat the swimming pool inside Klotsche Pavilion, this solar thermal system was installed during the Pavilion construction. The components are currently under review to maximize their use, especially since more hot water was produced than needed. It is likely that the hot water could be diverted to showers and sinks.



Utilizing wind energy is on the rise across the country. Some areas, like Iowa, are perfect sites for capturing this resource. Wisconsin also has several area wind farms. Traditionally, urban areas are not optimal for maximizing this potential. But off of the main Kenwood campus some areas do exhibit wind potential. Wind is currently under review at the University Services Building, and stimulus dollars are being sought for a large scale wind turbine.



Little is sometimes know about geothermal by the general public, since it is not the roof top shine of solar power, or the eye-catching stance of a wind farm. Geothermal lies low, literally, capturing heat from the earth, minimizing the energy put into heating air for a building, that would normally pull from the cold outdoor air during winter. Geothermal can also be used to generate electricity. This is a future resource that will be explored at UWM.


Purchased Renewable Energy

In 2006, Governor Jim Doyle signed the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Act into law (2005 Wisconsin Act 141). In the new law, he challenged key state agencies and university campuses to purchase 10% of their energy from renewable sources and grow that to 20% by the end of 2011.

By working with our local utility, WE Energies, UWM has been able to do this. The purchase by UW institutions as a whole comes out to 70,383,875 kWh at this time, and is expected to grow once the total purchase is equal to 20%. The State will purchase annually 92,400 megawatt hours of renewable electrical energy. These are not credits, or “paper”, but rather real purchasing of renewable electricity.