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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Alumnus works to make Milwaukee more sustainable

Photo courtesy of Erick Shambarger

Marquette alumnus Erick Shambarger has had an interest in environmental sustainability since his parents got him and his brother out in nature at an early age. It wasn’t until he traveled around Europe that he found inspiration to make Milwaukee a world-class eco-city.

“When I was in Europe I was able to see some of the connections between Milwaukee and European  cities,” Shambarger said. “(Characteristics of European cities were) really a lot to build on, and I got kind of inspired to want to see (Milwaukee) embrace that kind of ethic even more.”

Shambarger is the sustainability director of the City of Milwaukee’s Environmental Collaboration Office. Mayor Tom Barrett created the office in 2006. It was formerly known as the Office of Environmental Sustainability.

Shambarger said ECO’s mission to make Milwaukee an eco-city involves developing and running programs to reduce the city’s environmental footprint. Shambarger was the deputy director of sustainability for ECO before being appointed sustainability director in June 2015.

“We directly run programs and I work with other city departments to try and help them make their operations more sustainable,” Shambarger said. “We also implement the city’s ReFresh Milwaukee sustainability plan, which outlines all the actions we plan to take on for sustainability.”

Shambarger works primarily on ECO’s energy efficiency programs including Milwaukee Energy Efficiency and the Milwaukee Better Buildings Challenge.

Uriel Carrillo, a senior in the College of Business Administration, works with ECO and Shambarger as an intern on green procurement. This involves making sure goods and services are as environmentally friendly as possible. Carrillo is also working with ECO to develop an environmentally friendly process for obtaining the city’s goods and services for the city.

“Working with ECO has helped me see what environmental and sustainability issues we are facing in Milwaukee and how the city is working to address these issues,” Carrillo said in an email. “It is satisfying to be a part of ECO, even if I myself have not really made an impact yet.”

While many of ECO’s programs apply to homeowners and businesses, Shambarger hopes to continue working with Marquette and its students.

“One of the things we can do is find ways to be smarter about how we do water policy in the city and continue to find next-generation technology that can help us preserve our precious water resources and ultimately create new industries that we can export around the world,” Shambarger said.

Carmela Ruffolo, associate vice president for Research and Innovation in the Office of the Provost, worked with Shambarger and other community partners to submit a report on water to the White House’s Activities and Actions to Build a Sustainable Water Future.

“I think it’s a really great situation where we do have the city that is wanting to work with us on different projects within sustainability,” Ruffolo said. “I think it’s a good partnership.”

Shambarger, a Nebraska native, graduated from Marquette in 2000 with a double major in social philosophy and writing intensive English. While on campus, he was a resident assistant in O’Donnell Hall, member of the wrestling team and participant in community service work.

After graduating, Shambarger attended UW-Madison for graduate school where he received a master’s degree in public affairs with a specialization in energy policy.

“I’d like to invite all Marquette students to think about living in the city of Milwaukee upon graduation,” Shambarger said. “Milwaukee is a great city to live in and I want to continue to build that community of MU grads who continue to live here and choose to help build the city for the future.”

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