MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee officials are not only trying to add more affordable housing, but also want these homes to be more environmentally friendly.

Erick Shambarger is the Director of Environmental Sustainability for Milwaukee. He recently visited a vacant lot in Milwaukee’s Lindsay Heights neighborhood.

That lot has been vacant for years.

“Too long,” said Shambarger. “I don’t know about this particular lot, but there are vacant lots all over the City of Milwaukee.”

Shambarger said for many years, Milwaukee has struggled to fill these empty lots with new homes.

However, he believes that can change with the city’s Climate and Equity Plan to build Net-Zero Energy Homes.

“Building them with really high insulation levels, heat pumps and solar panels so they can use as little fossil fuel as possible to heat and power the home,” said Shambarger.

To introduce the concept, the city is looking to build two Net-Zero Energy Homes in this neighborhood. One is a single-family home and the other is a duplex.

Shambarger said this plan could not only create more affordable housing but also more jobs.

“We want to attract a manufacturer that can build houses year-round and housing components and we feel that is necessary in order to get the volume that we need,” Shambarger said. “We can’t just a handful of homes per year because we really need to scale up how fast we are building new homes.”

Shambarger hopes they can select a contractor to build these first two homes later this year. If all goes according to plan, he said they should go on sale sometime in 2024.

“We are going to make sure that there is a lot of public engagement to make sure the housing design fit the character of the neighborhood again and has the support of the community because this is really a project for the community,” said Shambarger.

In the meantime, Shambarger said the vacant lots will remain this way for a little while longer. However, he said he believes in this project.

That’s because he’s committed to doing everything possible to protect the earth and solve the housing affordability problem in the city, all while creating new jobs.