La Crosse is a community bordered by rolling bluffs to the east and the mighty Mississippi River to the west.  Our historic City features exciting new developments and modern conveniences.  Economic growth has enlivened our stores, restaurants, and galleries. Located in Western Wisconsin along the Mississippi River, the La Crosse area is ideally located for business and industry, serving as the regional economic center of the tri-state area (WI, MN and IA).

The City of La Crosse is proud to be recognized as the first Wisconsin City to have installed bike racks on all metro buses, the first to have initiated a City wide Safe Routes to School Plan, and the first to adopt a Green Complete Streets Ordinance.  In 2010, the City completed a Downtown Mixed-Use Transit Center which includes bicycle lockers and a green roof.

River Bluff. Image Credit: The Nature Conservancy

The greatest challenge facing La Crosse today is the fact that 40% of our residential dwellings are renter-occupied, 1,000 small homes are valued under $100,000, and an older housing stock paired with other issues are challenging the sustainability of our neighborhoods.  La Crosse will always celebrate its urban identity, educated youth, and cultural and recreational attributes; least of which is our dedication to improving quality of life and economic prosperity.

Sustainability Initiatives

Our Joint Strategic Plan for Sustainability integrates the Natural Step model for achieving greater sustainability.  A quote from the plan states, “… in La Crosse, we recognize that both the City and County are consumers of our resources and must act as stewards of our environment, therefore, we must incorporate the principles of sustainability into our development plans.”  The actions listed below are some of initiatives taken to reach La Crosse’s sustainability goals:


  • Silver – Bike Friendly Community
  • Municipal Transit Authority ridership is the highest it has been in 29 years, totaling 1,255,407 riders (2011).
  • The Police Department retrofitted 16 squad cars to use propane fuel.  In 2012, 39,282 propane units were consumed instead of gasoline, an estimated cost savings of $38,000.
  • The League of American Bicyclists designated the City of La Crosse and leading businesses as a Silver-Level Bicycle Friendly Community, one of only two Cities in the State to have such a designation.
  • Four hybrid transit buses are in use, improving fuel economy by 30% and reducing emissions by 90%.
  • Municipal Transit Utility is investigating the feasibility of incorporating compressed natural gas (CNG) into future bus replacements in 2013 and 2014.
  • The City’s vehicle fleet consists of 3 Toyota Prius and 1 Honda Civic Hybrid.
  • In 2012, La Crosse completed a Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, adopting a framework to make La Crosse safe and accessible for users of all levels.

Land Use

  • The City, has preserved more than 900 acres of blufflands.
  • Design guidelines for multi-family and commercial developments require every applicant to submit a LEED checklist, incorporate bicycle parking on impervious surfaces, and engineer on-site stormwater mitigation measures.
  • The City of La Crosse is recognized as a Bird City as well as a Tree City.
  • Traditional Neighborhood Development is allowed in the City, which provides flexibility in commercial and residential uses as well as mixed-use developments.
  • Partnership with WI-DNR in the Climate Change Adaption Report.
  • The City is proud partners with the region’s Outdoor Recreation Alliance to promote the area’s natural beauty and vast silent sport opportunities.  Watch Video


  • The City Council passed a Small Wind Systems ordinance, as well as a resolution endorsing the former Governor’s mission to generate 25% of Wisconsin’s electricity and transportation fuels from renewable sources by 2025. (2008 Ord.)
  • The Joint Sustainability Commission publishes an annual Sustainability Indicator Report, which measures a number of indicators including but not limited to:
    • Electricity consumption by meter/address/department
    • Natural gas consumption by meter/address/department
    • Diesel consumption by department
    • Gasoline consumption by department
    • Propane consumption (Police Vehicle Fleet)
  • The City’s Green Building Policy requires new municipal structures and renovations to strive to meet LEED Silver standards.
  • Within City Hall, HVAC control updates have been completed to ensure more efficient heating and cooling of the building.
  • Many lights and light fixtures have been upgraded to more efficient models and some occupancy sensors. The Public Works department is continuing to work with Focus on Energy (FOE) to make further improvements.
  • The La Crosse Center upgraded the HVAC system – This put all the controls into one location and made it digitally controlled and more efficient. Programmable features in the system allow heating and cooling based on occupancy to prevent unnecessary energy waste when the building is unoccupied.
  • The La Crosse Airport replaced conventional light bulbs with more efficient LED lighting (buildings and runways).
  • Black River Beach Neighborhood Center incorporated geothermal heating, solar hot water, and passive solar design.
  • The IT Department has partnered with Focus on Energy to earn rebates by implementing a program that hibernates computers after 70 minutes of inactivity and shuts them off after 5:30 p.m.
  • In the Main St parking ramp, lighting upgrades allow lighting 24 hours for safety, but design allows different parts of the light fixture to operate at different times to minimize energy consumption.
  • 2013 Vehicle Idling Policy is intended to reduce exhaust from idling vehicles.


  • The Green Complete Streets Policy adopted best management practices for bike/pedestrian facilities and stormwater mitigation measures for street reconstruction projects.
  • During the winter months, salt trucks have been retrofitted with digital controls to lay down a precise amount of material for every mile of road. Salt brine is being utilized to help reduce salt usage during the winter on all city maintained right-of-ways.
  • Stormwater Utility was created to charge property owners for impervious surfaces.  The fund will be used for stormwater upgrades.


  • In 2012, #1 and #2 plastics were add to the City’s curbside pick-up recycling program which also includes paper, metal cans, and glass.
  • Automatic hand towel dispensers, hand soap dispensers, and 100% recycled tissue paper is purchased for use throughout the city’s buildings.
  • The Street Department is using and recycling materials in the construction and repair of roads.
  • Projectors have been installed in conference rooms to cut down the need for printed material.
  • A new fax server is used to remove the need for paper faxes and duplex (double sided) printing automatically set for all printers.

Other Sustainability Recognitions & Resources:

  • 2007: Country Home Magazine ranks the City of LaCrosse as the “4th Best Small Green City in the United States,” as well as the “13th Greenest City in America”
  • 2006 Gathering Waters Conservancy named the City of La Crosse “Policy Maker of the Year” for our Bluffland Protection program.

For more information on La Crosse, please visit the City of La Crosse website