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Honey Bee Green Roof Added to Baltimore Skyline

There's a buzz of new activity over on the roof of the Resource Conservation Technology icehouse in Baltimore's eastern warehouse district. Led by Green Roof Service and ADI Architecture and Design Inc. the site is now the of the region's first green roofs designed to attract honey bees.

Volunteers and honey bee enthusiasts took to the roof to help create the new habitat.

"One of the greatest threats to honey bee populations today is the destruction of habitat due to urban sprawl," says Diane Odell (ADI), beekeeper and the garden's designer. To help remedy this, the honey bee green roof features 5,500 square feet of plantings honey bees love to support the small hive provided by State Beekeeper Oliver Snyder III.

To make the rooftop garden possible, special engineering and the use of modern green roof technology was needed. "The end result is a light weight vegetated structure that slows and contains contaminated storm-water reducing runoff, reduces air-borne pollutants, protects the roof from damaging UV rays, and better insulates the roof, reducing heating and cooling," says Kat Harrold, accredited Green Roof Professional. 

The green roof will also have a cooling effect on the surrounding area. "As water travels through the growing media, roots, and exits through the leaves it creates a cooling effect much like when one sweats. On a sunny day this can reduce the air temperature on the roof by about 10 degrees," says Jorg Breuning, 30-year green roof designer and owner of Green Roof Service. 

A  wide variety of flowering plants ranging from bulbs to small trees were used to create the unique habit necessary to keep the honey bees happy. The specially selected vegetation provides continuous bloom from February to November.

"The installation was a great success," commented Diane Odell. "I can't wait for the spring when everything has been established and starts to bloom."
Source: Green Roof Service
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Coppin State University Scientists Create World's Most Energy Efficient Solar Cells

A team of scientists from Coppin State University's nanotechnology research center have created the most efficient solar energy cells in the world. Dr. Jamal Uddin, a Natural Sciences professor, and five undergraduate students have created model cells that are nearly four percent more efficient than solar cells developed by Spectrolab, a Boeing company based in California that had held the title for most efficient simulated cells since 2006.

Dr. Uddin's team made the discovery as it worked to develop a solar energy source for night vision goggles used by the U.S. Army. The goggles are currently powered by Lithium ion batteries, which are very heavy, says Dr. Uddin. The Army is seeking a lighter, longer lasting alternative battery.

The researchers used nanotechnology particles to make the new solar cells. So far, simulations have shown 43.4 percent of solar cells effective for reusable energy. Spectrolab's highest result was 40.7 percent. Dr. Uddin says his team utilized the metaphysics software COMSOL and the online software program PC1D to break the world record.

The team will continue to try and improve, says Dr. Uddin. "We hope to get it up to 50 percent by December. We'll try using different combinations of materials."

The team is currently seeking additional funding to begin fabricating the solar cells, which Dr. Uddin says could be used to power an array of electronic devices. The cells could also be used as the foundation for future technologies.

"I'm excited because this has been an unexpected discovery," he says.

Source: Dr. Jamal Uddin, Coppin State University
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Marriott's TownPlace Suites at BWI Receive Gold-level LEED Certification

Baltimore's TownePlace Suites by Marriott at BWI Airport is the first LEED for Existing Buildings Gold certified green hotel in Maryland. It is also the first existing hotel among Marriott's 3,400-hotel worldwide portfolio to receive that certification.

Its innovative environmental practices range from green cleaning in guest rooms to composting all of its waste to low-flow plumbing devices and use of low-mercury and compact fluorescent lighting.

"We're thrilled to be named the first LEED Gold certified existing hotel in the state of Maryland," says Michelle Emley, general manager. "The vast majority of our nation's housing stock is older or historic. We know that most homeowners are not in the position to design and build a new green home, but they can incorporate simple, sustainable practices in their existing homes."

"A central belief of green building is that our economic, environmental, and personal health is dramatically impacted by the places where we live, work, learn, shop, eat and play," says Chris Smith, COO of the U.S. Green Building Council. "The owners of the TownePlace Suites by Marriott at BWI Airport recognized this early on, and their foresight has resulted in Maryland's first existing hotel to be certified LEED Gold."

Source: TownPlace Suites
Writer: Walaika Haskins

GM to Invest $23.5M for New Electric Components Facility in Baltimore County

General Motors announced last week that it will invest $23.5 million for additional production of vehicle electrification components on the site of the Baltimore Transmission Plant, site of the first electric motor manufacturing facility in the U.S. to be operated by a major automaker.

The new investment will create 11 job openings to be filled in accordance with the UAW-GM National Agreement.

"This will allow us to strengthen our core electrification components expertise," says GM Manufacturing Manager Arvin Jones. "We'll have more to say about specific products later."

The investments in the White Marsh facility will be made with the assistance from the Recovery Act funding announced in August 2009 by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The newly announced investment is in addition to the $246 million investment announced in January to build a high-volume electric drive production facility for GM's next-generation rear-wheel drive Two-mode Hybrid system. The addition of electric motor production, to begin in 2013, will take place in a separate facility to be built on the same site as the Baltimore plant. The January investment will create about 200 jobs in three states, including Maryland.

Designing and manufacturing electric motors at Baltimore Transmission allows GM to more efficiently control the design, materials and production processes as well as reduce costs and improve performance, quality, reliability and manufacturability.

Source: General Motors
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Severstal to Build Renewable Energy Plant at Sparrows Point

Severstal North America, the fourth largest steelmaker in the U.S., has announced plans to launch a renewable energy program at its Sparrows Point location. Severstal Sparrows Point has partnered with Renewable Energy Management of Baltimore (REM), to construct and operate a renewable energy facility that the company says will provide benefits for the environment, local economy, and sustainability of the steelmaking operations. Construction of the facility is scheduled to begin this month.

The facility will bring new jobs to the Sparrows Point area and support the advancement of the renewable energy industry in Maryland, while recycling natural fuels that reduce environmental impacts for the new generation of clean energy.

The plant will produce renewable liquid fuel (RLF), a biodegradable, naturally derived oil-based fuel generated through an environmentally beneficial recycling process. For example, oil and grease by-products from food manufacturers will be used as a natural, renewable raw material feedstock rather than petroleum-based fuels that require extensive drilling and overseas transportation. RLFs are abundant and cleaner to produce and also provide measurable reductions in emissions while being consumed for energy or transportation operations as compared to fossil fuels. 

"Sparrows Point is proud to partner with REM, especially to promote environmentally sensitive energy sources in the region. This partnership is an example of our commitment to support the growth of sustainable manufacturing and is consistent with our goal to continuously improve the environmental stewardship of our facilities," says Dave Howard, Vice President and General Manager at Severstal Sparrows Point.

According to Severstal, the use of RLF versus petroleum fuel cuts smog-producing particulate matter almost in half. When compared to ethanol, RLF requires less energy during production, provides greater energy output, and lowers carbon dioxide emissions an additional 25 percent. It can also be produced efficiently without sacrificing the United States' crop supply. It's a fuel that will support environmentally sustainable operations at Sparrows Point.

"Maryland is a national leader in our ability to harness renewable energy, and our ambition moving forward to expand those abilities," says Governor O'Malley. "This initiative will put more clean energy on the grid as private companies like Severstal recognize not only the environmental benefits of these initiatives but also that sustainable practices make good business sense. Our goal to create thousands of 'green jobs' in the coming years for Marylanders is strengthened by initiatives like this."

Source: Serverstal Sparrows Point
Writer: Walaika Haskins

National Aquarium Teams With Uno Chicago Grills to Raise Dough for Conservation

The National Aquarium and Baltimore-area Uno Chicago Grills have come together to help save the planet -- or at least our part of it. The deep dish pizza joint and the National Aquarium have come together to launch the first ever Dough Rai$er, a year long fundraising event to benefit the Aquarium's conservation initiatives and education programs. The fundraiser gives the Aquarium's fans an opportunity to take action and support a healthier environment when dining at Chicago Uno Grills.

To participate in the National Aquarium Dough Rai$er just get a a voucher and bring it to a Baltimore area Uno Chicago Grill location through September 1, 2011. Twenty percent of sales generated from the vouchers will go to the National Aquarium's conservation and education programs.

Participating locations include Baltimore City (Harbor Place), Ellicott City (Long Gate Shopping Center), The Mall in Columbia, Bowie Town Center, Frederick, and Union Station in Washington D.C.

"This partnership highlights the power of community based partnerships," says Denise Aranoff-Brown, senior director of marketing for the National Aquarium. "In Uno Chicago Grills, we have found a partner that is equally committed to providing easy opportunities for consumers to get involved. In this case, local residents can help protect their local environment by supporting the Aquarium's conservation research and action programs."

In addition to the Dough Rai$er program, Uno Chicago Grill will support the Aquarium's conservation-related events. To help kick-off the partnership, Uno donated food for the Aquarium's Rock the Boat fundraiser that raised well over $1,000 for conservation research and action projects designed to restore, protect, and manage critical species or ecosystems.

"Uno Chicago Grill is proud to support the National aquarium with our hugely popular Dough Rai$er program. We care about the well-being of our customers and understand the importance of a healthy ecosystem such as the Chesapeake Bay," says Jim Hartnett, Harbor Place managing partner. "To date, we have donated more than $3.4 million to deserving organizations."

Source: The National Aquarium
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Baltimore City Releases Green Building Standards as Less Expensive Option to LEED Standards

The Housing Authority of Baltimore City has released the city's Green Building standards. Developed in partnership with the Planning Department, the Baltimore City Green Building Standards are meant to be a quicker, less expensive alternative to the traditional LEED certification currently required under the Baltimore City Code, the agency says.

The standards will apply to newly-constructed or extensively-modified nonresidential or multi-family residential buildings that have or will have at least 10,000 square feet of gross floor area.
The new standards are innovative and designed to achieve certification for green buildings with guidelines that work with Baltimore's unique building and land use issues. As awareness of environmental and energy issues has increased, demand for green buildings has also grown. The BCGBS incorporates elements of the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system and will serve as an "incentive" for green development without additional cost to developers. They are also designed to best achieve the goals of the Baltimore Sustainability Plan.

"The development of the Green Building Standards is another opportunity to show the City's commitment to being environmentally responsible," says Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

"Baltimore City's Green Building Standards give developers an incentive to go green," says Housing Commissioner Paul T. Graziano. "We understand the challenges facing developers and have created a plan that addresses their needs and our commitment. The new standards are sensible, effective, enforceable, and will be seamless and transparent."

Compliance with these standards will, among other things: protect and restore the City's water supply, reduce Baltimore's urban heat island effect, encourage alternative transportation, and promote and improve access to more green spaces throughout the City.

"Certification for green building projects in Baltimore will take less time, because they will be reviewed as part of the City's existing development review processes," says Tom Stosur, Director of the Baltimore City Planning Department. "Baltimore City is committed to being eco friendly and this is just another step towards that end."

Source: Housing Authority of Baltimore City
Writer: Walaika Haskins

W.R. Grace to recieve $3.3M to advance biofuel technologies

W. R. Grace & Co. has been awarded up to $3.3 million from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for the evaluation and enhancement of advanced biofuel technologies.

The company will work with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), a DOE research facility, to develop technologies for thermochemical conversion of biomass to advanced biofuels that are compatible with existing fueling infrastructure. The technologies will upgrade bio-oils into gasoline, diesel and jet fuels using a specialized catalytic reactor designed to resist corrosion and extend catalyst lifetime. Also on the team are VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, who will be providing pyrolysis oils, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, who will study corrosion.

The funding is a component of the Department of Energy's strategy to accelerate the development of sustainable biofuels, and is coordinated by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's Biomass Program.

Grace and PNNL researchers will use a thermochemical process known as pyrolysis, which breaks down biomass using heat to produce bio-oils that can be further processed in existing petroleum refineries into transportation fuels.

Source: W.R. Grace
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Baltimore Medical Systems new headquarters receives LEED-Platinum certification

Baltimore Medical System's (BMS) new Highlandtown Healthy Living Center officially received LEED-Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council last week.

The Highlandtown Healthy Living Center is the first Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in the country to receive LEED-Platinum Certification. The award was presented by Peter Templeton, President of the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI).

BMS had not initially planned to build a green building, says Jay Wolvovsky, president and CEO. Once the healthcare organization decided to build an entirely new building, The Knott Foundation, an early funder, challenged BMS to think about building an environmentally-friendly facility that met LEED standards.

"We didn't know anything about it at all and had to do a fair amount of investigation. As we learned more, we were able to draw our own conclusions about the linkage between environmental factors and our patients' health. What is the environment of an inner city neighborhood? What are the environmental factors associated with a neighborhood that doesn't have a lot of green in it? What's the impact on water and air quality, or of lead in paint on houses? What's the environmental impact of not having enough parkland in the area so people can get exercise, keep their weight down and deal with their diabetes, obesity and heart disease," he explains.

As BMS leaders continued to weigh these factors, they began setting the bar higher and higher until finally the decision was made to go for LEED-Platinum. "It became a mission and a passion that this building would stand for more than just being the best space for us to deliver our healthcare services in. It was going to be a standard bearer for the organization, making a statement about ourselves and what we believe in and what we think is the next frontier for healthcare dealing with public health issues, including the environment, diversity, and healthcare disparities."

The building delivers comprehensive primary care to more than 22,000 patients from over 50 countries each year. Baltimore Medical System is the largest provider of primary health care to medically underserved communities in Maryland. BMS provides special services to help uninsured, non-English speaking and other high need patient groups access care. Over 48,000 people each year receive medical services and education at BMS's six health centers throughout Baltimore City and County and six City school-based locations.

Source: Jay Wolvovsky, Baltimore Medical System
Writer: Walaika Haskins

TEDCO teams with Chesapeake Bay Foundation to highlight technologies that could help save the Bay

Some times finding yourself at the wrong table during an event can lead to good things. That's how more than 100 invitation-only attendees with a vested interest in the health of the Chesapeake Bay came together last week to discuss issues, initiatives to prevent bay pollution and innovative technologies developed by Maryland-based companies, according to Jim Poulos, vice president of Technology Transfer and Commercialization at the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO) .

"Will Baker, head of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, was sitting next to me, and I knew that this could be an opportunity for the  Chesapeake Bay Foundation and TEDCO to do something together. We've been exploring the opportunity for a few years and came up with this technology show. We knew we had some small companies that are in the green space and that they're [Chesapeake Bay Foundation] are into cleaning up the Bay. So it was just a matter of connecting the right technologies with water cleanup," he says.

The event, "Technologies that Can Save the Bay: Reducing Nutrient and Sediment Pollution," sponsored by TEDCO and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), highlighted nine technologies from private industry, non-profit associations and research universities that are being developed and deployed to improve water quality and improve the overall health of the Chesapeake Bay by reducing pollution. The event took place at CBF's Phillip Merrill Environmental Center.

"We wanted to show the diversity of institutions, companies and their technologies," says Poulos

The showcase also featured keynote remarks by Tom Horton, noted environmental journalist and Chesapeake Bay expert, and J. Charles "Chuck" Fox, senior advisor on the Chesapeake Bay and Anacostia River to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Poulous along with Allen Hance, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Trust, and Amanda Bassow, director of Chesapeake programs at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, delivered a special presentation on funding opportunities for entrepreneurs interested in Chesapeake Bay conservation. Attendees and presenters enjoyed a networking, poster, and exhibit session at the end of the event. Closing remarks were made by CBF President Will Baker.

"Environmentalists, business leaders, entrepreneurs and those concerned with the health of the Chesapeake Bay have come from all over the region to learn about these emerging green technologies," says Will Baker, president of CBF. "We are pleased to work with TEDCO to promote the awareness of these technologies and are eager to see more environmentally-focused business models transfer to the marketplace."

Of the nine technologie included in the event, several are either commercially avaialble or will soon be available. They were broken down into three areas:  direct water cleaning solutions, urban solutions, and solutions used in the Bay.

Poulos hopes to host another showcase next year that will include representatives from the federal level, Deleware, New York, Virginia and West Virginia, states that are also affected directly by the Bay or the its watershed.

Companies that presented technologies included:

•Porous Asphalt, Kent Hansen, National Asphalt Pavement Association -- Porous asphalt is an environmentally friendly tool for storm water management. It can conserve water, reduce runoff and promote infiltration which cleanses stormwater, replenishes aquifers and protects streams.

•Creating Green Stormwater with Bioretension, Allen Davis, University of Maryland College Park -- Bioretention, a soil and plant-based stormwater management practice , is used to filter runoff from developed communities. Also known as a rain garden, a bioretention facility consists of a porous soil covered with a thin layer of mulch and is designed to mimic natural vegetated areas and filter pollutants from water.

•Regenerative Stormwater Conveyance and Floating Wetlands, Keith Bowers, Biohabitats, Inc. Biohabitats, a conservation and ecological restoration company, is developing floating artificial wetlands. These wetlands are composed of recycled plastic bottles wrapped in biodegradable fiber mats in the entrances to the Bay such as the Inner Harbor in Baltimore. These wetlands act not only as filters but as regenerated wetlands.

SkyGarden: Green Roof Media, Emlyn Stancill, Stancills, Inc. -- SkyGarden specializes in engineered soils and mineral formulations for the greenroof industry. A green roof system is an extension of the existing roof which involves a high quality water proofing and root repellant system, a drainage system, filter cloth, a lightweight growing medium and plants.

•Smartslope: Living Retaining Walls, Michael Furbish, The Furbish Company The Furbish Company designs, sells, installs and maintains plant-based building systems. "Living Walls" enable building owners and occupants to benefit from improved comfort and health, lower utility bills, increase asset value and help to restore the environment.

•Reclamation of Water and Prevention of Animal Waste Runoff, Carol Collins, Spiralcat Spiralcat, a women-owned corporation that harvests water, energy and biofuel from diverse waste sources in order to transform waste into valuable energy and water resources. The company's technologies support local food economies, provide clean water, create usable resources, manage nutrients for soil fertility and deliver energy in an affordable manner.

•Molecularly Imprinted Polymers for the Selective Capture of Environmental Phosphate, Tracy Terry, JHU Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) Phosphorus and nitrogen are major pollutants that enter water via runoff from sewage plants and farmland. Currently, there are no filtering systems that can selectively remove these two elements. APL is working on a system that has the potential to reduce contaminant concentrations of phosphorous and nitrogen to any arbitrary level through staging.

•Slow Release Fertilizer, Wayne Swann, NutriGrown, LLC NutriGrown, LLC is developing a line of matrix-based soil nutrient products designed to reduce nutrient leaching while enhancing plant growth. Greenz™ technology is exclusively licensed from the USDA/ARS and is based on a formulated matrix of natural organic and inorganic compounds with high ionic exchange capacity. The matrix components bind and retain nutrients for both short and long term plant utilization.

•Pelletizing Seeds for Habitat Restoration, Robert Murphy, EcoSystem Solutions Inc. Ecosystem Solutions, Inc., a small, privately owned, environmental consulting firm based in West Warwick, RI, specializes in wetland science, ecological solutions and soil science. They work with pelletized seeds to increase the success rate of habitat restoration. Pelletizing seeds are seeds wrapped in a clay pellet, which is a simple technique for hiding and protecting the seed until it can germinate.

Source: Jim Poulos, TEDCO
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Gov's Green Jobs and Economy Task Force releases recommendations

Moving forward on his goal to support 100,000 green jobs by 2015, Gov. Martin O'Malley recently held Maryland's first Green Economy Forum at Montgomery Park in Baltimore City. The governor outlined an aggressive plan to create and retain green jobs, support clean and renewable energy, protect Maryland's communities and preserve the State's natural resources.

The plan is based on the findings of the Green Jobs & Industry Task Force, a group of public and private sector leaders including green business owners, industry stakeholders, workforce development experts and cabinet secretaries the Governor assembled in March to develop recommendations to capitalize on the emerging green economy.

As part of the Forum, the Gov. O'Malley also led a roundtable with small business owners, environmental advocates, green industry experts and others to discuss ways to move Maryland forward on clean and renewable energy, environmental remediation and sustainable development.

"Green jobs are growing nationally at a rate two and a half times faster than overall jobs and are not only key to our economic recovery today, but are the jobs that will fuel the economy of tomorrow," says Gov. O'Malley. "Our highly educated workforce, wealth of natural resources and progressive policies makes Maryland uniquely positioned to grow our green economy and create the kinds of jobs that will ensure a more sustainable future for all Marylanders."

"The recommendations presented today clearly demonstrate that Maryland is on the forefront of the emerging green economy," says Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development Secretary Christian S. Johansson, who chaired the Task Force. "We look forward to working in partnership with employers, entrepreneurs and industry experts to implement relevant and meaningful strategies to help Maryland's green industries create jobs, employ more sustainable practices and preserve our communities."

"As an executive in the emerging green industry, I believe that these recommendations capture the input of many green employers in Maryland," said Kerinia Cusick, Green Jobs & Economy Task Force member and Director, Mid-Atlantic Government Affairs for Sun Edison. "The Task Force team members look forward to continuing our collaboration as these recommendations are implemented."

The Task Force report focused on six key recommendations:

  1. Promote energy and resource efficiency efforts;
  2. Develop and foster clean, local energy production and industrial capacity;
  3. Capitalize upon economic opportunities to restore and protect Maryland's natural resource;
  4. Promote sustainable development practices that create jobs, generate prosperity, and make Maryland more self-reliant;
  5. Increase access to capital for green businesses and projects; and
  6. Strengthen coordination and communication across State agencies, partners, and stakeholders to provide strategic vision for advancing a green economy.

Maryland is home to approximately 75,000 green-sector jobs, ranging from consulting and scientific services to construction and waste management. Since January, Maryland has created 38,000 jobs, a growth rate twice that of the rest of the nation. Maryland's unemployment rate remains 25 percent lower than the national average.

Source: State of Maryland
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Gov. O'Malley pegs $1M of stimulus money for electric car charging stations

Gov. O'Malley has designated $1 million of federal stimulus monies to help boost Maryland's Electric Vehicle Infrastructure. The investment will be used to build approximately 65 electric vehicle charging stations around the State to attract and support the coming electric vehicle industry. In addition, plans are in place for Maryland workers to retrofit the state's existing truck stop electric infrastructure, an improvement which is expected to displace approximately 400,000 gallons of diesel fuel annually by allowing trucks to use electric power instead of idling at truck stops.

"Electric vehicles offer the potential to displace significant amounts of gasoline, nearly 20 percent of which is currently imported from the Persian Gulf," says Gov. O'Malley. "Investing in electric vehicle technologies will create jobs for our workers, green opportunities for our businesses, and a Smart, Green and Growing Maryland."

This funding comes on the heels of the recently enacted Electric Vehicle Tax Credit bill and Electric Vehicle HOV bill, passed into law during the last legislative session. The two initiatives are designed to to better equip Maryland to meet the demand for publically accessible charging stations as car manufacturers release more and more electric car models for purchase by the public.

"Maryland is emerging as a national leader in advancing electric transportation, which promotes energy independence, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and saves consumers' money," remarked Maryland Energy Administration Director Malcolm Woolf. "With the average Marylander driving less than 40 miles per day, electric vehicles will offer meaningful solutions to saving money and protecting our environment." 

The awards include: 

1) ShorePower: $498,000 for truck stop electrification (TSE) units at Baltimore, Elkton, and Jessup, totaling 249 TSE installations;

2) Baltimore City: $134,500 for the installation of 9 to 16 electric vehicle re-charging stations in various parking garages throughout Baltimore City. Project partners include Baltimore City Department of General Services, Baltimore City Parking Authority and BGE;

3) Baltimore Electric Vehicle Initiative (BEVI): $367,500 for the installation of 55 electric vehicle re-charging stations around the state and the I95 corridor, including Harford, Cecil, Baltimore City, Baltimore, Montgomery, Anne Arundel, Charles, Frederick and Prince George's counties.

Source: Maryland Energy Administration
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Gov. O'Malley hands out $1.2M in new grants for Maryland's EmPOWER Clean Energy Communities program

Gov. Martin O'Malley awarded 21 grants tototaling $1.2 million to area non-profits in round two of the "EmPOWER Clean Energy Communities" grant program. The program helps local governments and nonprofits fund energy efficiency projects aimed at low to moderate income Marylanders. The grants, overseen by theMaryland Energy Administration (MEA), are providing a total of over $3 million this fiscal year, broken into two rounds, to local governments and nonprofits across our One Maryland. The first round of these funds were used to perform energy retrofits to save money for at an estimated 1,000 low and moderate income Maryland families. This second round of funding, is going primarily to Maryland counties who did not exhaust their available funding for projects in round one.

"Building on the success of round one, these grants are an example of exactly the type of efficiency projects we had intended for Maryland communities and families when we entered into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the nation's first multi-state collaborative carbon cap-and-trade program," says Gov. O'Malley. "These grants are another step forward in our goal to make Maryland's future cleaner, greener, and more sustainable for all our citizens."

The grants are being awarded to a wide variety of projects that will build on the momentum of energy savings and decrease monthly electricity bills accomplished in round one. The round two projects range from Home Performance with Energy Star programs through Habitat for Humanity in Caroline, Calvert and St. Mary's Counties, among other locations across the State, to projects focused on the weatherization of homes and apartments in Kent and Talbot Counties.

Each Maryland county and Baltimore City was provided an allocation based on the number of low-to-moderate income households residing in the respective area. A listing of grants awarded in round two is detailed below.

Funding for the program comes from the Strategic Energy Investment Fund, which was created from public auctions of carbon credits through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

Source: Maryland Energy Administration
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Civic Works uses $1M in grants to open new green job training center

As the drama of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico continues to play out, the need for alternative sources of energy and energy conservation are gaining increasing attention. However, according to a recent Department of Energy study, a shortage of training is the major barrier to expanding home energy efficiency.

The Baltimore Center for Green Careers is a new training center intended to create an innovative green career workforce. Operated through Civic Works, Baltimore's urban service corps, the center opened its doors last week and should help solve the workforce shortage -- at least in Baltimore.

With a $532,319 grant from the Foundation for an OSI-Baltimore and a $524,023 grant from the Maryland Department of Human Resources (DHR), part of its Maryland RISE initiative (Reaching Independence and Stability through Employment), the program will promote sustainable employment in high demand "green collar" jobs for Baltimore's underserved populations.

This new program is particularly timely, given the increased interest in home energy efficiency, the recent Department of Energy report citing a shortage of training as the major barrier to expanding home energy efficiency and the launch of Governor O'Malley's Skills2Compete Maryland agenda.

The grant enables Civic Works to expand its B'more Green program, which will now train unemployed and underemployed Baltimore residents in providing energy retrofit services. This is in addition to B'more Green's existing training classes in brownfields remediation, hazard abatement, and environmental demolition. In addition, the funding has contributed to Civic Works being able to move its green jobs training operations to a dedicated building. Here it will be able to construct improved hands-on practice areas that better resemble the real work environments of abatement workers, environmental field technicians and energy retrofit workers.

The Baltimore Center for Green Careers is located in a 12,000 square foot facility in Moravia Business Park, 6260 Frankford Avenue. The center includes warehouse, classroom and hands-on training space, as well as meeting and office space. At the center installers will learn the principles of building science and how to use various diagnostic tools to identify sources of air infiltration.

"Getting Baltimoreans back to work in living wage high demand jobs is a win-win for everyone," says John Mello, Green Projects director, Civic Works. "Our programs have been transforming lives, but this grant will enable us to greatly expand our operation and provide much needed skills development in high demand jobs to Baltimore's unemployed and underemployed populations," he adds.

Working closely with the DHR, Civic Works will target Baltimore's unemployed and underemployed residents who are 18 and older and have one or more significant barriers to employment. The program will serve 44 participants over the two-year grant period. Of the 44 participants served, 24 will be trained in the three-month long energy retrofit installer training program, and 20 will be trained as environmental field technicians and abatement workers in the seven-week B'more Green program.

Graduates will learn how to make a house more energy efficient by providing services such as air sealing, insulation, and Cool Roofing. In addition to training, graduates will also receive job readiness and placement services. Graduates will be placed into entry-level green careers with environmental employers that offer a living wage ($12 to $16 per hour) and opportunities for advancement. Employers who hire graduates will be offered a wage subsidy for up to six months.

Civic Works will work to transition each installer graduate into an entry-level position with a home performance contractor, weatherization company, or a home builder interested in an entry-level employee with demonstrated energy retrofit skills. Environmental field technician and abatement worker graduates will be eligible for entry-level positions with brownfields remediation, hazard abatement, and environmental demolition firms. Entry into this specialized construction field is dependent upon the possession of environmental health and safety certifications. The graduates will also be eligible for entry-level jobs in the general construction trades.

Source: Baltimore Center for Green Careers
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Governor unveils new plan to restore Maryland oyster industry, adding jobs and millions to economy

Governor Martin O'Malley announced the submission of a sweeping set of new regulations that will clear the way for implementation of Maryland's proposed Oyster Restoration and Aquaculture Development Plan. The plan to expand oyster sanctuaries and aquaculture leasing areas for their ecological and economic benefits was initially outlined by the governor in December.

"After decades of doing the same thing year after year, the citizens of Maryland are becoming united in the view that we need to change course and take bold action to rebuild our oyster population -- both for their ecological values and for the jobs and economic impact that an expanded aquaculture industry will provide for Maryland families for generations to come," says Gov. O'Malley

The submission of regulations to the General Assembly's Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review (AELR) is the next critical step in Maryland's efforts to restore the Bay's native oyster, build a robust and sustainable aquaculture industry and maintain a better managed public fishery. As proposed, the regulations will:

  • Significantly increase the State's network of oyster sanctuaries from 9 percent to 25 percent. They will be greater in number, larger in size, easier to enforce and established in the most appropriate areas based on scientific advice.
  • Identify 600,000 acres open to leasing for oyster aquaculture.
  • Identify areas off limits to leasing, allowing for continued support of a more targeted, sustainable, scientifically managed public oyster fishery.

The regulations will be published in the Maryland register July 2, which will begin a 6-week public comment and hearing period. If approved, the regulations will become effective in early September, prior to the October 1 start of oyster season.

"Since the Governor announced this groundbreaking proposal in December, we have worked diligently with legislators, local elected officials and all of our stakeholders including members of the oyster industry, aquaculture interests, scientists, environmentalists, sport fishermen and citizens," says DNR Secretary John Griffin. "This unprecedented public process resulted in more than 150 meetings, during which we made numerous adjustments to our proposal to address the concerns of our watermen while maintaining the integrity of the Governor's plan.

"Once approved, these regulations will put into place our expanded sanctuary network and change existing regulations to encourage development of aquaculture in Maryland - and the hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars it will eventually bring to our State," says Gov. O'Malley. "Maryland watermen will have an opportunity to significantly expand their incomes while continuing to work a more scientifically managed public fishery."

According to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), while declines in the Chesapeake Bay oyster populations in Maryland are not solely the result of a failure to embrace aquaculture, economic contributions to the traditional industry have not created a stable fishery. In fact, these contributions, which once produced a net economic benefit of $146 million over 10 years, are now projected to produce a net economic loss of $64 million over the same period.

Since 1994, the Chesapeake Bay's oyster population has languished at one percent of historic levels; quality oyster bars have decreased 70 percent from 200,000 to 36,000, and the number of harvesters has declined from 2,000 in the mid 1980s to just over 500 annually since 2002. Currently, there are only eight oyster processing companies in Maryland, down from 58 in 1974.

Based on last season's harvest reports, estimates show the new sanctuaries will reduce the public oyster fishery by 10 to 15 percent, a gross economic impact of approximately $350,000 to $500,000.

Maryland's Oyster Restoration and Aquaculture Development plan is built on the findings of a six-year environmental impact study of oyster restoration options, and the work of the Oyster Advisory Commission and the Aquaculture Coordinating Council. In January 2009, Gov. O'Malley sponsored aquaculture legislation to streamline the regulatory process and open new areas to leasing to promote growth of that industry, lessen pressure on wild oysters and provide alternative economic opportunities for watermen. This legislation was developed with broad stakeholder involvement and passed overwhelmingly in the General Assembly this year. Aquaculture is now the predominant means of shellfish harvesting around the world.  

Source: Office of Governor O'Malley
Writer: Walaika Haskins

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