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Two newly signed Maryland laws big wins for states' sustainability efforts and green jobs

Gov. Martin O'Malley has signed into law a series of five bills that will promote green job creation for workers and sustainability across Maryland. The governor's 2010 Energy Agenda focused on increasing renewable energy production and tax credits for Maryland families and workforce. The bills signed last week will also help to promote the use of electric vehicles and will continue to spur clean energy development in Maryland.

"Energy touches every aspect of our lives from the cost of heating our homes to sustaining our resources for future generations," says Gov. O'Malley. "In these last three years, we have made the choices that have transformed Maryland into one of the leading clean energy states in the nation. Each of the bills signed into law today will provide resources and incentives for our families and workforce, create jobs, and fuel innovation as we continue to strive for a Maryland that is truly Smart, Green and Growing."

Key bills enacted include an acceleration of the State's solar Renewable Portfolio Standard to put more clean energy on the grid faster, as well as successfully extending renewable energy tax credits for businesses interested in going green, and tax credits for families to purchase plug-in electric vehicles as they become commercially available later over the coming year.

The O'Malley-Brown Administration's new energy legislation impacts Maryland as follows:

HB 469 Motor Vehicle Excise Tax - Tax Credit For Electric Vehicles

This Administration bill creates a tax credit for the purchase of qualified plug-in electric vehicles equal to 100% of the State vehicle excise tax imposed, not to exceed $2,000. The bill requires a transfer of $279,000 from the Maryland Strategic Energy Investment Fund to the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) in fiscal 2011, $939,600 in fiscal 2012, and $1,287,000 in fiscal 2013. The tax credit applies to electric vehicles purchased from October 1, 2010 to June 30, 2013.

SB 602 High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Lanes - Use by Plug-In Vehicles

HB 674

This bill authorizes a "plug-in electric vehicle" affixed with a State permit designating it as such to use high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes. There are HOV lanes along two federal highways in the State: one on I-270 in Montgomery County; and one on U.S. Route 50 in Prince George's County. The bill will sunset on October 1, 2013.

HB 464 Maryland Clean Energy Incentive Act of 2010

This Administration bill extends the termination date of the clean energy incentive tax credit to December 31, 2015. The bill also extends to January 1, 2016, the date by which a facility must begin producing qualified energy in order to claim the credit; and prohibits the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) from issuing an initial credit certificate for less than $1,000. The bill also makes the clean energy incentive tax credit refundable.

SB 277 Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard - Solar Energy

This Administration bill increases the percentage requirements of the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards (RPS) that must be purchased from Tier 1 solar energy sources each year between 2011 and 2016. The bill also increases the alternative compliance payment (ACP) for a shortfall in solar RPS requirements by $0.05 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) over the current amount in 2011 and 2012, by $0.10 per kWh between 2013 and 2016.

Source: Maryland Energy Administration
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Peta2 hearts Meatless Mondays at Baltimore City schools

Votes have are in and once again, Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS) have come out on top, winning its second award from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The school system has been declared the winner of the Most Vegetarian-Friendly Cafeteria contest sponsored by peta2, the world's largest youth animal rights organization. BCPS beat out four other school districts to take the award in the  U.S. Public Schools category. The district will receive a framed certificate and a thank-you card signed by peta2 staffers.

According to peta2, BCPS is the only district among the five nominees that takes part in Meatless Mondays, an animal- and Earth-friendly program offering students an array of healthy and delicious vegan and vegetarian foods. Some popular dishes available in BCPS cafeterias include spicy vegetarian chili, meatless lasagne, and Tex-Mex style black-bean nachos. In another of the school system's innovative program, local farmers and food distributors partner with the district to provide fresh, locally raised fruits and vegetables to students.

"Baltimore City Public Schools stands as a role model for school districts across the country when it comes to educating students about how their food choices affect not only their own health but also the world around them," says peta2 director Dan Shannon. "More and more young people are learning that the best thing that they can do for animals, the planet, and themselves is to go vegan."

BCPS beat out Georgia's Gwinnett County Public Schools, Virginia's Prince William County Schools, the Los Angeles Unified School District, and the Berkeley Unified School District. Awards were also given in the categories of U.S. Private Schools and Canadian Schools. In October 2009, PETA awarded the school system its Proggy Award for Most Progressive Public School District of 2009.

Source: Rachel Owen, peta2
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Office of Sustainability releases Baltimore's first sustainability report

The Baltimore Office of Sustainability has released its first annual report. Developed with the input of more than 1,000 residents, the Baltimore Sustainability Plan, was adopted by the Baltimore City Council in March, 2009. The annual report outlines the progress made to date toward achieving Plan goals and highlights the work underway that city leaders hope will benefit the economic, social, and environmental health of Baltimore.

The report identifies the seven major areas that define the goals of the Sustainability Plan: Cleanliness; Pollution Prevention; Resource Conservation; Greening; Transportation; Education and Awareness; and Green Economy. Each section includes a feature story that highlights the accomplishments toward achieving the goal as well as "Steps You Can Take" that provide citizens with suggested actions they can take to move the process forward.

"Sustainability becomes increasingly more important to us as a City, a State and a nation because we recognize that our global resources are finite," says Mayor Rawlings-Blake. "By making smart decisions about how we use resources, and involving residents in the process, we can save money, improve quality of life, and position Baltimore to benefit from growing investment and job creation in the green economy."

The report includes a feature on the city's Green and Healthy Homes Initiative that seeks to improve health outcomes for Baltimore households while saving residents money on their energy bills and reducing their environmental impact. The program, which has roots in Baltimore-based Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, is now being replicated in cities throughout the country.

The benefits of the program exemplify the triple bottom line goals of sustainability; healthier homes lead to families with less asthma and lead paint cases, residents save money on utility bills and find jobs in green trades, while at the same time reducing energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions.

Also featured are the Harbor Connector water taxi service and the Charm City Circulator, recent expansions in Baltimore's public transportation system. The water taxi service from Fells Point to Tide Point averaged 200 trips daily during an 8-month period , thereby reducing traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.

Launched in January 2010, the Charm City Circulator, hybrid buses that offer free bus service throughout Harbor East and downtown, recently celebrated its 100,000th passenger. Service extends to the west to the B&O Railroad museum and soon will include the Johns Hopkins Medical Campus to the north. These sustainable transportation developments help bolster the local economy by expanding options for employees to reach their jobs and for visitors to explore Baltimore, according to the city.

Source: Baltimore Mayor's Office
Writer: Walaika Haskins

MD Energy Admin updates solar energy incentive program

The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) has updated its new incentive program for mid-sized solar energy systems. Made possible through funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the two-year program will provide a total of up to $1.45 million to lower the cost of rooftop solar energy systems for commercial buildings, allowing more Maryland businesses to receive the benefits of clean renewable energy from the sun.

"Maryland's mid-sized solar grant program is a true 'win' for local businesses and workers. By taking advantage of this new resource, not only will businesses see a reduction in energy usage and operational costs in the long term, but they will also become a part of a Maryland that is Smart, Green and Growing, by taking this step to reduce their carbon footprint, " says Governor Martin O'Malley. "I encourage local businesses to take advantage of this opportunity."

The incentive program covers two technologies, solar photovoltaic which converts light into electricity, and solar water heating, which converts light into heat energy to supplement natural gas or electric water heating. Both of these technologies have reached a level of technology maturity and reliability that makes them great long term investments for commercial buildings, according to the MEA.

Through the MEA's grant program, Marylanders now can qualify for a rebate of $500 per kilowatt of photovoltaic capacity installed for systems between 20 and 100 KW, up to $50,000 per grant, and 15 percent of the system cost for a solar hot water system up to $25,000 per grant at this time.

"The challenge for many businesses is that the costs for solar energy systems are all up-front, while the benefits accrue over many years of use," says Malcolm Woolf, MEA director . "The mid-sized incentive program, combined with the federal investment tax credit of 30 percent, is designed to help lower the upfront cost of these renewable energy systems so that businesses can continue to invest in clean renewable energy despite the difficult economy. We are thrilled to be able to serve the business community with this much-needed clean energy program."

Source: Maryland Energy Administration
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Electronics recycling firm gets R2 certification

Maryland-based E-Structors, a company specializing in the secure destruction and recycling of computers, electronics and documents,  has achieved Responsible Recycling (R2) and ISO 14001:2004 certifications. Earning these certifications places E-Structors among the first electronics recyclers in the country and the first in the Mid-Atlantic region to be recognized for maintaining the highest environmental standards for processing and recycling electronic waste.

Introduced in 2009 and endorsed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Responsible Recycling (R2) Practices for Electronics Recyclers establish how electronic waste should best be safely handled, responsibly re-used and legally exported. As an R2-certified recycler, E-Structors can guarantee that it maintains a state-of-the-art environmental management system (EMS) that soundly controls and regulates the entire "downstream" of the 18-20 million pounds of material it processes annually.

"Achieving our R2 and ISO 14001:2004 certification is a major accomplishment that solidifies E-Structors as a world-class company in our industry," says Mike Keough, president, E-Structors. "Our clients now have assurance that E-Structors is committed to maintaining the integrity of our recycling practices and the safety of our workers as we provide the highest level of environmental compliance and data security."

ISO 14001:2004 is a globally-accepted set of requirements for environmental management systems established by the International Organizations for Standardization (ISO). To achieve certification, E-Structors worked with the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and University of Maryland Manufacturing Assistance Program to implement an EMS that effectively controls its environmental impact and continually improves its environmental performance by achieving certain objectives, such as reducing the company's energy consumption and waste production.

"Businesses today have come to realize that they need to go beyond basic regulatory compliance to take advantage of the cost saving opportunities, liability prevention and customer benefits that come with a more proactive approach to environmental management," says Laura Armstrong, pollution prevention and sustainability coordinator, MDE. "Environmental management systems offer a way to instill this approach by building capability among staff and establishing procedures that ensure continuous improvement in managing and reducing environmental impacts."

Once its new EMS was put into effect, E-Structors underwent a rigorous audit by an accredited third party to earn its ISO 14001:2004 registration. Curt Bluefeld was the program manager who worked closely with E-Structors throughout the development of its EMS.

"E-Structors' implementation and subsequent ISO 14001:2004 registration of its environmental management system reflects the highly-professional attitude and thoroughness evident throughout the company's operation," he said. "The staff was a pure joy to work with I suspect the E-Structors EMS will become the standard all other electronics recyclers will want to meet."

Source: E-Structors
Writer: Walaika Haskins

JHU pledges $73M to trim greenhouse gas emissions and create Office of Sustainability

The Johns Hopkins University (JHU) has announced a $73 million plan that will cut its carbon dioxide emissions by more than half from projected levels by 2025.

The $73 million investment will be used in both conservation and efficiency measures that will reduce emissions caused by facilities operations by an initial 81,000 metric tons a year, which is more than halfway -- technically 57 percent -- to reaching the overall goal of cutting 141,000 metric tons from the 276,000 a year in emissions it would otherwise be generating 15 years from now.

The university will adopt new technologies as they become available in the next 15 years to achieve the remainder of the reduction. It will also encourage members of the university community to reduce energy consumption and environmental impact.

The emissions goal is part of a newly revealed broad, multi-faceted Implementation Plan for Advancing Sustainability and Climate Stewardship. The multi-pronged approach comes at the problem through several avenues, including research, education and community outreach in addition to greenhouse gas reduction.

"Global climate change is one of humanity's greatest challenges," says Ronald J. Daniels, JHU president. "The earth's rising temperatures will, over decades to come, affect where and how we live, the ecosystems we inhabit, our quality of life and even our health.

"Facing this challenge head-on is our shared responsibility, especially as residents of the developed world," Daniels continues. "But universities have a special role in our society and a special responsibility. We are institutions that discover, that educate and that, often, set an example. When it comes to global climate change, Johns Hopkins will be a leader in all three."

In addition to the sharp reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, the plan calls for the creation of an Environment, Sustainability and Health Institute, bringing together faculty members from across the university. Under the auspices of the newly created Institute the faculty members will be able to collaborate on research as well as on teaching climate change science and sustainability, to students including those participating in the university's new undergraduate major and minor in global environmental change and sustainability and new master's degree in energy policy and climate. Institute faculty members also will focus on applying science to environmental policy, to public health initiatives and to practical measures that individuals, organizations and businesses can take to fight global warming.

"Just as Johns Hopkins medical researchers move their discoveries off the lab bench to the patient's bedside to save lives," Daniels says, "this institute will take a bench-to-real-world approach: We will use discoveries to get things done."

The plan also includes establishment of a Sustainability House in a to-be-renovated building on North Charles Street at the university's Homewood campus that will serve as the headquarters for the university's Office of Sustainability and student environmental groups. The location will also act as a showcase and laboratory for energy conservation techniques and technologies. The design team, with students and faculty members participating, will be directed to include cutting-edge sustainability features and to meet aggressive goals, such as zero net carbon emissions, storm water capture and reuse, and organic maintenance of the grounds.

Another key component of the plan will put Johns Hopkins knowledge to work contributing to sustainability and climate change efforts in Baltimore City and the state of Maryland. One such effort, announced late last month, is a $190,000 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-funded collaboration with Baltimore City; Johns Hopkins students will be trained to conduct audits at nonprofit organizations in the city and help them determine how to cut energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

The implementation plan is the result of months of detailed follow-up work on the March 2009 report of the university's President's Task Force on Climate Change. That report was the culmination of a year's work by Johns Hopkins faculty, administrators, students and trustees, as well as representatives of the Baltimore business, government and environmental communities.

"In response to a serious issue, we have taken a typically serious and thorough Johns Hopkins approach," Daniels said. "We have devoted the time and effort required to do this right: comprehensive data gathering, careful analysis and systematic planning."

The plan includes a building-by-building, campus-by-campus list of HVAC, electrical, and lab equipment improvements; lighting fixture and control upgrades; measures to make buildings more airtight; window replacements; installations of solar power panels and solar hot water equipment; water conservation measures; and other steps.

It targets laboratory research buildings in particular; often referred to as "heavy breathers," these buildings consume significant amounts of air that must be heated or cooled to satisfy temperature and humidity requirements.

Additional significant savings in carbon dioxide emission 32,000 metric tons a year and in energy costs will come from cogeneration plants being built on both the university's East Baltimore and Homewood campuses. The plants will burn relatively clean natural gas to produce both electricity and steam heat more cheaply and efficiently.

The final, and perhaps most important, aspect of the plan is an aggressive, sustained campaign to encourage students, faculty and staff to reduce energy consumption at work and at home. The university also will launch a parallel effort to find and implement new conservation opportunities in its energy-intensive information technology infrastructure, including desktop and mainframe computers, printers and monitors, and server farms. The IT professionals who will lead this effort will also look for other creative ways to improve the university's technology capability while reducing energy consumption.

Source: Johns Hopkins University
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Maryland DBED, City Office of Sustainability launch new websites

We define sustainability as "Meeting the environmental, social, and economic needs of Baltimore without compromising the ability of future generations to meet these needs."

Learn More About the Office of Sustainability

The Baltimore Office of Sustainability is pleased to announce the launch of our new website at www.baltimoresustainability.org(External Link).

The website is designed as a resource for the Baltimore community to learn more about the goals of the Sustainability Plan, the many excellent efforts underway in our city, and how you can become part of the solution.

The website also features a space for individuals, schools, businesses, community groups, and anyone else in the Baltimore community to share their success story about how they helped further the shared goals of the Sustainability Plan.

MD Energy Administration kicks-off electric vehicle initiative

The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) has launched a new program to promote the use of electric vehicles in Maryland. The Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program (EVIP) initiative will provide aid in the installation of Electric Vehicle Recharging units and Truck Stop Electrification. The new program, run by MEA and the Maryland Clean Cities Coalition will provide $1 million during the current fiscal year in grants to state and local governments as well as nonprofits and private entities.

The announcement follows Gov. Martin O'Malley's introduction of an Electric Vehicle Tax Credit bill during 2010 legislative session. The proposed bill provides Maryland residents with up to $2,000 in tax incentives to help defray the upfront costs of purchasing electric vehicles.

"These grants represent the future of sustainable transportation," says Gov. O'Malley. "Today's announcement is part of our long term commitment to lead by example in energy advancements and create cleaner, less expensive, and more fuel efficient transportation options for our citizens."

The grants will assist organizations in purchasing and installing Electric Vehicle Recharging units and Truck Stop Electrification systems. Several plug-in electric vehicles are expected to be commercially available later this year, including the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf. These vechicles will reduce the amount of liquid petroleum utilized in the state while also reducing our carbon footprint and promoting energy independence. Interested parties may download the application from the MEA website.

"The Maryland Energy Administration is thrilled to be able to partner with Clean Cities to make continued strides in promoting electric vehicles and accelerate our transition to a cleaner energy future," says MEA Director Malcolm Woolf, "Maryland is moving to take advantage of this exciting technology, which promises to reduce fuel bills, improve air quality, and reduce our dependence on oil imports."

Source: Maryland Energy Administration
Writer: Walaika Haskins

College Park researchers study use of poplar trees for new biofuel with $3.2M grant

First it was corn. Then came sugar cane, cooking oil, switch grass, and you name it researchers have tried it in the name of saving the planet from carbon emissions.

But, just when we all thought scientists had exhausted the possibilities, an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Maryland College Park and Bowie State University have begun working on ways to turn poplar trees into high-yield crops for biofuels including ethanol, the renewable biofuel used in gasoline blends and flex-fuel vehicles. 

Funded by a $3.2 million, four-year grant from the National Science Foundation's Plant Genome Research Project, which supports research on plants seen as having economic and agricultural importance, researchers Gary Coleman, Ganesh Sriram and Jianhua Zhu of College Park and George Ude of Bowie State are using the recently completed poplar genome to look for ways to improve the tree's nitrogen processing capability, which would enhance its growth rate and feasibility for use in fuel production.

Although corn has long been the crop of choice for biofuel production in the U.S.,  though it is renewable, home-grown (unlike foreign oil) and plentiful, it may not be the best solution.

"We need to develop an alternative crop that we use exclusively for biofuels and not food," says Sriram, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering.

Enter poplar trees (also known as cottonwood or aspen), which is already commonly cultivated for the production of paper and timber.

"What we want are trees like poplar that grow fast and efficiently so they can become the raw material for cellulosic [fiber-based] biofuel," Sriram says. "The carbon found in poplar could be converted into fuels just like the sugars we extract from corn."

Coleman, lead researcher and an associate professor of plant science and landscape architecture in the university's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources says there are many advantages of a poplar crop over traditional biofuel sources.

"Growing trees doesn't eat into farmland, and trees don't require a lot of maintenance during their growth cycle," he explains. "A dedicated energy crop like poplar would contribute to the development of a sustainable and renewable energy system."

While the hybrid trees would be grown on plantations and harvested without affecting existing woodlands, simply growing acres of poplar trees to convert into biofuel isn't enough to solve current fuel problems. Researchers already know how to make ethanol from fibrous plants, but for poplar to be truly effective as a biofuel source, its growth cycle needs to speed up and become more efficient. One of the keys to doing so is to understand how it stores and cycles nitrogen, since nitrogen is an important factor in the growth and productivity of trees and crops.

The fertilizers that help produce big harvests are rich in nitrogen, but are expensive and must be reapplied each year. Poplar is a perennial plant, capable of pulling nitrogen from its leaves, storing it through the winter, and redistributing it in the spring. And while a crop like corn must be replanted each year, a poplar tree is capable of regrowing itself from its roots after being cut, and may go through several cycles of growth and harvest throughout its life before a new tree needs to replace it.

"Both the growth in the spring and regrowth from roots after the stems are harvested depend on the availability of stored nitrogen," Coleman says. "The data we collect will allow us to understand mechanisms of nitrogen cycling, determine how to increase the rates of the cellular reactions, and identify the genes that play a crucial role in the process. Eventually, we should be able to breed a variety of poplar with a more efficient nitrogen process, optimized for growth and rapid maturity."

Source: University of Maryland College Park
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Parks and People hiring 22 "Green Up, Clean Up" crew members

The Parks & People Foundation is hiring! Made possible through an 18 month funding grant gratis of the Fed's stimulus Act, the organization will create four "Green Up, Clean Up" Crews working in west and southwest Baltimore City as well as school and public housing sites throughout the city. Crew members will gain skills in the fields of environmental restoration and landscaping maintenance work, leading to potential green career opportunities.

Positions available include:

4 Team Leaders
for crews of adult workers (hourly rate $11 to $13 plus benefits)

2 Team Leaders for crews of youth workers (hourly rate $11 to $13, no benefits)

16 Adult crew members ($8 to $11.75 plus benefits)
The positions are open to adults 18 years of age or older and able to lift 50 pounds. Crews work outdoors for 32 hours per week. Parks and People are looking to fill the positions immediately. To facilitate the hiring process, the organization is holding several recruitment events this week.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010
1:00-3:00pm The Salvation Army Temple Corps Community Center 1601 W. Baltimore St. (intersection of W. Baltimore and Frederick Avenue) Baltimore, MD 21223
(accessible by #6, #10 and #20 MTA bus)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010
1:00-3:00pm Fitch Company in Westport 2201 Russell St. (off of Annapolis Road near Rt. 295) Baltimore, MD 21230 (accessible by #27 and #51 MTA bus, and from the Westport light rail station)

Thursday, January 14, 2010
10:00am-12:00pm Pleasant View Gardens Community Center 201 N. Aisquith St. Baltimore, MD 21202 (accessible by #20, #23 and #40 MTA bus) 

Application will also be accepted via snail mail at the Parks & People Foundation, 800 Wyman Park Drive, Suite 010, Baltimore, MD 21211,  email at [email protected] or Fax: 410-448-5895 by January 15.

Source: Parks and People Foundation
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Gov. O'Malley awards $5M in HSR tax credits, seeks $50M for new sustainable tax credit program

Gov. Martin O'Malley hopes to create a new tax credit he believes will boost smart and sustainable growth in Maryland's historic areas and existing communities well-served by transit and infrastructure. The Sustainable Communities Tax Credit program, $50 million, three-year program, will help create construction and rehabilitation jobs, revitalize neighborhoods, and spur economic development with each project.

The new program will replace and improve upon the 14-year-old Heritage Structure Rehabilitation Tax Credit program, which is set to expire in June.

"The program represents the best of public investment and private enterprise as we continue to seek ways to fuel economic growth and create jobs," says Gov. O'Malley. "The success of the program in recent years cannot be understated. These projects will help revitalize historic communities, strengthen a green economy throughout our State, and create new construction and rehabilitation jobs in every corner of Maryland."

The existing Heritage Tax Credit has invested more than $347 million in Maryland revitalization projects since 1996. Those projects have produced more than $1.5 billion in total direct rehabilitation expenditures by owners and developers. Coupled with wages, both construction and new jobs, and State and local revenues generated, this equates to more than $8.50 in economic output for every $1 invested by State government.

A report last year by the non-profit Abell Foundation concluded that commercial projects over the life of the program have employed roughly 15,120 people, earning $673.1 million in 2009 dollars. The state's tax credit investment in labor-intensive building renovation has generated 1,850 more jobs than would have been created had the same funds been used for new construction, the foundation reported.

The governor also revealed the latest recipients of some $5 million in Maryland Heritage Structure Rehabilitation Tax Credits for four projects in Central Maryland. Receiving awards. They include:

  • Union Mill in Baltimore City: $2,920,000 tax credit for $20,000,000 project by Seawall Development Company to turn vacant manufacturing structure into residential and commercial space.
  • Proctor House in Bel Air: $100,000 tax credit for $500,000 project by Kelly Financial Group, LLC to turn vacant/storage space into commercial offices.
  • Two projects at the National Park Seminary development in Silver Spring: $800,000 tax credit for $4,000,000 project by the Alexander Company to turn vacant gymnasium into 12 residences. And $1,180,000 tax credit for $5,900,000 by the Alexander Company to turn vacant space and utility structures into 15 residential units.

"New legislation for 2010 seeks to strengthen the effectiveness of the tax credit program as an incentive for smart and sustainable growth," says Maryland Secretary of Planning Richard E. Hall, who chairs the Governor's Smart Growth Subcabinet. "By expanding program eligibility and coordinating it more closely with related state programs, the tax credit will benefit more communities across the state as a critical redevelopment and revitalization tool. One of Maryland's most effective Smart, Green & Growing tools should not be allowed to sunset this year."

Source: State of Maryland, Department of Planning
Writer: Walaika Haskins

City banks $6.37M from stimulus for energy efficiency

The city recieved a $6.37 million dollar energy stimulus package from the U.S. Department of Energy. Mayor Sheila Dixon announced that $1 million of the funding would be allocated to a Community Energy Grant Program. The program will enable community organizations and non-profits to perform cost-saving energy improvements in neighborhood buildings and facilities. Applications for the program will become available in early Spring 2010.

"With the new stimulus funds we have received, the City will be able to advance further towards becoming a cleaner, greener and sustainable city," said Mayor Dixon.

The stimulus funds will be used to fund 18 program activities ranging from community projects and renewable energy to new energy financing structures. The majority of the funds, over 30 percent, will be put to use in the community, to create new initiatives and to fill funding gaps or shortfalls in existing energy programs. For instance some of the grant will be used to supplement the Baltimore Neighborhood Energy Challenge (BNEC), a program that helps households reduce energy use.
A new Baltimore Commercial Energy Challenge will be implemented for greener and more energy efficient buildings. A youth energy conservation component will be added to the existing summer YouthWorks program. Plans also include installation of City building retrofits for utility cost savings.

The DGS Energy Division estimates that once all programs are fully implemented, 500 jobs will have been created or retained by this stimulus package.

A total of 18 projects will be funded under the $6.37 million award:
o Community Energy Conservation Grants,
o Baltimore Neighborhood Energy (BNEC) Challenge,
o Youth Energy Conservation and Efficiency Training,
o Home Energy Conservation,
o Residential Plan for Energy Efficiency,
o Baltimore Commercial Energy Challenge,
o Energy/Climate Action Plan,
o District Heating Expansion Feasibility Analysis,
o Sustainable Energy Utility,
o Conversion of Biomass to Biofuel,
o City's Trash Hauler Fleet Fuel Efficiency,
o City Building Retrofits,
o Energy Efficiency Model Office,
o Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) meter,
o Nitrogen Tire Filling,
o Diesel Particulate Filter(DPF) Regeneration,
o And studies of Geothermal Energy and Flextime.

Source: Baltimore City
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Charm City Circulator hits the road Jan. 11

The long-awaited Charm City Circulator hybrid buses, Baltimore's free downtown zero-emission transportation alternative, will make its inaugural run on Monday, Jan. 11 at 11 a.m.

The Circulator will initially operate along the Orange Route, an east to west journey running through the Pratt and Lombard streets corridor. This route takes riders in a loop past the B&O Railroad Museum, the University of Maryland Biopark, University Hospital, and University of Maryland professional schools, Camden Yards and the Convention Center, Inner Harbor, and Harbor East.

The buses will run in 10-minute intervals, 7 days a week. Text alerts will let you know when the next Charm City Circulator will arrive.

Both the Green Route, which will connect Johns Hopkins Hospital with Fells Point and Harbor East, and the Purple Route, connecting Federal Hill and the Cross Street Market area with Penn Station, will launch in the spring.

The Charm City Circulator, according the manufacturer, once fully launched will be the largest fleet in the country.

In advance of the new hybrid transportations release, Mayor Dixon announced recently the implementation of bike and bus lanes along Pratt and Lombard streets between Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and President Street. The specially-stripeed reserved lanes give priority to bicyclists and buses. Although drivers will be able to use the lanes to make right turns, violators driving within the reserved lanes will receive a $90 ticket and possible points on their drivers license

Source: Charm City Circulator
Writer: Walaika Haskins.

Baltimore Co. gets single stream recycling in 2010

Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith, along with Director of Sustainability David Carroll and Charles Reighart, Recycling and Waste Prevention Manager, announced that single stream recycling collection will begin in Baltimore County on February 1, 2010.

All 234,000 single-family homes and town homes are included in this program. The 6,000 apartment and condominium units that currently have recycling collection will also be included in this program. "This is a major environmental initiative for Baltimore County," says Smith. "Allowing individuals to combine all their recyclable items in the same container at one time will make recycling very easy for County residents, and when you make it easier to recycle, people will recycle more."

As the County moves forward with its single stream recycling collection program for these 240,000 homes, Bureau of Solid Waste Management staff will also be working to bring 63,000 apartment and condominium units without recycling collection into the program. "It is our intention to have every apartment and condominium complex in Baltimore County provide their residents with the opportunity to recycle," says David Carroll, Baltimore County Director of Sustainability. "Single stream recycling is the latest in a series of initiatives in Baltimore County designed to protect our resources."

Single stream recycling collection means that paper, bottles, and cans may be combined in the same container to be placed out for collection each week. Additionally, residents will be able to recycle more items than before, including:

  • narrow-neck plastic bottles and jugs with a number from 1 to 7 in the recycling symbol
  • wide-mouth plastic containers (such as butter and yogurt containers)
  • rigid plastics (such as buckets, drinking cups, and flower pots)
  • empty aerosol cans
  • aluminum foil and pie pans
  • milk and juice cartons/boxes.

In an effort to make it very easy for residents to recycle, they will be able to use a wide variety of containers to place single stream recyclables out for collection, including:

  • recycling containers up to a 34-gallon capacity
  • any trash containers up to 34-gallon capacity used only for recycling and marked with a large "X" or "RECYCLE"
  • small cardboard boxes (the boxes will be collected with recycled items set out for pickup).

County Executive Smith stressed that it is important for residents to remember that recyclables must not be placed in plastic bags of any type or color in this new program. "Plastic bags create problems for the single stream sorting equipment," he says. "Our solid waste management team will work hard to educate everyone to use containers instead of plastic bags." Many local food stores accept clean and dry plastic bags for recycling.

Baltimore County residences will receive an updated 4-year trash and recycling collection schedule/program guide in the mail shortly before the start of the new single stream recycling program on February 1, 2010. Residents are urged to read, retain, and post their new collection schedule/program guide.

For more information about Baltimore County's transition to single stream recycling collection, residents may call the Bureau of Solid Waste Management at 410-887-2000 or visit www.bcrecycles.com starting Monday, December 14.

Source: Baltimore County Development Corporation
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Gov launches clean energy projects

Gov. Martin O'Malley, in partnership with the University System of Maryland,  revealed the results of the Generating Clean Horizons initiative, a program intended to spur large-scale, commercial renewable energy projects that will provide electricity to Maryland. Gov. O'Malley announced the issuance of awards in response to an innovative competition for the supply of clean energy to the State, offering long-term power purchase agreements to a suite of clean energy developers that can place a portfolio of renewable power on the grid before 2014, create green jobs, and promote a more sustainable energy future.

"Our State is a leader in clean energy, and the results of this initiative demonstrate Maryland's commitment to the clean energy technologies of today as significant building blocks towards a smart, green and growing Maryland," says Gov. O'Malley. "With the combined resources of strategic public and private partnerships, we will continue to bring more green jobs to our communities, use public resources more efficiently, and lead by example for other States."

The University System of Maryland's Board of Regents and the Department of General Services recently approved the award of four renewable energy projects which will produce over 20 percent of the institutions and state agencies annual electric needs. The contracts will also further the State's commitment to reducing its carbon footprint 25 percent by 2020.

The awards will be made to US WindForce for a 55 MW on-shore wind energy project, Constellation for a 13 MW solar project in Central Maryland, and BlueWater Wind for up to 55 MW of wind energy as an extension to the proposed Delaware off-shore wind project. A separate award under a small business provision will be made to Synergics for 10 MW as part of its Roth Rock development in Western Maryland.

"This is a significant step under our Environmental Sustainability Initiative," notes University System of Maryland Chancellor William "Brit" Kirwan, "which reflects our commitment to carbon reduction through a 20-year agreement for the purchase of renewable energy."

Generating Clean Horizons, in addition to numerous statewide energy efficiency projects, is another step toward achieving the ambitious energy goals established by the O'Malley-Brown Administration. Last year, Gov. O'Malley successfully championed the EmPOWER Maryland Act, which aims to reduce energy consumption 15 percent by 2015, and more than doubled Maryland's renewable portfolio standard to require that electric suppliers purchase 20 percent of their power from clean energy sources by 2022.

Maryland will offer access to these renewable energy contracts to county, university and municipal partners who may seek to benefit from these new commercial renewable energy projects.

Source: Office of the Governor
Writer: Walaika Haskins

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