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Annapolis launches energy-saving program for property owners

Annapolis Mayor Ellen Moyer has launched a green initiative that will help Annapolis property owners to easily make energy efficiency improvements to their buildings. The initiative builds on legislation passed by Annapolis in January 2009 enabling its property owners to attach energy improvement loans to their properties. Annapolis is the first City in Maryland to pass such legislation.
The City of Annapolis, in cooperation with Maryland Clean Energy Center (MCEC), Maryland Energy Administration (MEA), Edison|Wright and Direct Energy will launch the first phase of the program Annapolis EZ|Energy Zone (Annapolis EZ) in early 2010. The program is designed to help with financing and implementation of energy efficiency for Annapolis residential property owners. Annapolis EZ anticipates improving up to 50 properties in Annapolis during the first phase of the program. It is currently signing up interested participants.

"Many residential property owners would like to improve the energy efficiency of their home," says Mayor Moyer. "However, high upfront cost and other financial hurdles often deter them from getting involved. Annapolis EZ does exactly what the name says – it makes it easy to move forward with projects and see real savings on energy bills."

The program is financed by MCEC with funding made available from stimulus dollars through MEA.

Annapolis EZ makes it possible for Annapolis property owners to finance energy improvements without affecting their credit score, and if they sell their property before the loan is paid off, the next property owner will take over the payments along with the reduced energy bill. The Annapolis EZ program also provides property owners with a list of only pre-approved, certified auditors, installers and contractors. 

PACE programs have the potential to unleash over $250 billion of investment into clean energy improvements over the next 10 years, eliminating more than a gigaton of CO2 emissions, saving $1.75 billion in annual electricity costs and creating 400,000 jobs per year.
Source: City of Annapolis
Writer: Walaika Haskins

"Increased education and easy to use programs are the keys to fundamentally changing our energy usage in the State of Maryland and across the United States," says Eric Palm, Vice President of Direct Energy - Annapolis EZ|Energy Zone?s lead energy retrofit provider. "Conducting an energy assessment of their home is the first step for a homeowner to understand what improvements need to be undertaken to reduce their energy usage and positively impact the environment."
Annapolis EZ will use contractors who are participating with the Maryland Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program. These contractors have been trained to take a „whole-house? approach that identifies comfort, safety and energy efficiency improvements.

City launches neighborhood recycling contest

Is your neighborhood the greenest 'hood in Baltimore? That's what the Department of Public Works and the Initiative for a Cleaner Greener Baltimore are hoping to prove with a new contest.

The RecycleMORE Community Tonnage Competition seeks to to Increase community partnerships that promote a cleaner, greener City; increase household recycling through neighborhood driven outreach and educational efforts; and increase Baltimore's overall recycling tonnage.

The contest registration period begins Wed., Dec 9 and runs through Tues. Dec. 28. The contest begins Fri. Jan. 1 and ends Wed., March 31. During the 12-week period participating communities recyclables will be weighed to eventually determine the neighborhoods who have contributed the greatest amount.

Winners will be announced on the Mayor's Spring Cleanup Day, Saturday, April 17. Winning neighborhoods will receive an "appreciation day block party." The Mayor's Initiative for a Cleaner Greener Baltimore will also offer communities an opportunity to compete for RecycleMORE 1+1 Program Partner Grants. These grants are limited and subject to eligibility criteria. Communities are encouraged to apply promptly.

Communities that wish to register should call Ms. Tonya Simmons, Recycling Coordinator, Bureau of Solid Waste at 410-396-4511. Completed registrations forms can be faxed or emailed to Ms. Simmons at 410-545-6117 or [email protected]
Source: Department of Public Works
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Mid-Atlantic Govs commit to offshore wind partnership

Gov. Martin O'Malley, Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia and Gov. Jack Markell of Delaware have agreed on a tri-state partnership for the deployment of offshore wind energy in the Mid-Atlantic coastal region. The deal was sealed with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) creating a formal partnership that will build on the region's significant offshore wind resources to generate clean, renewable energy and a sustainable market that will bring new economic opportunities.

"Today marks another important step towards a clean energy future for our families and workers. The opportunity for renewable energy generation through off shore wind is outstanding," says Gov. O'Malley. "Our states share many common resources and opportunities. This collaboration will allow us to take full advantage of these opportunities and pool our collective abilities for not only a Smart, Green and Growing Maryland, but a cleaner and more sustainable region as well."

Through the MOU, the Mid-Atlantic States will focus on leveraging resources and information to bring offshore wind energy to the region, which in turn, will create green jobs for our workers and clean energy alternatives for our families and businesses. Immediate tasks under the MOU are to identify common transmission strategies for offshore wind energy deployment in the region, discuss ways to encourage sustainable market demand for this renewable resource and work collaboratively in pursuing federal energy policies which help advance offshore wind in the Mid-Atlantic area.

"With our extensive coastline and highly-educated workforce, Virginia is particularly well-suited to explore offshore wind energy opportunities," says Gov. Kaine. "In these tough economic times, it's more important than ever that we invest in renewable energy sources that will create jobs and provide cleaner, more affordable energy for our families and communities. One of the best things we can do to lift ourselves out of a challenging economy today is to invest in a greener, cleaner tomorrow."

The MOU also calls for examination of ways to coordinate regional supply chain facilities to secure supply, deployment, and operations and maintenance functions to support offshore wind energy facilities. Collaboration on strategies to utilize academic institutions to create standards and opportunities for training and workforce development will also be developed.

"With the only power purchase agreement in place for offshore wind in the United States, Delaware is poised to be the first state in the nation to develop an offshore wind farm, bringing clean power to the region and creating hundreds of jobs," says Gov. Markell. "This agreement will help us leverage the resources and energy of our three state governments to help our region become the true powerhouse for this important source of renewable, reliable alternative energy."

This coordinated effort will provide benefits for each state individually by efficiently targeting areas of common interest to the region. Moreover, this effort will greatly facilitate our regional engagement with federal entities such as the Minerals Management Service, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the Department of Defense.

Source: Office of the Gov. O'Malley
Writer: Walaika Haskins

College Park wins Greenest Campus award

And the winner is....the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) has won the nationwide contest, America's Greenest Campus. The contest challenged colleges to compete against each other to reduce their carbon footprints. UMCP took the prize for the school with the most participants with 2,257 participants and Rio Salado College won for the school with the most carbon reductions per participant, with more than 524 students participating and reducing their CO2 emissions on average by 4.40 percent. 

It is the first competition to measure the impact of everyday actions of campus community members, America's Greenest Campus began on March 31st, with support from its national spokesperson, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons.

Over 460 schools and 20,000 students, faculty and alumni participated in the contest, reducing nearly 19 million pounds of CO2 from the environment, saving 28 million gallons of water and conserving 4.5 million kilowatts of electricity.

"We are extremely proud that the University of Maryland won the America's Greenest Campus contest. Young people have the power to transform the world when it comes to energy and climate change and this competition was a great way of empowering our campus community to take action to reduce our carbon footprint," says student organizer Joanna Calabrese. "We mobilized over 2,000 students to get involved, and we know we can do even more. But this was a great start."

America's Greenest Campus is a partnership between SmartPower, the nation's leading clean energy and energy efficiency marketing organization, and Climate Culture, the premier online carbon measurement and reduction utility, with support from the U.S. Department of Energy and partnerships with leading youth environmental groups such as the National Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Student Coalition and the National Association of Environmental Law Societies.

"More than ever, young people are concerned about their impact on the environment and eager to improve their daily habits, and we created the America's Greenest Campus contest to provide a forum for that," says Tom Scaramellino, CEO of Efficiency 2.0, an energy efficiency startup that operates Climate Culture. "At 20,000 participants, this is the largest, most successful environmental contest ever among college students. We're so pleased with the results, we're gearing up for a second contest to take place in 2010."

The America's Greenest Campus contest also included the SmartPower Energy Smart Online Ad Challenge, which called for video submissions that promote the economic and environmental benefits of energy efficiency, for a $10,000 prize. The winning video will be announced December 5, 2009 and will be used in SmartPower's national advertising.

"Young people today are the largest wasters of energy in society, and through America's Greenest Campus, they are literally learning how to change their energy behavior," says Brian F. Keane, President of SmartPower. "Where they were once part of the climate problem -- now they are rapidly becoming a key part of the solution, learning how to conserve energy and change their behavior. They are leading the way -- and AGC is helping them get there!"

With their $5,000 winnings in hand, the University of Maryland will be providing support to their "Engaged University" program, a model community designed to influence the way the campus thinks about and engages in sustainable living and demonstrates the economic, social, and environmental benefits of long term sustainability.

Source: SmartPower
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Gov. O'Malley launches Going Green Downtown guide

Gov Martin O'Malley unveiled a new publication designed to provide insight and instruction on best practices to foster Smart, Green & Growing planning and revitalization activities in Maryland's cities and towns.

Developed jointly by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), "Going Green Downtown: A Sustainability Guide for Maryland's Main Streets" (the "Green Guide") is intended to give communities throughout the state an important set of principles, guidelines, and examples of how to pursue and implement sustainable practices that focus on environmental conservation and economic growth.

"Over the past 30 years, the increase in Maryland's population has led to rapid consumption of land, pulling vital resources and people away from traditional business districts," said Governor O'Malley. "Increasingly, these trends of sprawl and chronic overdevelopment threaten not only the economic survival of our cities and towns, but also our environment and the health of the Chesapeake Bay. With the Smart, Green & Growing initiative and tools like this new guide, we will promote sustainable growth, protecting our natural resources and strengthening the character and economic vitality of our communities for future generations."

The advice and insight found in the Green Guide is based in large part on expertise of DHCD and DNR, as well as the best practices of the 23 designated communities under the Main Street Maryland program, but it has been written to be applicable to any Maryland community that seeks to "Go Green." The guide provides cities and towns with advice to address challenges like increasing population, rising energy costs, limited resources, water and air pollution, and climate change, and it provides information on available State programs and resources.

"Main Street Maryland has been an extremely effective program for comprehensive downtown revitalization," said DHCD Secretary Raymond A. Skinner. "By promoting these successful practices, we hope to provide a comprehensive set of examples to encourage green approaches and environmental protections that will also foster neighborhood revitalization and economic growth."

Sustainable and green communities seek to conserve resources; provide open spaces and parks for recreation and cultivation; offer multiple options for transportation; and use natural and cultural resources wisely to conserve for future generations. Specific areas addressed by the Green Guide include:

  • Green building
  • Historic preservation
  • The "3 R's" – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
  • Energy conservation
  • Planting trees and creating green space
  • Water conservation and stormwater management
  • Sustainable transportation options and alternatives
  • Engaging citizens in green events and practices

"Each of us has a role to play in helping to create a smarter, greener future for our State," said DNR Secretary John Griffin. "Our Going Green Downtown Guide – which was federally funded through our Coastal Zone Management Program – will help our communities take their sustainability efforts to the next level, and hopefully inspire individual citizens to do the same."

The Green Guide has already been lauded by National Trust Main Street Center Director Doug Loescher who called it, "one of the nation's most comprehensive guides yet produced on this topic that could serve as a great model for other states to emulate." To provide additional support and promotion of the concepts outlined in the Green Guide, DHCD and DNR have offered several training sessions over the past year including: Creating Green Spaces in Your Main Street; Historic Preservation & Green; Greening Main Street Merchants; Reduce, Reuse, Recycle; and Green Building Certification: How to Get It and Use It. A second round of trainings kicked off in September with an educational session on stormwater management.

For more information or to download a copy of the Green Guide. News updates also are available by following DHCD on Twitter and Facebook.

Click here to download Going Green Downtown: A Sustainability Guide for Maryland's Main Streets

Source: Gov. Martin O'Malley
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Sen. Mikulski honored by MD League of Conservation Voters

Sen. Barbara Mikulski has been awarded the Maryland League of Conservation Voters' (MDLCV) John V. Kabler Memorial Award in recognition of her many achievements as she works to protect the state's land, air and water. The annual award recognizes outstanding environmental leadership and commitment.

The four term U.S. Senator has a thirty-five year record of public service in Maryland. She is a dedicated public servant who as a member of the powerful Appropriations Committee, wages a yearly battle to procure federal funding for environmental programs, especially the Chesapeake Bay Program, the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.

A trailblazer in drawing attention to the effects of global warming on the Bay, Mikulski funds eighty-five percent of the nation's climate change-related science as Chairwoman of Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee. Her defense of the environment in Maryland is evident in her support for building a green jobs workforce, protecting the Chesapeake Bay, and for a clean energy economy.

"I'm so honored to accept this award. From the House to the Senate, I've loved any legislation that had water in it. Using my committee assignments, I've tried to be a champion for saving communities, saving lives and, in some small way, saving the planet," Sen. Mikulski says. "I'll continue to fight for the Bay, and invest in the green sciences so we have the right ideas to come up with the right science to combat the global climate change crisis. Thank you for honoring me tonight. I'm so proud to be your partner in fighting for a greener, cleaner future."

"We are thrilled to honor Sen. Mikulski for her long and accomplished record of protecting the Environment for people of Maryland," says Cindy Schwartz, executive director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters. "We created a special 'Pearl' award in recognition of our 30th anniversary. Keith Campbell's unwavering commitment over the last ten years to the environment and continuing support of the work of MDLCV makes him the obvious choice".

Source: Cindy Schwartz, MDLCV
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Girl Scouts beautify Westside Elementary

Westside Elementary in Baltimore City got a mini makeover last week as the school's Girl Scout troop and 12 volunteers from Enterprise Rent-a-Car teamed up to give the school grounds a refreshing mini-makeover.

The brainchild of Cathy Allen, who lives close to the school, the project spawned from her belief that "If children's minds are to bloom in school, why not have some blooming trees?"

Allen enlisted the help of Carlita Nelson, troop leader for the 53 elementary school Girl Scouts at Westside, the school's principal Brian Pluim and Baltimore City's "Tree Baltimore" team. Next she gathered community partners--Enterprise Rent-a-Car and the mayor's Office of Neighborhoods. The city contributed the trees, mulch, shovels and gloves.

Thanks to Allen's hardwork and that of the volunteers, 15 trees were planted and mulched in Phase I of this "Greening Beautification Initiative." Allen hopes to start a horticulture program at the school that will include field trips to the zoo and farm so that the children can see, learn about and study different plants. 

Source: Cathy Allen
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Baltimore Pub School System get kudos from PETA for meatless mondays

If it's Monday, from now on students dining in Baltimore Public Schools' cafeterias may notice one thing missing -- meat in their school lunches.  System's (BCPSS) cafeterias. That's thanks in large part to Tony Geraci, BCPSS's director of food and nutrition services, who recently unveiled the school district's first "Meatless Mondays."

The decision to go with a vegetarian menu on Mondays has earned the school district PETA's  Proggy Award for Most Progressive Public School District of 2009. "Proggy" is for "progress."

"As soon as we heard, we wanted to encourage it because it's a huge step forward in healthy and humane eating. Baltimore is setting a great example for other school districts by instituting a program that's going to improve kids' health, be good for the environment, and also be something that helps fewer animals suffer," says Ashley Byrne, spokesperson, PETA.

Proggy awards are handed out to organizations that are leading the way by adopting more humane policies or creating more humane products. In the past the award has been given to a variety of organizations including restaurants and businesses. This is the first time the award has been given to an entire school district.

The Meatless Monday campaign is an effort to encourage Americans to cut beef and pork from their diet one day a week as a way of reducing the greenhouse gas emissions produced by the livestock industry and as a way of supporting locally grown foods.

"Removing meat from the menu one day a week will have a tremendous environmental impact. A recent UN report says that one pound of meat creates the equivalent greenhouse gases of driving a Hummer 60 miles. When you multipy that by one meal for an entire school district you can imagine what an impact just a single day a week is having," says Byrne

The American Dietetic Association says that a vegetarian diet is appropriate for all stages of life and reduces one's risk of heart disease, obesity, and cancer. Cutting down on meat also reduces greenhouse-gas emissions. In a U.N. report titled Livestock's Long Shadow, scientists concluded that raising animals for food generates more greenhouse-gas emissions than all the cars, trucks, ships, SUVs, and planes in the world combined. And, of course, going vegetarian is the best thing that anyone can do to help stop animal suffering. Vegetarians save more than 100 animals a year from factory-farm filth, mutilation without painkillers, and a terrifying death.

The school system's meat-free experiment also garned it the 2009 Award for Visionary Leadership in Local Food Procurement and Food Education from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future.

Source: Ashley Byrne, PETA
Writer: Walaika Haskins

City Gets $400K refund from BGE for energy conservation

According to the Baltimore City Department of General Services (DGS), the City will receive more than $400,000 as a result of participation in BGE's energy capacity savings program. Designed for customers to reduce the drain on the power provider during times of peak electric demand, the program provides alerts from BGE.

DGS reduces demand by activating backup generators at seven City facilities, including the Back River and Patapsco Wastewater Treatment Plants, the Charles Benton and Abel Wolman buildings, and pumping stations at Jones Falls, Leaking Park and Dundalk. The agency's conservation efforts pay off handsomely with the City receiving a credit of more than $34,400 each month.

Last year, the program saved the city $38,000. Savings this year, however, have grown to 10 times that amount, with the agency already reporting savings of $300,000 this year through the implementation of utility bill audits and more than $5 million annually saved through other initiatives including energy performance contracting, installation of LED traffic lights and the waste-to-energy cogeneration facility at the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant. Other energy conservation efforts currently underway include, evaluating the use of biofuels in City boilers and the weatherization of fire stations with replacement windows and new roofs.

Writer: Walaika Haskins
Source: Baltimore City Department of General Services

Swedish clean tech company opening U.S. headquarters in MD will hire up to 23

Swedish bioenergy company, Swebo Bioenergy International, has selected Maryland as the location for its U.S. headquarters. The clean technology company, which develops, produces and sells climate neutral bioenergy systems, plans to open its new offices in Annapolis this fall.

Swebo will initially hire 3 employees, but expects to bring on an additional 15 to 20 employees as the company gears up to its begin manufacturing operation in the U.S.

Gov. Martin O'Malley met with Swebo during his economic development mission to Sweden last June. Company representatives came to Maryland, touring several locations throughout the state, including Anne Arundel County and the Eastern Shore before settling on Annapolis.

"I am pleased that our economic development mission to Sweden produced such significant and swift results," says Governor O'Malley. "Swebo International will be a great addition to the business community in Maryland, which, because of Maryland's leadership in the use of smart, green technologies, is quickly becoming a very attractive location for alternative energy companies.

Based in northern Sweden, Swebo specializes in manufacturing products that handle the efficient combustion of waste fuels.

"We are happy with what we have seen in Maryland and our options to establish a U.S. headquarters, followed by manufacturing operations," says Swebo Bioenergy CEO Mattias Lindren. "We looked at other states to establish our U.S. operations, but decided to locate in Maryland because of the support we received from Governor O'Malley."

Writer: Walaika Haskins

Source: DBED

Plans for new SSA site will bring new jobs to Northwest Baltimore

Federal employees at the Social Security Administration's (SSA) Metro West complex are getting new digs. The SSA plans to move its 1600 employees from its current location at 300 N. Greene Street in West Baltimore to a new office building in Northwest Baltimore near the Reisterstown Plaza Metro station.

The 538,000 square-foot office building and 1,076 square-foot garage will be built on an 11.3-acre parcel of land at 6100 Wabash Avenue that will be leased to the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). The GSA is currently seeking a developer to complete the building by 2012.

The move from the technologically obsolete West Baltimore offices is not a part of any stimulus project, according to Rochelle Spector, City Councilwoman of the 5th District where the new offices will be built. However, it will have the same impact as stimulus money would act as an economic generator for the next four decades.

"This is a major anchor for Baltimore City. It will promote further development for that area, including more residential, office and retail spaces. This has already benefited our area. For the first time in the Park Heights area in almost 40 years we have one-family homes being built so that people can live, work and play here. That's a real plus. This is not stimulus but it accomplishes exactly what we need to do to get people to live and work in Baltimore city," she says.

The planned office complex is the first stage of a larger development centered on the metro station at Reisterstown Plaza. It will include housing, retail space and offices. It is part of an initiative by the state of Maryland to create transit-centered mixed-use developments. The Reisterstown location could become a model for similar developments.

The SSA project that could cost upwards of $60 million will bring new jobs first in construction and later in retail and other sectors to the area.

Writer: Walaika Haskins
Source: Rochelle Spector, 5th District City Councilwoman

EPA $3.5M grant will clean air, bring new jobs to Port of Baltimore

Residents of Canton, Dundalk and other communities near the Port of Baltimore will soon be able to breathe easier. The U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the Port of Baltimore will receive $3.5 million in Recovery Act funding to help cut diesel pollution and clean the air in and around the Port.

The grant will be used to implement clean-diesel technology in 142 pieces of essential diesel-powered equipment used for harbor operations, including 2 tugboats, 7 locomotives, 50 short haul trucks and 83 on-dock handling units. It will also create jobs and reduce asthma rates and other respiratory illnesses.

The latest clean-diesel technology meets higher air quality standards. It is projected to cut emissions by up to 90 percent, dramatically reducing fine particulate and other pollutants contributing to smog. The new clean-diesel technologies include 9 engine repowers, 43 vehicle and equipment replacements, 83 exhaust controls and 7 idling devices.

The grant will also support extensive outreach to the maritime community with information about ways and technologies to cost-effectively reduce air emissions in collaboration with the Baltimore Port Alliance's environment committee.

"Recovery Act dollars will help the Port protect air quality and the health of Baltimore communities," says Gina McCarthy, EPA Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation. "Investing in clean diesel puts people to work and keeps them working, which helps our economy and our environment."

The Port of Baltimore was one of seven applicants selected to receive a share of $16.1 million from a pool of 40 requests.

"We are pleased that the Environmental Protection Agency saw fit to award the Port of Baltimore one of these seven grants," says Kathy Broadwater, deputy executive director for the MPA. "This generous funding will help us continue our commitment to a cleaner and healthier Port of Baltimore and surrounding community. These stimulus dollars are an excellent example of our government working to retain employment and creating a healthier environment for the country."

Baltimore ranks No. 3 in jobs

In a nationwide survey comparing job postings to the number of unemployed, Baltimore earned the No. 3 spot.

According to Indeed.com, an online job hunting site, there's one job for each unemployed person in the city. The survey looked at the top 50 metropolitan areas in the U.S. based on its index of over 50 million jobs posted each year.

Washington, D.C. came in first place with a total of six jobs for every unemployed person, while Jacksonville took the No. 2 slot with employers there offering 3 jobs for each unemployed resident.

Writer: Walaika Haskins
Source: Indeed.com

Martek teams with BP on biofuels

Columbia-based Martek Biosciences signed a joint development deal with BP to work on the production of microbial oils for biofuels applications. The respective partners bring a broad technology platform and operational capabilities to advance the development of a step-change technology to convert sugars into biodiesel.

Under the multi-year partnership, Martek and BP will collaborate to establish working prototypes for cost effective microbial biodiesel production through fermentation. Researched for more than 20 years, the challenge will be to adapt the technology to the needs of the biofuels market with regard to product profile and economics.

"Martek is pleased to partner with BP's Alternative Energy team, to combine our unique algae-based technologies and intellectual property for the creation of sustainable and affordable technology for microbial biofuel production," says Steve Dubin, Martek CEO.

BP will contribute up to $10 million for this initial phase of its collaboration with Martek, utilizing the company's expertise in microbial oil production and BP's production and commercialization experience in biofuels as the jumping off point for the joint project.

Martek will perform the biotechnology research and development related to the initial phase of the project, while BP will offer its integration within the biofuels value chain.

Biodiesel produced from sustainable feedstocks via the fermentation of sugars will offer the potential to deliver greenhouse gas emission reductions of up to 80 percent to 90 percent when compared to traditional fossil fuel.

Writer: Walaika Haskins
Source: Steve Dubin, Martek
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