Model Sustainability and Green Building Initiatives for a More Verdant City and Town

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A package of local government bills introduced on January 29th aim to ensure that Montgomery County, Maryland remains at the sustainability forefront. The legislation submitted by Councilmember Roger Berliner is a model for local government environmental and energy initiatives, at a time when there is an anti-LEED v4 bill in the Maryland legislature, and we provide a link to each bill with the thought that these may inspire other cities and counties:

Bill 2-14 would require owners to benchmark the energy use of certain buildings and retro-commission certain building systems to improve their energy efficiency. Modeled after laws in New York, Chicago, and the District of Columbia, this bill is designed to work with the County’s recently enacted PACE program to create market based incentives for building owners to increase energy efficiency.

Bill 3-14 would require newly constructed buildings of 10,000 square feet or more or extensively modified buildings to achieve a Silver certification in the appropriate LEED rating system. Current laws require those buildings to achieve a LEED Certified certification.

Bill 4-14 would require any contract that the County enters into to maintain street lights to be with a company that will install LED lights that are more energy efficient and requires less maintenance.

Bill 5-14 would require the County government to submit an analysis of “the social cost of carbon” with certain capital projects in the County capital budget. The bill articulates that the “external” costs of conventional fuels, particularly coal, extracts a cost on society and that those costs should be factored into the cost/ benefit calculations that the County uses.

Bill 6-14 would create an Office of Sustainability.

Bill 7-14 would create a preference for a certified green business in the County’s procurement of goods and services.

Bill 8-14 would require new or extensively remodeled buildings for which County government finances at least 30% of the costs, to generate at least 1 kilowatt of renewable energy for every 1,000 square feet of floor area.

Bill 9-14 would require that 50% of the County’s electric power usage be supplied with renewable energy by Fiscal Year 2015 and 100% by 2020.

Bill 10-14 would require the County to implement an expedited review process for permits to install rooftop solar photovoltaic systems and charge reduced fees for those permits.

Bill 11-14 would require the County to implement an expedited review process for permits to install electric vehicle charging stations and charge reduced fees for those permits.

The County has also been discussing adopting the International Green Construction Code as an option in addition to the use of LEED, but that legislation is not part of the package introduced.

This local effort needs to be viewed against the backdrop of pending HB 207 in the Maryland legislature, a bill with legs, that would repeal the existing statewide requirement that state funded construction be LEED Silver certified, including schools in Montgomery County (which school community is supporting the bill).

Appreciate also that Montgomery County, situated just north of Washington, DC,. is the 11th wealthiest county, by household income, in the country. The County Council in all Democrat and very Blue. It may have the highest concentration of LEED projects per capita of any local jurisdiction. It is already a very green place and this legislative package, that admittedly would not (.. and possibly should not) be politically possible most places in the country, will only make Montgomery County more verdant.

Article by Stuart Kaplow, appearing courtesy Green Building Law Update.

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.