November 24, 2013

Maryland County Requires Buildings to Install Renewable Energy

A Maryland county has passed a precedent-setting clean energy bill - it could be the first in the US to require all government buildings to run on renewable energy.

That is, when a county building is renovated (50% or more of gross floor area) or newly built, renewable energy must be integrated into the design. 

Prince George County Council unanimously approved the bill. The legislation requires the county to budget an additional 2% in construction costs for every building to pay for a renewable energy installation. Every building must have 1 kilowatt of clean energy for every 1,000 square feet of gross floor area. 

They define renewable energy as solar, wind or geothermal.

The county is part of the Baltimore - Washington DC metro area and is home to about 860,000 people.

"I am thrilled the Council has adopted one of the most ambitious policies for clean energy on public buildings in the country," says Council Member Mary Lehman, who proposed the measure. "This bill will spur clean energy jobs for our workforce, energy savings for our taxpayers, and a cleaner environment for our children."

The local Sierra Club chapter and Chesapeake Climate Action Network worked with Lehman on the bill. Another goal is to raise Maryland's Renewable Portfolio Standard to require 40% renewable energy by 2025, even stronger than California's 33% standard.

Maryland is on a tear right now, recently passing a series of progressive laws. Last month, the state passed the first law in the country that rewards people for being stewards of forests. 

The legislation is part of Maryland's stellar Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan released this summer. Besides setting targets for greenhouse gas cuts, electric demand cuts and increased renewable energy, it includes targets to create a zero-waste state and to double transit ridership by 2020.

Earlier this year, The Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013 passed - the first state to legislate subsidies for offshore wind.

Maryland participates in the Northeast cap-and-trade program (RGGI) and is one of 8 states that just signed a pact to get more electric cars on the road. It also ranks among the top states for installed solar.

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