New Md. facilities must be energy-saving

Goal is to have 6% of electricity generated by solar, wind power

March 14, 2001|By Joel McCord | Joel McCord,SUN STAFF

Gov. Parris N. Glendening set Maryland on a course for more environmentally sound buildings yesterday, requiring energy-saving features in new state facilities and in those the state leases.

The goal of the executive order, announced on the drafty ground floor of the old Montgomery Ward warehouse in Southwest Baltimore, is that 6 percent of the electricity used in state buildings be generated by solar power, wind power or some other renewable energy source.

It also creates a Maryland Green Buildings Council to set criteria for energy-efficient new buildings and oversee their construction and renovations of existing buildings.

"Maryland takes the next step in our efforts to grow smarter, to live more in balance with our environment and to help protect the Chesapeake Bay," Glendening said. "We are moving Maryland into a sustainable future by cutting back our reliance on fossil fuels for electric power and helping to reduce greenhouse gases."

The emissions from burning fossil fuels such as coal and oil to generate power are among the largest contributors to air pollution and the world's climate change. Known as greenhouse gases, they are a significant source of excess nitrogen in the bay.

The eight-story former Montgomery Ward warehouse, the future home of the Maryland Department of the Environment, is expected to be a showpiece that reduces the need for electricity generated by coal-fired power plants.

It is to include ground-level shrubbery to filter runoff from streets and parking lots, a tank on the roof to capture rain water for use in toilets, an air conditioning system that uses air blown over water chilled on the premises at night when electricity is cheaper and a computerized system that coordinates electric lights with the natural light coming in through banks of windows.

The building will "combine maximum energy savings with user comfort," Glendening said.

Another new state building, the Miller Senate Office Building in Annapolis, lacks such "green building" features, said Michelle Byrnie, the governor's spokeswoman. It was designed before energy policies changed, she said.

Glendening's announcement was praised by environmentalists. Joan S. Willey of the Sierra Club called it an important step in recognizing that "the least expensive, most readily available source of energy in this country is energy conservation."

"This is a challenge and an incredible opportunity for the Maryland building community," she said. "We can become the nation's leader in green buildings."

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