The power to conserve

State buildings: Energy-saving code for new Maryland facilities serves as model for private sector.

March 23, 2001

GREEN buildings make good sense, and Maryland officials are showing good sense by requiring them for state use.

Energy efficiency will be the key to constructing new buildings or leasing new facilities for state offices, der an executive order signed by Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

At least 6 percent of the energy for new state facilities must come from renewable sources, such as solar panels or wind turbines.

That design will also reduce air pollution and global-warming "greenhouse gases" produced by burning fossil fuels like oil and coal.

Energy savings for these new state facilities may not make an immediate dent in the budget. But over the longer term, this policy can noticeably reduce state government's power demand. A 10 percent cut in energy use for all state offices is the goal for 2005.

Showpiece of the new policy will be the new Department of Environment headquarters in the Montgomery Ward warehouse in Southwest Baltimore. That renovation project will have a variety of new energy-reduction features.

Last year, Maryland led the nation in offering sales-tax waivers for consumers who buy energy-conserving major appliances, from autos to hot water heaters to air conditioners. The 5 percent savings is a modest incentive to buy more expensive but fuel-efficient appliances and autos.

This "green buildings" program also makes Maryland a national leader in energy conservation. (Minnesota has an energy-savings requirement for building new homes.) By its good example, the state can show others the considerable benefits of turning green.

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