Panel to look at `green' alternatives

Environmental impact of facilities at issue

January 28, 2004|By Hanah Cho | Hanah Cho,SUN STAFF

A committee is being formed to examine ways that Carroll County government can implement more environmentally sound and efficient practices in constructing and maintaining its facilities.

In a presentation yesterday before the county commissioners, a Maryland Department of Natural Resources planner described how local governments can minimize environmental impact in designing, constructing, operating and maintaining their buildings.

Called "sustainable development," such techniques use the structure and surrounding natural resources in every aspect of design and construction, said Sean McGuire of DNR's Environmental Design Program.

Such practices not only conserve energy, water and other natural resources, but they could save local governments money in the long run, he said.

McGuire described ways Carroll could apply environmental design to existing buildings by installing energy-efficient lighting, buying products with recycled content or using nontoxic paints. The county could offer developers incentives, such as a fast-track process, if they meet "green" design and construction techniques, he said.

Using a slide show, McGuire highlighted an example of a government building that incorporated environmental design in its construction. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's building in Cambria features solar panels, a reflective roof and underfloor ventilation, McGuire said.

In addition to using less energy and water, McGuire said, the design will save Pennsylvania $80,000, even if it paid more in upfront costs.

Ralph E. Green, director of the county's Department of General Services, which oversees the Bureau of Facilities, told the commissioners that the county is looking at "green" techniques as it proceeds with the proposed construction of a new library branch in Finksburg and a planned drug treatment center near Sykesville.

The county has energy-efficiency requirements as part of its building permits and inspections process, Green said.

After the presentation, county chief of staff Steve Powell asked Green to form a committee to look at how the county can implement sustainable development in new facilities along with maintaining more environmentally sound buildings.

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