Fact Sheet: The Greening of Calvert County
The Greening of Calvert County: A Study of County Government Policies and Practices Re: Energy Usage, Transportation and Recycling
Energy usage in the United States is increasing along with an expansion of the country's carbon-footprint. A study by the Brookings Institution found that overall greenhouse (GHG) emissions have increased approximately 1% per year since 1980 in the United States.
("Shrinking the Carbon Footprint of Metropolitan America," Brookings Institution, Blueprint for American Prosperity Brief, May 2008.)
This same study found that when commercial industry is excluded, rural residents are responsible for more carbon emissions per person than their metropolitan counterparts. This is due mainly to the lack of mass transit, to longer commute times and to lower residential density.
It is well documented that the implementation of energy efficiency measures not only reduces GHG emissions but also saves taxpayer dollars.
A true sustainability plan goes beyond the reduction of energy usage and considers all aspects of emission creation, in such areas as power generation, waste and construction debris disposal, transportation and citizen education. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Climate Change information, the U.S. has committed to reducing its GHG "intensity" ( a measure of emissions per unit of economic activity) by 18% from 2002 to 2012.
Smaller counties such as Calvert may be limited in their abilities to influence the purchasing of "green " energy resources by the local utilities or in their purchasing power in general as related to green building practices and alternative fuels however there are many steps that similarly-sized local governments are taking across the U.S. to effect positive and pro-active changes in the area of sustainable policies/practices. By use of astute planning and creative partnerships Calvert County government can join in the environmental strewardship county citizens expect from their local government for themselves and for future generations.
Purpose and Scope of Study
The League of Women Voters of Calvert County conducted a study of the current policies and practices of the Calvert County government with a focus on the areas of energy usage, transportation and recycling. The purpose of the study was to document what steps the county has taken toward resource conservation and reduced environmental impact in these three areas and to highlight where new initiatives are needed. Excluded from this limited study were the issues of: water-related conservation, sustainable agriculture and forestry.
In the summer of 2007 with the approval of the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners, county employees were surveyed by the Calvert LWV through use of interviews, emails and telephone conferences about how each governmental department was addressing the issue of GHG emission reduction.
Departments participating in the league's study were the following: Public Works, Finance, Transportation and Building /Grounds. In the public school administration the participating departments were: Energy Management, Maintenance, Construction and Transportation.
The completed LWV study report contains summaries of participants' interviews, league findings and subsequent league recommended action plans. Also included in the report's bibliography is the league study committee's extensive list of resources related to the study topic and a glossary of terms for use in further research in the area.
The LWVUS position in the area of Natural Resources states "Promote an environment beneficial to life through protection and wise management of natural resources in the public interest." (Impact on Issues 2006-2008, League of Women Voters United States)
Other areas where the League has effected significant change and continues to work are: water issues(ground-water protection, agricultural run-off/acid rain), clean air, solid waste/recycling efforts, hazardous waste management, energy conservation and use of renewable energy resources.
The 2007 LWVUS Global Climate Change TaskForce listed various strategies and changes required to effect serious energy policies for the future. In the article "There is No Free Lunch but There Are Cost-Effective Solutions" the LWVUS authors focus on the economic realities associated with reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and stress the importance of modifying human behavior to influence this area of conservation. The fiscal rationality of investing time and money in GHG reduction efforts is noted from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC), May 5, 2007.
The future implications of climate change are also addressed in the IPCC 2007 Report with predictions of the following: severe economic, human health, ecological consequences(droughts,floods, sea-level rise, food/potable water shortages, vector-borne diseases and air/water quality degradation.) All these are linked to rising temperatures and higher levels of GHG concentrations in the atmosphere.
Key Mitigation Strategies
According to the 2007 IPCC report"Mitigation of Climate Change", the following technologies will figure prominently in the reduction of GHG emissions and are either commercially available today or are projected to be available by 2030:
- Energy Supply- improved supply/distribution efficiency; fuel switching from coal to gas, nuclear power, renewable heat and power (i.e.hydropower, solar, wind, geothermal and bio-energy); combined heat and power, early application of CCS(carbon capture and storage which is storage of CO2 removed from natural gas).
- Transportation-more efficient vehicles, hybrid vehicles,cleaner diesel vehicles,bio-fuels,shifts from road transport to rail and public transport systems, non-motorized transport(cycling/walking),land use and transport planning.
- Buildings- efficient lighting, use of daylight, more efficient electrical appliances and heating/cooling devices, improved stoves, improved insulation, passive/active solar design,alternative refrigeration fluids, recovery/recycling of fluorinated gases.
- Industry- more efficient end-use electrical equipment, heat and power recovery,material recycling and substitutes, control of non-CO2 gas emissions and wide array of process-specific technologies.
- Agriculture- improved crop and grazing land management to increase soil carbon storage, restoration of cultivated peaty soils and degraded lands, improved rice cultivation techniques, livestock/manure management to reduce methane emissions,improved nitrogen fertilizer application techniques to reduce nitrous oxide emissions, dedicated energy crops to replace fossil fuel use, improve energy efficiency.
- Forestry- reforestation, forest management, reduced deforestation, harvested wood product management, use of forestry products for bio-energy to replace fossil fuel use, improvement of tree species to increase biomass productivity and carbon sequestration, improve remote sensing technologies for analysis of vegetation/soil carbon sequestration potential.
- Waste-landfill methane recovery, waste incineration with energy recovery, composting of organic waste, controlled wastewater treatment, recycling and bio-carbons/bio-fuels to optimize methane oxidation.
Key Areas of Interest in Calvert County
County Government Departments' Interview Summaries
Calvert County Department of Planning/Zoning
Summary: For decades Calvert County has been proactive in the field of environmental issues through programs and regulations which address: land and farm preservation, reduction of runoff into rivers and the Chesapeake Bay, critical areas enforcement, incorporation of the town center concept into the Calvert County Comprehensive Plan the goal of which is to foster sustainable communities and protect natural resources. A present focus of this department is research into green building practices( i.e. county buildings, local industry), update of county building codes/town center ordinances to incorporate more sustainable practices, utility and lumber supply companies workshops focused on energy conservation, creation of a "green team" to research sustainability issues.
Calvert LWV Study Recommendations: provide minimum energy performance standards for buildings, incentives for developers/builders/homeowners to use "green" building practices, recycling of construction debris,use of low-emitting/ recycled materials, allowable roof designs,water-efficient roadway landscaping, sidewalks, bike racks, cycling paths/lanes, pedestrian trails located in town centers and school areas, research availability of "green" power from local utility company, implement a countywide recycling program, implement a citizen education program re: benefits of "green practices" for homes/businesses.
Calvert County General Services Department/Division of Buildings and Grounds
Summary : Calvert County currently maintains 45 buildings and this department is responsible for the maintenance, custodial care, repair/renovation of all facilities. Over the past 8 years, the county has been upgrading all lighting within buildings at a cost of $20,000/yr. Replacement of older T12 fluorescent lights with energy efficient T8 lights has produced a 40% savings in energy consumption, a 2-4 year payback on investment. Also implemented are some motion-detection lighting and plans to install more efficient photo-cell lights, remote monitoring of heating/cooling systems, interior temperature settings regulations, replacement of computer monitors with energy efficient models, some solar panel signs and streetllights, Energy Star rated appliances at newer county buildings, county courthouse participates in the( NACo) Energy Star program,continuing energy consumption reduction plans from a maintenance/renovation perspective.
Calvert LWV Study Recommendations: development of a "Green Building Maintenance Manual" modeled on the state of Pa. manual, to provide sustainable maintenance practice guidelines(optimize energy usage, minimize waste, incorporate green systems/materials into government buildings to improve indoor air-quality, train key personnel in these green practices,development of life-cycle cost analysis for new equipment purchases.
Calvert County Department of Public Works, County Administration, Construction
Summary: This department oversees all new public building construction, road/bridge construction, manages highways and reviews commercial /residential building and grading permits. It also manages the procurement/maintenance of county vehicles, including sheriff vehicles, highway maintenance fleet. There are no minimum energy performance guidelines for new buildings constructed in the county as yet however the county considers energy costs/water usage in the design of county buildings i.e the newly constructed Indoor Aquatic Center which has translucent panels to make use of natural daylight, retractable roof design for free cooling, HVAC system with a heat recovery system to recycle excess heat to temper the pool and air. This department manages the purchase of 400 vehicles for county, sheriff office use. (*See full study for discussion of vehicle fuel issues, pedestrian crosswalks, highway maintenance)
Calvert LWV Study Recommendations: Development of a preferred energy efficiency/reduced emissions practices list to be incorporated into building codes,training of key personnel in green practices and life-cycle costs analysis of building projects,incorporation of emissions reductions targets in all new vehicle purchases and work with state MTA to resolve dangerous crosswalks in the county.
Calvert County Department of Finance and Budget
Summary: This department handles the accounting activities for the county government i.e, prepares the Operating Budget and Capital Improvement Plans on an annual basis. The process currently in use for each capital improvement project is the analysis from a standard cost/benefit analysis position which often does not incorporate sustainability issues in the plans. Re: purchase of electricity the county purchases most of its electricity from SMECO with a small portion for the northern part of the county from BGE. At present SMECO buys Renewable Energy Credits worth 3% of their total purchases and will increase this to 7% by 2010. Re: fuel costs for gasoline, diesel and heating oil these are bid out contracts . Within the contracts the prices of fuel are indexed to the market and move within bands predetermined in the contract.
Calvert LWV Study Recommendations: Higher upfront outflows are normally required in the implementation of green practices but most payback periods are dropping quickly as newer green practices become more popular and more widely used across the United States. Development of Energy Audit procedures to establish baseline usage and institute annual reporting of all GHG emissions, provide information re: the affordability of green initiatives with the use of lifecycle cost analysis in county government.
Calvert County Office of Public Transportation/Fleet Management and Maintenance Division(Part of Department Community Resources)
Summary: *See full study for discussion of this department statistics, vehicle types, fuel, emission control standards, etc.
Calvert LWV Study Recommendations: Appointment of a Transportation Technologies Liaison by the county commissioners to monitor transportation vehicle industry forecasts, assess future state(MTA) transportation vehicle initiatives, provide cost/analysis re: newer technologies and share information from other local governments which have successfully implemented hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles in the region.(*The purchase of county vehicles in counties across the state of MD is overseen by the MD State Transportation Agency (MTA).)
Recycling(Within Solid Waste Division of the Calvert County Department of Public Works)
Summary: There is a significant challenge to implement a full recycling program in rural counties where distances and low population density preclude curbside pick-up with residents required to separate/deliver their recyclables. Seven drop-off stations in the county accept items for recycling and include: paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, cans, textiles,electronics, fluorescent bulbs and some hazardous materials(motor oil, paint thinner,pool chemicals). The towns of North Beach and Chesapeake Beach are the only areas within the county to provide curbside recycling for their residents. Efforts to educate citizens re: recycling have been on-going in the county and include school programs, PSAs and program development assistance to local businesses. The current county policies are in the process of being reviewed and updated. Calvert County was listed in 2006 as among the top 5 MD counties for recycling by the MD Department of the Environment. Calvert County no longer utilizes the Appeal and Barstow landfills and contracts to have waste transported out of the state.
Calvert LWV Study Recommendations: Every pound of trash diverted into the recycling stream reduces the strain on landfill requirements, both in terms of land area and labor associated with site maintenance, saving taxpayer dollars and provides raw materials for a growing recycled manufacturing sector. This positively impacts the U.S. job market and economy. The LWV recommends the establishment of plastic and glass recycling at the county parks and museums, placement of recycling bins at town centers to facilitate more public participation, assist the development of recycling collection/storage considerations for new construction and renovation projects in the county, work with the school system to qualify recycling efforts by students as fulfilling the Community Service requirements for graduation, facilitate smaller community recycling programs such as the one at Scientists Cliffs, consider the recycling program at the Calvert Marine Museum as one model for the county's program and expand the recycling program countywide. Areas of concern to the LWV remain: education and recruitment of citizens for the countywide recycling program, handling of hazardous waste, the collection/storage/entrance of recycled materials into the manufacturing sector, contractor vs. county pick-up of recyclables and the generation of income from the recycling stream.
Calvert County Public Schools(CCPS) Administration Interview Summaries
CCPS School Construction
Summary: Calvert County was the first county to install a geothermal cooling/heating system in a new school construction project with annual utility bill savings of approximately $40,000-$47,000. Two new schools in the county will incorporate energy efficient geothermal heating/cooling systems.Other larger volume facilities such as high schools utilize energy recovery units where the air exchange demands are beyond the capabilities of geothermal systems. Maryland's Governor has directed counties to use High Performance Building Construction which is similiar to LEED(Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and contains some green component initiatives. With the use of geothermal, energy recovery systems, low VOC emitting construction materials, recycled materials, environmentally friendly maintenance supplies and various storm water measures, CCPS already complies with up to 75% of a LEED certified building.(* See full study for a discussion re: LEED Building Program certification program).
Calvert LWV Study Recommendations: Development of Green Building guidelines similar to those found in the LEEDS certification program, train key personnel in green building practices and life-cycle cost analysis re: building projects.
CCPS Maintenance Department
Summary: The school system has undertaken a proactive program of energy conservation that is expected to provide savings of approximately $400,000 in the next fiscal year which are reflected in the 2008-2009 budget. Currently the school system's Energy Policy is being reviewed and updated. One approach CCPS is using is to keep energy management responsibility in-house as opposed to hiring consultants in an effort to save money, using their own certified/licensed technical maintenance staff for the necessary upgrades. Since 1995 the CCPS have implemented a program of replacing older mercury vapor lights with fluorescent box fixtures which are more efficient, replacing core/coil ballast fixtures with electronic ballast models, incorporating in all new buildings some form of motion detectors and/or occupancy sensors which turn off automatically, installed in a newer middle school a geothermal heating system which eliminates reliance on the more carbon-emitting oil/gas burners, directed custodians to compile daily logs of fuel oil consumption and chart online the consumption/delivery schedules, install programmable thermostats in the more than 40 temporary trailers to increase comfort and reduce usage, analysis of boiler loads in an attempt to limit the number of working units during the winter season, developing guidelines to change employee energy consumption habits, use of "daylighting" in targeted areas in place of electric lights, management of kitchen/teacher work schedules to minimize peak consumption, assess use and number of accessory appliances allowed(computers, monitors, printers, microwaves, refrigerators).
Re: Recycling Starting in Fall 2008 a full single- stream recycling program will be implemented at all CCPS schools including field and sports events with new recycle bins placed in and around schools. A concerted effort to educate the school population re: how/what to recycle will be launched. All recyled materials will be transported to a sorting facility within the Tri-County area in southern MD. There is no provision in this contract for generating a revenue stream for the recycled materials collected.
Calvert LWV Study Recommendations: Participate in the development of a countywide Green Building Maintenance Manual, train key personnel in green building practices and life-cycle cost analysis.
CCPS Department of Transportation
Summary: School buses built after 2006 incorporate new air filter and engine technology which significantly reduce diesel emissions and additional federally required emissions upgrades will begin in 2010 for all new buses. Calvert County's private contractor-owned school buses are upgraded only when a new purchase is required, meaning that the transition to the less polluting buses will take up to 12 years.
Since 2003 the EPA's Clean School Bus program has been awarding grants to school districts to retrofit older buses with pollution control devices such as particulate filters and oxidation catalysts which reduce pollutants in the exhaust stream. Grants for school bus improvements are available also from the Mid-Atlantic Diesel Cooperative.
Calvert LWV Study Recommendations: Investigate possible grants for a pollution reduction program for Calvert County school buses, develop emission reduction guidelines for contractors( engine idling, bio-diesel fuel options), review current school policy re: school bus-stop locations/routes with a goal to reduce overall bus mileage and the number of bus-stops.
Calvert Marine Museum (Within Calvert County General Services Department)
Summary: Re: energy usage the Calvert Marine Museum has switched out all conventional light bulbs in a small outer building to energy efficient fluorescents. The water faucets in the public lavatory facilities have been replaced with automatic faucets to cut down on water usage. Transportation tasks for CSM departments when possible are combined to conserve vehicle fuel.
Re: Recycling Program: The Museum has developed a "Green Team" which has led efforts in recycling commingled containers from everyday use of staff and daily visitors to the larger task of gathering all recycled items from larger public events such as concerts/festivals. Also incorporated are the efforts of local youth groups and high school environmental groups. Any aluminum collected can be recycled with proceeds going to the non-profit. Non-aluminum commingled recyclables are brought to Calvert County Recycling/Compactor sites by staff and/or non-profit monitors. Calvert Marine Museum participates in the recycling of paper and cardboard used at the museum with the county providing a pick up of these items approximately once a week. Electronic communications are encouraged when possible to reduce paper usage and website use encouraged for patrons to reduce the number of brochures printed. The exhibits department has begun reusing foam-core board, wood and metal when making signs or setting up exhibits to reduce cost and waste. The museum's Green Team has constructed a paneled display of its recycling efforts that has been staffed/displayed at environmental events throughout southern MD.
Calvert LWV Study Recommendations: The LWV encourages the Calvert County government to use the recycling efforts developed by the Calvert Marine Museum as a model for future recycling programs in the county. The museum makes excellent use of citizen interest and donated time while providing on-going education about the value of recycling as a community initiative.
League Findings and Recommended Action Plans
As Calvert County, the state of Maryland and the nation enter a new era of global energy awareness, the Calvert League proposes the following elements of a comprehensive sustainability plan be addressed by the Calvert County Board of Commissioners:
- Development of a comprehensive Greening of Calvert County Initiative to include: specific long-term, near-term objectives and suggested time-frames for the reduction of GHG emissions within Calvert County. This initiative should be an ongoing program with progress reports published annually for the citizens of Calvert County.
- Development of an overall Energy Policy: a mission statement that outlines Calvert County's commitment to GHG reduction and lists the steps the county government will take, in the near and long-term to reduce energy consumption and reliance on fossil fuels.
- Implementation of a comprehensive Energy Audit : an accounting of all GHG emissions to act as a baseline for reduction targets in all areas of county government.
- Creation of a Citizens' Advisory Committee to advise the Board of County Commissioners about the greening of Calvert County.
- Training of key county employees in the various aspects of sustainability: green building code development and implementation, life-cycle cost analysis that considers all long-term costs of construction techniques instead of initial cost only, how to implement comprehensive recycling (plastic, glass, paper, etc.) programs in all county buildings and grounds(parks, schools, fields), the incorporation of green cleaning/maintenance procedures. etc.
- Establishment of Incentives to developers, businesses and home owners (fast track permitting, reduced permit or impact fees, etc.) for meeting green building standards and/or for incorporating alternative energy intiatives (solar, wind, geothermal,etc.) into building designs and renovations.
- Creation of a Diesel Emission Reduction Plan: the retrofitting of as many county-owned school buses as is economically feasible with pollution control devices such as particulate filters and the continued downsizing of county vehicles whenever possible. Grant programs can be found through the EPA''s site and the Mid-Atlantic Diesel Cooperative.
- Each department should designate an employee responsible for keeping informed about new green initiatives available at the state, federal and other local government levels. The county commissioners should appoint a Transportation Technologies Liaison to review state, federal and other local government initiatives regarding hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles.
- Implementation of Recycling programs for plastics and glass in county parks, playing fields and museums.
- Inclusion of students' recycling efforts in the CCPS Community Service requirements for graduation, including public education projects.
- Incorporation into the Town Centers of Bike and Pedestrian amenities.
Arun, Makhijani"Carbon Free and Nuclear Free: A Roadmap for US Energy" IEER Press, Takoma Park, MD 2007, RDR, Muskegon, MI 2007
American Solar Energy Society, "Tackling Climate Change in the US: Potential Carbon Emissions Reductions from Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by 2030 (2007)
Interlaboratory Working Group on Energy Efficiency and Clean-Energy Technologies, Scenarios for a Clean Energy Future(Oak Ridge , TN;Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Berkeley, CA; Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory 2000), Chapter 4: Building Sector and Chapter 7: Electricity Sector.
James Hansen et al, Target Atmospheric CO2: Where Should Humanity Aim? (April 7, 2008)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, The Future of Coal: Plans for a Carbon-Constrained World, J.Deutch and E.Moniz, co-chairs; Study co-authors include A.D.Ellerman, H.Herzog, H.D. Jacoby (March 2007)
National Association of State PIRGS, Energy Efficiency: The Smart Way to Reduce Global Warming Pollution in the Northeast (August 2005)
Pew Center for Global Climate Change, "Understanding and Responding to Global Climate Change."
Calvert LWV Green Study Committee Members: Dawn Balinski, Chair, Christa Conant, Annette Funn, Bob Poling, Fran Poling, Kathleen Riley
*For complete study pdf. file contact Calvert LWV at 410-586-2176 or firstname.lastname@example.org