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Gov. O’Malley launches innovative challenge to spur Maryland building efficiency

Published on Written by Posted in Advocacy and policy

The list of benefits from Maryland’s building energy efficiency programs feels a little like a MasterCard commercial. These programs have led to an investment of nearly $200 million, attracted more than 42,000 participants (17 percent of accounts), saved nearly 800,000 megawatt hours and more than a billion dollars, created more than 2,100 jobs and avoided nearly 400,000 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. Oh yeah, and what about the benefit to the state’s climate resilience? “Priceless.” I guess building efficiency in Maryland is a win-win-win-win-win-win-win. Well, you get the point.

And thanks to the leadership of Gov. Martin O’Malley, the state is doubling down on this success with an innovative new program to further engage building owners.

At the Maryland State House last week, the governor convened a diverse group of building stakeholders from across the state to unveil the EmPOWER Maryland Challenge, an exciting new program to accelerate green building in the state.

The challenge will help commercial, industrial or nonprofit enterprises commit to an energy reduction goal for a building or an entire portfolio of buildings. By just signing up to the challenge, building owners in Maryland will have access to a suite of tools and resources from the state, including technical and financial support. And it turns out that just setting a goal has really important impacts. For example, organizations that set and disclose their energy goals will implement 50 percent more efficiency and renewable energy measures than organizations that don’t.

But to sweeten the deal, the Maryland Energy Administration is offering $4.5 million in grant money to support building efficiency upgrades that help the building (or buildings) achieve a 20 percent reduction or more. The awards will range from $20,000 to $500,000 and could cover up to 50 percent of the project costs after other incentives. Maryland building owners will look to act fast, as the application period closes Jan. 15, 2014.

“We designed the challenge to showcase big buildings that achieve deep savings and inspire others to take action," said Daniel Seligman, policy development manager for the Maryland Energy Administration. “While Washington, D.C., is gridlocked, Maryland is innovating solutions. The challenge will help us move the dial on competitiveness, jobs and pollution all at once." 

During the announcement last Thursday, it was amazing to watch as O’Malley engaged with just about every member of the audience, which included more than 100 stakeholders. He showed a deep expertise on this issue, going point-for-point with a roundtable of experts and asking all the right questions. It was clear the governor was making sure that the state was doing all it could to support green, energy efficient buildings as well as working to remove barriers to these energy- and money-saving best practices. And, yes, sometimes it’s hard to put a value on leadership, but in Maryland, “priceless” is a pretty good start.

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    Jason Hartke made 10 contributions in the last 6 months

Jason Hartke

Vice President, National Policy and Advocacy U.S. Green Building Council

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