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It Is Green If They Say It’s Green: Sustainability -VS- Remington Walmart Complex

It Is Green If They Say It’s Green

Is Baltimore’s Green Building Code Just A Bunch Of Hot Air?

Baltimore’s new building code states -

From July 1, 2009: All buildings (City-owned, City-subsidized, and private) applying for a building permit after this date must be equivalent to a LEED “Silver” level.

LEED “Silver” is a minimum national standard set by the United States Green Building Council for sustainable development.

Baltimore’s Green Building Code sounds like a promising step forward, but residents learned in a recent Baltimore City Planning Commission hearing, that there will be no enforcement of the new code.

At the highly attended hearing on August 5th for the proposed controversial Walmart complex in Remington, developers, city officials, community groups and residents had the opportunity to weigh in on the “25th Street Station” big box project.  In the four hour + hearing, many concerns were raised, ranging from traffic, to parking, to sustainability and beyond.

During community testimony at the hearing, the Planning Commission was presented with concern that the developers were not applying for LEED “Silver” certification for the project and that the proposed development appears to be failing in its method for waste water management of the site.  Despite the developer’s assertions, the project may, in fact, be ineligible for LEED “Silver” standards set by the city.

So, how did the commission respond?

They said there was nothing they could do.  Wilbur Cunningham, the Baltimore Planning Commission chairman, explained that the city is not requiring certification under the newly “imposed” Green Building Standards.

From the “Green Building Requirements FAQ’s” on the Baltimore Planning/Office of Sustainability site:

Will covered buildings be expected to earn certification from the U.S. Green Building Council?

No. The new Baltimore City Green Building Standards are intended to require that covered buildings be designed and built to a certain energy and environmental standard. While it is not necessary for buildings to go through the U.S. Green Building Council’s official Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Project Certification process for the Baltimore requirements, this is a step that building owners may want to pursue. For more information on the LEED Project Certification process, visit the U.S. Green Building Council’s website at www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CMSPageID=64

In other words, if the developers say it is green, then it is green -at least according to Baltimore City government.  Since 2007, Baltimore City officials have been working on the new Baltimore Green Building Standards.  The result, it appears, is that for the past several years (on taxpayer dollars) the city has worked to craft and tweak and retweak a plan that, in the end, has no enforcement.

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What can you do in regards to the proposed 25th Street Station project?

Contact your Baltimore City Council Member and demand an amendment to the 25th Street Station PUD (Planned Unit Development) that includes a LEED “Silver” Certification requirement for the project.  This will not be a big concession for the developers -if the project meets the Baltimore Green Building Standards as they say it does.

If this is a matter of great importance to you, consider explaining to your city council person how this could affect your support for them in the upcoming election.  To do a search for your city council person, CLICK HERE.

To learn more about efforts to include a Community Benefits Agreement in the 25th Street Station PUD, CLICK HERE.