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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.

*****

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.

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Baltimore City Council Votes Unanimously To Adopt The Baltimore Sustainability Plan
March 7, 2009, 8:33 pm
Filed under: News | Tags: ,

Baltimore Smart Growth

The Baltimore City Council voted unanimously on March 2, 2009 to adopt the Baltimore Sustainability Plan.  Now a city ordinance, the plan is supposed guide future legislation.  In addition to being a prescription for Baltimore lawmaking, the plan promises accountability through annual progress reports.

Baltidome encourages you to be a sustainability watchdog and keep your eye on Baltimore City Council’s progress.  The plan is 57 pages long.  It includes numerous objectives, such as creating a brand for Baltimore’s sustainability initiative and promoting Baltimore as a green city.  To help you focus on the fundamental objectives (and so you don’t have to read the whole darn thing!), Baltidome highlights some key goals from the plan:

Goal: Eliminate Litter
Strategy:
-Implement a pilot program of recycling bins at the Inner Harbor.
-Place an additional 1050 trashcans at key locations around the city.
-Provide each residence with a large municipal lidded trashcan.
-Penalize citizens who do not place their trash in cans.

Goal: Reduce Baltimore’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 15% by 2015
Strategy:
-Create a Climate Action Plan and implement this plan.

Goal: Reduce Baltimore’s Energy Use by 15% by 2015
Strategy:
-Require energy efficiency building standards for projects over 10,000sq ft.
-Use “methane-capture technology” to create renewable power at the city’s wastewater treatment facilities.
-Mandate efficiency upgrades to homes at point of sale.

Goal: Transform Baltimore’s 30,000 Vacant Lots From A Liability To An Asset.
Strategy:
-Create a Land Trust for the city owned spaces.
-The Land Trust would create measures encouraging communities to utilize vacant lots for recreation, gardening and other community enhancing projects.
-Levy a fee on property owners who do not maintain their vacant property.

Goal: Double Baltimore’s Tree Canopy by 2037
Strategy:
-Increase tree plantings throughout the city through Baltimore’s Tree Baltimore Program.
(To learn more about Tree Baltimore on Baltidome, CLICK HERE)

Goal: Make Baltimore Bicycle & Pedestrian Friendly
Strategy:
-Complete the Bicycle Master Plan, approved in 2006, that has only been partially implemented to date.
-Develop a Bike To Work program and a Bike Sharing program.

Goal: Make Every Baltimore School a Green School
Strategy:
-Add green features to current buildings.
-Adopt the national LEED Schools Rating System for all current and future Baltimore City school structures.
-Implement green facilities management practices, including green cleaning.

Goal: Create Green Jobs
Strategy:
-Expand industries in alternative energy, renewable fuels, energy efficient technology, waste reduction, environmental services & green building materials.
-Create and host a Green Collar Summit.