Montgomery Council Celebrates Earth Day By Approving 7 Global Warming Bills
Montgomery to Become Nation’s First County to Require EPA’s ‘Energy Star’
Standards for New Residential Construction
ROCKVILLE, Md., April 22, 2008—The Montgomery County Council today celebrated Earth Day 2008 by passing seven bills that combine to form one of the nation’s foremost global warming programs by a County government. An amendment offered by Councilmember Roger Berliner, chief sponsor of the bills, will require new homes built in the County to meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Energy Star” standard. That will make Montgomery the nation’s first county to adopt such legislation.
The Council adopted the comprehensive package that included 25 separate initiatives to combat global warming on a variety of fronts, ranging from transportation to building and renewable energy. The Council has been working diligently on the bills since Councilmember Berliner suggested the original legislation on Earth Day one year ago.
While the legislation requires the Montgomery County government to make significant progress in reducing its four percent piece of the county’s overall carbon emissions, the legislation’s primary focus is on reductions to the 96 percent of the overall County greenhouse gas emissions that comes from our homes, office buildings, retail stores and private vehicles.
“The Council has celebrated Earth Day in the best possible manner—passing landmark legislation that will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions for decades to come,” said Councilmember Berliner. “This legislative package passed by the Council underscores our commitment to a greener environment, a greener economy, lower utility bills and a higher quality of life. We are now on our way toward reaching the ‘Cool Counties’ goal to stop increasing greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent by 2010 and achieve a 10 percent increase every five years until we have reduced emissions by 80 percent in the year 2050.”
The package of legislation includes Bills 29-07 (Environmental Sustainability—Climate Protection—Motor Vehicles); 30-07 (Buildings—Energy Efficiency); 31-07 (Real Property—Energy Performance Audits); 32-07 (Environmental Sustainability—Climate Protection Plan); 33-07 (Renewable Energy); 34-07 (Planning Procedures—Greenhouse Gas Emissions); and 35-07 (Consumer Protection—Energy and Environmental Advocacy).
The amendment to require new homes built in the County to meet Energy Star standards was added to Bill 30-07. The legislation will have a delayed start (January 2010) to give home builders time to adapt to the requirements.
The global warming legislative package includes the additional following initiatives, among others:
• Development of a climate protection plan, including community education and outreach, tree canopy initiative, telecommuting action plan and an energy cost savings plan for each County building
• Studies and recommendations regarding conversion of the current energy tax into a carbon tax, a renewable energy action plan, joining an emissions “cap and trade” program, creation of a sustainable energy fund, adoption of an energy efficiency code for commercial buildings, entering into, or providing incentives for, a car share agreement, improving the average County fleet fuel economy, and incentives for energy efficiency improvements in the private sector
• Property tax credits for solar and geothermal energy devices and energy conservation devices
• Disclosure of utility costs and energy efficiency information when a home is sold
• Use of biofuels for County vehicle fleet
• Elimination (or justification for use) of SUVs in the County fleet
• Inclusion of climate change as a factor in drafting Planning Board’s master plans
• Require the Office of Consumer Protection to advocate for the lowest energy rates consistent with environmental stewardship