We Can Make a Difference Through Our Actions

photo by DanO’Connor via flickr (Creative Commons)

photo by DanO’Connor via flickr (Creative Commons)

“Climate change is real. Scientists agree. It’s happening now. It’s harmful and human-caused. We can make a difference through our actions.”

These are the opening words of Maryland’s “Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act Plan”, released by Governor Martin O’Malley in July of this year. The Governor noted in his speech that Maryland is especially vulnerable to climate change because of its coastline, but that other parts of Maryland are also vulnerable. Crops are affected, as is the health of our forests and ecosystems, and even human health.

When you do an energy conservation, energy efficiency or renewable energy project, you are helping to combat climate change. That is because the production and burning of fossil fuels emits greenhouse gases. Climate change is caused by an excess of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere. Greenhouse gases are measured in terms of carbon dioxide equivalent, or CO2e. For example, the combustion of one gallon of gasoline emits almost 20 pounds of CO2e. Anything that you do to reduce the consumption of non-renewable energy reduces CO2e released to the atmosphere.

At Frederick County Government, we are working to reduce our consumption of non-renewable energy. We have set goals through our Comprehensive Energy Plan and have made substantial progress since 2007. Some examples include fuel conservation in our fleet, upgrades of lighting and HVAC systems in our buildings, replacement of street lights with LED technology, installation of a solar hot water heating system on our Adult Detention Center, and landfill gas collection. We recently joined with the Maryland Energy Administration to become a Smart Energy Community and align our policy goals with the state.

Our Office of Sustainability and Environmental Resources coordinates the Green Homes Challenge, with over 1,029 Frederick County households participating. These households participate in actions related to three fr_ghckey challenges; Power Saver, Renewable Star, and Green Leader; to reduce their energy use, invest in alternative energy, and engage in green practices. Through our program and with support from grants since 2012, we have provided 115 energy audits of homes, energy retrofits to 85 homes, and are on track to provide grants to over 70 households in our residential Solarize Frederick initiative (we have over 50
contracts signed at the time of this article). To date, Challenge Takers have saved an estimated 3 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, 13 million gallons of water, 50 thousand gallons of gasoline, $423,712, and 4 thousand tons of CO2e. You can learn more about our programs at sustainablefrederickcounty.org and frederickgreenchallenge.org.

The homes on the tour provide inspiration for projects that you can do in your own home. Many of these projects will also save you money and make your home more comfortable. We can make a difference through our actions.