Maryland In Action:
Report Case Studies
The Maryland's Climate Pathway report highlights local and subnational action that is currently being taken across Maryland. Read each case study to learn more!
Offshore Wind on Maryland's Coasts
In an effort to meet its renewable energy goals and generate enough clean energy to power thousands of homes, the state of Maryland has begun developing four offshore wind projects located off the coast of Ocean City, MD. These offshore wind projects are planned at 2,022.5 MW of offshore wind capacity, enough to power 600,000 average Maryland homes and accelerate the achievement of Maryland’s renewable energy goals over their 20-30- year lifespans. While these projects are planned for operation in 2026, they are not yet permitted or under construction.58
Not only will these wind turbines create new sources of more environmentally friendly energy, but they are also expected to create about 12,000 direct full-time equivalent (FTE) job opportunities in Maryland. The installation of offshore wind projects is far more complex than a land wind project, and Maryland residents will benefit from the substantial job opportunities in building and operating the State’s wind projects. Wind jobs can support sustainable local economies and careers across a variety of skills and expertise including transportation of raw materials and supplies, production and assembly, installation, and maintenance. To realize a successful offshore wind industry in Maryland, training centers and resources must be economically and locationally accessible to all Marylanders, including the most vulnerable communities, and access to diverse and accessible career pathways must be expanded for the next generation of workers who will lead the clean energy transition.
Climate change and concerns about student and community health are driving school bus electrification mandates around the country, including in Maryland. The CSNA requires all new school bus purchases and contracts to be electric by 2025. Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) and Highland Electric Fleets (Highland) recently implemented the country’s single largest deployment of electric school buses at Walter Johnson High School, upgrading 326 school buses to electric by 2025. On a business-as-usual day, MCPS diesel buses use approximately 17,000 gallons of diesel fuel, emitting GHGs and other harmful matter from tailpipes. Replacing the diesel bus fleet with electric buses will help Montgomery County achieve its target of reducing GHG emissions 80% by 2027 and 100% by 2035.
The partnership between Highland and MCPS will not only deliver cleaner, healthier transportation for students and local communities, but will also support electric grid reliability with vehicle-to-grid (V2G) services, and the nation’s first use of electric school buses to provide synchronized energy reserves. During the 2021-2022 school year, MCPS installed 25 electric buses. This school year, another 61 buses will be delivered, and electric infrastructure will be installed at three more transportation depots.
Montgomery County Public Schools' Electric School Buses
Electric Vehicle Charging Deployment & Job Creation in Maryland
Blink Charging actively collaborates with local governments, businesses, and organizations to identify suitable locations for charging infrastructure installations. One of their main facilities is based in Bowie, MD where they engage in local hiring initiatives by partnering with electricians, contractors, and technicians to ensure the successful deployment and maintenance of their charging stations.118 These collaborations not only stimulate economic growth but also help to upskill and train individuals in the emerging clean energy sector, fostering a skilled workforce for the future. Blink Charging has called for increased capacity from their Bowie manufacturing facility by 40,000 units by 2024.118
To realize Maryland’s climate goals, a comprehensive charging network is needed to facilitate the increased adoption of EVs and enable a shift away from traditional combustion engines. Blink Charging provides an example of how establishing partnerships with various stakeholders, including local governments, businesses, property owners, and utilities, and industry leaders can deploy charging solutions that will more seamlessly integrate into existing infrastructure. This collaborative approach can ensure the availability of charging stations in key locations, such as residential areas, workplaces, retail centers, and public spaces, making EV ownership more viable and convenient.
A critical challenge for building electrification and energy efficiency policies is ensuring that low-income individuals are able to reap the benefits of these improvements, since upgrades often have high upfront costs. To combat this, Frederick County’s Division of Energy and Environment has a grant from the MEA for a Power Saver Retrofits program. This program is designed for LMI households, and will provide a free assessment of a home's energy use and what improvements could be made to conserve energy. After the assessment has been completed, work can be done to make environmental improvements such as stopping drafts, reducing electricity or heating fuel use, installing heat pumps, etc. at no cost to the homeowners and occupants.
This program addresses two facets of energy efficiency, reducing emissions and reducing costs. The Power Saver Retrofits Program allows Maryland residents to make environmentally friendly changes to their homes that they may not be able to afford otherwise, bringing Maryland one step closer to achieving its ambitious climate goals while helping low-income residents in the process. Homeowners must have a gross household income of less than 85% of median income for Frederick County based on family size to be eligible for this program, aiding individuals who do not have readily available funds to afford the capital costs of energy.
Frederick County Power Saver Retrofits Program
Action in Montgomery
For more than 20 years Action In Montgomery (AIM) has been training and developing local leaders to deeply engage people in its congregations, schools and neighborhoods, and build the subnational power necessary to address the most pressing issues affecting residents’ quality of life. AIM works across race, socioeconomic background, geography and faith to win specific changes including over $1.2 billion for affordable housing, quality after-school programming in 14 low-income elementary schools, $30 million to renovate community centers in historic African-American neighborhoods, and more.
For years AIM has been working with tenants on issues of chronic respiratory illness, which have consistently been connected to vermin and toxic mold. These remain contributing factors behind this work, but AIM has begun to realize that "natural" gas appliances may also be negatively impacting local quality of life. These appliances emit nitrogen dioxide (NO2) that causes asthma and affects brain development, so leaders and organizers have begun measuring NO2 levels in their homes. In approximately half of the
apartments measured, results often found NO2 levels that are more than twice what the EPA says is dangerous for outdoor air quality. To date, AIM has measured 100 homes, and is in the process of measuring many more.
This has been deeply concerning for residents, who have begun organizing to push for stronger regulations for electrification and efficient electric appliances in Maryland. They have also started meeting with Senators and Delegates, and writing emails to legislators asking them to support more funding for electrification and weatherization in low-income housing, particularly multi-family housing. The tenants who have measured NO2 and methane in their homes are very clear about the impacts of natural gas on health and in their communities, and offer an important perspective that lawmakers and regulatory bodies are not otherwise hearing. The work that AIM is doing aligns with Maryland’s goals of increasing renewable electricity, and decreasing health disparities among residents, and can therefore be used as an example of how to encourage action at the local level.
The Union Bridge Cement Plant, owned and operated by Heidelberg Materials, is committed to helping Maryland achieve its decarbonization goals through reducing emissions from cement production. While the manufacturing sector is currently exempted from emissions reduction requirements by the GGRA, the Union Bridge plant is still taking steps to reduce their emissions and collaborate with state and local entities to accomplish climate goals. In January, the plant transitioned from manufacturing Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC) to manufacturing PLC (except for a small percentage of specialty cement products) to reduce emissions by allowing 5% to 15% of clinker to be replaced by limestone. Heidelberg Materials understands that CCS technology will eventually become part of their carbon neutral strategy, but they are first taking steps to reduce their CO2 intensity through their transition to PLC and planned switch to natural gas.
Heidelberg Materials has laid the foundation of their sustainability commitments through the establishment of global concrete promises. These promises include (1) continuing to focus on heavy building materials that society needs; (2) committing to generate 50% of their revenue from sustainable products by 2030, (3) leading the industry by achieving a nearly 50% reduction in CO2 emissions, to less than 400 kg CO2/metric ton of cement, by 2030; (4) making the transition a successful business case; and (5) driving the change for the benefit of their customers, shareholders, employees, and society.
Union Bridge Cement Plant
Abandoned Coal Mines to Solar Energy
A common question for the clean energy transition is what to do with leftover fossil fuel energy infrastructure. One way to do this is through transforming post-mining or reclaimed mining lands. Garrett County—the farthest west in the state—already has this transformation underway through community solar programs and development on abandoned coal mines, which were once one of the region’s largest economic contributors. Most recently, TurningPoint Energy (TPE) was awarded a project through the State of Maryland’s Community Solar Pilot Program to construct and operate the 200MW Backbone Solar Farm on 1,170 acres of land that was previously home to a coal mining site. The new solar farm will provide over 150 jobs during its 18-month construction process, and will bring as much as $2.7 million in annual local tax revenues to benefit Garrett County. It will generate enough emission-free electricity to power an estimated 30,000 average Maryland homes. This will help the state meet its clean energy targets of 14.5% solar energy by 2028, and 50% renewable energy by 2030. Projects like this are crucial as they provide a way for communities that may otherwise be left out of the green transition to reap the benefits of predictable rates of clean, renewable solar energy, and ensure that low-income communities have the same opportunities to take advantage of these benefits as wealthy communities.
To help meet Baltimore County’s climate goal of 100% electricity derived from renewable sources by 2026, the county is implementing projects that recycle greenhouse gasses produced at landfills. At the Eastern Sanitary Landfill in White Marsh, four electric generators are powered by the methane created from decomposing garbage. The project is run by Energy Power Partners, who operate 16 landfill gas-to-energy projects in the U.S. Pipes draw methane from the landfill and then combust it to create energy.
The landfill uses 5% of the methane to power the facility and the rest is sent to the power grid, enough to power 2,400 homes annually. Rather than venting methane into the air, this landfill reduces it, combusts it, eliminates it, and uses it for electricity. The process isn’t perfect –-- sometimes landfills can’t keep up with the volume of methane being produced. and In thatin that case, the landfill converts methane into carbon dioxide which is then released into the air. This isn’t ideal, but it’s better than releasing methane, which is a far more potent GHG than carbon dioxide. Reducing methane from these landfills is essential to achieving Maryland’s climate goals, and this project is one example the State can address this challenge.
Fox Haven Farm
Fox Haven Farm, LLC in Jefferson, Maryland is an organic farm, ecological retreat, and learning center that has been a pioneer in sustainable farming and land conservation practices to protect the health of Maryland’s land, water quality, and wildlife habitat. Fox Haven Farm plays a vital role in promoting sustainable practices and environmental awareness within the community through various educational programs and hands-on experiences that educate participants about sustainable agriculture, regenerative practices, biodiversity, and the importance of environmental conservation. By fostering a connection between people and the land, Fox Haven Farm inspires and empowers individuals to make informed choices that contribute to a more sustainable and resilient future.
Critical to Maryland’s climate pathway to a clean economy, Fox Haven Farm practices innovative carbon sequestration techniques in their soil management. Sequestering carbon in soil helps more water soak into the soil and plants rather than being lost as runoff. Fox Haven Farm established over 500 acres as certified organic farmland, with 50 acres in rotational grazing of cows which creates a natural source of organic fertilizer and carbon sequestration. Through the utilization of organic and natural fertilizers, reduced chemical pesticide usage, and integrated pest management techniques, Fox Haven Farm minimizes reliance on synthetic inputs and avoids the emissions associated with the production and use of these inputs.
Additionally, the farm practices crop rotation and cover cropping year-round to protect topsoil, rebuild nutrients, and diversify microscopic organisms in the soil. The farm champions effective manure management by utilizing compost from their kitchens—significantly reducing methane emissions. These practices have not only resulted in remarkable environmental stewardship and education but also present a model for how Maryland’s industry and community leaders can make a substantial impact in reducing emissions.
The Maryland Forest Service, the Chesapeake & Atlantic Coastal Bay Trust Fund, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, and the Maryland Forestry Foundations have collaborated over the last nine years to implement the largest tree planting program on private lands in the State of Maryland. The Healthy Forests, Healthy Waters Program provides participating landowners with a free, turnkey tree planting plan for an acre or more of land that they want to convert to a forest. The program is made possible by a grant from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Chesapeake and Coastal Bays Trust Fund. From 2014- - 2020, the four collaborating organizations have completed five DNR Trust Fund funding grants to establish forest cover on private lands, resulting in 555 acres of new woodlands being planted on 140 parcels of land. In 2020, another DNR Trust Fund grant was awarded to the program, allowing an additional 208 acres of forest to be planted on 37 private land parcels.
Because forests are currently a net carbon sink in the state, maintaining and increasing forest coverage in Maryland is crucial to decreasing net GHG emissions. It’s also important to recognize the synergies between maximizing water quality and reducing GHG emissions. Establishing new coverage will not only reduce the amounts of nutrients and sediments entering Maryland’s waterways, but it will also aid in sequestering CO2 from the atmosphere, which will help Maryland achieve its ambitious net-zero emissions goal. Tree planting programs in Maryland such as Healthy Forests, Healthy Waters can ensure that forests in the state remain a net carbon sink, and contribute to maintaining the quality of important ecosystems such as the Chesapeake Bay.