Solarize Frederick County news

Frederick News Post
As a special initiative of the Frederick County Green Homes Challenge, Solarize Frederick County aimed to increase installation of residential solar electric and hot water systems throughout Frederick County with volume purchase discounts and local incentive grants. To take advantage of these incentives, residents had to sign up for a solar assessment during the time — limited enrollment period and wrap up all contracts by Sept. 30. Sixty-nine households took advantage of the program. The households are installing 72 solar energy systems — 66 solar electric systems and 12 solar hot water systems. The households participating in Solarize Frederick County will be installing a capacity of 547 kilowatt (kW) equivalents; that equates to the production of approximately 656,400 kilowatt-hours each year. The Frederick County Office of Sustainability and Environmental Resources began informing residents about the Solarize initiative in late 2012. Nearly 500 households expressed interest in the program; of these, 308 attended Solarize informational workshops, and 347 requested solar assessments of their homes.

Shades of Green

Saving the Planet Touches Almost Every Area of Frederick County Living, and it Comes with a Price Tag
Frederick Magazine
Linda Norris-Waldt
Save the Bay. Buy recycled. Reduce your carbon footprint. Conserve water. The list goes on and on. And so does the number of programs and projects that aim to improve Frederick County’s environment— and with them, the debate about where lies the responsibility: Who pays, who is inconvenienced by change, and how much habit-breaking is practical when the returns aren’t immediately evident. A myriad of regulations, public education programs and businesses have brought environmental initiatives to our doors. The new programs, like mandating rain barrels and rain gardens for new subdivisions, roll in with great fanfare like ocean waves, supported by public demand. And then they are either delayed or abridged because of cost, impact or feasibility. A constant rebalancing is always taking place. Kirby Delauter, a Frederick County commissioner whose work in construction takes him into the field where he has direct encounters with environmental regulations, has been no fan of the feasibility of government programs regulating the environment. They have “grown exponentially and for no good reason other than to expand the role of government in our lives,” he says. “Stormwater has been ruled by courts to not be a pollutant, yet we still seem to have governing bodies that can’t let go of the power and control of regulating the lives of personal property owners.” Kai Hagen, a community activist and former county commissioner known for championing environmental causes, has a differing view. “If people knew the real environmental and economic costs and benefits associated with the choices we make—as a community—I’m convinced we would be making a lot more responsible choices than we are now,” he says. Here’s how current environmental programs in Frederick County touch water, land and lives.

Stream study yields important information

Frederick News Post
rederick County recently released the findings of an important study on the health and vitality of its many streams. The survey provides detailed information on the water quality, physical condition and biological activity in the county’s smaller waterways. Two hundred specific sites were sampled for the study. While the news is somewhat mixed, there is plenty of cause for concern. More than half of the county’s stream miles had banks that were either moderately or severely eroded. Nearly 20 percent had badly degraded habitats where aquatic creatures should be found in abundance; 11 of 20 watershed areas in the study received a poor rating for insect life, an important indicator of stream health. As could have been predicted, streams in agricultural areas or in proximity to development fared worse than those more removed from human activity. It’s no secret that runoff from farming and development contribute to stream pollution, sediment buildup and bank erosion.

Framework adopted for sustainability commission

Frederick News Post
Karen Gardner
The Frederick County Commissioners are moving forward with a plan to make the county cleaner and greener. The commissioners adopted a framework for countywide sustainability. They also approved the creation of a Sustainability Commission, which will act in an advisory role. Both moves represent the commissioners' desire to incorporate environmentally sound approaches into county functions. Hilari Varnadore, director of the county's new Office of Sustainability, said the goal is to link environmental policy with economic and social considerations. "When these are combined and decisions are made that integrate all three, you can achieve a sustainable community," she said in her PowerPoint presentation to the commissioners Tuesday. The sustainability commission ideally will have 13 members representing energy, agriculture, education, small business, health and grass roots. The commissioners supported Varnadore's framework with a consensus vote. Commissioners Jan Gardner, David Gray and Kai Hagen voted to support the commission.