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M&T Bank Stadium and Horseshoe Casino going for LEED certification

Two of Baltimore's most prominent construction projects, M&T Bank Stadium's $35 million renovation and the Horseshoe Casino, are both aiming for the green building standard known as LEED certification.

Lorax Partnerships LLC
, a Columbia-based sustainability consulting and certification company, is providing green services to the renovated stadium and the new casino. In order to get LEED certification, a LEED-qualified professional has to be involved from start tofinish, from the planning to selection of material and the construction.
The two-year renovation of the M&T Bank Stadium will begin this spring, with the National Football League Super Bowl champions the Baltimore Ravens primarily footing the bill. The design phase of the $400 million casino will be completed this summer and construction by July 2014. It will feature three full-service restaurants and six local eateries

Lorax Managing Partner Neal Fiorelli says part of the renovation at M&T involves installing energy-saving measures at a so-far undetermined cost. Fiorelli says the Ravens are aiming for a minimum LEED Silver operational standard for an existing building. Green changes at the stadium will involve lighting and refrigeration, waste recycling, cleaning products and products for the concessions.
The US Green Building Council’s LEED, for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a voluntary certification for structures with different rating levels of Silver, Gold and Platinum. A so-called green building meets certain sustainability markers for material, construction process and exterior environmental work.
Lorax is involved in the design and construction of Caesar’s Entertainment Corp.’s new Horseshoe Casino, located near M&T Stadium.  Fiorelli says the goal is at least a LEED Silver certification for new buildings. He says it is too early to know what green measures will be involved.
Founded in 2003, the privately financed Lorax provides green and LEED services directly to commercial building developers and owners, corporate real estate agencies, design teams and property managers in the private sector. In the public sector, the company works directly or as subcontractors on local, state and federal buildings.
Fiorelli says the company’s typical breakdown is 60 percent private and 40 percent public buildings but in the past few years, the breakdown has tended to be half private and half public.

Since 2006, when LEED certification became the widely recognized  standard in the construction industry, Fiorelli estimates Lorax has done 120 LEED projects with another 30 to 40 in progress, They range from public libraries and school buildings to private health clubs and office buildings.
He says the company works with all the major commercial real estate developers in the area, including Manekin, St. John Properties and Merritt Properties. “It has become a selling point” to attract tenants, he says. 
At the same time, the building industry underwent a dramatic change. Sustainable materials that were once expensive special-order items are now widely available at competitive prices, says Fiorelli of items like heating/air conditioning systems, windows and lumber.
Lorax currently does $1 million in sales per year but Fiorelli is hoping to double that this year by emphasizing the company’s corporate environmental consulting service. The company also oversees new construction and the retrofitting of existing buildings, to a LEED rating or whatever sustainability level the client wants.
Lorax’s staff of eight have all qualified to give LEED approval. Fiorelli says the company is hiring up to two staffers this year as researcher and assistant project manager.
Source: Neal Fiorelli, Lorax Partnerships LLC
Writer: Barbara Pash

Engineering Firm Expands Headquarters, Markets, Staff

TAI Engineering is expanding its office this month as the consulting engineering and technical services firm plans to enter new markets and add employees.

The firm has built a 5,000-square foot addition to its 30,000-square foot headquarters in Owings Mills and is expanding into automation and control, plumbing and electrical and mechanical engineering. Alan Miller, TAI Engineering owner and principal director, says the company will also beef up its existing presence in geographical instrumentation and control. The company will hire up to six people in those fields.

Adam Soutar, TAI Engineering’s division manager for onsite services, says the company takes a "proactive" approach to hiring. It recruits experts in the markets to which it plans to expand and then uses the employees' expertise and contacts to help it grow.
Besides hiring for its own staff, the 175-person company places workers on behalf of clients, placing between 10 to 12 per year.
Some staff placements are for specific projects.  A client like CocaCola, for example, might need 30 people as they ramp up for a new project, says Laurie Giner, chief marketing officer.
Founded in 1989, TAI Engineering has several different in-house groups that design new industrial plants and commercial buildings; retrofit existing facilities; and support facilities with management and services.
“We can build an office building, to serve as the company’s headquarters, and a manufacturing plant for the company. We are capable of working in both areas,” says Miller, who notes that TAI Engineering has grown 10 to 12 percent per year in revenue over the last decade.

Recent client projects include engineering design for a 75,000-square foot LEED-certified “green” building for Raytheon Company, located in the technology and research park at Aberdeen Proving Ground; mechanical and electrical consulting for a LEED-award winning 125,000-square foot office building; and a 125,000-square foot COPT Cornerstone Offices building in Columbia, for which TAI Engineering won a best LEED commercial interior award.

TAI Engineering is privately funded, and has two satellite locations, in Linthicum and Newark, Del.
Sources: Alan Miller, Adam Soutar, Laurie Giner, TAI Engineering
Writer: Barbara Pash

Maryland Alternative Energy Company Expanding to Pennsylvania

Clean Currents, an alternative energy company in Maryland, is moving into a new market and adding more employees. It launched operations last month in eastern and central Pennsylvania, and plans to expand to Philadelphia in early 2013.
Clean Currents provides electricity provided through sustainable methods, including wind and solar, for residential and commercial buildings. It also sells and installs hot-water tanks powered by solar-thermal for residences.
Founded in 2005, Clean Currents houses its operations in Silver Spring but opened a sales office in February in Baltimore's Federal Hill neighborhood.  “It’s a great city for green activities and it was time for us to be here,” Clean Currents spokeswoman Megan Barrett says. 
As a result of its expansion, Clean Currents is in the process of adding to its current staff of 25. The company plans to hire up to five people for sales positions in Maryland. It is also hiring one person to serve as a community organizer in Pennsylvania.
Barrett says that part of Clean Currents’ mission involves encouraging and supporting green activities in local communities. It partners with neighborhood groups, nonprofits and schools to do so. The company's Green Neighborhood Challenge gives communities and nonprofits the opportunity to raise funds for green projects such as building community gardens, starting recycling programs and preserving green space.

On the energy side, the company contracts with wind farms nationally and in the mid-Atlantic region that are connected to the electricity distribution grid. Clean Current sells wind-generated electrical power to customers in the form of renewable energy certificates that are applied to their electricity bills.
Barrett says the cost varies by utility area. Clean Current offers fixed-rate contracts of one and two years, in which customers pay the same rate regardless of price fluctuation in the market.
Currently, a Clean Currents one-year residential contract to receive 100 percent of your electricity from wind power costs 9 cents per kilowatt hour, the standard measure used for electrical power. By comparison, BGE’s electricity rate for standard offer service is 8.964 cents per kilowatt hour effective through May 31, 2013.
Clean Currents uses Solar City, a national company with a Maryland office in Beltsville, for rental of solar panels. This arrangement allows customers to rent rather than buy the solar panels after installation.  Starting in 2013, Clean Currents will have its own solar panel installation program, says Barrett.
Federal and state tax credits may apply to solar panels and to solar-thermal hot water tanks.
Source: Megan Barrett, Clean Currents
Writer: Barbara Pash

Baltimore Funds Climate Action Plan

Baltimore City is spending $150,000 to create a Climate Action Plan as part of the city’s overall sustainability initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 15 percent by 2015.

The city adopted the sustainability plan in 2009 but it wasn’t until this year that there was funding to implement it. Beth Strommen, director of the city’s Office of Sustainability, says Baltimore received $6.1 million from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for a variety of energy projects, among them the climate action plan.

“Our goal is to help Baltimore be a more sustainable city, with environmental education and green buildings,” Strommen says.

But Baltimore has unique challenges.

Unlike many cities where the major source of greenhouse gas emissions is vehicle-related, in Baltimore the emissions are overwhelmingly come from commercial and residential buildings. That's because 40 percent of the housing stock was built prior to 1939.

"We are an old city with old houses," Strommen says. 

The Climate Action Plan will have different short-term and long-term goals, by 2020 and 2030, respectively. Stommen says the city has hired AECOM Technology Corp., a global company with expertise in climate action plans, to create the plan.

The plan will look at such issues as land use, green infrastructure, water and waste.

“We are including an adaptation piece,” says Strommen. “How do we adapt to extreme weather events, and to flooding in the Inner Harbor? How do we minimize economic loss? And, also, minimize loss of life with, for example, cooling centers.”

Strommen did not have a timetable for the plan’s completion. Once it is ready, Baltimore City has already received two grants, for a total of $107,000, to begin putting the recommendations in place. The city is also seeking additional federal and state money to implement the plan.
Source: Beth Strommen, Baltimore City Office of Sustainability
Writer: Barbara Pash

Maryland Ranks High In National Green Jobs Survey

A newly released nationwide survey ranks Maryland in the top five states for the number of “green” jobs.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ first-ever Green Goods and Services Service is based on 2010 data. The state’s workforce came in fourth, with 87,000 Marylanders, or 3.6 percent of the workforce, holding jobs in green services and goods production.
“The green economy is thriving in Maryland, and it’s almost certain to expand in the future,” according to Stuart Kaplow, immediate past chair of the Green Building Council of Maryland.
Kaplow said he wasn’t surprised by Maryland’s high ranking. “But it’s nice to be validated” by an official survey, he says.
Of the green jobs in the state, the largest percent was in utilities, accounting for 13.6 percent of all employment in that sector. Almost 9 percent of all workers in the construction industry were “green,” as were those in transportation and warehousing.

California had the most green jobs, 338,000 workers or 2.3 percent of the state’s workforce. Vermont had the highest proportion of green jobs, 13,000 workers or 4.4 percent.

In the mid-Atlantic, Washington, D.C. had more green jobs than Maryland, 3.9 percent of its workforce, mainly because of the many public employees who were involved in green goods and services. Pennsylvania was the only other state in the mid-Atlantic that ranked in the top 10.

Green jobs accounted for 2.4 percent, or 3.1 million jobs, of all workers nationwide.  

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Stuart Kaplow, Green Building Council of Maryland
Writer: Barbara Pash

Port of Baltimore Company Installs Solar Trackers

Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics’ mid-Atlantic terminal facility at the Port of Baltimore uses two Global Electric Motorcars to transport employees and materials around the marine terminal facility. The company is installing three new solar trackers manufactured by Advanced Technology & Research Corp. of Columbia.

“We hope the energy produced by the solar trackers can offset completely the power needed to operate the electric vehicles,” says Michael Derby, WWL’s general manager for North Atlantic Operations.

The electric vehicles stay charged for three to five days. The dual-panel solar units that are providing the new source of power for the electric vehicle chargers employ a GPS-enabled mechanism to follow the sun and produce 25 to 45 percent more electricity per day than conventional fixed-solar panels.

Since they are being used specifically for the maintenance of electric vehicles instead of powering other systems, these trackers can incorporate car-charging units in each post on which the solar panels are mounted. Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics will consider deploying more trackers at its other facilities if the initial batch proves successful.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Alan Cohen, Advanced Technology & Research Corporation; Michael Derby, Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics

Constellation Energy Accepting Renewable Energy Grants

Constellation Energy is now accepting applications for its EcoStar Grant Program, which promotes renewable energy.

In its third year, the program provides grants of up to $5,000 to organizations working on community projects that fit into one or more categories designated by the Baltimore firm: pollution prevention, education and outreach, energy efficiency, conservation and community activism

Past winners of EcoStar grants in Baltimore include Coppin State University, Knowledge Is Power Program charter schools and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Coppin State University used EcoStar grant funds to study nanotechnology and solar power. Constellation has awarded EcoStar grants in 20 states since the program's inception. Last year, it awarded 85 EcoStar grants.

The deadline for applications for the 2012 EcoStar grant program is March 10. Grant awards will be announced on or before Earth Day, April 12.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Christina Pratt, Constellation Energy

Nonprofit Ranks Maryland a Top Energy Efficient State

Maryland's efforts to become more energy efficient are gaining recognition.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy has ranked Maryland as a top 10 state in energy efficiency. The organization recently published its 2011 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard rankings and cited Massachusetts and California as the top two states.

The council bases its rankings on states’ efforts to use energy efficiently in their residential, commercial, industrial and transportation sectors.

Maryland received high marks in transportation and transit-oriented development. The council recognized Maryland’s high standards for tailpipe emissions and land use transportation planning.

Energy efficiency goals and programs under the EmPOWER Maryland Energy Efficiency Act of 2008 also contributed to Maryland's high score. That legislation directs the Maryland Public Service Commission  to require Maryland's electric utilities to provide energy efficiency services to its customers to achieve 10 percent of a 15 percent per-capita electricity use reduction goal statewide by 2015.

The governor’s office estimates that since 2009, Marylanders have saved more than $117 million through efficiency upgrades, reduced consumption and investments in renewable energy options.

Source: Maryland governor’s office
Writer: Amy McNeal

Twin Ridge Apartments and Standard Solar Go Green

Standard Solar, a Baltimore based solar panel installation firm, installed a large array of solar panels at the Twin Ridge apartment complex in Pikesville this month. The array consists of 36 panels mounted on the roof of the clubhouse. It is a 6.66 kW system with an estimated annual output is 8,218 kilowatt hours. 

"We were inspired by the environmental as well as the economic benefits to add solar power to the Twin Ridge Community. Residents will immediately benefit from this step in making our community more green and there is a sense of pride in seeing the panels on top of our clubhouse; however our residents will also benefit the system every time they use the exercise facilities or the restrooms by our pool. The solar panels should help keep the landlord's costs down and hopefully reduce future rent increases," says Brian A. Goldman, Esq., General Partner at Twin Ridge Apartments.

The newly installed panels will power the clubhouse area of the complex, including the gym, management offices, showers, common rooms, restrooms, and maintenance facilities. The solar array is the first of its kind in the Baltimore area.

"Twin Ridge is the first apartment complex in Baltimore County to go solar, setting an example for others in the Baltimore community to go green by using solar as an affordable alternative to conventional power," says Rick Berube, Vice President of Operations, Standard Solar.

The management company of Twin Ridge Apartments is interested in continuing to add more alternative energy option like solar power in the future. As alternative energy costs become more affordable, the apartment complex ownership will be looking at ways to use alternative fuel sources including solar power to power individual apartments.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Sources: Brian Goldman, Twin Ridge Apartments; Rick Berube, Standard Solar

Landscape Architecture Startup Promotes Environmentally Responsible Design

A new sustainable landscape architecture firm is riding the trend toward green design and planning. land/arch works with developers to take a new approach to environmentally friendly landscape design. The Timonium-based firm creates landscape designs that promote conservation and a low carbon footprint while maximizing the natural resources available at a new building site.

"We emphasize sustainable design and planning because we feel that as a whole, landscape architecture and planning is not adequately addressing these issues," says Rick Kingsbury, a founder of land/arch and a licensed landscape architect.

Land/arch has been working to raise awareness of the potential problems that may be faced by a developer who chooses to bring landscape consultants into the late phases of a construction project. The firm emphasizes looking at the design and planning of a site in it's earliest stages, to promote walkability, water and soil conservation, and the use of native plants in the site design.  

"Site planning is still focused on the automobile, to the detriment of people and how they interact with each other. Landscape architecture and design for the most part still emphasizes exotic plant materials that have high maintenance and water requirements," continues Mr. Kingsbury.

Through the firm's Integrated Design approach to planning, landscape architects visit the site of a project in the early planning stages, and formulate a low impact design plan with the goal of promoting sustainability while reducing maintenance costs. land/arch is currently working on a LEED Platinum residence in Annapolis and a new playground to be built in Baltimore.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Sources: Rick Kingsbury, land/arch

Ziger/Snead Teams With Habitat for Humanity On City's First LEED Platinum Home

Baltimore, the City of Firsts, is now home to one of Habitat for Humanity's first award-winning sustainable housing showcases of 2011.

The renovated rowhome at 1810 Laurens Street in the Sandtown-Winchester section of West Baltimore is the first house in the entire city that meets the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum standard, and it is the first Habitat for Humanity house in Maryland to achieve LEED Silver standing. Jonas Risen of the Ziger/Snead architecture firm led a team that incorporated renewable energy, efficient water usage techniques, and high indoor air quality standards into the existing rowhome dimensions.

By working with Baltimore's most prevalent form of housing, the Laurens Street project serves as a model for how low-cost housing can incorporate modern, green features to alleviate "sick building syndrome" and help raise home values in economically depressed areas. "This project shows how much people care about sustainability in affordable housing," Risen says. In addition to being a showcase Habitat house with a family set to move in, "the Greenest House in Baltimore" also won the USGBC Maryland chapter's People's Choice award, meaning that the architecture community is impressed by the house and will take lessons from its design elements.

Writer: Sam Hopkins
Source: Jonas Risen, Ziger/Snead

EPA Honors Baltimore City and Miller's Court as 2010 Smart Growth Achievement Winners

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded Baltimore City's Miller's Court its 2010 Smart Growth Achievement Award for Smart Growth and Green Building. According to the government agency, Miller's Court is a model of integrating mixed-use redevelopment with preservation of a landmark historic building and sustainable design principles to help revitalize an entire community.

The EPA created the National Award for Smart Growth Achievement in 2002 to recognize exceptional approaches to development that respect the environment, foster economic vitality, and enhance quality of life.

The building, located in Charles Village, is a model for adaptive reuse of historic structures in urban neighborhoods, the EPA says. In a transitioning area of the city, this project directed development towards the existing neighborhood and revitalized a long-abandoned property to create new office and residential spaces. The project has also been a catalyst for surrounding neighborhood development by creating a sense of stability and demonstrating long-term commitment to the community.

Source: Environmental Protection Agency
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Honey Bee Green Roof Added to Baltimore Skyline

There's a buzz of new activity over on the roof of the Resource Conservation Technology icehouse in Baltimore's eastern warehouse district. Led by Green Roof Service and ADI Architecture and Design Inc. the site is now the of the region's first green roofs designed to attract honey bees.

Volunteers and honey bee enthusiasts took to the roof to help create the new habitat.

"One of the greatest threats to honey bee populations today is the destruction of habitat due to urban sprawl," says Diane Odell (ADI), beekeeper and the garden's designer. To help remedy this, the honey bee green roof features 5,500 square feet of plantings honey bees love to support the small hive provided by State Beekeeper Oliver Snyder III.

To make the rooftop garden possible, special engineering and the use of modern green roof technology was needed. "The end result is a light weight vegetated structure that slows and contains contaminated storm-water reducing runoff, reduces air-borne pollutants, protects the roof from damaging UV rays, and better insulates the roof, reducing heating and cooling," says Kat Harrold, accredited Green Roof Professional. 

The green roof will also have a cooling effect on the surrounding area. "As water travels through the growing media, roots, and exits through the leaves it creates a cooling effect much like when one sweats. On a sunny day this can reduce the air temperature on the roof by about 10 degrees," says Jorg Breuning, 30-year green roof designer and owner of Green Roof Service. 

A  wide variety of flowering plants ranging from bulbs to small trees were used to create the unique habit necessary to keep the honey bees happy. The specially selected vegetation provides continuous bloom from February to November.

"The installation was a great success," commented Diane Odell. "I can't wait for the spring when everything has been established and starts to bloom."
Source: Green Roof Service
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Marriott's TownPlace Suites at BWI Receive Gold-level LEED Certification

Baltimore's TownePlace Suites by Marriott at BWI Airport is the first LEED for Existing Buildings Gold certified green hotel in Maryland. It is also the first existing hotel among Marriott's 3,400-hotel worldwide portfolio to receive that certification.

Its innovative environmental practices range from green cleaning in guest rooms to composting all of its waste to low-flow plumbing devices and use of low-mercury and compact fluorescent lighting.

"We're thrilled to be named the first LEED Gold certified existing hotel in the state of Maryland," says Michelle Emley, general manager. "The vast majority of our nation's housing stock is older or historic. We know that most homeowners are not in the position to design and build a new green home, but they can incorporate simple, sustainable practices in their existing homes."

"A central belief of green building is that our economic, environmental, and personal health is dramatically impacted by the places where we live, work, learn, shop, eat and play," says Chris Smith, COO of the U.S. Green Building Council. "The owners of the TownePlace Suites by Marriott at BWI Airport recognized this early on, and their foresight has resulted in Maryland's first existing hotel to be certified LEED Gold."

Source: TownPlace Suites
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Baltimore City Releases Green Building Standards as Less Expensive Option to LEED Standards

The Housing Authority of Baltimore City has released the city's Green Building standards. Developed in partnership with the Planning Department, the Baltimore City Green Building Standards are meant to be a quicker, less expensive alternative to the traditional LEED certification currently required under the Baltimore City Code, the agency says.

The standards will apply to newly-constructed or extensively-modified nonresidential or multi-family residential buildings that have or will have at least 10,000 square feet of gross floor area.
The new standards are innovative and designed to achieve certification for green buildings with guidelines that work with Baltimore's unique building and land use issues. As awareness of environmental and energy issues has increased, demand for green buildings has also grown. The BCGBS incorporates elements of the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system and will serve as an "incentive" for green development without additional cost to developers. They are also designed to best achieve the goals of the Baltimore Sustainability Plan.

"The development of the Green Building Standards is another opportunity to show the City's commitment to being environmentally responsible," says Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

"Baltimore City's Green Building Standards give developers an incentive to go green," says Housing Commissioner Paul T. Graziano. "We understand the challenges facing developers and have created a plan that addresses their needs and our commitment. The new standards are sensible, effective, enforceable, and will be seamless and transparent."

Compliance with these standards will, among other things: protect and restore the City's water supply, reduce Baltimore's urban heat island effect, encourage alternative transportation, and promote and improve access to more green spaces throughout the City.

"Certification for green building projects in Baltimore will take less time, because they will be reviewed as part of the City's existing development review processes," says Tom Stosur, Director of the Baltimore City Planning Department. "Baltimore City is committed to being eco friendly and this is just another step towards that end."

Source: Housing Authority of Baltimore City
Writer: Walaika Haskins
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