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Prince George’s Path to Greatness is Green!

By Kate Fritz, LEED Green Associate, Senior Planner, Associate Project Manager for Plan PGC 2035

Everyone has been throwing around the word “sustainability” these days. And it certainly means different things to different people.  Generally, sustainability is defined as the ability to…”meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”  This definition comes from the 1989 United Nation’s document called “Our Common Future” from the Brundtland Commission. Sustainability is not an end state, but rather a framework through which to make decisions.  It helps to guide the decisions we make now in order that future generations can continue to prosper. 

Since the UN’s Bruntland Commission report, the definition of sustainability has expanded to include not only environmental, but also economic and social factors.  The policies that are currently being formulated for Plan Prince George’s 2035 will use this “triple bottom line” approach to sustainability. Many examples of this approach are being implemented in different departments and initiatives across Prince George’s County; including many energy efficiency initiatives.

Sustainability is the framework for making decisions that incorporates the “triple bottom line” approach, and considers people, planet, and profit impacts.
(From http://springleafstrategies.com/2010/08/only-25-of-businesses-have-sustainability-guidelines-ouch/)

Prince George’s County takes an active role in promoting sustainable county operations by integrating sustainability-oriented programs and projects across agencies.  In 1999, the County signed the Cities for Climate Protection Campaign, pledging to take a leadership role to reduce both greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution emissions.  According to the County’s draft Climate Action Plan (CAP), county government operations are responsible for approximately 2% of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions for Prince George’s County.  While this percentage might seem low, there are many opportunities for energy efficiency upgrades that can help save tax payer dollars to be used in other programs.  Various greening projects are occurring in Prince George’s County, and are helping save tax payer dollars by reducing utility costs, and at the same time benefiting the natural environment.

County Government Goes Solar!
In December 2011, the County’s Office of Central Services received the Maryland Energy Administration’s, Sunburst I Solar Photovoltaic Grant to install two solar photovoltaic (PV) systems at the Consolidated Warehouse and Fleet Maintenance facilities in Capital Heights and Landover. These solar panels will produce a combined capacity of 404 kilowatt (kW) of direct current (DC) electricity. The County entered into a power purchase agreement (PPA) with SunEdison who designed, installed, and maintains the system. During the PV system’s first full year of operation in 2012, it produced enough electricity to power approximately 46 average-sized American homes, or approximately 527,000 kWh of electricity. Moreover, the PV systems offset over 1.3 million pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

Photo of solar photovoltaic panels at the Consolidated Warehouse and Fleet Maintenance Facility.Photo credit: Office of Central Services.

Propane Vehicles Incorporated into the County Fleet!
In April 2013, the Office of Central Services, Fleet Maintenance Division placed into service five dedicated propane autogas powered vehicles. The vehicles are Ford E350 vans powered by Roush CleanTech propane autogas systems, and will be refueled at these facilities using a propane autogas pumping station supplied by the County’s contractor, Suburban Propane. Propane autogas is a clean-burning, domestically-produced energy source which costs about 50% less than gasoline, reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 24% and is the third most popular vehicle fuel worldwide behind gasoline and diesel.

Photo of one of five autogas vehicles recently deployed in the County’s fleet of vehicles.  Photo credit: Office of Central Services

For more information regarding Prince George’s County’s Sustainable Energy Programs, please visit the Office of Central Services website HERE.
The County’s Energy Manager, Erica Bannerman,can be contacted at 301-817-4388 for more specifics on the Sustainable Energy Program. Richard Hilmer, the County’s Fleet Administrator, can be contacted at 301-808-1721 for specifics on the autogas program.

Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to reach sustainable decisions.  Plan Prince George’s 2035 is being written through the sustainability lens, and will continue to propose policies that best meet the triple bottom line approach.  The policies adopted today will certainly have an impact on the future. What factors do you think Plan Prince George’s 2035 should incorporate to best increase the triple bottom line for the County?

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