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Howard County Renewable Projects

This page describes renew­able energy projects that Howard County gov­ern­ment installed.

Miller Library Branch, Elli­cott City

The new Miller Branch Library build­ing, opened in Decem­ber 2011, has solar pan­els as part of it’s over­all energy-efficient and green design. Designed to achieve LEED Sil­ver Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion from the US Green Build­ing Coun­cil, the green design includes 72 solar pan­els, a pas­sive solar design which allows ample nat­ural light­ing, highly effi­cient HVAC and light­ing, water con­ser­va­tion fea­tures and a green roof. A link for more infor­ma­tion about the Miller Library build­ing, pro­vided in an inter­ac­tive dis­play, can be found here. Still more infor­ma­tion is avail­able here.

East Colum­bia Library Branch

Howard County Library’s East Colum­bia Branch has 24 solar pho­to­voltaic (PV) pan­els that were installed in 2008 as part of the County’s effort to incor­po­rate solar power into county gov­ern­ment oper­a­tions. The sys­tem gen­er­ates an aver­age of approx­i­mately 500 kWh (kilo­watt hours) a month – more in the sum­mer and less in the win­ter. In the first month of oper­a­tion, the solar array gen­er­ated over 700 kWh of elec­tric­ity which is enough to power 28 average-sized Howard County homes for one day. The aver­age Amer­i­can home uses 920 kWh each month.

New Cut Road/Worthington Ele­men­tary School

Wor­thing­ton Ele­men­tary School in Elli­cott City now receives nearly 90 per­cent of its elec­tri­cal power from the sun. Many local part­ners includ­ing the County’s Depart­ment of Pub­lic Works, the Howard County Board of Edu­ca­tion, the Mary­land Energy Admin­is­tra­tion, the North­east Mary­land Waste Dis­posal Author­ity and oth­ers worked together to place about 2,000 solar pan­els on a for­mer land­fill next to Wor­thing­ton Ele­men­tary. The stu­dents at Wor­thing­ton use the solar pan­els as a real-life exam­ple of new tech­nol­ogy and energy pro­duc­tion for the future.

Click HERE to see an inter­ac­tive web­page show­ing the project’s solar energy gen­er­a­tion data.

Howard Build­ing and Dis­trict Court

Dur­ing the ren­o­va­tion of the Howard Build­ing and Dis­trict Court build­ing in Elli­cott City, solar pan­els were added. At the Howard Build­ing the solar power “boosts” the water heat­ing sys­tem. At the Dis­trict Court, solar energy gen­er­ates elec­tric­ity used in the build­ing. These projects reduce the amount of energy pur­chased, and also serve as pilot projects to learn from.

Solar Pow­ered Poles

In Sep­tem­ber 2011, the County installed three solar power track­ers atop exist­ing light poles in the park­ing lot of the George Howard Build­ing. These are Maryland’s first high-efficiency, small-footprint solar sys­tems for elec­tric vehi­cle charging.

Devel­oped by Columbia-based Advanced Tech­nol­ogy & Research Cor­po­ra­tion (ATR), the Solar Power Poles incor­po­rate a GPS-based con­troller to fol­low the move­ment of the sun through­out the day and pro­duce up to 30 per­cent more power than fixed pan­els. The pan­els, which can be retro­fit­ted to most exist­ing light­ing poles, uti­lize exist­ing wiring and require no ground space con­nec­tions. Power pro­duced from the solar pan­els is con­verted to AC power and fed back into the util­ity grid cre­at­ing “green” energy.

Wind Tur­bine at Elli­cott Gardens

Elli­cott Gar­dens, low-income one and two bed­room apart­ments owned and rented out by Howard County, were built to be energy effi­cient, keep­ing oper­at­ing costs low. Com­pleted in 2009, the apart­ment com­plex has a white roof that reflects heat, energy-saving win­dows and appli­ances, and low-flow plumb­ing fix­tures. The main green attrac­tion, though, is the wind tur­bine, that gen­er­ates about 400 kwh of elec­tric­ity per month.

Green Energy Pro­duced at Landfill

Alpha Ridge Land­fill opened in May 1980. Solid waste (trash) buried in a land­fill gen­er­ates land­fill gas as it decom­poses. This land­fill gas, which is approx­i­mately 50% methane, can be ben­e­fi­cially used to gen­er­ate electricity.

Pepco Energy Ser­vices has been hired by the County to design and build a land­fill gas to energy sys­tem. The land­fill gas to energy sys­tem will pro­tect the envi­ron­ment by expend­ing methane (a green­house gas). In addi­tion, it will off­set the use of elec­tric­ity gen­er­ated from non-renewable energy resources such as coal and nuclear in the region. The elec­tric­ity gen­er­ated will be used to power the land­fill gas to energy sys­tem itself, the exist­ing land­fill gas col­lec­tion and flare sys­tem, and a new vehi­cle charg­ing sta­tion. The bal­ance of elec­tric­ity gen­er­ated will be sold on the trans­mis­sion grid to off­set some of the land­fill oper­a­tional costs.

Green Tip

Use cloth napkins.It’s actually cheaper to throw cloth napkins in the wash than to buy paper ones.