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.