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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

Hi, I’m Howard and I’m here to provide you with green tips. Look for me throughout the site and check out my cool interactive games at the Kids Zone.