Climate/Energy Plans

Climate change refers to human made changes to the atmosphere that are causing unnatural changes in climate. A layer of greenhouse gases – primarily carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide – act as a thermal blanket of the Earth, allowing sunlight to enter the atmosphere, but blocking heat from escaping.

Climate projections indicate that Howard County will experience more intense storms, hotter days, local flooding, increased pollution, and other impacts as the climate changes. These hazards could damage and undermine public health, critical infrastructure, and essential resources in ways that pose a direct threat to human health and the vitality of Howard County’s operations, economy, and community. Howard County must do its part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and be prepared for the harsher weather conditions that climate change will bring.

HoCo Climate Forward: Climate Action and Resiliency Plan

Howard County’s Office of Community Sustainability is pleased to announce the release of the final version of the Howard County Climate Forward: Climate Action and Resiliency Plan.

Howard County Climate Forward will serve as a science-based and shovel ready workplan for every department and level of Howard County government. It also includes recommendations for what partners and individuals can do. In addition, for the first time, Howard County is including resiliency, adaptation, carbon sequestration, and a focus on underserved populations into its climate action plan.

By following this workplan, we will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, sequester carbon, and make our communities more resilient to climate change.

Climate Forward: Climate Action and Resiliency Plan, Final Report.

Published June, 2023.

Creating Climate Forward

Howard County Climate Forward: Climate Action and Resiliency Plan is science-based and focused on immediate and practical action. To develop this plan, Howard County’s Office of Community Sustainability conducted the following research and public participation efforts:

  • Review of local and regional climate action plans and climate vulnerability assessments.
  • Inventory of community-wide and government operations GHG emissions.
  • Expert input from subcontractor ICF to prepare Mitigation and Resiliency Strategies based on climate science and maximum impact.
  • Community survey, specifically reaching out to underserved populations, to gather feedback on climate emergency preparedness.
  • Meetings with internal and external stakeholders to generate ideas and get a complete picture of the work already in progress.
  • Focus groups across agencies to refine mitigation and resiliency strategies.
  • Public meetings and written comments on both the Preliminary Report and the Draft Final Report.

Taking Action on Climate Change

The Climate Forward Plan includes:

  • Detailed information about Howard County’s climate vulnerabilities.
  • The County’s most recent community-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventory.
  • New climate goals.
  • GHG modeling results showing GHG emissions reductions expected from mitigation strategies.
  • Specific mitigation and resiliency climate solutions, including strategies, actions, and implementation plans for each action.
  • Community engagement actions.
  • Appendices with details about methods used to develop the inventory, vulnerability assessment, GHG emissions reduction modeling and information about Howard County government’s existing sustainability and climate efforts.

We’re Still In

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced on February 26th, 2019 a series of commitments to lower greenhouse gas emissions and stem the causes of climate change. This includes signing on to the “We Are Still In” declaration – a promise to world leaders that Americans will not retreat from the global pact to reduce emissions.

Howard County will aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions of County government operations 45 percent below 2010 levels by the year 2030 and reach zero emissions by 2050. This will be accomplished by reducing County energy use, lowering fleet fuel consumption, and increasing renewable energy generation on County property. Because of these commitments, the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) has designated Howard County one of Maryland’s Smart Energy Communities and provided an initial grant of $75,000 to improve the energy efficiency in public buildings. By 2024, Howard County is committing to:

  • Obtain 20 percent of the power for local government operations from renewable sources, especially solar power generated on County property.
  • Reduce petroleum fuel consumption in the County fleet by 20 percent, by improving the average fuel economy of the fleet, reducing idling, and increasing the number of electric and hybrid electric vehicles.
  • Cut energy use in its facilities by 25 percent, well beyond the required 15 percent reduction, making Howard County the first jurisdiction to go beyond state requirements.

Howard County also is the first county in the nation to accept the U.S. Climate Alliance’s Natural and Working Lands Challenge. The challenge calls on jurisdictions to increase carbon sequestration in forests, farms, and other lands.

County Executive Ball also announced specific initiatives to move toward these important goals, including:

  • Adding almost 10,000 additional homes to the curbside food scraps collection program starting April 1, 2019.
  • Converting nearly 8,000 streetlights to energy-efficient, long-lasting LEDs.
  • Implementing a routine, systematic, and detailed investigation of energy use at all County buildings to identify and address energy inefficiencies.
  • Increasing the target efficiency of the new circuit courthouse from LEED Silver to Gold status.
  • Actively pursuing installation of 25 new, electric vehicle charging stations at County facilities.

To see video of the County Executive’s announcement, please click here. To access photos of the event, please click here. To learn more about Howard County’s commitments under the We Are Still In declaration, visit Howard County’s We’re Still In webpage.

Previous Climate Efforts

In 2007, Howard County became the second county in the country to sign the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. Under the Agreement, Howard County committed to take the following three actions: strive to meet or beat the Kyoto Protocol targets, urge Maryland state government and the federal government to meet or beat the set target of 7% reduction from 1990 levels by 2012.

The first step Howard County took to reach the targets was to develop a comprehensive green­house gas emission inventory and a Climate Action Plan. The inventory measured greenhouse gas emissions for County government operations and also for the community as a whole.

The reduction targets were met and in 2015, Howard County updated the Climate Action Plan, measuring the accomplishments and challenges presented by the first plan and setting new targets. The plan also outlines ways to accomplish the targets.

Both plans can be found here:

Energy Task Force

The Howard County Energy Task Force, convened by the Environmental Sustainability Board, was a collection of local experts who advised the County Executive regard­ing planning for future energy use in the County. The Energy Task Force met monthly in 2016 (with the exception of August) and completed their report in January 2017. The report contains recommendations in the areas of Energy Management and Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Workforce Development and Job Creation, and Energy Reliability and Resiliency.

The report and summary presentation can be found here:

Energy Task Force Members

Rizwan Siddiqi, (task force co-chair), EBA Engineering
Ed Wilson, (task force co-chair), Constellation Energy
Kenneth W. Boras, BCS, Inc.
Randy Clayton, Autani, LLC
Orien Dalton, COPT
Steven Estomin, Exeter Associates
Karen Galindo-White, Energy Systems Group
Abdul Majid, Anne Arundel County Public Schools
Bob Marietta, Howard Community College
Ray McGowan, RFM Energy Consulting
Daryl Paunil, DPW
Janice Romanosky, Pando Alliance
Tony Rosano, Howard County Office of Emergency Management
Jeremy Scharfenberg, Columbia Association
Diane Sweeney, Howard County Public School System
Additional Contributors:
Jeff Jerome, BGE
Stuart Kaplow, Kaplow Attorneys at Law
Kathy Magruder, Maryland Clean Energy Center
John Murach, BGE
Laura Miller, Howard County Office of Community Sustainability
Geoff Mirkin, Solar Energy World
Elissa Reineck, Howard County Office of Com­mu­nity Sustainability
Rich Reis, Maryland Sierra Club
Doug Ruch, Solar Energy World
Misty Sexton, IPC (USA), Inc.
Gary Skulnik, groSolar
Edgar Swain, Howard Community College
Robert D. Wallace, BITHENERGY, Inc.

Emergency Management

Howard County’s Office of Emergency Management has developed Emergency Plans which include planning for utility disruption. You can also learn about  Howard County Hazard Assessments for more information.