Climate Action Plan RFP Posted

October 2021

Article update January 21, 2022.  The Climate Action Plan RFP is closed and the award process is underway. Please refer to the article below for information on what the new Climate Action Plan will cover.

Howard County’s Office of Community Sustainability and the Office of Purchasing announce that the Request for Proposals (RFP) for a new Climate Action Plan has been posted as of October 18th, 2021. To view the full RFP, please visit this link.

Proposals were due by November 17th, 2021.

Below is a summary of the introduction and statement of work that describes the tasks.  More background information can be found with the full RFP. For information about previous Climate Action Planning and more background info, please visit the Climate/Energy Plans page of this website.

Howard County is currently seeking to update and expand its Climate Action Plan to include a new Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory for both government operations and the greater Howard County community; a vulnerability and climate risk assessment; and updated and prioritized climate mitigation and adaptation strategies.

Given the need for swift and meaningful climate action and Howard County’s leadership role in climate action with measurable results, our goal is to quickly identify the most impactful actions Howard County can take to mitigate emissions and adapt to the changing climate. Proposals in response to this request will need to show an itemized total cost for each task including an hourly rate and an estimate of hours for each task and subtask, as County staff may be able to complete some tasks in house in order to minimize costs and maximize the use of consultant expertise. In addition, Howard County is interested in proposals that show creative and innovative approaches to planning for, mitigating, and adapting to climate change while protecting our most vulnerable populations. However, Howard County is interested in creative proposals to address each of the items in the scope of work while also minimizing costs.


Howard County, Maryland, (the “County”), seeks a qualified firm (the “Contractor”), to furnish the following tasks in support of the Climate Action Plan.

Task 1 – Greenhouse Gas Inventory

Task 1 is intended to involve consulting work to support development of emission inventories for greenhouse gases. Such inventories typically involve a focus on emissions from government operations and the community at-large; and can also focus on very specific source sectors or end uses. They may also include different inventory methods such as consumption-based and ICLEI General Protocol-compliant, and may also involve analysis of sequestration. Howard County is currently pursuing certification under the LEED for Cities and Communities program and will provide GHG emissions data to the consultant to include in the final Climate Action Plan report. Howard County uses Energy CAP to track energy and emissions data. The focus will be on quantifying Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions. Specific tasks may include:

a) Assist County staff with developing and documenting reasonable estimates should there be any data gaps (most likely in community-wide emissions data).

b) Incorporate emissions data provided by County staff into the report, along with a cohesive narrative description about trends in emissions over time, including drivers of change and analysis of reductions from local programs developed by County staff.

Task 2 – Climate Mitigation Strategy Prioritization

Task 2 is intended to identify and plan for the most impactful and feasible climate mitigation activities that can be undertaken by Howard County government, residents, businesses, and visitors (i.e., actions that can be undertaken to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and/or sequester carbon). Such mitigation and sequestration activities could include:

  • actions related to alternative fueled vehicles (AFV) and public transportation (e.g., electric buses and cars) and supporting infrastructure,
  • energy generation systems (including grid-based or distributed),
  • energy efficiency measures,
  • high performance buildings (e.g. net zero, LEED, etc.),
  • green infrastructure (including expanding protection of and habitat quality of Howard County’s green infrastructure network),
  • increase tree canopy,
  • improve forest management to protect mature and valuable trees,
  • improve efficiency of food systems (including reducing food waste, improving transportation routes and planning for alternative routes during a climate related disaster, and increasing local food production),
  • sequestration-enhancing activities (e.g., soil amendments, no till agriculture, native plants and increasing sustainable landscaping through reduction of mowing and chemical use),
  • high global warming potential gas systems (e.g, HFCs),
  • beneficial electrification (including for buildings), and
  • other economic or social systems related to emissions of greenhouse gases (e.g., pricing, procurement, partnerships, housing, land use, zoning codes, permits, building codes, ordinances, master plans, etc.).

Specific tasks may include:

a) Identify local and regional strategies, measures, programs or projects (“actions”) to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. Review and synthesize local, state, and regional climate action plans, green infrastructure assessment, hazard mitigation plans (including Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan, Flood Mitigation Plan, Manmade Hazards Annex A, and Historical and Cultural Resources Annex B), and other studies, data, analyses, etc. that address climate change mitigation planning (including carbon sequestration), actions, and implementation plans.

b) Identify regional priority climate change mitigation actions with commonality to Howard County and extract relevant data and analysis for use in high-priority climate change mitigation action identification and analysis. Include regional priorities identified by the Baltimore Metropolitan Council.

c) Review County summary of stakeholder comments to identify additional GHG emissions mitigation and sequestration actions not already identified through a and b.

d) Prioritize strategies and actions identified in a, b, and c using Drawdown information and other appropriate prioritization tools.

e) For each identified strategy, assign an anticipated greenhouse gas emission reduction or carbon sequestration quantity, demonstrating exactly how far the strategy goes toward achieving the County’s climate action goals. Document all models, sources, and calculations used to determine these anticipated greenhouse gas emission reduction and carbon sequestration numbers.

f) In coordination with County staff, develop an implementation plan for each identified action to include, but not limited to:

  • Overview information, including documentation and references to the methodology(s) used to evaluate the action;
  • Implementation details, including best practice examples and guidance;
  • Policy, legal, or other related barriers or considerations, including evaluation of opportunities to overcome such barriers;
  • Budget or estimated cost requirements, including evaluation of implementation and programmatic needs to include existing or new staffing needs;
  • Return on Investment (e.g. cost vs benefit including, but not limited to, use of accepted social costs of carbon, costs of inaction, etc.);
  • Avoided cost of carbon;
  • Equity considerations, including opportunities to advance County racial and social equity  goals such as: recommendations to provide locational and distributional benefits to underserved communities, and support energy and climate justice outcomes, including access to food and nature;
  • Implementation timing, scheduling, and sequencing;
  • Co-benefits, particularly those related to improving public health and community well- being, addressing the needs of disadvantaged and frontline communities, synergies with climate adaptation and resiliency practices, and opportunities to advance economic development;
  • Evaluation and performance tracking metrics;
  • Governance models, and education and outreach considerations;
  • Partnership or coordination opportunities.

Task 3 – Climate Vulnerability Assessment

Howard County is conducting a preliminary vulnerability assessment and will provide consultant with a summary of its review and synthesize County, state, and regional plans and studies that address climate vulnerabilities. County also will provide consultant with a summary of its community engagement efforts to further prioritize climate vulnerabilities and related actions based on community input.

Specific tasks may include:

a) Identification, collection, compilation and use of information and tools to understand, predict, and characterize possible or probable climate risks, impacts, and vulnerabilities.

b) Provide an assessment of Howard County’s climate vulnerabilities based on best available climate projections at multiple time scales (2030, 2050, 2100, etc.) prioritizing impacts of temperature, precipitation, and other extreme weather events according to the MWCOG Regional climate and Energy Plan’s high-level climate vulnerability assessment.

c) Evaluate the range of environmental, infrastructure, health, social, and equity impacts to the Howard County community to include: increase in temperature and frequency of extreme heat; flooding; and increase in frequency and intensity of storm events. Infrastructure impacts shall include transportation, community assets (e.g., schools), buildings, energy, and other critical infrastructure. Social and equity impacts shall include identifying and evaluating impacts (e.g., food and drinking water access)to population groups with high sensitivity (i.e., highly affected when exposed to a climate hazard) or that are underserved and that have low adaptive capacity (i.e., limited resources to cope with climate hazards, manage impacts, or move to safety) to climate vulnerabilities.

d) Utilize a food, energy, water, transportation (FEWT) nexus to determine relational impacts between systems and evaluate adding other aspects into the comparison nexus, such as biodiversity and habitat.

e) Develop mapping of climate vulnerabilities in relationship to populations and critical infrastructure.

f) For each sector, the consultant will provide a risk rating, coordinate with County staff to prioritize risks, and conduct a basic economic analysis to estimate order of magnitude costs of climate change impacts. The basic economic analysis should include basic costs associated with climate risk events, including the cost of inaction, to the extent possible. In addition, the basic economic analysis should include changes in operational costs as a result of climate change impacts, cost of direct damage, lost property tax revenue or other effects.

g) Conduct a heat vulnerability assessment to evaluate the impact of increasing and sustained heat events in Howard County using best practice assessment methodologies. A heat vulnerability assessment should include, but is not limited to:

  • Evaluation of locational heat sensitivities, vulnerabilities, and adaptative capacity according to demographic factors, built environment and heat islands, infrastructure, and access and proximity to tree canopy and open space, etc.;
  • Creation of heat vulnerability index;
  • Provide strategies or best practices to address heat vulnerabilities in context of Task 2 priorities, including, but not limited to opportunities for greening, increasing tree canopy, cooling, waste heat reduction, materials specification, and emergency cooling centers and related strategies.

Task 4 – Adaptation and Resiliency Action Prioritization

Task 4 is intended to involve consulting work to prioritize activities conducted by governments and stakeholders related to preparing for and responding to the potential local and regional impacts of   climate change, particularly as they impact vulnerable populations. Howard County intends to prioritize actions based on social and equity impacts, particularly population groups with high sensitivity (i.e., highly affected when exposed to a climate hazard) or that are underserved and that have low adaptive capacity (i.e., limited resources to cope with climate hazards, manage impacts, or move to safety) to climate vulnerabilities and evaluate impacts.

The intent is to support efforts to identify possible impacts, vulnerabilities, and risks of various types, identify and develop strategies and options to adapt or respond, and to support implementation of actions that would increase community or government resiliency to the risks of climate change. Impacts of climate change could involve but are not limited to higher temperatures/heat waves, colder temperatures/blizzards, superstorms, changes to precipitation patterns or events, drought, flooding (fluvial and pluvial), food shortages, drinking water impacts, impacts to major transportation and supply routes, zoological and agricultural impacts, social disruption, tourism economy impacts, etc.


Specific tasks may include:

a) Based on climate vulnerability assessment in Task 3 and feedback from County staff and stakeholders, identify, prioritize and recommend climate adaptation and resilience strategies to respond to extreme heat, flooding, increased frequency and intensity of storm events, and other risks. Identify options and strategies to respond to anticipated climate impacts and

b) In coordination with County staff, develop an implementation plan for each identified strategy to include, but not be limited to, implementation details, budget requirements, timing, potential limitations or complications, partnership or coordination opportunities, impact on vulnerable populations, and co-benefits.

c) In coordination with County staff, provide guidance on incorporation of the adaptation and resilience strategies that may be incorporated into other County planning processes such as the General Plan, Hazard Mitigation Plan, etc.

d) Provide a method for prioritizing the strategies and methodology for evaluating and updating the plan on a recurring basis, including through the use of HoCo DASH.


Task 5 – Draft Howard County Climate Action Plan


Develop an outline, provide initial and ongoing drafts, and a final Howard County Climate Action Plan report in close collaboration with County staff. At minimum, the CAP report shall include, but is not limited to:

  • An Executive Summary;
  • Summary and results of work performed for Tasks 1, 2, 3, and 4;
  • The top 5 to 10 most impactful climate related actions/initiatives for both the community and the County government;
  • Greenhouse Gas projections for both Howard County government operations and the greater Howard County community that include both the impacts of implementing the top climate actions/initiatives as well as a “business as usual” scenario;
  • Appendices, as appropriate, detailing specific details not contained in other sections of the CAP report;
  • Impactful, illustrative and easy-to-understand graphics to maximize the effectiveness of community outreach and to provide the most critical information for County decision-makers;
  • Other information as necessary critical to the development of the Climate Action Plan, including process details, communications, data, models, references, results, etc.
  • Incorporate input from stakeholder feedback on the draft Climate Action Plan into the final Climate Action Plan in consultation with County staff.

Please note that the final Climate Action Plan and all illustrations, data analysis, charts, sub-reports, etc. developed by the contractor for incorporation into or development of the Climate Action Plan shall be the intellectual property of Howard County and Howard County shall hold the copywrite.