Environment Matters Podcast
EPA Region 3
Topic: Climate Showcase Grant for the City of Baltimore
Date: Feb. 25, 2010
EPA host Joan Shafer: Hello. I’m Joan Schafer of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and this is Environment Matters, EPA’s series of environmental podcast. Today I’m talking with Ted Atwood, the deputy director of the Department of General Services of Baltimore City. Ted is the city’s energy advisor and has extensive experience working with communities conserving energy and reducing greenhouse gases. I understand EPA has just awarded you a community showcase grant for your climate showcase project.
Ted Atwood: Yes, this project is dedicated to looking at the non-profit organizations in the city. We have a program already set up in the city to address residential and commercial reduction of energy use. These funds will be used to help these non-profits identify behavior changes in their organizations to reduce energy use and to identify capital investments, lower cost capital investments with a quick payback period. They can be implemented in their facilities to reduce their energy use. And we’ll be using university students from Johns Hopkins University to be our work force. We’ll train them to get out to the non-profits to do energy audits at their facilities and identify ways they can reduce their energy use.
Joan: You mentioned using students from Johns Hopkins, but what are some of the other organizations that will be participating?
Ted: We have one that the city has worked with on a couple of programs and the Able Foundation here in the city has also sponsored a program called Civic Works. It has trained energy auditors and will also train the Hopkins students in working with them to go out to the facilities.
Joan: What type of non-profit organizations are you trying to target?
Ted: We have a couple of large universities. Some of them, like Hopkins, have sustainability officers so they’re already implementing plans. So it will probably be more toward the churches, the synagogues, and the small neighborhood organizations that have social programs. We have health clinics, too, that are in the neighborhoods.
Joan: What is that you’re hoping to achieve with this project?
Ted: I hope to achieve 10 to 20 percent reduction in their energy use, and we’re trying to give them an incentive. Two things—if their bills go down because of a reduction in use. And we’re saying if they achieve a certain percentage of reduction of use we’ll put them in a program where they purchase electricity as a large group. Our historical savings through that have been about a 20 percent reduction. So they can save money by reducing energy use and then the energy that they have to buy will be at a lower price
Joan: Excellent. And does this make a difference in the greenhouse gases that we keep hearing about?
Ted: Yes. Yes, because they will be reducing, here in Baltimore, a little over 50 percent of our electric power comes from coal so whatever reduce in our use of electric energy that's displacing greenhouse gases.
Joan: Now Ted, what is the biggest challenge you see in getting organizations to participate or sign up?
Ted: We had a neighborhood program and our biggest challenge there is just getting the people to sign up. With this, I'm not, I don't think we'll have quite that similar problem cause I think a lot of these organizations especially in this economic climate are strapped for money so if we're showing them ways they can reduce their energy bills everyone is interested.
Joan: What are some of the practical ways that non-profits will be reducing energy?
Tom: One of the first ones and the biggest cost usually is heat so we'll look at the age of their furnace and if it's going to be worthwhile to replace that but cheaper is getting them to put in programmable thermostats, turning the heat down, wearing sweaters and things of this sort, installing CFLs, putting insulations on piping, insulation hot water heaters.
Ted: Yes, we have a green website, right now that's set up, and we have a website for the Baltimore neighborhood energy challenge and part of that website we will also put a section only for the non-profits who to contact but the message to them and to the neighborhoods and to the commercial businesses is all the same.
Joan: To find out more about this project go to the Baltimore city.gov website. Thank you Ted for joining us today and thank you to our listeners for tuning in to Environment Matters.