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Baltimore County News

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Keyword: sustainability

By Jeanette Garcia Polasky, Communications Specialist, Department of Public Works

Americans will spend about $9 billion this Halloween on costumes, decorations and candy. Most of this merchandise is single use and comes in packaging that can’t be recycled. In fact, the amount of Halloween waste we generate each year is downright terrifying. But fear not! There are lots of creative ways to green your Halloween and save money while having a ghastly good time.

Buy pumpkins, gourds and cornstalks from local farms, nurseries or farmers markets. Have a green goblin thumb? Grow your own next year. And don’t waste those pumpkin guts – use the flesh in recipes and roast the seeds for a healthy snack.

Swap, buy used or upcycle

Swap, buy used or create upcycled decorations. You’d be surprised by how easy it can be. It took me less than 30 minutes to transform a selection of sweet-faced knick-knacks into a motley crew of creepy décor using a little paint.

You also can swap, buy used or make upcycled costumes. Use ingredients you have at home to make face paint. Next September, host a Halloween costume swap party.

Use up arts and crafts supplies by upcycling buckets, pillowcases, cans, t-shirts, gift bags or reusable totes for trick-or-treating. Trick or treat in places you can reach on foot or by public transit.

Keep treats in the bag

Please don’t litter! Parents – bring a bag and gloves or grabber tool to pick up litter along your trick-or-treating route. Your little ghosts and ghouls shouldn’t be leaving a trail of candy wrappers in their wake. Want to help keep ours a clean green county year round? Clean streams and public lands with your local watershed association, do a Clean Green 15 pickup in your community, or get your group to participate in the Adopt-A-Road program.

Having a party?

Send invitations electronically. Serve locally-sourced food and drink. Buy fair-trade chocolate. Use reusable linens and kitchenware. If you must purchase new items for your Halloween celebrations, look for products and packaging made with recycled content. Serve witches’ brew or Frankenpunch in drink dispensers instead of beverages in bottles and cans. Use a meal planning tool to determine how much food to prepare. Store leftovers in reusable containers and (actually) eat them. Put out a recycling bin and ask your guests to use it. Visit the County’s website to find out what is and is not accepted for curbside recycling collection.

Use leftover candy in baked goods, ice cream sundaes, snack mixes, cereal bars and more. Use your imagination, or try one of many recipes found on Pinterest.

Be safe and have fun! 

Have a Green-o-ween idea you’d like to share? Send it to Follow Clean Green Baltimore County on Facebook for news and information to help you live more sustainably.

By Jeanette Garcia Polasky, Baltimore County Department of Public Works, Recycling Division

Throughout his career with Baltimore County, the late County Executive Kevin Kamenetz demonstrated a steadfast commitment to protecting the environment. He understood that governments, businesses and citizens must work together to find solutions that help us live and conduct business more sustainably.

With the help of many other county employees, County Executive Kamenetz built a legacy of environmental stewardship that will have an impact on our region for generations to come.

  • Almost two billion dollars invested in water and sewer projects to provide safe, clean drinking water and responsible waste management.
  • More than $137 million in stream restoration, shoreline stabilization, reforestation and other water quality projects to preserve and restore the County’s natural infrastructure, including nearly 50,000 trees planted on 466 acres.
  • Building a new single-stream recycling facility.
  • Establishing energy efficiency and renewable energy policies to reduce the County’s carbon footprint.
  • More than $68 million invested in new parks, recreation facilities and community centers.
  • Seventeen Small Watershed Action Plans developed to clean up streams and rivers and send healthier waters to the Bay.
  • Twenty four TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) Implementation Plans developed in nine county watersheds to reduce waterway pollutants such as trash, bacteria, sediment, phosphorus, nitrogen and mercury.
  • Creating the environmentally-focused Clean Green Baltimore County Facebook page.

Baltimore County has earned a number of recent awards for its environmental programs, including:

  • National Arbor Day Foundation Tree City USA Awards every year from 2010 to 2017
  • Maryland Recycling Network’s Outstanding Government Leadership Award
  • National Association of Counties (NACo) Achievement Award for Clean Green 15 Litter Challenge
  • National Association of Counties (NACo) Achievement Award for the County’s Single Stream Recycling facility
  • Maryland Recycling Network Extraordinary Achievement Award for the Clean Green Baltimore County Facebook page

By his leadership and actions, County Executive Kamenetz saw a sustainable future for our county and state, with cleaner air and water, green open spaces, abundant forests, healthy wildlife and a thriving Chesapeake Bay.

He also had faith that we, the citizens, employees and institutions of Baltimore County, would do our part to make this vision a reality.

The question is, what can we do today to make ours a cleaner, greener county? Find tips and resources at





Public-private partnership eliminates upfront costs

County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced today that Baltimore County plans to enable a special financing mechanism to make it much easier for businesses to switch to renewable energy sources and install energy-efficient HVAC and building management systems.

At his request, the County Council introduced legislation Tuesday night to enable Property Assessed Clean Energy financing, also referred to as PACE loans. A PACE program would enable commercial building owners to secure loans from private lenders with no upfront costs and pay them back through a surcharge on their real property tax bill for up to 20 years. The PACE loan would remain with the property upon a change in ownership.

“This is a great, business-friendly strategy that helps promote green energy jobs and business competitiveness while reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Kamenetz. “The PACE loan model means commercial property owners can more easily benefit from lower energy costs and reduced operating and maintenance expenses as well as increased property values.”

PACE loans would be available Countywide to commercial, industrial, agricultural, hospitality, retail and multifamily properties to access funding for energy-efficient and renewable energy upgrades.

When we talk to business owners who are trying to expand, energy costs are always on their radar,” said Economic and Workforce Director Will Anderson. “We’re excited about the prospect of having PACE loans because when businesses can cut long-term energy costs, it helps everyone who lives, works and plays in Baltimore County.”

The proposed legislation would allow commercial property owners to use PACE loans to install solar energy equipment, geothermal energy devices, wind energy, water conservation equipment, high efficiency HVAC equipment, building energy management systems and more. In addition to equipment costs, a PACE loan could also cover the cost of energy audits, project development and installation, permitting fees, and other related costs.

“PACE financing is a proactive way for County government to remove financial barriers that can keep businesses from benefitting from readily available green energy cost savings, plus it brings tangible environmental benefits,” said County Council Chair Vicki Almond.

“This would be a very effective sustainability initiative since we anticipate a strong response from the commercial sector, who are large-scale energy consumers,” said Energy and Sustainability Program Coordinator, Ayla Haig. “The fact that PACE would eliminate upfront capital costs and allow businesses to spread out payments makes a big difference in terms of feasibility. Businesses could also leverage utility rebate programs and tax credits for eligible projects, enhancing the financial benefits.”

PACE loan terms

Under the County’s proposed legislation, PACE loans secured through a private lender must have a minimum value of $5,000 and not be more than 20% of the full cash value of the property, as determined by State Department of Assessments and Taxation. Loans would be nonaccelerating for terms up to 20 years, and repayable through a surcharge on the real property tax bill. If a property owner defaults on their PACE loan, the County would not be responsible in any way to cover the deficit.

For more information on the proposed PACE program, businesses may contact Energy and Sustainability Program Coordinator, Ayla Haig at 410-887-5854 or

Background on PACE loans

In 2014, the Maryland General Assembly authorized local governments to establish their own PACE financing program for commercial property owners (Senate Bill 186).  In order for commercial property owners to take advantage of this financing mechanism, a local government must pass legislation to authorize commercial PACE for private lenders and to have the surcharge be paid through the property tax bill.

PACE announcement complements County’s solar and renewable energy strategy

On August 29, Kamenetz announced the County’s plans to reduce its electricity consumption by 15% within five years, while establishing a goal to use renewable energy sources to generate or displace at least 20% of County government’s electric demand by 2022.

He also announced a partnership with SolarCity to host solar panels arrays at four County sites. The solar energy systems, which together total 21 megawatts, will produce local clean energy, helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, support green energy jobs and reduce air pollution.  The systems are expected to avoid the emission of more than 482,000 metric tons of CO2 over the 25-year project lifespan, which is equivalent to removing about 100,000 cars from U.S. roads for one year, or equivalent to the amount of CO2 sequestered by more than 12 million trees.

More about Baltimore County’s sustainability and energy initiatives

More information about Baltimore County’s sustainability and energy initiatives can be found online at

Revised September 11, 2017