How much energy we use and the type of energy we use directly affects our climate. We can help the planet by reducing energy-related emissions through high efficiency retrofits, electrification initiatives, and 100% clean energy adoption.

Efficient Energy Use

Efficiency Retrofits

Howard County is focused on increasing energy efficiency and conservation in all existing residential commercial and government buildings. Education on existing programs, funding opportunities, and co-benefits of energy efficiency and conservation can help increase adoption of energy saving measures in homes and businesses.

Residential energy efficiency measures may include weatherization, lighting upgrades, building envelope improvements, upgrades to more efficient appliances and HVAC equipment, and occupant behavior changes. Commercial measures may include lighting retrofits, more efficient HVAC equipment, building envelope improvements, retro-commissioning, and building automation, as well as occupant education and behavior change.

Efficient Energy Use

Electrification Upgrades

Building electrification means replacing boilers, hot water heaters, and other equipment that use on-site combustion of fossil fuels (natural gas, heating oil, etc.) to high-efficiency equipment that runs on electricity, such as cold weather heat pumps or heat pump water heaters. Paired with grid decarbonization, electrification can significantly reduce emissions from buildings. 

Electrification not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions, but also can result in improved performance, reduced costs, or other added benefits. For example, when used in certain buildings electric heating and hot water can reduce energy costs as well as emissions. Replacing gas stoves with electric can improve indoor air quality and human health.

Efficient Energy Use

Leading by Example: LEED Certification

New County government buildings greater than 10,000 square feet are required to achieve LEED Silver Certification to maximize efficiency and reduce the environmental impact of new construction, and in many cases, Howard County has achieved LEED Gold or LEED Platinum for new buildings. For example, the Howard County Circuit Courthouse, completed in 2021, achieved LEED Gold with many points achieved for energy efficiency and renewable energy.

In August 2022, Howard County became the first county in the U.S. to obtain the LEED Platinum certification in the current Cities and Communities Program!

Efficient Energy Use

Leading by Example: Retro Commissioning

Howard County has received grants and rebates to “retro commission” seven buildings. Retro commissioning involves building tune-ups that will maximize energy efficiency and cost savings. The building tune-ups include making sure heating and cooling systems are working and are calibrated and programmed correctly. On average, retro commissioning reduces building energy use by about 10%.

As of 2022, retro commissioning has been completed at the East Columbia Library, Ellicott City Senior Center, North Laurel Community Center, Gateway Building, Glenwood Public Library, Scaggsville Public Safety Complex, and the Charles E. Miller Library. Howard County is planning additional retro commissioning in 2023 at the George Howard Building, Warfield Building, and Carroll/Ligon Buildings in Ellicott City.

What You Can Do

Use Less Energy In Homes & Community Spaces

Call to Action: Help family, friends, neighbors, community spaces, and businesses conserve energy, make energy efficiency improvements, and electrify.

Explore incentives and tax credits.
Explore state incentives and technical assistance programs.
Take advantage of free or reduced-cost Home Energy Upgrade Services

Renewable Energy Supply

Decarbonizing the Electricity Supply

A clean energy grid with a carbon-free fuel mix is a foundational strategy because it enables both vehicle and building electrification to dramatically reduce emissions. Renewable energy sources can be produced domestically, enhancing our energy independence and resiliency. Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard requires half of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030, with 14.5% carved out for solar. 

This state requirement is expected to reduce GHG emissions in Howard County 15% by 2045. Howard County can increase the emission reduction potential to 24% by supporting local renewable energy development and use through education, outreach, eliminating barriers, or considering new options for incentives.


Solar Array Construction at Triple Creek Farm in West Friendship, MD. 


The New Circuit Courthouse Rooftop Solar in Ellicott City, MD. 

Renewable Energy Supply

Leading by Example: Solar Adoption

In 2020, Howard County government entered into the largest solar Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) in the state of Maryland. By aggregating rooftop, parking canopy, and ground-mount projects from public and private sites into one agreement, Howard County was able to meet multiple needs while keeping the cost of electricity down – even saving money compared to its already low group purchase rate. 

When complete, the combined projects are expected to generate a monumental 44 million kilowatt-hours of electricity each year. This will provide well over half of the total electricity needed for County government operations! Learn more about the PPA and the County's local solar projects here.

Renewable Energy Supply

Increasing Local Renewables

As of 2019, 28% of the County’s greenhouse gas emissions come from electricity generation. Decarbonizing the electricity supply is critical to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from buildings and from transportation, especially when moving toward greater adoption of electric vehicles and replacing natural gas and oil heat sources with electric ones. 

Individuals and organizations can make a difference by taking action to support the increase in local renewable power. This can include:

  • Participating in community solar
  • Installing solar on private properties
  • Switching your electricity provider to one that uses 100% wind or solar energy

Waterloo Fire Station Rooftop Solar in Jessup, MD.

What You Can Do

Increase Use of Renewables

Call to Action: Reduce barriers and decision fatigue around going renewable and increase participation in community solar, on-site solar, and renewable energy supply plans.

Explore Maryland community solar projects.
Learn more about local solar projects in Howard County.
Join a Howard County solar co-op through Civic Works