A report has found that Maryland is meeting its goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, a relief to developers who feared a failure to meet benchmarks would have resulted in tighter regulations.
The 2015 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act Plan Update found the state was on pace to meet its goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent below 2006 levels by 2020. The updated report was required by a 2009 law because the General Assembly must reauthorize the Greenhouse Gas Emissions act during the 2016 session or the provisions sunset.
“I think the headline is Maryland made pretty remarkable progress addressing CO2 emissions,” said Tom Ballentine, vice president for policy and government affairs at NAIOP Maryland, a commercial real estate professional association.
The legislation contains language that any pursuit of reducing greenhouse gas emissions cannot come at the expense of Maryland’s economy and should create jobs. The Maryland Department of the Environment is projecting reducing emissions could generate between $2.5 billion and $3.5 billion in increased economic output by 2020 and create between 26,000 and 33,000 new jobs.
“We are on track to meet our own climate change goal and requirements,” Maryland Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles said in a news release announcing the report’s release. “We have even greater opportunities ahead of us. Maryland and its citizens and communities can reduce environmental and economic risks, increase energy choices and improve statewide resilience and preparedness through smart and balanced actions. We are committed to market-based strategies and partnerships that link our energy, environmental and economic goals more than ever before.”
Although the report represents some good news, the commercial real estate industry will still have to watch how the state may attempt to reach future goals. The Maryland Commission on Climate Change is expected to issue recommendations that the state set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent below 2006 levels by 2030.
Future goals and how to reach them could have big impact on an industry that isn’t commonly associated with greenhouse gas emissions. But climate change regulations extend to areas such as building codes, increased energy standards and even transportation that can have an impact on commercial real estate development.
That’s why Ballentine said it’s important for organizations like NAIOP Maryland to continue to work with the state as it adopts regulations in an attempt to address climate change on a local level. That involvement includes assessing whether adjusting current regulations would even have an impact on reaching future emissions goals.
Ballentine also pointed out that developers, by pursuing LEED Certification for projects, especially new Class A office properties, are often ahead of the curve. There are also market-drive reasons to embrace green building standards, particularly in office buildings. They can be selling points to tenants who use environmentally friendly work space to attract younger office workers who are environmentally conscious.
“We just have to be at the table to talk through those issues,” Ballentine said.