For three consecutive years, the Baltimore Office of Sustainability and the Baltimore Community Foundation have successfully partnered to create and administer these two programs that help to advance the goals of the City of Baltimore’s Sustainability Plan. The Baltimore Energy Challenge (BEC) helps city residents reduce their energy usage and provides resources to communities to spread messages about energy conservation; the City Schools Sustainability Challenge (CSSC) helps schools achieve certification with the state-wide Maryland Green School Awards program and provides resources for student-led environmental leadership projects to schools by awarding $1,000 grants.
In 2009, the Baltimore Office of Sustainability, in partnership with the Baltimore Community Foundation, launched BEC as a nine-month pilot program in eight Baltimore communities and has since become Baltimore’s trusted resource center for energy efficiency information and education. In 2009, Constellation Energy invested $200,000 toward the implementation of BEC, and that support has been critical to the success of the program.
In 2010, BEC unveiled the energy savings results from the pilot: an average of 6.6%. The neighborhood of Park Heights achieved a 12.8% savings. As a result, 12 additional neighborhoods were added and a new model of establishing school “Energy Hubs” was implemented, where thousands of Energy Challenge Pledges have been signed and free energy kits distributed.
Since 2010, participation in CSSC has grown dramatically as outreach efforts have increased and as City Schools has adopted a greater focus on sustainability. More than a third of all city public schools have now formed Green Teams and implemented environmental projects with their students through the CSSC program. Highlights include Calvin M. Rodwell Elementary School’s composting initiative which reduced landfill material by 2.5 yards weekly; Guilford Elementary School collected 84 gallons of recycling in one week; and Maritime Industries Academy High School recycled 1 ton of paper.The announcement was made at the John Eager Howard Elementary School in Reservoir Hill, one of seven schools which designed and completed both energy focused, and sustainability focused projects with $2,000 in funds provided by BEC and CSSC. The wind turbine students built was on display.