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Md. group discusses environmentally friendly buildings at Hagerstown meeting

Troxell says Washington County needs to offer incentives to make existing structures green

Troxell says Washington County needs to offer incentives to make existing structures green

April 18, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

HAGERSTOWN -- There were no paper agendas Thursday at the spring meeting of the Maryland Economic Development Association (MEDA), where the topic was environmentally friendly buildings.

Instead, the schedule for the meeting at the Four Points Sheraton in Hagerstown was displayed on a screen for attendees to view.

"We probably saved a few hundred trees just there," said Timothy R. Troxell, executive director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce and president of MEDA, a statewide nonprofit organization of economic development professionals.

Troxell, who was wearing a green tie for the occasion, also noted that some attendees would receive potted plants and compact fluorescent light bulbs as gifts.

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But while the details were minor, Troxell said environmentally friendly, or green, construction has gained steam recently among corporations, developers and governments.

"When we chose green buildings as the topic of this meeting, we didn't realize how popular it would become," Troxell said. "Green buildings have gone from fads to serious tools of economic development."

In a few months, Washington County will have its first green building when Corporate Office Properties Trust (COPT) finishes construction of a community center on the former Fort Ritchie U.S. Army base in Cascade.

The community center will be certified under Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, which are set by the U.S. Green Building Council.

LEED standards are used to evaluate the environmental impact of new buildings in five categories - site selection, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality.

Morris Stevenson of Callas Contractors Inc., which is working on the community center, said the building will include a lot of recycled products, including flooring and carpet, and local building materials whenever possible.

The Maryland General Assembly recently passed legislation that will require many new state-funded buildings, including schools, to meet LEED standards.

Locally, Troxell said there has not been much discussion on incentives to promote green construction in Washington County.

He said the bigger challenge here will be to get developers who renovate old buildings to make them more environmentally friendly.

"We have a huge inventory of available buildings downtown," Troxell said. "To get developers to make those green will probably take incentives."

For information on green buildings, go to www.usgbc.org/leed.

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