On June 29th, the Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) and the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) kicked off a crucial task force charged with developing incentives and a funding plan for the decarbonization of public and private buildings.

The initial meeting focused on existing state and federal building energy and emissions incentive programs. Slide decks and other information are available on the Building Energy Transition Implementation Task Force web page.

The Climate Solutions Now Act of 2021 authorized MDE to create a Building Emissions Performance Standard that will require the elimination of direct greenhouse gas emissions from large commercial and multifamily buildings by 2040. Separate economy-wide emissions reduction targets in the law cannot be met without the decarbonization of much of the remaining building stock.

The Maryland Commission on Climate Change recommended that building alterations to reduce direct emissions be based on those that provide a five- to seven-year simple payback period. The General Assembly did not include that policy benchmark in the law.

Instead, a Building Energy Transition Implementation Task Force was created to develop “complementary policies” aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the building sector. Those include targeted incentives for electrification projects that would not result in strong returns on investment for building owners and financial plans to fund the retrofit of buildings covered by the Building Emissions Performance Standard.

MDE and MEA held the initial meeting of the Task Force before 11 of its members were appointed. The vacant Task Force seats are mostly those designated by the General Assembly for private-sector real estate professionals. The seats are Gubernatorial appointments subject to a longer review process than other members appointed by the General Assembly. They are also mixed with thousands of appointees to a range of state commissions, task forces and other organizations that must be vetted by the Governor’s office.

The Task Force is required to submit a report to the Governor and General Assembly by December 1, 2023.

The next meeting of the Task Force is scheduled for July 27th and will focus on the cost of decarbonization, how existing incentive programs cover some costs and identifying the funding gaps.