Some neighborhoods in Baltimore have been “going green” for a number of years already. If looking to make your neighborhood a bit greener, you have two options: join a group that is involved in making its neighborhood “green” or start your own group if your neighborhood hasn’t taken any steps yet. If you aren’t quite ready to grab the bull by the horns and lead a group, check out some of these “green” neighborhoods and see if you can get involved. You can make a big difference even if you don’t live in one of these areas.
Patterson Park is downtown in between Baltimore Highlands and Fell’s Point, just off Pulaski Highway. In addition to a neighborhood determined to go green, this area also has a nice park. It is incredibly important to keep the environment in mind when living in an area with a park. Cities like Baltimore do not have a lot of real estate dedicated to parks. Caring for the precious few is something everyone needs to be involved with. In late 2010, the Patterson Park Neighborhood Association, or PPNA, started a campaign to make the neighborhood more “green.” It received a $33,000 grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust and decided to begin with tree planting. The group started with 80 trees along streets in the area. Committee Chairperson Robbyn Lewis said, “This is the first phase, the first step in a larger effort that will take us a few years…” In addition to the steps already taken, the PPNA was one of the first to sign up for the Retrofit Baltimore Project, a friendly competition designed by the non-profit organization Civic Works to encourage neighborhoods and homeowners to retrofit their houses with energy-saving techniques and repairs. The neighborhood with the most participation will be dubbed the “greenest in the city.”
This community in West Baltimore is home to the greenest house in the entire city. Located at 1810 Laurens Street is a home right in the middle of a group of row houses, but it blends right in with a careful, historic design. The old house was torn down and through a collaboration of Ziger/Snead architecture firm, Habitat for Humanity, Under Armour and the United States Green Building Council, or USGBC, the home was rebuilt with so many “green” features it will be hard to list them all. The USGBC has a rating system called the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED. Platinum is the highest rating and the most difficult to achieve. The 1810 Laurens Street house is the first home in Baltimore to receive this distinguished award. Some of the amazing “green” features include salvaged, reused wood beams and floors from other historic Baltimore homes, 2KW photovoltaic solar panel array that provides a third of the home’s electricity needs, solar tubes, white, reflective roof, highly insulated envelope, high-efficiency doors and windows, EnergyStar light fixtures and appliances, watersense fixtures, a graywater system for toilet flushing, rain barrel, rain infiltration garden, high indoor air quality and so much more. The goal of the project was to shed some light on these technologies, show how much money can be saved in the long run and hopefully get others to look into green construction. This was a huge step forward in “green living.”
Federal Hill is one of the oldest sections of Baltimore and is located right next to the Inner Harbor. Founded in the late 18th century, this historic part of the city has seen its ups and downs. Over the past 20 or 30 years, the community has taken large steps to revitalize the area and make it safer, and “greener.” It developed Federal Hill Main Street, or FHMS as a safe, central location for businesses. In addition to doing renovations and revitalizing projects, FHMS has also started some “green” initiatives. Many people saw teens and high schoolers as nuisances that did nothing but fight and litter. FHMS saw them as important parts of the community. Through a partnership with Digital Harbor High School, Federal Hill teamed up with area kids and formed a monthly volunteer program to clean up the business district. The older kids even tutor elementary students about trash and created a TV commercial to deter littering. Federal Hill was also one of the first communities to sign up for the Retrofit Baltimore Project.
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Tom Clocker is a freelance writer covering all things Baltimore. His work can be found on Examiner.com.