Maryland Green Purchasing
Building Systems and Related Equipment
Energy Efficiency in Building Systems
The buildings sector remains one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters. In the U.S., residential and commercial buildings represented 39% of total U.S. energy consumption and accounted for 35% of all U.S. energy-related emissions in 2019 (EIA). However, the high energy consumption of buildings also makes this sector an ideal candidate for energy efficiency technologies.
From HVAC to plumbing, energy efficient systems are not only environmentally preferable, they are also cost-effective. Reduced energy consumption translates directly into a lower electricity bill, and utility-based rebate programs for energy efficiency contribute to additional cost savings.
Examples of local rebate programs include:
Refrigerants and HVAC Systems
While energy efficiency makes up half of any conversation regarding HVAC and the environment, the other half lies with the use of climate-friendly refrigerants. Refrigerants are a chemical substance or mixture that is used to absorb heat (therefore enabling cooling) and is often used in air conditioners, refrigerators, freezers, and heat pumps.
The path to a climate-friendly refrigerant hasn’t been easy. Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) refrigerants were used until they were banned under the Montreal Protocol for being an ozone-depleting substance. CFC refrigerants were then replaced with Hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants which have high global warming potentials (GWP), often thousands of times more than carbon dioxide (CO2). As a result, HFC refrigerants have a disproportionately large and adverse impact on global warming. In light of the environmental issues associated with HFCs, numerous states, including Maryland, have passed legislation banning HFC refrigerants - an important step in the ongoing fight against climate change.
For more information on HFC refrigerants and their alternatives, please review the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council’s Procurement Recommendations for Climate-Friendly Refrigerants, developed in collaboration with the Maryland Department of General Services.
Water Conservation and Plumbing Systems
In addition to being energy intensive, plumbing systems are also inherently water intensive. Though seemingly ubiquitous, water (and especially accessible, fresh water) is a finite resource. While the water cycle ensures a constant water supply, it does not ensure a return to the same location or even in the same quality or quantity. Moreover, with demand for water increasing from population growth and increased risk of droughts from climate change, water conservation is critical. For this reason, Maryland prioritizes water efficiency in water-using products.