Developers protest cost of climate change legislation in Maryland – CBS Baltimore

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) – A new attempt by Maryland Democrats to push sweeping climate legislation through the General Assembly has encountered one of its first major challenges, with commercial real estate representatives protesting against the changes. major changes to the measure to set performance standards and question the affordability of the proposed changes.

The Current Climate Solutions Act of 2022, the Senate’s version of advancing inter-room environmental law, would ban new buildings starting in 2024 from using fossil fuels for heating and water. as well as existing buildings over 25,000 square feet to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2040.

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Commercial real estate industry representatives argue that the new standards would be too costly for developers and that the changes are impractical to be completed by the deadlines set by lawmakers. out.

The debate is expected to continue during Friday’s hearing before the House Transportation and Environment Committee on bill HB831, sponsored by Del. Dana Stein, D-Baltimore County, has many of the same provisions for building efficiency.

The developers’ objections represent a tension between what many agree is the need to act on climate change and the cost of taking active action to combat construction emissions. Commercial real estate representatives say the bill is not enough to incentivize owners to make buildings more energy efficient.

Senate bill, SB528, establishes a task force to make recommendations on financial incentives for building owners to achieve incremental emissions reductions.

Real estate representatives and some lawmakers say that’s not good enough. They note that the measure already includes penalties for building owners if they fail to meet the new environmental standards, but does not provide specific financial incentives to help them transition to reduced carbon emissions.

Michael Powell of NAIOP Maryland, a lobbying firm representing the commercial real estate industry, said in an interview with Capital News Service that the Senate bill should have specific incentives for owners property to reduce building emissions rather than a working group to study potential incentives.

Senator Paul Pinsky, D-Prince George’s, the bill’s lead sponsor, said in an interview that he discussed possibly adding specific financial incentives to his bill, such as such as tax credits, but said the working group was a more appropriate venue to consider feedback from all stakeholders on potential incentives.

Pinsky briefed the Senate Finance Committee on the bill last Friday. At the hearing, Senator Benjamin F. Kramer, D-Montgomery, questioned the cost and logistics of retrofitting needed to comply with more stringent energy standards.

Kramer, the owner of commercial real estate buildings, said in an interview that many large buildings are specifically designed to use oil and natural gas. The cost and logistical challenges of large retrofit projects will be enormous, he said.

“Where will the money come from?” he say. “(The legislators) fought and made every penny of the budget.”

If specific incentives were included in the legislation, he said, they would help alleviate some of the concerns of the commercial real estate industry.

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Michael Hindle, co-owner of Maryland-based high-performance construction consulting firm Passive to Positive, does not support the cost barrier argument from the commercial real estate industry. Instead, he said in an interview, real estate leaders should consider the long-term value of investing in more productive buildings.

Hindle agrees that retrofit projects can prove difficult and said allowing tax incentives could be a reasonable way to incentivize building owners to achieve emissions cuts.

Hindle, who has worked on new construction and retrofit projects around the country, highlights the social costs of not taking action to tackle greenhouse gas emissions.

Building owners can reduce emissions by implementing innovative solutions that don’t involve structural overhauls of the building, he said.

“The biggest obstacle to achieving this in a cost-effective way is resistance among developers and professionals,” Hindle said. “They have to get in the ball game and start solving the problems.”

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which is supporting the bill, has advertised its own 32,000-square-foot Maryland office in Annapolis, the Philip Merrill Center for the Environment, as an example of a successful investment in green infrastructure.

Josh Kurtz, executive director of Chesapeake Bay Foundation Maryland, says the center uses 57% less energy than a comparable office building, and the organization sees annual energy savings of 67,000 to 80,000 USD.

In his testimony, Kurtz said he did not have cost estimates for many of the projects to renovate the Annapolis office. He told the committee and Capital News Service that once he has an estimate, he will provide the number.

Pinsky has repeatedly said he is open to amending the law and told Capital News Service that he will continue to meet with commercial real estate lobbyists.

Powell said conversations with lawmakers did not yield any resolution, but industry representatives continued to raise their issues with the bill.

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This article was provided to the Associated Press by the University of Maryland Capital News Service.

https://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2022/02/24/developers-object-to-maryland-climate-change-legislations-costs/ Developers protest cost of climate change legislation in Maryland – CBS Baltimore

Jake Nichol

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