Thursday, January 10, 2008

Holy (Green) Crap

The mayor, along with the co-sponsorship or every (sworn in) alderman except Hoyle and Stankivic, introduced an omnibus environmental bill under the guise of the revised plastic bag ban. I say 'guise' because it is a totally different bill, bearing no resemblance to the original. O-27-07 revised'D' seeks to promote recycling, which is quite better than banning plastic bags, but it does a lot more than that! I mean a lot more!! The bill would:
-Establish an Environmental Review Committee comprised of the Directors of
Rec and Parks, Public Works, Central Services, and DNEP, the last of which will
chair the group.

-Align Annapolis city purchasing to standards outlined in the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency's Comprehensive procurement guides for

-Specify standards for procurement of environmentally friendly materials,
including photocopy paper, print paper, janitorial paper, cleaning supplies, CFC
refrigerants, plastic bags, wood products, electronics, motor oil, recycled
antifreeze for city vehicles, paint, pest management supplies, and according to
the bill, these are the "minimum"!

-By law, by next year, have the Committee issue green procurement
standards for EVERYTHING in the above bullet point AND MORE, and give preference to said items even if they are up to 10% more expensive than what is currently being used.

-(whoops, I just got dizzy)

-Require ALL city funded construction to meet Silver LEED
environmental building standards

-Give procurement preference to items from suppliers located within a
"reasonable" geographic distance.

This makes me a little bit crazy. I am of the belief that the affect we can have on global warming is overstated. I am not interested in debating this, but for curiosity's sake of anybody reading this, a small part of why I believe such is that Al Gore said this:
Nobody is interested in solutions if they don't think there's a
problem. Given that starting point, I believe it is appropriate to have an
over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous (global warming)
is, as a predicate for opening up the audience to listen to what the solutions

...former Vice President Al Gore(now, chairman and co-founder of
Generation Investment Management-- a London-based business that sells carbon
credits)(in interview with Grist Magazine May 9, 2006, concerning his book, An
Inconvenient Truth)

So, I'll put it to you. Do you believe in the human threat to detrimental climate change enough to accept 10% (minimum) increases in the $80 million city budget that already goes up by 8% each year. If so, encourage your alderman to vote for this bill. If not, start writing a blog and move to the county!


Anonymous said...

The issue of building city structures to green standards makes sense all the way around. These buildings are, hopefully, built to last for 50+ years, and as such, investments in energy efficiency, etc. are likely to pay City taxpayers back several times over during the lifespan of the structures.

Anonymous said...

All this would be fine, if it were done as the result of some cost benefit analysis. But, that won't be done. It'll be sold on the basis of "it makes us feel good". There won't be any real thought given to "what is the payback period". As with almost everything that's done in our City and State goverment, "emotion" will completely trump "economics".

Someone might ask Moyer where she got the 10% figure. Did she do some sort of financial analysis that determined that would yield a reasonable payback period? That's what someone who's being responsible with someone else's money would do. But, I'm sure Moyer just pulled 10% out of thin air.

Bob McWilliams

Anonymous said...

We renovated our commercial space in Annapolis to be completely green within the last year. We actually saved money doing it this way and continue to save money operating this way. It's common sense to reduce your footprint and if you are creative it doesn't cost more money.
Commercial recycling pickup is cheaper than trash pickup in the city; reusing and reclaiming materials saves money for obvious reasons; low/dual flush toilets save water which translates to saving money (yes the toilets were $100 more expensive than non dual flush); using sustainable wood versus non sustainable costs LESS, way less; paper bags are more expensive than plastic bags but how about no bags or reusable bags when possible; Low VOC paint costs the same as regular and is available everywhere; 100% recycled content paper is available at Kinkos and other printing shops - I think it is a few $$ more per reem (big deal, waaa waaa); CF lightbulbs are a few dollars more expensive but last years longer (no brainer), etc, etc.
Basically the mayor/certain city council members have decided that before forcing the plastic bag ban on the city (which is one very small step) they need to practice what they preach and set the example for the rest of us to follow. Focusing on just plastic bags was a way for one Alderman to get on the national news, it's too low level and a waste of taxpayers $$ for city council to address. The city needs to set their goals higher and tackle all of this stuff at once. Annapolis is poised to set the precedence for the rest of the East Coast to follow.

Seriously, and with all due respect, anyone who doesn't believe in reducing their footprint, whether they believe in global warming or not, is uneducated and/or lazy.

Brian Gill said...

The items that save money in the long term are no-brainers. But the city seems not to even be thinking in these terms. The bill starts out by saying 'whereas the goal of the city is to lead by example', let us do all these things. There is no staff paper (online) that even attempts adress the possible economic impact.

Anonymous said...

What's lazy and uneducated is doing things that are considered "green", without any consideration for science or economics. The plastic bag thing was a perfect example. It would have resulted in more polution. Recycling is the answer there.

Many things seem "green" on the surface, but there's always the law of unintended consiquences. That's especially true with decisions that are based mostly on emotion.

Things like the Prius and energy efficient bulbs may not turn out to be so green, when we need to start disposing of millions of toxic batteries and the mercury from millions of bulbs. The cost of that is never considered as part of the equation, and it should be.

The problem with the environmental movement is that anyone who questions the science or the economics is immediately branded as someone who wants to pollute our planet. We all live here, we all breathe the same air.

Just because someone wants us to do "green" things in a way that's smart, economically sound and will ACTUALLY lessen our impact on the environment (for both today and tomorrow) isn't lazy or stupid. What's lazy and stupid is the failure to FULLY understand the COMPLETE impact of things considered "green". It's all about actually accomplishing something, not just looking good. We all want to leave our planet better off than we found it.

Alderman Shropshire tried to sell the plastic bag ban on the basis that it would reduce our energy consumption. It was an irrefutable fact that he was wrong and paper used significantly more energy than plastic. So, I think it's incumbent on all of us to ask our elected officials to actually PROVE that what they want to do will actually reduce our impact on the enviorment, while being implimented in a rational and economically reasonable way.

I don't think that's lazy or stupid.

Bob McWilliams

Anonymous said...

Here's an idea... how about paper bags with 100% recycled content! It's a win win situation all around. Everyone goes home happy.

I think the point is it's very possible to go "green" and save money now and later as an earlier writer demonstrated. I also think it is silly to require our small city of Annapolis to "prove" that using energy efficient bulbs is better for the environment (the economic savings is obvious). Paper, trees, plastic reduction -irrefutable. Love to hear an argument against recycling, using recycled paper, materials reuse, low VOC products, and so on. The city should operate and make changes based on science as it stands today. There is always a cost to change. The other option is... what is that term? Ah, yes, status quo.

Anonymous said...

Oh well, I guess it's "silly" to ask our government to do their homework, before they spend our money.

Also, 100% recycled paper costs significantly more money to produce, ship and recycle than recycled a plastic bag. Also, the carbon inpact of paper is much greater than plastic, no matter how you look at it. That's based on today's science.

And, what's the cost, energy usage and impact on the environment to recycle mercury, plus the additional cost of initial production for an energy saving bulb versus the additional energy used by a traditional bulb. I know that's a hard question, but I'm just trying to not be lazy or stupid.

I guess the first think I'd try is just turning off the lights, when I'm not using them. But, Mayor Moyer has suggested that we leave our lights on all night so people don't break into our homes. Maybe if she got her priorities straight and took care of crime first, we could shut off all those lights.

Bob McWilliams

Anonymous said...

It is nice to be a part of such a progressive town and I commend the mayor for her forward thinking. I have had personal success with being "green aware" and believe the more people are educated and see the impact of their actions (or non-actions), the more supporters our earth will have. It will take time but it's nice to see Annapolis heading in the right direction.
And check out for more information on how to get involved in Annapolis!
Thanks for the blog, Brian!

Brian Gill said...

You're welcome.

Anonymous said...

Good to see the city is planning ahead for those beautiful historic buildings. the cost will be upfront to us now but our kids will reap the benefits some day when those buildings are still operating and operating at a much lower cost and smller foot print. GO GO GO, moyer!


Anonymous said...

From what I have heard, Annapolis city is planning to reduce their footprint by looking at themselves first. I think that is wonderful. It will be things like changing the type of paper used which is super easy to do and doesn't cost much more, using the internet versus paper wherever possible, recyling everything they can, renovating some buildings with greener materials (green insulation, materials reuse, CFL bulbs, closing the windows in city hall when the heat/AC is on, and using low impact cleaners such as simple green). They will also support local suppliers which reduces fuel, etc. This is not hard nor expensive, I do it every day in my business. It seems odd that anyone would argue with these changes. The only cost impact is the cost of rolling out the changes - big deal. I say let's roll!

Anonymous said...

great news for our city. i hope we are successful and it shouldn't cost much more money. glad to hear annapolis cares.