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Click through the tabs to review recommendations by each of the Climate Workgroups. 

Goal 1 – Understand the current and planned building stock in Montgomery County

Strategy 1.1 – Perform research on the existing building composition in the County (e.g., property use type, energy end uses, density, current technologies, building code compliance).

  • Action 1.1.1 – Conduct a survey of property owners/managers in the County to baseline building activities, evaluate energy efficiency opportunities/barriers/programs.
  • Action 1.1.2 – Develop a comprehensive directory of top energy consumers and high-performance buildings by industry/location/ownership.

Strategy 1.2 – Evaluate future development in new construction pipeline.

  • Action 1.2.1 – Collaborate within government and with outside stakeholders to improve the County’s development review process and find opportunities to discuss sustainability improvements with developers.

Goal 2 – Expand access to programs and financing for commercial and residential buildings to make improvements

Strategy 2.1 – Develop central repository of all financial incentives that are available to Montgomery County commercial and residential building owners for energy efficiency (and renewable energy) upgrades.

Strategy 2.2 – Create a “Retrofit Accelerator” program to provide unbiased and individual guidance to commercial and residential owners to facilitate retrofits to existing buildings and design assistance for net-zero energy new buildings.

Strategy 2.3 – Expand available incentive and financing programs.

  • Action 2.3.1 – Establish a dedicated fund (e.g., Fuel Energy Tax) to provide robust County energy programs.
  • Action 2.3.2 – Adopt a County-wide incentive program for building density bonus
  • Action 2.3.3 – Revamp County-level financial incentives (e.g., grants/tax rebates/APFO fee reductions) for commercial and residential buildings for completing deep energy retrofits, energy audits, energy management activities, or innovative pilot projects.
  • Action 2.3.4 – Collaborate with utility partners to expand on-bill financing of energy efficiency upgrades for all customers.

Strategy 2.4 – Develop a training program/scholarship in partnership with a University or Trade Association for facility managers/building operators on the latest energy efficient technologies.

Strategy 2.5 – Develop/expand an appliance trade-in program to encourage energy-efficiency appliance upgrades.

Goal 3 – Reduce GHG emissions from newly constructed/planned commercial and residential buildings

Strategy 3.1 – Increase Montgomery County’s involvement in building code adoption process to advance stronger energy efficiency standards in buildings.

  • Action 3.1.1 – Coordinate all County government agencies with International Code Council (ICC) membership to vote on code cycles.
  • Action 3.1.2 – Establish a formal public-private stakeholder task force on building code adoption to advise the County government and improve transparency.

Strategy 3.2 – Adopt a path to net-zero energy and/or carbon building code for new commercial and residential construction

  • Action 3.2.1 – Develop a County-provided best practices list for high-performance energy conservation measures in new buildings.
  • Action 3.2.2 – Adopt a "stretch code" program (requirements or alternative compliance paths that are more aggressive than base code).
  • Action 3.2.3 – Pilot and assess different high-performance building standards buildings beyond current IgCC/LEED requirements (e.g., Passive Haus, Net Zero Energy/Water/Carbon/Waste, WELL Building Standard, Living Building Challenge).
  • Action 3.2.4 – By a date certain, require that all new construction meet net-zero energy (or equivalent) requirements.

Strategy 3.3 – Adopt a path to electrification in new construction.

  • Action 3.3.1 – Ban natural gas in new buildings.
  • Action 3.3.2 – If a new building must use natural gas for a justifiable purpose, allow natural gas in buildings only if higher energy efficiency standards are met.
  • Action 3.3.3 – Require emergency back-up generators in new construction be fueled with bio/renewable sources.

Strategy 3.4 – Consider embodied carbon requirements for building materials.

  • Action 3.4.1 – Incentivize the reuse of existing old stock buildings (rather than tear-down + new construction) with financial incentives.
  • Action 3.4.2 – Adopt a path to incentivize/require materials and technologies (e.g., low-co2 concrete) that reduce embodied carbon in new construction projects

Goal 4 – Reduce GHG emissions from existing commercial and residential buildings

Strategy 4.1 – Implement/expand building labeling and transparency programs.

  • Action 4.1.1 - Expand County Benchmarking Law to include more commercial/multifamily buildings and/or new reporting requirements, such as water data or audits.
  • Action 4.1.2 – Expand Benchmarking Law disclosure requirements to include an energy rating displayed on buildings, like restaurant grades.
  • Action 4.1.3 – Organize a voluntary building energy challenge for commercial buildings not covered by a building benchmarking requirement.
  • Action 4.1.4 – Implement a time-of-listing/sale/rent labeling program for residential real estate listings and rentals.
  • Action 4.1.5 – Adopt a residential post-sale energy audit program.

Strategy 4.2 – Implement a performance requirement for existing buildings.

  • Action 4.2.1 – Develop a County-provided best practices list for high-performance energy conservation measures in existing buildings.
  • Action 4.2.2 – Adopt minimum energy efficiency standards for buildings and rental units; develop a path to bring existing buildings up to current building code.
  • Action 4.2.3 – Adopt a building energy performance standard/audit/retrocommissioning requirement for existing commercial and residential construction.

Strategy 4.3 – Adopt a path to net-zero energy/carbon building code for existing commercial and residential buildings.

  • Action 4.3.1 – Implement an incentive program to encourage net-zero retrofits.
  • Action 4.3.2 – Establish a 2030 District in Montgomery County.
  • Action 4.3.3 – Explore requirements for extensively modified existing buildings to incorporate net-zero elements or achieve a high-performance certification.

Strategy 4.4 – Adopt a path to electrification in existing buildings.

  • Action 4.4.1 – Develop incentives for electrification; investigate and limit counter-productive incentives (e.g., incentives for natural gas).
  • Action 4.4.2 – Evaluate fuel-switching from natural gas to biogas.
  • Action 4.4.3 – Adopt a path to ban natural gas in existing buildings; evaluate fuel-switching from natural gas to biogas in buildings that cannot eliminate natural gas use.
  • Action 4.4.4 – Evaluate emergency back-up generator fuel sources and strategies to convert to bio/renewable sources.

Strategy 4.5 – Reduce building heat transfer.

  • Action 4.5.1 – Develop guidance and/or requirement for improved solar thermal performance.
  • Action 4.5.2 – Require a percent of the site to have a green cover requirement to help cool and insulate building/site while providing habitat value.
  • Action 4.5.3 - Require new and existing commercial and residential roofs to be either: green roofs (with soil depth deep enough for native plants/vegetables) or energy generation (solar). If for some reason, both options are impossible, use a cool roof (albedo).
  • Action 4.5.4 – Require and/or incentivize tree planting strategies (Evergreen on Western side and deciduous trees along south/eastern side of the lot; number of trees per lot size).

Goal 5 – Improve water conservation and efficiency in buildings (energy-water nexus)

Strategy 5.1 – Implement water efficiency requirements for new buildings.

Strategy 5.2 – Develop water efficiency incentives for existing buildings.

Strategy 5.3 – Modify building code to allow greywater re-use in buildings.

Goal 1: Strengthen land use policies to provide a foundation for maximizing carbon sequestration and increasing resilience

Strategy 1.1 - Set a minimum overall sequestration target as a percent of county emissions

Strategy 1.2 - Incorporate sequestration and adaptation considerations into county land use priorities.

  • Action 1.2.1 – Conduct a review of public and private lands to identify specific locations where increased investment and/or changed priorities are needed to maximize carbon sequestration on all land types: agricultural lands, natural forests, wetlands, urban and suburban landscapes, and all kinds of public and private properties (schools, recreational facilities, shopping centers etc)
  • Action 1.2.2 – Map overlay of the implications of Climate Workgroup recommendations for comparison with ongoing county programs to pinpoint both low-hanging fruit as well as areas that need resolution between conflicting goals
  1. Assess carbon sequestration values of existing natural vegetation as well as opportunities for ecosystem restoration that have the maximum potential for increased sequestration and co-benefits for climate adaptation.  This would build on existing data and assessments and established tools for estimating carbon stock in natural vegetation Comments: Tree Canopy Study 2011, Tree carbon study just published 2019, Sierra Club Forests and water Study 2018, and tools like iTree and COMET)
  • Action 1.2.3 - Create Carbon Sequestration Zones and use these also for education purposes, by showcasing how sequestration works and the multiple benefits it achieves. These may be in parks, schools, campuses etc. Others may be more ambitious “Zoning” for maximizing sequestration practices particularly responsive to the natural conditions of the site, and for benefits such as sourcewater protection
  • Action 1.2.4 - Review the county’s land use planning processes and zoning regulations to identify those provisions that either encourage or discourage reforestation and forest and wetland preservation. This review should be the basis for expanding the positives and amending or eliminating the negatives, in terms of climate protection

Strategy 1.3 - Identify and adopt policies needed to enable or incentivize sequestration in targeted areas

  • Action 1.3.1 - Potential for carbon sequestration where it has co-benefits for adaptation should be among the key criteria for making land use policy decisions. This is where the Montgomery County government has the greatest authority with respect to addressing climate change
  • Action 1.3.2 - Cancel the proposed M-83 highway which threatens 73 acres of floodplain forests and wetlands in Germantown, Clarksburg and Gaithersburg, would worsen flood hazards in Montgomery Village, increase greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, and enable further development of rural and forested areas in areas that are now hotspots of deforestation in the County
  • Action 1.3.3 - Prioritize protection of watersheds rated high to excellent, which have low impervious cover and high value for drinking water quality and conservation of biodiversity, such as Ten Mile Creek with a protection overlay that limits impervious surfaces at the sub-watershed scale, consistent with the Master Plan, and prohibiting waivers for exceeding these limitations. Consider also establishing a forest reserve in such high-quality watersheds outside the Agricultural Reserve
  • Action 1.3.4 - Areas that could have great potential for added sequestration include land along highways, school lawns not used for athletic purposes, and lawns on very large residential lots
  • Action 1.3.5 - Encourage meadows in the place of large lawns
  • Action 1.3.6 - Consider changes that may be needed in policies pertaining to HOA governance to enable increases in carbon sequestration in residential areas
  • Action 1.3.7 - Establish a landscape certification program for carbon sequestration (similar to LEED for buildings), based on measurable standards and require this certification for new development
  • Action 1.3.8 - Revise and expand floodplain boundaries and buffer areas in light of changes in the water cycle associated with climate change
  • Action 1.3.9 - Use green infrastructure practices that sequester carbon as the default practice for stormwater management in upland areas. Establish stringent criteria for the approval of alternative structural practices and provide public notification with an opportunity for public comment

Strategy 1.4 - Strengthen protection of the Agricultural Reserve and rural low-density buffer areas which provide multiple benefits that are critical to the County’s emissions, sequestration and resilience goals

  • Action 1.4.1 - Reinforce existing policies, zoning laws and other measures to avoid additional conversion of agricultural land to residential or commercial development in the Reserve and maintain agriculture as the preferred land use
  • Action 1.4.2 - Prevent sprawl of both roads and sewer infrastructure that enable higher density development in rural low-density areas outside the Reserve

Strategy 1.5 - Establish carbon sequestration zones in water source areas, as the first barrier in the multiple barrier approach to water quality protection

  • Action 1.5.1 - Increase public awareness that part of the justification for the Agricultural Reserve and Rural Low-Density zoning was that they are public water supply areas
  • Action 1.5.2 - Educate the public about the “multiple barrier approach to protecting the public water supply, the value of forests and other carbon sequestration practices as part of the this approach to protecting public water supplies, and implications of land use for water treatment costs

Goal 2: Accelerate the implementation of carbon sequestration strategies using nature-based climate solutions across all County programs and policies

Strategy 2.1 - Create a Climate Change Emergency Office directly under the County Executive with the mandate to integrate sequestration using natural climate solutions with all departments, programs, stakeholders and coordination with state, other counties, etc

Strategy 2.2 - Hold orientation sessions among County departments and key stakeholders to review the outputs from the Climate Action Plan workgroups - building engagement

Strategy 2.3 - Review and implement all recommendations from the 2018 Climate Mobilization Report, particularly programs and incentives highlighted for agriculture, food waste management, and composting

Strategy 2.4 - Evaluate and rank high, medium, low priority existing county programs and potential new efforts proposed by the Workgroups for reducing emissions both rapidly and through sustained longer-term reduction strategies

Strategy 2.5 - Thrive Montgomery 2050: Coordinate with the Montgomery County Planning Department to ensure all the high priority recommendations of the Climate Plan are included in the update of the General Plan-2050

  • Action 2.5.1 - Current status of the issues identified by the Planning Department need to be reviewed and analyzed to identify which issues and potential policy recommendations are similar and support the priority ones in the Climate Plan and identify any areas that need to be addressed such as carbon sequestration and adaptation related to establishing a planning foundation for the county for 2050

Strategy 2.6 - Execute Climate Plan recommendations and programs in cooperation with regional plans and programs

  • Action 2.6.1 - Review Climate Plan recommendations with Washington Council of Governments' (MWCOG) and surrounding counties to identify and ensure collaboration and opportunities to maximize cooperation for achieving mutually beneficial goals

Strategy 2.7 - Identify and review existing reports and programs to maximize current programs and identify the need for new programs, staff, and authorities to achieve goals

  • Action 2.7.1 - For review of existing reports refer to the document in the Resources section: “MC Government Reports Related to GHG emissions.”
  • Action 2.7.2 - Survey county agencies and divisions to identify and establish county programs that impact (increase and decrease) greenhouse gas emissions and additional authorities that may be needed to support programs that decrease them
  • Action 2.7.3 - Evaluate and rank high, medium, low priority programs to expand and modify to increase reductions and recommend additional programs to reduce emissions both rapidly and through sustained longer-term reduction strategies

Goal 3: Move from silos to systems change - taking a "whole systems" approach that enables innovation to increase carbon sequestration in ways that maximize co-benefits for adaptation

Strategy 3.1 - Leverage complementary funding sources for water quality protection practices that also sequester carbon

  • Action 3.1.1 - Prioritize and maximize the use of natural or green infrastructure practices for achieving compliance with the County MS4 or Stormwater Permit by developing standard practices for assessment and comparison of green and gray infrastructure options for all stormwater management projects
  • Action 3.1.2 - Proactively identify opportunities for natural green infrastructure projects and conduct a place-based participatory assessment so that these are “investment ready” and windows of opportunity can be acted upon
  • Action 3.1.3 - Revise County Codes to eliminate the granting of waivers on stormwater requirements for new development or make fees-in-lieu commensurate with the cost of managing stormwater runoff with green infrastructure practices that sequester carbon
  • Action 3.1.4 - Build on the existing Rainscapes program which promotes and provides technical assistance and financial incentives for conservation landscaping that reduces stormwater runoff, to also maximize carbon sequestration
  • Action 3.1.5 - Establish a baseline of existing forest cover that can be used to demonstrate forest conservation is additional so that it can be credited for water quality protection purposes (under anticipated new provision in MDE MS4 draft Accounting Guidance document)
  • Action 3.1.6 - Delineate sourcewater areas and prioritize these areas for conservation easements that can also receive credit for water quality protection (under an expected new provision in new MDE MS4 draft Accounting Guidance document)
  • Action 3.1.7 - Establish a Retention Credit Trading program (similar to that in DC) which enables third party project developers to achieve economies of scale by engaging multiple landowners and achieving economies of scale in landscape restoration activities that have both water quality and carbon sequestration benefits

Strategy 3.2 - Develop creative financing for nature-based solutions in Montgomery County

  • Action 3.2.1 - Work with the Montgomery County Green Bank to incorporate financing and revolving loan funds for reforestation, silviculture and regenerative agriculture programs where appropriate
  • Action 3.2.2 - Invest in making the case for the effectiveness and potential cost-savings associated with nature-based solutions and market these projects to impact investors in the state, working in partnership with foundations and high wealth donors
  • Action 3.2.3 - Encourage the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation to engage with investors from outside the County that are interested in investing in carbon sequestration projects
  • Action 3.2.4 - Leverage the county’s considerable political clout by advocating for financing from Congress for cities and counties to maximize nature-based solutions
  • Action 3.2.5 - Learn, innovate, and scale approaches that drive finance and other incentives to landowners and farmers. In particular, review how the county applies the property tax to different land uses agricultural land and how it could be modified to encourage sequestration as well as changes in land use that reduce net emissions
  • Action 3.2.6 - Undertake a review of/ build learning partnerships with states/ counties that are piloting and scaling such programs. Examples are Boulder County, Colorado and the many experiments with NORI, blockchain and more

Strategy 3.3 - Maximize the engagement of young people in all we do by partnering with Montgomery College, MCPS, and other educational and youth-based programs (e.g. 4H) to develop education, training, and work experience opportunities grounded in nature-based sequestration systems

  • Action 3.3.1 - Provide reforestation and compost job training and placement programs
  • Action 3.3.2 - Partner with State and Congressional delegates to seek funding for a statewide youth Climate Conservation Corps as a possible pilot for the nation - to assist with urban garden development, urban tree planting, and restoration projects that can help sequester carbon. Employ youth in summer jobs, focusing on disadvantaged and low-income youth as a priority

Strategy 3.4 - Implement workforce development, re-entry and job training programs, job opportunities and entrepreneurial training and support with a special focus on providing these opportunities to underserved communities

Strategy 3.5 - Launch a far-reaching education and engagement campaign to the general public and to every sector in the county on why, how and what they can do to sequester carbon to mitigate climate change

Strategy 3.6 - Leadership by example: Explore joining bold new platforms

Strategy 3.7 - Launch a public education and engagement campaign throughout the county to educate about the benefits of and encourage plant-based diets

  • Action 3.7.1 - Encourage the consumption of a plant-based diet with foods from farmers that use regenerative agricultural practices
  • Action 3.7.2 - Review “consumption-based,” carbon-based emissions assessments and programs such as those instituted in Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver, London that include plant-based diet and menu programs
  • Action 3.7.3 - Expand existing county-based programs such as MCPS meatless offering and “Live Well” initiatives
  • Action 3.7.4 - Partner with existing local and national programs to utilize best practices for plant based education and behavior change programs such as those provided in the World Resources Institute “Playbook for Guiding Diners Towards Plant- Rich Dishes in Food Service”; and the National Resources Defense Council Climate-Friendly Menus program which offers fact sheets and strategies on increasing plant based diets
  • Action 3.7.5 - Encourage the “less meat, better meat” approach to eating animal foods by educating county residents on the harmful impacts of confined animal feedlot operations (CAFOs). Share cost-saving strategies to support residents, restaurants and institutions in making this transition

Strategy 3.8 - Analyze every sector of our food system to identify their impacts on climate change and opportunities for solutions that also increase food security

  • Action 3.8.1 - Review programs and policies being implemented in other regions to determine which successful programs to adopt and create new programs and policies where they don’t exist
  • Action 3.8.2 - Prioritize and implement those programs and policies with the highest impact on sequestering carbon, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and providing other co-benefits to communities
  • Action 3.8.3 - Reduce food and paper waste and excess
  • Action 3.8.4 - Increase recycling of paper and other wood products
  • Action 3.8.5 - Provide incentives for farmers to increase forest land and food forests (agroforestry) on their properties. Create opportunities for them to harvest and sell the wood and other “products” from these forests to surrounding residents
  • Action 3.8.6 - Support construction of affordable housing and commercial and municipal buildings with sustainably-harvested wood—replacing carbon-intensive concrete and steel

Goal 4: Increase protections for existing trees and double the tree canopy in the urban, suburban, and other non-forest areas of Montgomery County, leading to a net increase in the amount of carbon sequestered in trees to 2030 and beyond

Strategy 4.1 - Ensure that goals for increasing trees are considered during all planning, zoning, and permitting processes

Strategy 4.2 - Require commercial land developments to have a net zero carbon emissions or a positive sequestration value and address climate change risks such as flood mitigation, and shade for residential and commercial buildings

  • Action 4.2.1 - The County Council should establish a zero emissions policy
  • Action 4.2.2 - The Planning Commission should develop specific guidelines for natural carbon assessments using reputable calculators such as iTree and COMET that can be combined with building, transport and energy guidelines

Strategy 4.5 - Update and consolidate the County’s many tree planting programs into an easy “one stop shopping” web portal for the public

Strategy 4.6 - Launch an aggressive tree planting initiative for areas of high priority on both public and private land

  • Action 4.6.1 - Develop explicit place-based map for tree planting campaign utilizing recent 2018 and 2019 analyses and an update of the 2011 Tree Canopy study
  • Action 4.6.2 - Mapped priorities for species and locations should explicitly reflect climate change considerations and provide opportunities for active community engagement.  Upper watershed areas of the County would be one of the priority areas

Strategy 4.7 - Prioritize mature trees and street tree planting and maintenance. Allow some revenues from developer fees to be used by the Transportation Department for stump removal and replanting on street right-of-ways

  • Action 4.7.1 - Create stricter prohibitions against cutting of mature trees, forests, and/or increased penalties for illegal cutting of natural vegetation
  • Action 4.7.2 - Increase investment in tree maintenance and health throughout the County

Strategy 4.8 - Document and promote doubling by 2035 of “micro-forests” or urban forests on both public and private lands

  • Action 4.8.1 - Devise a detailed definition and County strategy for promoting micro-forests and urban forests, which are natural and planted woody vegetation that grow in and around human settlements
  • Action 4.8.2 - New incentives are developed to retain and expand vegetation areas on private land, with particular emphasis on increasing local benefit such as edible native species, nectar for honeybees, etc
  • Action 4.8.3 - Expand the Rainscapes and associated programs at the Department of Environmental Protection to include micro forests
  • Action 4.8.4 - Action plan is formulated for expanding urban forests on public land such as schools, parks, etc

Strategy 4.9 - Provide substantial tax benefits for tree planting by private landowners, with increasing per-acre rates over time as forests grow up and increase their carbon stock, and as land values for other uses in the county increase

  • Action 4.9.1 - Explore tax incentive options such as the local property tax, but other options should be explored as well. The value of the benefit and its rate of increase need to be high enough to incentivize both the preservation of currently existing trees and forests, and a substantial amount of reforestation.  Consider incentives that encourage food production, e.g., walnuts, hazelnuts,etc., and perennial berries (elderberries, raspberries, etc.) to help with developing local food resilience
  • Action 4.9.2 - Establish voluntary sequestration certification program that landscapers can apply to get certification based on knowledge and use of good “carbon farming” practices
  • Action 4.9.3 - Create neighborhood champions program - perhaps small grant program to encourage residents to plant trees or carry out other sequestration activities
  • Action 4.9.4 - Development of subsidy for insurance for tree damage to encourage maintaining trees in residential areas - tied with tree safety information to prevent unsafe trees
  • Action 4.9.5 - Increase services and subsidies for maintaining tree health including support for NGO initiatives by Conservation Montgomery and others
  • Action 4.9.6 - Development of an urban suburban extension program to provide guidance on good practices for carbon sequestration, combined with a stepped up education effort regarding trees, their carbon value and their co-benefits

Strategy 4.10 - Improve soil health around trees with compost and biochar

  • Action 4.10.1 - Produce biochar from downed trees for use in improving soil health. including building a county facility for conversion of trees to bio-char (could be combined with facility to convert ag residue

Strategy 4.11 - “Mulch Correctly Campaign” to eliminate mulch mounds in the county infrastructure, working with landscaping companies

  • Action 4.11.1 - Break down mulch mounds, spread the mulch correctly, leave simple (funny?) signage explaining how mulch mounds kill trees

Goal 5: Establish a strict policy of no further loss of the County’s natural wetlands, and expand wetlands where possible

Strategy 5.1 - Stricter protection of wetlands in the County should limit interventions that impact existing wetlands to those needed to control infestations of invasive species such as purple loosestrife and Phragmites

Strategy 5.2 - County and WSSC increase efforts to protect and expand wetland and riparian ecosystems

  • Action 5.2.1 - An agreement with WSSC to ensure protection, restoration and expansion of wetlands and riparian forests are given highest priority for upper watersheds under their protection

Strategy 5.3 - Vernal pools within the county are mapped, monitored and on public lands, given protection against destruction

Strategy 5.4 - Assessment of feasibility of reintroduction of beavers into some areas within critical watersheds to naturally expand wetlands and manage stormwater

Strategy 5.5 - Conduct an assessment of whether a goal of 10% wetlands across the county by 2050 is desirable and/or feasible

Goal 6: Increase the County’s forest area to 37% in 2027 and 45% in 2035 (as compared to 34% in 2001-2016)

Strategy 6.1 - The County increases its proactive management of natural areas (resources and staff) to reduce degradation from invasive species, overgrazing by deer, and climate related risks such as fire and drought, as well as encroachment by land development along the periphery of forests

  • Action 6.1.1 - This also entails changing the traditional focus of parkland establishment in the county, which has emphasized stream valleys, to one that includes uplands on an equal basis, including for the forest conservation easement program
  • Action 6.1.2 - Establish a long-term plan to restore forests and wetlands by 2035 on all county parks and lands not required for other uses (e.g. sports fields, visitor centers). The restoration should be either to forests or to wetlands (which are by far the two main kinds of natural vegetation in the county), according to the characteristics of the site

Strategy 6.2 - Existing forests and wetlands are given a score reflecting their overall ecological condition to guide investments in assisted natural regeneration, restoration and management

  • Action 6.2.1 - Use the county’s excellent GIS data system to identify locations where natural regeneration of forests is likely to succeed, without the need for tree planting.  Examples of such locations include those close to large parcels of forest and those bordered by tall trees of reproductive size (generally 12” DBH or more) along field edges
  • Action 6.2.2 - Tree species selection for reforestation should anticipate extreme climate events such as drought, flooding, heat waves, etc. and assisted natural regeneration should be the strategy of choice wherever possible
  • Action 6.2.3 - Share information with landowners, accompanied by information on the county’s Forest Conservation Act and other incentives for reforestation

Strategy 6.3 - Reforest, through both tree-planting (where necessary) and natural regeneration (where possible), large blocks of forest on County-owned land using native tree species

  • Action 6.3.1 - Explore partnerships with NGOs and private sector to accomplish reforestation goals
  • Action 6.3.2 - Areas prioritized for reforestation should include county lands that are currently leased for cropping (especially those with high-emissions cropping systems such as annual row crops -- e.g. corn, soy and wheat) and those that are mowed simply for visual purposes.  Sports fields and other high-density recreational areas would be excluded

Strategy 6.4 - Develop broader landscape strategies by working with other public land-managing agencies in the county and in adjacent counties to coordinate ecosystem restoration plans on watershed and county-wide levels, as well as plans to share the costs involved

  • Action 6.4.1 - Coordinate with National Park Service, Maryland State Parks and Wildlife Management Areas, NIH, the Department of Defense, WSSC, and others

Strategy 6.5 - Revise forest policies to incorporate explicit sequestration objectives such as stricter prohibitions against cutting of mature trees, forests, and/or increased penalties for illegal cutting of natural vegetation

  • Action 6.5.1 - Amend the county’s Forest Conservation Act (FCA) which requires developers to either preserve forest or pay to protect or establish substitute forests elsewhere, so as to strengthen the incentives for both preservation and reforestation. Currently the FCA requires either protection of substitute forests on a 2 acres for 1 acre lost basis, or reforestation on a 1 for 1 basis. These should be increased to 4 to 1 for protection and 2 to 1 for reforestation

Strategy 6.6 - Hold field days, site visits, seminars and other events at sites that have successfully been reforested in Montgomery County

Goal 7: Engage and support farmers, gardeners and their organizations in an aggressive transition to regenerative agricultural practices

Strategy 7.1 - Identify, incentivize, and promote the most promising practices in regenerative agriculture for sequestering carbon and for reducing or eliminating greenhouse gas emissions – set specific targets after getting baseline soil carbon data, i.e. quadruple County acres in regenerative agriculture / increase agricultural sequestration by 15% by 2027

  • Action 7.1.1 - Implement a robust process to identify, incentivize, promote and evaluate the most promising practices in regenerative agriculture from the “Menu of Recommended Practices for Carbon Sequestration in Agriculture” by the Maryland Department of Agriculture and implement these practices for each commodity. Utilize the COMET Planner to identify those practices which sequester the most carbon.  Go beyond these conventional conservation agriculture practices to incorporate newer science-based practices such as promoting perennial grains, diversified farming systems, and multi-tiered farming incorporating crops, trees, and farm animals
  • Action 7.1.2 - Encourage farmers to shift to lower-emissions cropping and livestock systems. These systems should be based on assessment of the emissions and sequestration rates of the whole system and all GHGs, not just a single component (e.g. soil carbon)  Examples of lower-emission systems include perennial crops (compared to annual row crops such as corn, soy and wheat), and non-ruminant livestock, in addition to silvopastoral systems
  • Action 7.1.3 - Encourage farmers to shift to silvopastoral systems and increase the use of tree crops and trees for wind- breaks and water protection. Increase incentives and support for farmer-to-farmer programs that sequester carbon and benefit farmers including silvopastoral systems, tree crops and wind breaks, trees in pasture and lawns.  This includes expanding existing programs in the Agricultural Reserve such as Re-Leaf the Reserve program
  • Action 7.1.4 - Promote investment and support to carbon farming in other contexts (but NOT as a County offset, rather as a moral public commitment). E.g., Montgomery County partners / twins with another county outside of our region or with a community in a developing country abroad to support carbon farming, tree planting or reforestation programs (providing the additional incentive of an even more meaningful public engagement connection for County residents)

Strategy 7.2 - Prioritize education of farmers by technical assistance providers to assist producers in implementing regenerative agricultural practices, including composting, silviculture, and diversified farming systems.

Strategy 7.3 - Build multi-stakeholder partnerships, i.e. with the Million Acre Challenge, Chesapeake Bay Funders, to accelerate progress and learning in regenerative agriculture

  • Action 7.3.1 - Bring together Montgomery County farmers, organizations, local and national leaders in regenerative agriculture, programs, academic researchers, funders and investors
  • Action 7.3.2 - Partner with philanthropic foundations and existing learning platforms like the Soil Health Academy to create more opportunities for farmers and gardeners to learn about innovations at smaller scales
  • Action 7.3.3 - Connect with the county and state to ensure integration of all these goals into the training of those working with the SCD and Extension services in MoCo
  • Action 7.3.4 - Connect now with bold initiatives such as the launching regional Million Acres Challenge for regenerative agriculture (Future Harvest)
  • Action 7.3.5 - Develop outreach programs to communicate the agronomic and economic benefits of using these practices including: increased soil health; reduced flooding during flooding rains from improved water infiltration throughout the soil; increased soil water retention during periods of drought; better crop growth with fewer inputs; economic benefits of cover crops; fuel, time and maintenance savings from using no-till farming; improved nutritional value of food grown in healthy soils
  • Action 7.3.6 - Recruit farmers who want to try these (or who are already doing them) to demonstrate them on their farms, and through Extension or Soil Conservation Districts), hold field days to show other farmers how they work (peer-to-peer education)
  • Action 7.3.7 - Engage with local science institutions to support analysis of carbon sequestration projects in partnership with farmers
  • Action 7.3.8 - Promote the benefits of carbon farming and soil health by integrating information and encouraging carbon farming practices through Master Gardeners and Koiner Center for Urban Farming and the MCPS curriculum

Strategy 7.4 - Develop market opportunities for products grown and produced using regenerative agricultural practices

  • Action 7.4.1 - Maintain and expand permanent local farmer-producer markets throughout the county especially for farmers who use regenerative agricultural practices that support the sequestration strategy
  • Action 7.4.2 - Create a recognition program, including an annual awards program with widespread publicity, that acknowledges and rewards Montgomery County farmers who are already using regenerative agricultural practices, for their leadership in solving our climate crisis
  • Action 7.4.3 - Explore innovative practices that could be incentivized and piloted by existing and new farmer leaders in the county
  1. Review incentive programs established in California, Colorado and other states and regions to identify optimal programs to replicate
  2. Prioritize funding for evaluated and prioritized practices by estimating potential for sequestration, GHG reduction and other linked co-benefits. Evaluation could include:
    1. How much each practice increases sequestration and reduces GHG (see menu of practices or COMET-Planner)
    2. Number of new acres on which each carbon-sequestering practice can be adopted
    3. Adding woody plants gives most GHG reduction per acre, so encourage silvipasture, more tree planting on marginal cropland, riparian buffers on every stream
  3. Consider incentives such as farmers in the Agricultural Reserve get .5 percent off annual property tax for achieving specific benchmarks in regenerative agriculture and carbon sequestration
  • Action 7.4.4 - Consider engaging farmers in getting certified by an independent third-party organization to demonstrate to residents that they use regenerative agricultural practices on their farms to produce their food. Review the various food and farm certification programs to determine which certifications are robust enough to verify that the farmer is using regenerative agricultural practices  If the existing certification programs are not robust enough, then create a “carbon-sequestered” or regenerative agriculture certification program with a label that farmers can use to promote their products and their farm when they meet a set of criteria indicating their use and/or outcomes of regenerative agricultural practices
  • Action 7.4.5 - Explore new ways to build markets in support of carbon sequestration through agriculture land-use practices
  • County government and Montgomery County Public Schools buying food produced by local farmers using regenerative agricultural practices
  • Encourage substitution of concrete with laminated wood (utilizing sustainable forestry practices to avoid excessive tree harvesting)
  • Coppice for root-intensive lumber material, coppice and pollard for leaf-hay/tree-hay
  • Action 7.4.6 - Assess policies (such as purchasing/ procurement policies of the county, building standards, etc.) for opportunities to increase demand (e.g. mandate a % of procurement of local regeneratively produced food)
  • Action 7.4.7 - Consider working with the Good Food Purchasing Campaign to maximize procurement by schools, prisons, government agencies of foods produced from regenerative producers
  • Action 7.4.8 - Explore creating a local label or certification for farmers and producers using regenerative practices, or alternatively adopting a small percentage of county procurement for farms using an organic regenerative label

Strategy 7.5 - Launch a public education and engagement campaign throughout the county to increase the consumption and production of food using regenerative agricultural practices

  • Action 7.5.1 - Launch a campaign to encourage the consumption of a plant-based diet with foods from farmers that use regenerative agricultural practices
  1. Review “consumption-based,” carbon-based emissions assessments and programs such as those instituted in Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver, London that include plant-based diet and menu programs
  2. Expand existing county-based programs such as MCPS meatless offering and “Live Well” initiatives
  3. Partner with existing local and national programs to utilize best practices for plant based education and behavior change programs such as those provided in the World Resources Institute “Playbook for Guiding Diners Towards Plant- Rich Dishes in Food Service”; and the National Resources Defense Council Climate-Friendly Menus program which offers fact sheets and strategies on increasing plant based diets.
  4. Encourage the “less meat, better meat” approach to eating animal foods by educating county residents on the harmful impacts of confined animal feedlot operations (CAFOs) and the climate sequestration benefits, as well as health and other environmental benefits of grass-fed and pasture-raised animal production practices. Share cost-saving strategies to support residents, restaurants and institutions in making this transition
  5. Educate the public about food labeling and certifications that incorporate regenerative agricultural practices
  • Action 7.5.2 - Launch an urban/suburban backyard and front yard carbon farming / gardening campaign
  1. Launch this campaign as part of a broader, county-wide “climate-friendly landscape” program for residential and commercial landowners, promoting reduced lawn-based landscapes and encourage the planting of native trees, shrubs, and perennials and creation of food, pollinator and rain gardens, leading to multiple co-benefits
  2. Promote and engage participation through the county’s existing programs including Rainscapes, tree-planting, etc
  3. Create a campaign approach to enlist community action e.g. challenge neighborhoods to form carbon farming groups that can attract support and incentives, modeling change in their community
  4. Develop an Urban Extension Service (perhaps an out-growth of the Rainscapes program) which enlists the support of key stakeholders such as landscaping companies and Master Gardeners
  5. Partner with local organizations and local chapters of national organizations to explore opportunities for integrating this campaign into their existing educational and engagement programs. Promote the many benefits of regenerative agriculture including carbon sequestration, along with other co-benefits including increased climate resilience and adaptation, improved human health and animal health, a healthier environment, and more. Potential organizations to partner with include the YMCA, 4-H
  6. Create a campaign approach to enlist community action e.g. challenge neighborhoods to form carbon farming groups that can attract support and incentives, modeling change in their community. e.g. provide tax incentives such as property tax breaks for urban carbon farming
    1. Informational resources:
    2. Urban Drawdown Initiative: Boulder and San Francisco examples
    3. Carbon Capture Gardens on The Nature of Cities
    4. How to turn your backyard into a carbon sink
    5. Climate wise landscaping
    6. Capturing carbon in urban soils: What’s possible?

Goal 8: Help restore the earth’s carbon, water and energy cycles as a key climate mitigation and adaptation solution by restoring Montgomery County’s soil fertility, microbial activity, and moisture-holding capacity.

Strategy 8.1 - Establish and implement programs, policies, incentives and investment of resources (i.e. farmer technical assistance, MC procurement contracts, transition financing, etc.) to build healthy soils in the Agricultural Reserve and throughout the entire county.

  • Action 8.1.1 - Increase incentives and support for farmer-to-farmer programs that sequester carbon and benefit farmers such as healthy soil practices (MDA recommended), regenerative agriculture and permaculture by providing educational programs, teaching farms, tax incentives, equipment sharing or co-ops, and opportunities for information sharing
  • Action 8.1.2 - Help farmers gain access to specialized equipment needed to allow cover crops to be planted earlier, before corn or soybeans are harvested (Interseeders, Highboys), and also equipment to terminate cover crops without herbicides (roller-crimpers)

Strategy 8.2 - Establish a County Carbon Sequestration Task Force or Advisory Committee including local scientists, land stewards, and sequestration experts to advise and monitor a county healthy soils program.

  • Action 8.2.1 - Use County models that exist for Task Force/Advisory Committees and other state models to establish the goals and responsibilities
  • Action 8.2.2 - Liaise with the Maryland Department of Agriculture and the Maryland Department of the Environment to coordinate with the state-level healthy soils programs and incentives (e.g., Delegate Dana Stein)

Strategy 8.3 - Launch a healthy soils campaign to educate and engage the public, local officials, and business owners in Montgomery County to build and maintain healthy soils in residential, school, commercial and community landscapes. Provide incentives and education about how to convert lawns and turf into a variety of other landscapes that sequester carbon more effectively and provide multiple other co-benefits for pollinators, biodiversity, storm water management, water quality, food security, and resilience.

  • Action 8.3.1 - Educate and engage residents, businesses, the education sector, institutions, government agencies and landscape companies in the multiple co-benefits of building and maintaining healthy soil in their landscapes
  • Action 8.3.2 - Provide training in optimal methods for building and maintaining healthy soil and for optimal care of their landscape including lawn, trees, food gardens, pollinator gardens, rain gardens, flower gardens, food forests / agroforestry and forests
  • Action 8.3.3 - Work with Schools to pilot / demonstrate landscaping practices including family learning opportunities to help students bring the lessons home
  • Action 8.3.4 - Coordinate/consolidate county programs relevant to residential and commercial properties into a broader “climate-friendly landscape” program

Strategy 8.4 - Practices for ecosystem rehabilitation to restore soil health and increase ecosystem resilience

  • Action 8.4.1 - Combine tree and other plantings with compost amendments to degraded soils
  • Action 8.4.2 - Mimic natural succession processes when rehabilitating urban forested areas
  • Action 8.4.3 - Promote the local production and use of compost tea and promote the education and use of vemicomposting/worm composting and the use of worm castings

Strategy 8.5 - Establish incentives for increasing healthy soil to sequester carbon

  • Action 8.5.1 - Establish a small grant program for residents to encourage residents to build and maintain healthy soils in their yards and in their neighborhoods
  • Action 8.5.2 - Engage local businesses including home improvement companies, nurseries, landscape companies and local hardware stores in becoming business sponsors to provide residents with supplies at discounted prices
  • Action 8.5.3 - Create a neighborhood champions program to increase the number of participating residents and neighborhoods and to support the development of leading demonstration sites in each neighborhood
  • Action 8.5.4 - Establish a voluntary sequestration certification that landscape companies can apply for after participating in a rigorous training program and demonstrating their implementation of best practices in building healthy soils
  • Action 8.5.5 - Create a reward and recognition program for community members who implement significant carbon sequestration on their property

Strategy 8.6 - Launch a campaign to convert lawns into a variety of other landscapes that sequester carbon more effectively and provide multiple other co-benefits to our food system, our health, our environment, stormwater management and strengthening climate resilience

  • Action 8.6.1 - Encourage conversion of lawns to meadows, food gardens, food forests, pollinator gardens, rain gardens and forests
  • Action 8.6.2 - Incentivize rebuilding of healthy soils in the Montgomery County Agricultural Reserve using tradable development rights, and in the Stream Valley Park System
  • Action 8.6.3 - Update the practices, policies and training for management of public lands to incorporate best practices that optimize healthy soil as the new normal

Strategy 8.7 - Create and adopt legislation that establishes support for a county-wide healthy soils program

  • Action 8.7.1 - Review the Maryland Healthy Soils Incentive Program
  • Action 8.7.2 - Review legislation passed and proposed in other states and counties to increase healthy soils
  • Action 8.7.3 - Collaborate with our region’s new Healthy Soils Advisory Council, the Million Acre Challenge and other key partners during this process
  • Action 8.7.4 - Create and adopt legislation to establish and implement a healthy soils program in the county

Strategy 8.8 - The state Nutrient Management law needs to be reviewed to address the use of compost for lawn care

Goal 9: Close the loop by establishing a county-wide food and other organic waste composting system for government, commercial and residential buildings to reach a minimum of 70% diversion, and increase the use of compost for improving soil health and increasing carbon sequestration

Strategy 9.1 - Establish a County-wide composting system, ensuring a supply of quality organic soil amendment/ compost to farms and gardens

  • Action 9.1.1 - Mimic what is in place in San Francisco and work closely with the Urban Sustainability Directors Network since MOCO is already a member.  Maximize job creation and quantify reduction of methane as a result
  • Action 9.1.2 - Maintain woodchip stocked composting stations that residents can easily access drop off certain waste product to. Landscapers may dump woodchips at the monitored compost station for a comparatively reduced tipping fee (<60 per load), or otherwise creatively compensated for the contribution. As these stations will increasingly use hauling services -better to create Parks capacity for their own motorless cargo-bicycle or draft horse neighborhood scale pick-up/drop-off loops

Strategy 9.2 - Expand County backyard composting program by allowing food scraps to be composted, providing rodent proof compost containers, and providing compost training based upon best practices and providing demonstration composting education hub sites. Include training on how to use compost and benefits such as building healthy soil and carbon sequestration

  • Action 9.2.1 - Amend County codes that restrict composting of food scraps on residential property
  • Action 9.2.2 - Bulk purchase or provide rebates for residents to obtain approved compost containers for food scraps
  • Action 9.2.3 - Adapt existing training program (from DC backyard composting program) and train-trainers (such as Master Gardeners and other volunteers) to provide trainings on best practices for composting of food scraps and compost use
  • Action 9.2.4 - Establish Composting Education Hubs throughout the County and include demonstration sites for residents to learn how to compost and how to use compost

Strategy 9.3 - Establish County Community Composting Hubs that utilize rodent proof containers, best practices throughout the county

  • Action 9.3.1 - Adapt the existing DC Community Composting Program to provide neighborhood based community composting
  • Action 9.3.2 - Provide Master Composter training programs and education about how to compost, compost use, and benefits of compost for healthy soil and carbon sequestration

Strategy 9.4 - Expand On-Farm Composting and Compost Use

  • Action 9.4.1 - Provide composting training for farmers
  • Action 9.4.2 - Assess and provide technical assistance to support farmers, such as equipment for composting
  • Action 9.4.3 - Increase compost use on farms
  • Action 9.4.4 - Review County and State legislation related to on-farm composting and identify amendment improvements to facilitate composting
  • Action 9.4.5 - Review and adopt best practices for carbon farming programs-consider incentives

Strategy 9.5 - Institute on-site composting programs throughout the county

  • Action 9.5.1 - Assess the potential for key institutions to establish on-site composting operations
  • Action 9.5.2 - Provide support for institutions to identify financial assistance to establish on-site composting operations

Strategy 9.6 - Institute composting program for commercial businesses

  • Action 9.6.1 - Provide toolkits and training for commercial businesses to establish composting programs based on best practices
  • Action 9.6.2 - Provide resources for collecting and transporting food scraps to composting facilities, ideally within the county

Strategy 9.7 - Institute composting program for multi-family residents

  • Action 9.7.1 - Provide toolkits and training for commercial businesses to establish composting programs based on best practices
  • Action 9.7.2 - Provide resources for collecting and transporting food scraps to composting facilities, ideally within the county

Strategy 9.8 - Institute composting program for single-family residents

  • Action 9.8.1 - Establish food scrap collection program based upon best practices
  • Action 9.8.2 - Provide educational materials and enact an outreach campaign to raise awareness and educate residents about the benefits of composting and compost use
  • Action 9.8.3 - Provide resources for transporting food scraps to composting facilities ideally within the county

Strategy 9.9 - Expand composting, compost use and education in schools

  • Action 9.9.1 - Provide toolkits for schools at all levels to establish composting both on-site and off-site
  • Action 9.9.2 - Provide toolkits for schools to use compost on the school grounds and for school gardens
  • Action 9.9.3 - Provide toolkits for schools to integrate curriculum modules on composting and compost use
  • Action 9.9.4 - Integrate composting and compost use into the SERT program
  • Action 9.9.5 - Address and provide facility staff with support to institute food scrap composting

Strategy 9.10 - Institute food scrap composting program at all farmers markets

  • Action 9.10.1 - Provide food scrap composting program collections and pick up and composting of food scraps at all farmers markets

Strategy 9.11 - Expand composting capacity within the county

  • Action 9.11.1 - Divert residential food scraps into backyard composting and community composting systems
  • Action 9.11.2 - Identify and establish mid-scale food scrap composting operations throughout the county/on county owned properties (to reduce transportation carbon emissions)
  • Action 9.11.3 - Establish on-site composting programs for institutions, schools, businesses
  • Action 9.11.4 - Stop incinerating food scraps and waste and divert food scraps and food waste from the county incinerator and compost the food scraps and food waste preferably in the county
  • Action 9.11.5 - Convert the Dickerson Yard Waste Composting facility to an operation that also composts food waste and scraps
  • Action 9.11.6 - Assess and implement necessary modifications to the Transfer Station Annex Building to accommodate receipt and transfer of food scraps for composting
  • Action 9.11.7 - Identify, establish and map carbon sources such as wood chips from landscaping services and “brown” organic materials and promote the use of them for composting food scraps and waste

Strategy 9.12 - Expand use of compost in the county and support and prioritize the use of “MoCo-locally made compost”

  • Action 9.12.1 - Create and implement a broad-based education and outreach program on the benefits of composting and compost use
  • Action 9.12.2 - Identify key areas for expanding the use of compost, such as mulching for landscaping and gardens
  • Action 9.12.3 - Institute a program to promote compost use for food production on private properties/lawns
  • Action 9.12.4 - Conduct a compost marketing study to identify the potential markets and sources of high-quality compost

Strategy 9.13 - Institute incentive and dis-incentive programs that promote composting and compost use

  • Action 9.13.1 - Institute a non-regressive “Save as You Throw” (Pay as You Throw) program (This strategy charges residents based on the amount of trash produced rather than via property taxes or fixed fees. Make sure the fee structure is not regressive, so as not to impact low-income residents disproportionally. Note: this was also a recommendation in the County Executive Transition Team Report
  • Action 9.13.2 - Establish differential tip fees to motivate generators to source-separate food scraps and other organics, and encourage collectors to provide recycling collection of such materials

Strategy 9.14 - Establish the carbon emissions sequestration values related to the recommendations provided in the Zero Waste Task Force Report

  • Action 9.14.1 - Estimate the comparison of carbon emissions reductions in relation to the high priority zero waste management strategies such as composting compared to incineration
  • Action 9.14.2 - Utilize carbon emissions sequestration estimates of potential strategies and methods to establish program priorities
  • Action 9.14.3 - Identify co-benefits of resource management methods, such as composting and compost use compared to incineration and landfill disposal of food scraps and waste

Strategy 9.15 - Expand the collection and redistribution of food that can be consumed

  • Action 9.15.1 - Identify and map all available food recovery opportunities and coordinate with food rescue stakeholders to facilitate the collection and food redistribution to food insecure populations
  • Action 9.15.2 - Establish barriers and solutions to food donations-such as providing education for food donors related to proper separation and storage. Other issues such as standardizing food labels need to be explored at the State level
  • Action 9.15.3 - Educate and facilitate the use of the tax incentive to increase the amount of food farmers donate to food rescue organizations

Strategy 9.16 - Update the county website to include more information and resources on how to compost, how to use compost, and benefits of composting

  • Action 9.16.1 - Expand the county website information on how to compost, how to use compost, benefits of composting and using compost, videos, and a library of additional resources

Strategy 9.17 - Support state level organics diversion, composting and compost use recommendations and legislation

  • Action 9.17.1 - Identify and implement recommendations in the report HB 171 that align with Climate Plan recommendations

Strategy 9.18 - Modify the County’s waste management plan. Eliminate incineration and put residuals in a safe and remote landfill, accessible by clean-energy rail haul. Give oversight of solid waste management to DEP (not a private entity with its own interests)

Strategy 9.19 - Ensure that the Solid Waste Advisory Committee is informed about all composting related recommendations and solicit support

Goal 1 – Green the electricity supplied to Montgomery County residents and businesses.

Strategy 1.1 – Work to modify existing, or develop new, laws and policies at the State level to support greening of the electricity supply

  • Action 1.1.1 – Support an increase in the State’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to 100%
  • Action 1.1.2 – Support a modification/expansion of the requirements for Tier 1 renewable sources under the RPS to ensure the development of new, clean renewable generating capacity (e.g., solar and wind).
  • Action 1.1.3 – Support the authority of local jurisdictions to offer Community Choice Aggregation (CCA).
  • Action 1.1.4 – Support a carbon pricing mechanism at the State level.

Strategy 1.2 – Develop a Community Choice Energy (CCE) program (dependent on success of Action 1.1.3)

Goal 2 – Expand the use of distributed renewable energy.

Strategy 2.1 – Establish engagement strategies, programs, and financial tools to address cost barriers to onsite renewables and storage.

  • Action 2.1.1 – Examine the benefits of reinstituting County’s property tax credit for solar and geothermal systems.
  • Action 2.1.2 – Analyze the need for warranty or insurance product that covers cost of roof and PV system maintenance with the Montgomery County Green Bank and other parties.
  • Action 2.1.3 – Identify barriers to use of distributed energy systems in low- and moderate-income households and ensure distributed energy programs and financial tools are accessible to all.
  • Action 2.1.4 – Evaluate financial incentives for clean energy storage.
  • Action 2.1.5 – Ensure programs like C-PACE and the Montgomery County Green Bank are supported to the fullest extent possible to maximize leveraging of private capital to support distributed renewable systems.

Strategy 2.2 – Assess feasible public and private locations for solar and wind installations of various scales in Montgomery County and adjacent jurisdictions.

  • Action 2.2.1 – Develop a ranking system to categorize sites based on economic, environmental, and social considerations.
  • Action 2.2.2 – Evaluate financial incentives to encourage solar development on brownfields and other preferred solar locations.
  • Action 2.2.3 – Examine feasibility of solar on industrial sites like the Dickerson power and incinerator facilities.
  • Action 2.2.4 – Work with other jurisdictions and the State to ensure coordinated efforts related to siting renewable energy facilities.
  • Action 2.2.5 – Examine the feasibility and benefit of solar on utility poles.
  • Strategy 2.3 – Expand the use of solar on public facilities.
  • Action 2.3.1 – Develop a ranking system to categorize sites based on economic, environmental, and social considerations.
  • Action 2.3.2 – Take advantage of any federal, state, and other funding sources to support deployment of solar on public facilities.
  • Action 2.3.3 – Maximize use of solar on public school facilities.
  • Action 2.3.4 – Develop/require communication and engagement tools at all public and commercial solar facilities to take advantage of opportunities to educate the public on the benefits of solar.
  • Action 2.3.5 – Develop multi-site solar PV project on public facilities through Power Purchase Agreement or similar mechanism to facilitate economies of scale.

Strategy 2.4 – Support modification of the State’s net metering law, including addressing cap for individual projects (2 MW) and total project volume cap (1,500 MW).

Strategy 2.5 – Support expansion of community solar.

  • Action 2.5.1 – Evaluate environmental and ecological impact of using land in the agricultural reserve for solar.
  • Action 2.5.2 – Establish demonstration projects to co-locate PV solar with agricultural production (such as grazing) and pollinator meadows.
  • Action 2.5.3 – Create a new capacity target (specific to Mo. Co.) to allocate to community solar projects.
  • Action 2.5.4 – Create an incentive to support small (less than 300 kW DC) commercial installations or installations on non-profits’ properties.

Strategy 2.6 – Working with the Public Service Commission and electric utilities, support an assessment of the ability of utilities to incorporate additional distributed energy.

  •  Action 2.6.1 – Examine issues of feeder capacity, safety, load control, and grid stability.
  •  Action 2.6.2 – Ensure rate systems equitably distribute costs among ratepayers.
  •  Action 2.6.3 – Examine impact of battery systems on grid.

Strategy 2.7 -- Review the feasibility of implementing more energy conversion efficiency technologies in Montgomery County (i.e. co-generation, co-process, and heat recovery).

  • Action 2.7.1 Review the feasibility of community-based energy systems and energy storage.

Strategy 2.8 -- Review the feasibility of creating/expanding other clean renewable energy technologies in Montgomery County (other than wind and solar).

  • Action 2.8.1 Review the feasibility of energy harvesting from WSSC's water distribution system.

Strategy 2.9 – Establish demonstration projects to co-locate PV solar with agricultural production (such as grazing) and pollinator meadows.

Strategy 2.10 – Develop clean energy incentives for LMI households in certain zip codes.

Goal 3 – Expand the use of renewable energy to power buildings.

Strategy 3.1 – Evaluate policies requiring the electrification of new, substantially modified, and existing buildings.

  • Action 3.1.1 – Make efforts to convert existing buildings into solar ready buildings and offer incentives for such retrofits (similar to incentives offered under EmPower MD).
  • Action 3.1.2 -- Evaluate feeder line expansion by utilities to account for future solar needs and installation sizes in each neighborhood.
  • Action 3.1.3 – Evaluate utility rate structures for disadvantaged groups and upgraded infrastructure (e.g., SMART LEDs, time of use rates for EV charging stations).
  • Strategy 3.2 – Evaluate policies prohibiting the use of natural gas in new, substantially modified, and existing buildings.
  • Action 3.2.1 – Evaluate making all newly constructed buildings to be electric only.
  • Action 3.2.2 – For substantial construction or major retrofit to an all electric building, evaluate the need for a comprehensive recycling program that addresses old pipes and replaced gas infrastructure.

Strategy 3.3 – Evaluate policies requiring incorporation of solar, battery storage systems, and/or vehicle charging stations in new, substantially modified, and existing buildings.

  • Action 3.3.1 – Modify construction codes and streamline permitting processes for different building types related to incorporation of solar, battery storage systems, and/or vehicle charging stations.
  • Action 3.3.2 – Evaluate distribution and adoption of solar, battery storage systems, and/or vehicle charging stations in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods and address policies accordingly to encourage inclusion.

Goal 4 – Encourage economic development related to renewable energy

Strategy 4.1 – Increase education in renewable energy and sustainability.

  • Action 4.1.1 – Offer an Associate of Applied Science in Renewable Energy at Montgomery College (MC) and provide 100% free tuition for County residents who obtain this degree.
  • Action 4.1.2 – Provide incentives for solar companies, public utilities, and public agencies to offer internships for students enrolled in Renewable Energy program at MC.
  • Action 4.1.3 – Provide incentives for solar and other renewable energy companies and public utilities to offer apprenticeship programs/on-the-job training.
  • Action 4.1.4 – Provide scholarships for degrees in environmental sustainability programs at State universities.

Strategy 4.2 – Establish a Green Technology Innovation Fund to attract and support promising business start-ups offering solutions that reduce GHG emissions and/or contribute to essential clean energy infrastructure.

Strategy 4.3 – Encourage social enterprises, non-profits, and small and local businesses developing renewable energy solutions.

  • Action 4.3.1 – Prioritize social enterprises, non-profits, and small and local businesses developing renewable energy solutions in Montgomery County's bids and RFPs.
  • Action 4.3.2 – Lower tax liability and generate incentive mechanisms for any conversion to clean energy that has been worked on by social enterprises, non-profits, and small and local businesses developing renewable energy solutions.

Strategy 4.4 -- Encourage union workers to be contracted and develop renewable energy solutions.

  • Action 4.4.1 - Prioritize companies that use union workers in Mo Co’s bids and RFPs.
  • Action 4.4.2 - Lower tax liability and generate incentive mechanisms for any conversion to clean energy that has been worked on by these companies.
  • Strategy 4.5 – Promote an economic transition that is just and fair for all workers, especially those that have been laid off by “conventional” power production.
  • Action 4.5.1 – Encourage the establishment of new unions organized “by sector” (i.e. a “solar workers union”, a “wind workers union”, etc.).
  • Action 4.5.2 – Ensure workers employed in “conventional” power production find a new satisfying and well-paying jobs with the transition to clean energy.
  • Action 4.5.3 – Coordinate with WorkSource Montgomery and its American Job Centers to emphasize renewable energy and efficiency career support and partnerships.

Strategy 4.6 - Emphasize the clean energy future in K-12 school curricula (see Italy example) or extracurricular programs, especially in collaboration with Thomas Edison H.S. of Technology; use solar + storage on all schools (see Action 2.3.3) to educate students on environmental and energy issues.

Strategy 4.7 - Explore more public private partnership opportunities to support innovation opportunities.

Goal 5 – Establish a dedicated, secure funding source to support renewable energy programs and financial incentives.

Strategy 5.1 - Assess and implement a carbon tax in Montgomery County.

  • Action 5.1.1 -- Identify the best mechanism for a Mo Co carbon tax. Look at other states and jurisdictions that have done it.
  • Action 5.1.2 -- Tie into the MD (state level) new bill to tax carbon.
  • Action 5.1.3 -- Use revenues to implement climate change solutions.

Strategy 5.2 - Develop clean energy incentives for LMI households in certain zip codes, like Prince George’s County.

  • Action 5.2.1 -- Identify ZIP codes that have a concentration of LMI households, and provide incentives for residential installation. (If a solar installation is not suitable, give homeowner the choice for geothermal installation, or weatherization/insulation, and other clean energy technology.)

Goal 1: Prioritize people and communities that are the most vulnerable and the most sensitive to the impacts of climate change

Strategy 1.1 - Adopt strategies and actions that focus on building resilience for vulnerable and marginalized communities

  • Action 1.1.1 - Engage vulnerable communities to increase awareness and to co-develop preparedness solutions
  • Action 1.1.2 - County policies to improve the resilience of communities and neighborhoods must ensure that resilience strategies do not cause or exacerbate inequities and displacement
  • Action 1.1.3 - Integrate projections of climate change impacts, improve GIS data layers on demographics and vulnerable populations, and conduct vulnerability assessments to aid in targeting resources and addressing impacts on vulnerable populations and communities
  • Action 1.1.4 - Update the County Hazard Mitigation Plan and emergency response operations to prioritize vulnerable areas where retrofit plans are least effective and include post-disaster policies for building back to be more resilient
  • Action 1.1.5 - Review all county operations to prioritize actions for the most vulnerable communities in the most essential sectors of our society, particularly hazard mitigation, emergency response, health department services, transportation, residential services, parks and landscaping, building-related codes and standards, etc
  • Action 1.1.6 - Expand the number of emergency shelters and cooling stations based on need and ensure they are readily accessible and themselves retrofitted to the highest standards, including to avoid flooding, withstand strong wind, extreme temperatures, power outages, and depleted water supplies
  • Action 1.1.7 - Ensure that climate change policies, planning and response plans include highly vulnerable populations, such as children, the elderly, those with underlying health conditions, and economically disadvantaged populations. Collaborate across sectors, and among nongovernmental and governmental entities, to develop comprehensive mitigation and adaptation plans that protect the most vulnerable
  • Action 1.1.8 - Adopt standards and practices for outdoor workers and farm workers to protect their health and safety during extreme events
  • Action 1.1.9 - Ensure adequate facilities and protections for homeless population during extreme cold, extreme heat, or severe storm events
  • Action 1.1.10 - Provide incentives and subsidies to landlords and low-income homeowners to install adaptive technologies and retrofit buildings, and where necessary, adopt county codes and standards requiring climate-adapted housing and development in targeted areas

Strategy 1.2 - Prioritize reducing health risks of the most vulnerable populations

  • Action 1.2.1 - Expand urban tree canopy and green infrastructure in low-income neighborhoods, especially targeting areas with high pedestrian traffic to mitigate urban heat island effects and to provide cool corridors for walking
  • Action 1.2.2 - Promote and subsidize installation of energy efficient air conditioning in low income housing and rental properties, especially during the summer which is getting longer and hotter
  • Action 1.2.3 - Provide local cooling and cell phone recharging centers, including use of parks, libraries, recreation centers, schools, and other public facilities
  • Action 1.2.4 - Adopt requirements and/or incentives for landlords to install protections against basement flooding and to mitigate mold
  • Action 1.2.5 - Review the ability of Lake Needwood Dam and all other County high-and significant-hazard dams to withstand stronger tropical and inland storm and revisit potential buyouts of high-risk homes downstream
  • Action 1.2.6 - Conduct a vigorous public education campaign to alert residents to risks of flooding and how to protect themselves, including risks of asthma due to mold, wet basements, etc
  • Action 1.2.7 - Amend county building codes requiring developers in areas undergoing significant land cover change to address stormwater runoff impacts of increased impervious cover on existing homes
  • Action 1.2.8 - Direct the County Department of Health and Human Services to monitor and address a broad range of climate-related health impacts, including vector-borne diseases (mosquitos, ticks), mold and asthma, water-related illnesses, food safety, temperature stress, and mental health, with a particular emphasis on the most vulnerable populations

Goal 2: Reduce the risks and impacts of higher summer temperatures

Strategy 2.1 - Establish county-wide temperature reduction goals

  • Action 2.1.1 - Deploy a uniformly distributed network of small temperature and humidity sensors… (HOBOS) to monitor heat and reduce heat-related mortality and/or morbidity
  • Action 2.1.2 - Conduct regional climate modeling to assess neighborhood-scale climate and health benefits of a tree planting campaign or a cool roofing ordinance
  • Action 2.1.3 - Develop an urban heat vulnerability index and mitigation plan to prepare for higher temperatures and more frequent extreme heat. Use this data to inform decisions made related to building codes, emergency management plans, and other climate change related sectors
  • Action 2.1.4 - Track the impact of extreme heat mitigation and adaptation strategies and share lessons learned

Strategy 2.2 - Promote cool and energy efficient building standards for both the public and private sectors

  • Action 2.2.1 - Promote use of cool materials (cool roofs, cool pavements and road surfaces, green walls
  • Action 2.2.2 - Evaluate and adopt model building codes for green roofs/cool roofs, pavements, and green walls. Incorporate performance goals of codes into requirements for approved public building projects and private construction standards for permit approval
  • Action 2.2.3 - Evaluate and adopt flexible building codes that incentivize or require new and renovated buildings to minimize the energy required to operate the building under extreme weather conditions or power loss, while also protecting citizens (residential and occupational) against extreme heat
  • Action 2.2.4 - Use energy-efficient air conditioning and other building infrastructure that reduce energy use, reduce waste heat, and minimize urban heat gain
  • Action 2.2.5 - Tactically encourage airflow for optimum ventilation inside and around a building or development
  • Action 2.2.6 - Consider design strategies, such as operable windows or cooling systems connected to backup power sources, that help maintain safe indoor temperatures during hot-weather power outages
  • Action 2.2.7 - Assess and monitor long-term risks from extreme heat over the lifetime of a building, development, or city to understand the likely impacts on users and community members
  • Action 2.2.8 - Work with MCPS to revise their temperature plan to consider the heat island effect of artificial turf
  • Action 2.2.9 - Conduct review of performance of road, rail, bridge and other transit materials under high heat conditions, and consider transportation design options that minimize urban heat island effect

Strategy 2.3 - expand the county’s urban tree canopy and greening programs

  • Action 2.3.1 - Analyze tree canopy in Montgomery County and plant trees in communities with limited tree canopy to grow a more equitable tree canopy by 2028
  • Action 2.3.2 - Adopt and implement an aggressive goal to plant more trees throughout the County
  • Action 2.3.3 - Develop a strategy focused on protecting the County’s existing trees from extreme drought and flash drought, including educating homeowners on how to protect their trees from severe drought
  • Action 2.3.4 - Educate homeowners and the landscaping sector on protecting their trees from severe drought, eliminating mulch mounds that kill trees, and other tree protection measures
  • Action 2.3.5 - Work with and require utility providers to protect trees
  • Action 2.3.6 - Provide an incentive for residential and multi-family property owners by providing a 0.5% annual property tax relief for every tree planted and healthy beyond 20 trees per acre
  • Action 2.3.7 - Adjust the County Tree Canopy Ordinance that assesses builders a fee for removing trees to require functional mitigation that replaces the lost benefit of trees, e.g., cooling, stormwater abatement, watershed replenishment, etc. Require developers to seek revisions to their permits before removing trees. Use the fee to pay for off-site functional mitigation
  • Action 2.3.8 - Strategically maximize shade—through built and natural cover—for all buildings and public spaces. Plant more trees and vegetation on public lands to provide cooling, shade, and heat/CO2 absorption
  • Action 2.3.9 - Work with federal and other jurisdictions located in Montgomery County to expand shading and cooling
  • Action 2.3.10 - Establish green corridors and other alternative, heat-sensitive planning measures
  • Action 2.3.11 - Improve streetscape standards, such as permeable surfaces, wider bike lanes for mitigation, infiltration, and tree canopy increase

Strategy 2.4 - Promote landscaping in the private sector to expand shade and reduce urban heat islands

  • Action 2.4.1 - Adopt credits for builders for the percentage or coverage of shade trees retained and planted on-site to encourage the use of shade trees to provide additional summer protection for lower floors of building facades and green roofs to reduce heat island effect while providing comfortable exterior environments
  • Action 2.4.2 -  Educate and work with the landscaping community to understand the impacts of climate change and incentivize them to adopt best climate practices, such as reducing use of fossil fuels in equipment, planting native- and climate-resilient species, protecting trees (no more mulch mounds), using water-wise strategies, etc
  • Action 2.4.3 - Prioritize the preservation of green space on new development and redevelopment parcels; and expand green space on existing development parcels
  • Action 2.4.4 - Ensure greening selections are appropriate for local climate conditions and water availability

Goal 3: Reduce risks and impacts of more intense storms

Strategy 3.1 - Improve hydrological and meteorological data collection and analysis of wet weather and storms, considering climate change over the next 30 to 100 years, and incorporating trends in land use/land cover change

  • Action 3.1.1 - Work with the Montgomery County Delegation to support legislation and appropriations to fund NOAA to update mid-Atlantic precipitation statistics, along with the States of Virginia, North Carolina and others, that are already so engaged. Subsequently, work with FHWA and NOAA to revise Maryland’s IDF precipitation statistics and to adopt a methodology for updating future precipitation statistics for use in planning and design
  • Action 3.1.2 - Update County floodplain maps to the 30-acre watershed, and map small drainage areas that are currently unmapped. Ensure that development permits are not issued without a Natural Resources Inventory that includes the requirement to delineate unmapped floodplains in the vicinity of the proposed development
  • Action 3.1.3 - Improve impervious surface mapping throughout the county
  • Action 3.1.4 - Develop a report identifying all aspects of current Montgomery County Code, including requirements of the State of Maryland, that include reference to rainfall and water flow in design standards and other requirements. For each requirement, report on the basis of how and when the numerical quantity requirement was derived, and identify any efforts by federal, state, academic, or private sector efforts to evaluate adequacy of such standards. Examine the Maryland Stormwater Design Manual, NOAA Atlas 14, TR-55, other code or statute, noting the date, source, and method of data development
  • Action 3.1.5 - Conduct a citizen survey on home flooding events to identify unreported flooding” hotspots” and understand home flooding trends
  • Action 3.1.6 - Consult with County flood remediation and cleanup businesses on trends, costs, and hotspots and areas with changing flooding vulnerabilities
  • Action 3.1.7 - Deploy more rain and stream gauges throughout the county to build a more accurate observational ability to monitor changes over time

Strategy 3.2 - Adopt aggressive requirements for all new development to transition Montgomery County to realities of climate change

  • Action 3.2.1 - Amend County building codes and enforcement policies post-permitting to ensure all runoff controls, including conservation plantings in place of structural controls, are maintained and effective. Revisit current policies enabling waivers, unenforceability of green infrastructure maintenance, and impacts on neighbors. Ensure that county codes minimize impacts of increased flooding on immediately adjacent neighbors, taking into account both increased intensity of rainfall and increased impervious ground cover
  • Action 3.2.2 - Develop climate resilience guidelines for new development projects that take into account reasonably foreseeable future hydrologic conditions in the drainage area
  • Action 3.2.3 - Before being approved by a Zoning Commission, BZA, or other related reviewal process, new private developments must employ a variety of climate-hazard mitigation techniques, such as cooling, stormwater retention, sequestration tactics, etc
  • Action 3.2.4 - Evaluate the sequencing of agency approvals for new building development projects to determine the best point at which to incorporate flood review
  • Action 3.2.5 - Hire a consultant to identify and evaluate a variety of trends within architecture and sustainable design that has proven effective and feasible in implementation and outcome regarding risk mitigation
  • Action 3.2.6 - Require all planned unit developments and publicly financed projects to complete an adaptation checklist based on climate resilience guidelines
  • Action 3.2.7 - Require contractors to send notices to all adjacent homeowners of potential impacts, including suggestions for how to protect their own properties from future rainfall events and runoff impacts
  • Action 3.2.8 - Adopt aggressive county codes to limit impervious concrete surfaces and require the use of pervious pavements, especially in county-funded projects. For example, sidewalks, driveways and parking lots should use pervious pavements to reduce runoff and flooding that overwhelms the storm sewer system
  • Action 3.2.9 - Aggressively promote and incentivize use of green roofs, native plantings, rain gardens, rain barrels, runoff retention, and other nature-based ways to reduce runoff and to minimize the heat island effect. (new and existing buildings). However, when used for stormwater management, ensure that green remedies are maintained and effective over time, and are combined with appropriate gray infrastructure to manage excess water flow

Strategy 3.3 - Work with homeowners, businesses and the building and services sectors to retrofit existing homes and buildings to protective standards

  • Action 3.3.1 - Evaluate existing stormwater management environmental site design BMPS as well as structural BMPs and work with homeowners and the construction and landscaping sectors to adopt upgraded BMPs
  • Action 3.3.2 - Put a moratorium on stormwater waivers until updated practices are adopted by the County to reduce flooding
  • Action 3.3.3 - Conduct a public education campaign on FEMA NFIP insurance; develop an incentive program to encourage residents to obtain flood insurance no matter where they live in the county
  • Action 3.3.4 - Conduct a vigorous public education campaign to alert homeowners and renters to risks of flooding and how to protect themselves, including risks of asthma due to mold, wet basements, etc
  • Action 3.3.5 - Educate home and property owners and promote strategies for managing water on their property; e.g., rainscapes and rain barrels to slow roof runoff, retain water for landscape use, reduce impacts of stream “downcutting” and erosion
  • Action 3.3.6 - Investigate programs to incentivize retrofitting existing homes including rebates, discount programs, working with insurance companies to provide discounts, etc
  • Action 3.3.7 - County hazard mitigation and emergency response plans should prioritize vulnerable areas where retrofit plans are least effective and should include post-disaster policies for more resilient recovery requirements

Strategy 3.4 - Initiate a comprehensive review of transportation infrastructure, dams, and other public utilities and undertake efforts to improve preparedness and resilience

  • Action 3.4.1 - Conduct a comprehensive review of roads, bridges, and culverts throughout Montgomery County; identify those in need of repair and assess adequacy of capacity based on overlay of land use changes, precipitation projections, and other factors affecting flow and discharge. Target priority roads and culverts to repair and mitigate potential damages. Specifically focus on small culverts, storm drains, swales and ditches, curbs and gutters
  • Action 3.4.2 - Revisit potential voluntary buyouts in areas at highest risk of catastrophic flooding, especially below the Lake Needwood Dam. Retrofit at-risk buildings or remove them from high-risk areas. Address potential unintended consequences of retrofitting
  • Action 3.4.3 - Evaluate emergency evacuation routes for adequacy under future climate scenarios
  • Action 3.4.4 - Assess whether the County (and its dam owners) are using best practices for operations, emergency action planning, maintenance, and alert/warning
  • Action 3.4.5 - Renew efforts to evaluate and address risk of communities located below dams and along major waterways

Goal 4: Protect public health from climate-driven impacts

Strategy 4.1 - Integrate climate change risks into Montgomery County health and human services, hazard mitigation, and emergency response operations

  • Action 4.1.1 - Review information from the State of Maryland, the CDC, and southern states that are analogues to Montgomery County's climatic future, to understand our future health profile
  • Action 4.1.2 - Engage with the State and the Center for Disease Control and take advantage of available grants, pilot programs, technical assistance, and public outreach events
  • Action 4.1.3 - The County Department of Health and Human Services should develop a comprehensive, long-range, and proactive Climate Change and Public Health Strategy that addresses the health risks exacerbated particularly by climate change, including anticipating public anxieties over loss of services during major climate events
  • Action 4.1.4 - Work with the Center for Disease Control and the State of Maryland Health Department to adopt health surveillance and early warning systems to monitor and predict climate change impacts
  • Action 4.1.5 - Ensure that climate change policies, planning and response plans include highly vulnerable populations, such as children, the elderly, those with underlying health conditions, and economically disadvantaged populations. Collaborate across sectors, and among nongovernmental and governmental entities, to develop comprehensive mitigation and adaptation plans that protect the most vulnerable populations. (dup)
  • Action 4.1.6 - Quantify potential health impacts to inform decision making and strategies, with analysis of impacts on vulnerable populations and geographies

Strategy 4.2 - Minimize food, water, and vector borne disease

  • Action 4.2.1 - Hire a County entomologist to specialize in managing vectors of disease that are encroaching and becoming more prevalent in the County, as host ranges expand and over-winter
  • Action 4.2.2 - Expand the mosquito control program especially for the Asian Tiger (Aedes aegypti) mosquito
  • Action 4.2.3 - Install stormwater infrastructure abatement to reduce ponding
  • Action 4.2.4 - Manage deer population that carries disease from ticks
  • Action 4.2.5 - Work with WSSC to put in place a more robust Harmful Algal Bloom monitoring programs, including establishing baseline data to track incidents
  • Action 4.2.6 - Coordinate with the Potomac River Basin Commission and upstream communities to monitor HABs and reduce stressors that result in HABs

Strategy 4.3 - Protect the most vulnerable from asthma, heart attacks, and other respiratory illnesses

  • Action 4.3.1 - Implement heat abatement programs (see section under extreme temperature)
  • Action 4.3.2 - Adopt programs to prevent home flooding and to avoid residential mold (see section addressing storms and floods)
  • Action 4.3.3 - Develop and expand mental health programs aimed at managing climate change-induced stress

Strategy 4.4 - guard against increasing risks of motor vehicle accidents and drowning

  • Action 4.4.1 - Assess first-response resources available in the county against increased frequency of significant flooding/flash-flooding events and other emergencies. This should include swift-water rescue and consideration of vehicles that can navigate high water situations
  • Action 4.4.2 - Invest in automated roadway sensors in roadways prone or at risk of flooding to reduce incidents of drowning

Strategy 4.5 - Undertake a vigorous public outreach campaign aimed at empowering the public with the knowledge and support avoid and minimize health effects of climate change

  • Action 4.5.1 - Train health professionals to understand the health effects of climate change on families, children, the elderly, those with underlying health conditions, and economically disadvantaged populations
  • Action 4.5.2 - Coordinate with non-health sector policies that offer co-benefits (reduce harmful emissions and promote health) such as clean energy, healthy food production and smart community design
  • Action 4.5.3 - Conduct a vigorous public education campaign on actions to reduce the increasing risks due to climate change and extreme weather

Goal 5: Ensure the availability and sustainability of quality drinking water supplies to support a growing and thriving Montgomery County

Strategy 5.1 - Expand programs to develop localized self-sufficiency and resilience to water shortages

  • Action 5.1.1 - Update the County Hazard Mitigation Plan to more robustly address water supply and other drought concerns
  • Action 5.1.2 -  Adopt policies to expand water efficiency and conservation as a long-term effort, not just as an emergency response to impending drought, e.g. public education and incentive campaigns; use of water efficient fixtures in all county facilities; water efficient fixtures and landscape design in building codes and permits; etc
  • Action 5.1.3 - Understand the current pattern of water demand within various economic sectors as well as residential uses; understand supply chain risks; and design outreach and compliance campaigns for commercial and residential consumers both to minimize supply chain impacts and to enlist support for reducing demand
  • Action 5.1.4 - Expand existing DEP programs and develop additional programs for water capture and reuse to alleviate strain on potable water supply, e.g., expand the County’s rain barrel program to encourage more on-site reuse of water; develop policies for reuse of graywater for irrigation or industrial processes; etc
  • Action 5.1.5 - Support efforts to build off-river water storage at the Travilah Quarry and examine other solutions for water storage including aquifer storage and recovery
  • Action 5.1.6 - Expand coordination and mutual assistance with neighboring counties and incorporated areas that rely on similar water sources to enact the broader drought management strategy

Strategy 5.2 - Protect water quality that threatens probability of water supplies

  • Action 5.2.1 - Forcefully oppose all efforts to build the 3.5-mile “Potomac Pipeline” that would bring natural gas from Pennsylvania to West Virginia, which would threaten water supply for 6 million people in the metro area; and which would fuel the continued use of fossil fuels in Maryland
  • Action 5.2.2 - Redouble efforts to protect the Poolesville sole source aquifer, Potomac and Monocacy Rivers, and high-quality watersheds other water supply resources through wise land use plans and stream corridor revitalization
  • Action 5.2.3 - Strengthen stormwater runoff controls to prevent nutrient runoff into surface water
  • Action 5.2.4 - Review and amend road salting and treatment to protect drinking water sources
  • Action 5.2.5 - Given the increasing incidence of Harmful Algal Blooms nationwide, and for the first time in the Rocky Gorge (Duckett) Reservoir, Montgomery County should include such incidences in its emergency response alert system
  • Action 5.2.6 - Be alert for potential sources of pollution in Montgomery County that endanger the quality of water supplies, e.g. discharges from the Dickerson Incinerator; sediment and turbidity from stormwater and creek bed scour; nutrients from yards, pets, and agriculture; toxics from industrial facilities in our watersheds, etc

Strategy 5.3 - Integrate actions that recognize the inter-dependency and co-benefits between water, energy, and other resilience strategies

  • Action 5.3.1 - Invest in resilient power systems for critical drinking water facilities, including pumps moving water to and from treatment facilities
  • Action 5.3.2 - Asses all wastewater pumping stations in Montgomery County for risk to energy disruption, and undertake efforts to improve their resilience (back-up electrical generation; protection from flooding; access for emergency crews; etc.)
  • Action 5.3.3 - Press WSSC to accelerate its goal beyond reducing energy use 65% by 2035. Collaborate on opportunities to accelerate WSSC’s move to bioenergy generation (poop to pump), anaerobic food digesters, use of water storage and gravity as a source of electricity; etc
  • Action 5.3.4 - Incorporate consideration of protecting water supplies as a co-benefit of strategies addressing other climate risks, e.g., ensure flood mitigation efforts, heat island mitigation, and design of infrastructure bring direct co-benefits to programs addressing drought

Goal 6: Conserve and restore habitat to support healthy populations and ecosystems, reduce non-climate stressors on natural resources, and promote climate-resilient agriculture

Strategy 6.1 - Conserve, expand, and connect natural and protected areas

  • Action 6.1.1 - Adopt and implement an aggressive goal to plant more trees throughout the County. (dup)
  • Action 6.1.2 - Develop a strategy focused on protecting the County’s existing trees from extreme drought and flash drought, including educating homeowners on how to protect their trees from severe drought. (dup)
  • Action 6.1.3 - Provide an incentive for residential and multi-family property owners by providing a 0.5% annual property tax relief for every tree planted and healthy beyond 20 trees per acre. (dup)
  • Action 6.1.4 - Educate homeowners and the landscaping sector to eliminate mulch mounds that kill trees. (dup)
  • Action 6.1.5 - Educate homeowners and incentivize them to adopt low management lawns that are more resilient, sequesters carbon, and reduces use of motorized (fossil fuel powered) maintenance
  • Action 6.1.6 - Plant native tree species in the mid to northern portions of their geographic range and facilitate migration of tree species that may be more suitable for Maryland’s new climate
  • Action 6.1.7 - Update the 2017 Park, Recreation and Open Space Plan to expressly identify and address climate change impacts to parks and natural areas
  • Action 6.1.8 - Prioritize land acquisition to protect existing parks and natural areas, create natural buffers, and enhance connectivity of natural areas and stream corridors
  • Action 6.1.9 - Map and protect migration corridors for plants and animals adjusting to drought and other climate conditions
  • Action 6.1.10 - Increase protection of habitat for federal and state endangered and threatened species

Strategy 6.2 - Restore degraded habitat and enhance suburban habitat

  • Action 6.2.1 - Restore riparian areas to reduce stormwater scouring, enhance habitat, and provide shading to reduce summer water temperatures
  • Action 6.2.2 - Remove barriers to fish passage (e.g., shad and river herring)
  • Action 6.2.3 - Restore forested areas damaged by storms, disease, and fire
  • Action 6.2.4 - Encourage succession planting to improve forest ecosystem health
  • Action 6.2.5 - Manage deer populations to limit damage to understory plants and young trees
  • Action 6.2.6 - Educate and encourage suburban homeowners to plant native trees, understory plants, pollinator gardens, and to reduce area of managed lawns

Strategy 6.3 - Manage invasive and non-native species

  • Action 6.3.1 - Control invasive species on county-owned properties and in natural areas, and replant cleared areas with native species to prevent invasives from regaining foothold. Ensure such efforts include follow-up and maintenance
  • Action 6.3.2 - Manage pests and pathogens affecting the urban canopy and forested areas, including deer populations
  • Action 6.3.3 - Monitor the arrival of new species (beneficial migration and invasive species) and track the loss of native species and climate-driven changes to native species
  • Action 6.3.4 - Educate homeowners and landscapers about native, non-native, and invasive species and changes in native species due to climate change

Strategy 6.4 - Reduce non-climate stressors on native species and ecosystems

  • Action 6.4.1 - Put in place stream buffers where they don’t exist and enlarge existing buffers to reduce pollutant runoff, cool water temperatures, and restore riparian structure and function
  • Action 6.4.2 - Control stormwater running into rivers and streams (see recommendations for improved stormwater management strategies under flood control section)
  • Action 6.4.3 - Provide education for well/septic users to ensure best practices in maintaining systems
  • Action 6.4.4 - Plant pollinator-friendly and native plantings on county-owned properties and public rights-of-way; educate homeowners about pollinator friendly practices (e.g., pesticides)

Strategy 6.5 - Promote climate-resilient agricultural practices

  • Action 6.5.1 - Encourage farmers to diversify crop varieties and select heat-tolerant crops to increase resilience to climate change impacts
  • Action 6.5.2 - Monitor climate change and impacts to agriculture and adapt agricultural practices to optimize resource allocation and production
  • Action 6.5.3 - Encourage farmers to improve soil health (e.g., compost, cover cropping, crop rotation)
  • Action 6.5.4 - Establish demonstration projects for carbon-sequestering agriculture
  • Action 6.5.5 - Promote conservation agriculture measures (zero and/or minimum tillage, efficient water use); keep soil covered year-round; promote natural methods of pest control; plant flood-resilient species near floodplains
  • Action 6.5.6 - To increase carbon sequestration, incentivize landowners to farm regeneratively, to plant trees for reforestation, and to reduce large-lot lawn size
  • Action 6.5.7 - Leverage the Maryland Climate Change Commission’s recommendations to expand agriculture in Montgomery County
  • Action 6.5.8 - Expand availability of community gardens in urban/suburban areas to reduce farm-to-table distance and promote food security

Goal 7: Support economic opportunities and address economic challenges for climate adaptation

Strategy 7.1 - Business and development: minimizing disruption and maximizing opportunities

  • Action 7.1.1 - Convene a business round table or task force to evaluate business opportunities posed by a climate-resilient and carbon free County, to consider potential impacts and business displacements, and to engage on promoting ways to reduce greenhouse gases and prepare for the impacts of climate change
  • Action 7.1.2 - Incentive and support businesses that build the transition to the clean energy and green infrastructure economy, such as transition from gas stations to electric fueling stations
  • Action 7.1.3 - Develop educational and training programs to build career pathways for a Green Workforce trained in the technology, design, construction and maintenance of the range of climate adaptation methods
  • Action 7.1.4 - Work with the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation to build a Climate Resilient Montgomery brand that attracts young people, new businesses, and migration of populations, and helps showcase and build the economy of the future
  • Action 7.1.5 - Evaluate potential for attracting people, businesses, and government agencies migrating away from tidal areas of D.C., subject to flooding from sea level rise and overland flooding
  • Action 7.1.6 - Prepare to welcome environmental refugees from around the world and across Maryland and leverage their skills and knowledge to diversify the Montgomery County economy

Strategy 7.2 - Financing adaptation

  • Action 7.2.1 - Expand the County Green Bank to incorporate support for preparedness and resilience to the impacts of climate change, and to leverage other sources of funding
  • Action 7.2.2 - Invest in a process and staffing to fully leverage federal and state funding opportunities; anticipate County needs and programs and advance preparation of proposals to take advantage of funding solicitations, despite those being out of step with the traditional CIP process. Have a proposal ‘in the drawer,’ and be ready to seek funding as it becomes available
  • Action 7.2.3 - Select a few climate adaptation projects to demonstrate how to build their financial and evidentiary case
  • Action 7.2.4 - Retain a consultant to advise on how to revise County benefit-cost analyses to evaluate adaptation project investments, e.g., how to incorporate future benefits and avoided costs, conduct multivariate analysis, and weigh the benefits and costs of adaptation vs. business-as-usual solutions
  • Action 7.2.5 - Review the CIP budgeting process, update out-of-date baselines, and link capital programs to better keep up with maintenance and restoration of infrastructure and natural systems that are increasingly being damaged by the impacts of climate change
  • Action 7.2.6 - Consider ways to leverage public funds for adaptation such as with public-private partnerships and performance contracting; consider models such as Portland’s Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund

Strategy 7.3 - Incentivizing adaptation

  • Action 7.3.1 - Establish loans or other programs to help businesses and institutions purchase non-fossil fuel dependent back-up generators and cooling/heating equipment
  • Action 7.3.2 - Adopt credits to builders for the percentage or coverage of shade trees retained and planted on-site to encourage the use of shade trees to provide additional summer protection for lower floors of building facades and green roofs to reduce heat stand effect while providing comfortable exterior environments. (dup)
  • Action 7.3.3 - Provide an incentive for residential and multi-family property owners by providing a 0.5% annual property tax relief for every tree planted and healthy beyond 20 trees per acre. (dup)
  • Action 7.3.4 - Adjust the County Tree Canopy Ordinance that assesses builders a fee for removing trees to require functional mitigation that replaces the lost benefit of trees, e.g., cooling, stormwater abatement, watershed replenishment, etc. Require developers to seek revisions to their permits before removing trees. Use the fee to pay for off-site functional mitigation. (dup)
  • Action 7.3.5 - Aggressively promote and incentivize use of green roofs, native plantings, rain gardens, and other nature-based ways to reduce runoff and cool heat island effect. (new and existing buildings). (dup)
  • Action 7.3.6 - Conduct a public education campaign on FEMA NFIP insurance; develop incentive program to encourage residents to obtain flood insurance. (dup)
  • Action 7.3.7 - To increase carbon sequestration, incentivize landowners to farm regeneratively, to plant trees for reforestation, and to reduce large-lot lawn size. (dup)
  • Action 7.3.8 - Incentivize solar on barns and storage shed rooftops, as well as on industrial properties such as the Dickerson Power Plant and the acreage under transmission power lines
  • Action 7.3.9 - Provide incentives and subsidies to landlords and low-income homeowners to install adaptive technologies and retrofit buildings and homes. (dup)
  • Action 7.3.10 - Adopt requirements and/or incentives for landlords to install protections against basement flooding and to mitigate mold. (dup)

Goal 8: Conduct vigorous outreach and engagement campaign to accelerate adaptation and resilience

Strategy 8.1 - Build public awareness about the County’s actions on hazard mitigation and adaptation to climate change

  • Action 8.1.1 - Update information given to 411/911 emergency services and update web pages for Health and Human Services, Office of Emergency Management, etc
  • Action 8.1.2 - Initiate traveling "roadshows" to go to community organizations, schools, hospitals, community centers, etc

Strategy 8.2 - Build community preparedness strategies to increase resilience

  • Action 8.2.1 - Undertake a vigorous public outreach campaign aimed at empowering the public with the information on how to protect their families and homes from the impacts of climate change
  • Action 8.2.2 - Organize and support events that contribute to community resilience and company “neighborliness” so that residents have a climate-ready social network and are aware of resources before an emergency occurs
  • Action 8.2.3 - Modify alert systems and communication with schools, hospitals, homeless shelters, and facilities for the elderly or disabled, to include high heat and extreme cold warnings, and ensure temperature is included in public emergency response plans
  • Action 8.2.4 - Train health professionals to understand the health effects of climate change on families, children, the elderly, those with underlying health conditions, and economically disadvantaged populations
  • Action 8.2.5 - Collaborate with non-health sector policies that offer co-benefits (reduce harmful emissions and promote health) such as clean energy, healthy food production and smart community design  
  • Action 8.2.6 - Conduct a vigorous public education campaign on actions residents can take to reduce their risks from climate change and extreme weather
  • Strategy 8.3 - Engage the business community about the potential impacts and opportunities posed by climate change 
  • Action 8.3.1 - Work with the business and development community to understand potential impacts of climate change, including supply chain disruptions. (dup)
  • Action 8.3.2 - Enlist the support of the business and development community to adopt water, electric, and fuel conservation strategies to minimize risk and advance toward a more resilient County. (dup)

Strategy 8.4 - Work with other jurisdictions to develop rules, amend codes, and build capacity for adaptation

  • Action 8.4.1 - Support legislation in the Maryland Statehouse for climate and adaptation related legislation:
  • Heat Stress Protection Act – Protecting Workers from Dangerous Heat Exposure (Del. Charkoudian)
  • Organics Recycling and Waste Diversion – Food Residuals (Del. Charkoudian) - compost bill
  • Healthy Soils Act (Del. Stein)
  • Ending Subsidies for Incineration (HB438/SB560) 
  • Climate Solutions Act (HB1425/SB926)
  • Public Service Commission Climate Test (HB531/SB656)
  • Community Choice Energy
  • Action 8.4.2 - Work with Maryland and NOAA to ensure that NOAA’s outdated and inadequate Atlas 14 precipitation statistics for Maryland are updated and recalculated, and ensure that Maryland update and revise stormwater, floodplain, and other codes and regulations that reference Atlas 14, TP40, or any previous NOAA publication
  • Action 8.4.3 - Engage with the State and the Centers for Disease Control to take advantage of health and climate change-focused grants, pilot programs, technical assistance, and public outreach events
  • Action 8.4.4 - Engage with the climate change adaptation science community to access expert resources and technical assistance, including the USGS Southeast and Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Centers; the NOAA Urban Northeast CCRUN RISA and the Mid-Atlantic MARISA); and the USDA North Atlantic and South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperatives

Goal 9: Reevaluate and update county operations, strategies, and codes to account for the risks of climate change impacts as well as to reduce greenhouse gases

Strategy 9.1 - Create a common set of projections for Montgomery County using moderate to high projections of greenhouse gas scenarios

  • Action 9.1.1 - Use the most recent downscaled climate models and methods under moderate and high emission scenarios to evaluate potential climate changes for Montgomery County
  • Action 9.1.2 - Form a County Scenario Development Team (SDT) tasked with developing various climate and socioeconomic future scenarios for use in county Vulnerability Assessments
  • Action 9.1.3 - Develop guidance for county departments scenarios and methods for conducting climate change-informed reviews of operations. Include how to evaluate co-benefits as well as trade-offs between adaptation strategies, sequestration strategies, and greenhouse gas mitigation strategies
  • Action 9.1.4 - Work with other regional entities (e.g., Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission, State of Maryland, Montgomery County Public Schools, Metro DC Council of Governments,, etc.) to evaluate climate change projections, climate analogs from states to the south, and other studies to inform risk assessments; Examine and coordinate with other regional analyses, e.g., DC Adaptation Plan, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) PG County evaluation; WSSC Blue Plains’ analyses, Pepco analyses, etc
  • Action 9.1.5 - Integrate data collection, monitoring, and evaluation of progress into ongoing County operations

Strategy 9.2 - Conduct a bottom-up evaluation of county departments, operations, and facilities; and update county codes, operations, and services

  • Action 9.2.1 - All county departments must develop bottom-up climate change vulnerability assessments by July 1, 2021, incorporating the implications of the County’s range of plausible future scenarios of risk (temperature, precipitation, drought, etc.) to identify robust strategies including opportunities for achieving co-benefits (e.g., sequestration
  • Action 9.2.2 - Analysis and consideration of adaptation options must include an economic analysis of avoided costs or cost of inaction in the cost-benefit analysis used for decision making
  • Action 9.2.3 - Mainstream climate change mitigation and adaptation in all county operations and services
  • Action 9.2.4 - Strategies and plans should include an examination of co-benefits and potential unintended consequences of potential adaptation actions, including trade-offs with greenhouse gas mitigation policies
  • Action 9.2.5 - All county departments should undertake to coordinate strategies and plans as cross-departmental efforts, using shared information and shared responsibilities

Strategy 9.3 - Implement and improve the County Hazard Mitigation Plan

  • Action 9.3.1 - Prioritize full and robust implementation of the existing 2018 County Hazard Mitigation Plan
  • Action 9.3.2 - Update the Hazard Mitigation Plan to fully assess the impact of future climate change and expected land use and development; identify and prioritize vulnerable populations; include evaluation of unincorporated urban areas in the County (e.g., Silver Spring, Bethesda); and conduct a full capability assessment that identifies departmental limitations
  • Action 9.3.3 - Update the County Emergency Management operations and planning to include the increased risks resulting from climate change, including a capacity assessment and assessment of single-points-of-failure in the emergency response capability during cascading and compounding events
  • Action 9.3.4 - Prepare for cascading and compounding events by conducting a capacity assessment and assessment of single points of failure in the response capability of the County’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
  • Action 9.3.5 - Develop, test, and regularly update emergency response and business continuity plans
  • Action 9.3.6 - Establish “Resiliency Hubs” with emergency solar charging stations, micro-grids to ensure power, potable water supplies, etc
  • Action 9.3.7 - Develop a ‘Resilience Package’ and conduct Resilience Audits, similar to the Energy Audits, to help residents and landlords identify reduce risk of climate impacts in and around homes
  • Action 9.3.8 - Work with Montgomery County Public School to rehabilitate schools for resilience; identify schools that can be used as emergency centers

Strategy 9.4 - Revise county codes, operations, and services to incorporate consideration of impacts of climate change

  • Action 9.4.1 - Break the silos between County departments that inhibit achieving adaptation, carbon sequestration, and greenhouse gas mitigation goals. Develop procedures to encourage (and enforce) collaboration between departments to maximize achievement of county goals and to avoid unintended consequences; notably: between Agricultural Services, Environmental Protection, Permitting Services, Emergency Management and Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, Housing and Community Affairs, Transportation, and others
  • Action 9.4.2 - Upgrade design of critical facilities and emergency centers by adopting building codes that are higher than basic international building codes, considering strong winds, higher temperatures, frequent power disruptions, etc. (Consider designs for the 500-year storm, water supplies, multiple power feeds from separate substations; on-site renewable generation, design elements for habitability without electricity, etc.)
  • Action 9.4.3 - Place a moratorium on waivers for tree cutting and for stormwater controls and avoid taking actions that might frustrate achievement of the County’s adaptation goals until the climate consultant’s report is presented and acted on by the County Council
  • Action 9.4.4 - Review building code provisions for strictness of code provisions on wind, runoff, etc. For example, roof straps for high wind in higher buildings. Standards for wind resistance for solar panels, runoff from solar roofs, etc. Review inspection and enforcement mechanisms and resources allocated to meet building code standards
  • Action 9.4.5 - Review County budgets for repair of infrastructure, removal of downed trees, snow management; as well as storm damage to waterways, parks and trails, and campgrounds
  • Action 9.4.6 - Work with the private insurance industry to develop practices and products that help homeowners and businesses mitigate risk of damage from storms
  • Action 9.4.7 - Address County staff shortages for programs such as Rainscapes and tree planting by engaging volunteers and promoting messages of empowerment, e.g., “we can do this!”

Strategy 9.5 - Update Data, information, and monitoring to inform risk assessments


  • Action 9.5.1 - *Develop GIS data layers on demographics and vulnerable populations (elderly/nursing homes, economically depressed, animal shelters, etc.); integrate with watersheds, impervious cover, and other environmental data. Incorporate State of MD sea level rise and storm surge projections into County GIS systems and data layers
  • Action 9.5.2 - Ensure that GIS tools and data layers are available and shared across county agencies and available to residents as appropriate
  • Action 9.5.3 - Develop a risk rating scale; and identify vulnerable populations, critical facilities, high-value areas, and high-risk areas to prioritize for adaptation implementation

Flood Risk

  • Action 9.5.4 - Deploy more rain and stream gages throughout the county to build a more accurate observational ability to monitor changes over time. (dup)
  • Action 9.5.5 - Update County floodplain maps to the 30-acre watershed. (dup).
  • Action 9.5.6 - Conduct a citizen survey on home flooding events to identify hotspots; Overlay with GIS layers including land cover change; evaluate over time considering changes in precipitation, storm water flow, and other anomalies. (dup)
  • Action 9.5.7 - Work with NOAA National Weather Service to revise Maryland's IDF precipitation statistics. (dup)

Heat Risk

  • Action 9.5.8 - Deploy sensors or other methods to monitor heat risk. (dup)
  • Action 9.5.9 - Develop maps of heat risk. (dup)

Wind Risk

  • Action 9.5.10 - Develop county-wide wind gust mapping

Continuous Improvement, Institutionalization, and Accountability

Goal 1: Government capacity - Develop county leadership, staff, organization and fiscal capacity to implement government-wide climate action programs across all departments and agencies

Strategy 1.1 - Evaluate current government culture, structure, assets and support systems to develop interventions that will ensure successful implementation of the Climate Action Plan

  • Action 1.1.1 - Conduct assessment of readiness for, and capacity to, change through interviews and opportunity mapping with elected officials, employees, and board/commission appointees
  • Action 1.1.2 - Inventory programs, policies, regulations and incentives to identify barriers to achieving climate goals
  • Action 1.1.3 - Use assessment results from 1.1.1 and 1.1.2 to establish baseline and metrics for improved performance and accountability, and to develop training plan to address deficiencies
  • Action 1.1.4 - Establish cross-departmental "Innovation Lab" in which employees from multiple departments meet quarterly with the County Executive and technical experts to develop, fund and implement systemic and leveraged cross-departmental climate and resiliency initiatives

Strategy 1.2 - Establish working groups to implement the CARP

  • Action 1.2.1 - Create departmental teams with responsibility for greening day-to-day operations and reorienting programs and services around climate change and resiliency
  • Action 1.2.2 - Establish cross-departmental communication teams with responsibility for integrating messaging and outreach

Strategy 1.3 - Build workforce capacity for change and leadership

  • Action 1.3.1 - Establish staff leadership development program for "climate champions," including incentives and recognition, and empower them to implement the goals of the Work Green initiative
  • Action 1.3.2 - Incorporate information about climate change and the CAP into OHR resources and practices, including new staff orientations, job descriptions, performance reviews and on-going training
  • Action 1.3.3 - Establish County Executive "Climate Awards" recognizing impactful program initiatives, County staff members who proactively breaks down silos seeking integrated, cross-departmental solutions, etc
  • Action 1.3.4 - Building on the County’s Live Well and fledgling Work Green programs, initiate cross-departmental “tours” to showcase climate change initiatives occurring in all sectors and departments/agencies
  • Action 1.3.5 - Establish a "Climate Change Academy" to train County staff and elected officials, as well as the community at large, and host expert speakers through regularly scheduled climate forum
  • Action 1.3.6 - Create and/or reclassify positions in key departments (e.g., Procurement, OMB, Finance, IGR, HHS, PIO, Libraries, etc.) to focus exclusively on climate change solutions

Goal 2: Partnerships and Stakeholders - Build and institutionalize community and State jurisdictional partnerships to generate a critical mass of stakeholder support, and to foster collaboration, collective action, and equitable implementation

Strategy 2.1 - Identify stakeholder concerns and possible co-benefits to climate action by inviting input and incorporating feedback from stakeholders

  • Action 2.1.1 - Invite on-going input from stakeholders through a variety of means (e.g., internet, town halls, meetings, etc.), and demonstrate responsiveness to feedback received
  • Action 2.1.2 - Convene a People’s Climate Assembly chosen to represent a cross section of county residents to recommend policies to be incorporated in the Climate Action and Resilience Plan (CARP)

Strategy 2.2 - Communicate status and results of CAP to the public and other stakeholders

  • Action 2.2.1 - Establish "Climate Dashboard" for real-time monitoring, and report annually on CAP showing progress against identified performance metrics and milestones
  • Action 2.2.2 - Incorporate visible, symbolic statements of commitment and support in public buildings, websites, signage, etc

Strategy 2.3 - Develop coalition of civic and business leaders to ensure ongoing communication between the County and the community

  • Action 2.3.1 - Establish a "Quality of Life" citizen board composed of a broad coalition of residents, businesses and civic leaders to advise the County Council and Executive on implementation of the climate action plan, and to ensure that the CAP is anchored and informed by basic human needs
  • Action 2.3.2 - Establish an MCPS workgroup on climate change composed of parents, students, teachers, principals and administrators, with participation by MCPS facilities, nutrition services, curriculum, and PTA
  • Action 2.3.3 - Establish citizen commission to develop and annually administer a Climate Leaders Award program for business and civic leaders and organizations

Strategy 2.4 - Stimulate “social entrepreneurism” by establishing a grant program to support community-based innovations to address the County’s climate goals

  • Action 2.4.1 - Partner with organization like Ashoka: Innovators for the Public to launch competitive grant program focused on innovative climate change initiatives managed and implemented by community-based organizations and networks

Strategy 2.5 - Build collaborative support among other MD jurisdictions to address ambitious climate change policies at the State level

  • Action 2.5.1 - Establish a statewide coalition of local governments focused on aggressive state climate policy by collectively advocating their positions before the state legislature, Public Services Commission and the utility companies

Goal 3: Government Leverage Points - Integrate climate awareness and action into County decision making, policies and institutional culture

Strategy 3.1 - Incorporate consideration of GHG emissions into the budgeting, finance and procurement processes

  • Action 3.1.1 - The Department of Procurement should establish an environmentally preferable purchasing policy and green specifications for RFPs, and establish and manage a procurement incentive program for green products, services and business operations
  • Action 3.1.2 - OMB should incorporate climate considerations into the budgeting process as a management and governance tool, drawing on already existing tools and methodologies (e.g., Climate Budget Tagging, internal carbon taxes, carbon budget, etc.)
  • Action 3.1.3 - Develop a "climate impact statement" requirement for pending bills, budgets, plans, and land use decisions over a de minimums amount
  • Action 3.1.4 - Require Department Directors, as part of their annual reports on their implementation of Countywide environmental policies, to include continuous improvement plans
  • Action 3.1.5 - Establish a working group of economic and financial experts to develop strategies to best finance the expected climate action agenda

Goal 4: Economic development - Strategically integrate economic development and climate goals to advance both

Strategy 4.1 - Encourage green business entrepreneurism, innovation and investment

  • Action 4.1.1 - Implement the most compelling recommendations from the County’s 2010 Green Economy Task Force Recommendations, including the creation of a "Green Enterprise Investment Board" to stimulate clean energy innovation
  • Action 4.1.2 - Establish "Green Business Demonstration" program to support locally based “eco-entrepreneurs" launching new green products and services so that businesses can test and showcase their innovations using County assets/infrastructure and staff support to demonstrate proof of concept and accelerate market adoption
  • Action 4.1.3 - Establish a County investment portal that lists local green startups and growing businesses that provide products and/or services addressing climate change, and promote communitywide investment tools for local investing (e.g., donation crowdfunding, peer lending, self-directed IRAs, etc
  • Action 4.1.4 - Utilize Opportunity and Inclusionary zoning codes to incentivize the development and expansion of green locally-owned retailers catering to local consumer demands for green products and services
  • Action 4.1.5 - Explore the convergence of climate change and the life sciences with a Montgomery County-hosted national Climate/BioHealth conference. In addition to relevant biohealth cluster companies, include researchers from NOAA, NASA, NIH, Dept of Ag, etc., as well as local academic institutions
  • Action 4.1.6 - MCEDC should partner with the Federal Labs Consortium to create a product development accelerator focused on the commercialization of energy and water technologies being created in federal labs

Strategy 4.2 - Promote the production and sale of local products and services

  • Action 4.2.1 - Conduct leakage analysis to determine what goods and services, currently being imported, can be provided locally to reduce emissions and build self-sufficiency and resiliency
  • Action 4.2.2 - Amplify the MoCo made initiative through more financial support and procurement incentives
  • Action 4.2.3 - Work with MCEDC to create a B2B pilot project to increase local purchases made by medium and large businesses and anchor institutions
  • Action 4.2.4 - Promote and support "victory gardens" to increase local production of fruit and vegetables and reduce emissions associated with the transportation of food

Strategy 4.3 - Aggressively promote businesses that embed social and environmental practices into their day-to-day operations

  • Action 4.3.1 - Actively promote a “Best for DMV” campaign to encourage local businesses in the metropolitan area to measure their environmental and social impact and pursue B Lab certification
  • Action 4.3.2 - Provide funding to the local community greens to establish a “carrot mob” program that supports businesses that both green their operations and offer residents and businesses green products and services

Goal 5: Unions, Labor and Jobs - Partner with unions and businesses to advance climate goals, identify clean energy job opportunities and facilitate a just transition to a fossil-free economy

Strategy 5.1 - County management, labor and environmental organizations should embrace the collaborative concept of Bargaining for the Common Good to advance climate goals that benefit both union members and the wider community

  • Action 5.1.1 - Increase teleworking and compressed and flexible work schedules, and provide training to ensure that productivity and accountability are maintained
  • Action 5.1.2 - Encourage and facilitate county employees in the selection of environmentally/socially friendly investments in their self-directed retirement accounts, and provide education and training to actively encourage and assist employees in greening their retirement portfolios.
  • Action 5.1.3 - Change County and agency procurement guidelines to favor low-carbon, high-safety products (e.g., paint, carpeting, furniture, cleaning supplies and local/organic food) and practices (e.g., lawn mowing, cleaning services, etc.)

Strategy 5.2 - Proactively consider both economic opportunities and the adverse impacts associated with the transition to a carbon free economy

  • Action 5.2.1 - Conduct an inventory of existing green jobs, an analysis of green job growth potential, as well as expected job loss and reduction
  • Action 5.2.2 - The County should provide job guarantees for County employees, as well as re-training for private sector employees whose jobs become unnecessary in a carbon-free economy

Evidence-Based Communications & Behavior Change

Recommendation 1: Increase and stimulate internal climate action communications across County divisions.

  • Action 1.1 - County should host an internal government kick off climate change meeting to elevate the issue and demonstrate it’s a county government priority that all agencies should support.
  • Action 1.2 - County should integrate climate change messages throughout the government to change internal behaviors and decisions. 
  • Action 1.3 - Any legislation from county council should align and prioritize the work of the workgroups.
  • Action 1.4 - Establish an interagency climate change group with leadership from each division and comm leads; meet quarterly.
    • Emphasize communication methods with this group.
    • Each division share activities and communication strategies.

Recommendation 2: Showcase county’s climate action activities and commitment via external communication

  • Action 2.1 - County should institutionalize a steady drumbeat of outreach from EVERY division.
  • Action 2.2 - Communicate county’s progress in implementing climate action recommendations (Data & Results).
  • Action 2.3 - Integrate climate change messages into county outreach.
    • Bottom of traffic tickets: “Did you know slowing down by 5 miles an hour …”
    • On buses: “Taking public transit rather than driving alone in your car reduces carbon…”
  • Action 2.3 - Include climate change connection messages when there are emergency events.
    • When emergency happens (flooding, storms); issue news release to show the climate change connection is communicated and highlight urgency of action.
  • Action 2.4 - As county implements emission reducing activities, publicize examples for community. Examples:
    • Improving building insulation.
    • Eliminating plastic water bottles at events.

Recommendation 3: Develop and Use Evidence-based Communication Messages

  • Action 3.1 - Based on communication theory and effective practices, create a communication message box of core messages that should be shared in ALL external communications.
  • Action 3.2 - Create Communication Process flow (slide 19). The process flow will help to determine which recommendations will be highlighted in the campaign and determine:
    • Is internal (government) or external (community)?
    • Will have immediate and measurable impact (only support and promote activities with immediate carbon reduction impacts)?
    • Are there impacts and accounts for disadvantaged and vulnerable populations and provides equitable approaches?
  • Action 3.3 - Core Messages include: Health, Local, Urgency, Legacy, and Economics. “Your health and our community will benefit from these changes!”
  • Action 3.4 - Establish additional core messages relevant to each County division.
  • Action 3.5 - Provide regular trainings on communications research and behavior change related to climate change for government communications officers.

Recommendation 4: Prioritize communicating climate change solutions that require and benefit most from public stakeholder engagement and support.

  • Action 4.1 - Prioritize what benefits most from public engagement (using resources wisely).
  • Action 4.2 - Use the process flow to determine what actions are promoted in the campaign.

Recommendation 5: Engage and facilitate action through ongoing external stakeholder actions (meet residents where they are)

  • Action 5.1 - Implement broad public relations campaign to encourage stakeholder engagement that supports broader and more significant urgent county changes.
  • Action 5.2 - Form a standing Climate Change Communication Commission or Committee of Climate Change Ambassadors from the community.
    • Create an ambassador model (e.g., trusted messengers) to encourage engagement and behavior changes. Peer-to-peer sharing leads to behavior change.
    • Provide compelling and useful tools (e.g., campaign like Green Initiative (GI) or “Healthy Green Community” that would brand everything together).
    • Create behavior checklist.
    • Give A Shift YouTube:
    • Include community leaders, ambassadors, and other public figures in outreach efforts.
    • Use humor when and where possible.
  • Action 5.3 - Develop and implement business outreach strategy.
    • Good for business
    • County “green seal of approval” stickers
  • Action 5.4 - Develop and implement strategies for various stakeholder groups.
    • Health
    • Education
    • Civic Groups
    • Faith-based
    • … and more

Recommendation 6: Engage community as partners and support their needs so they will take action on a personal level and support Montgomery County activities.

  • Action 6.1 - Make the community feel seen, heard, and valued by placing humans and human needs at the center of the communication work.
  • Action 6.2 - Move away from extracting information from people to inform the plan and bring people in as partners so they contribute to and are a part of the plan.
  • Action 6.3 - “Implementation partners” could be youth (receiving SSL hours or college credit for their work), faith communities (receiving small grant), etc. – some “compensation” that shows value for time and commitment.
  • Action 6.4 - What do you need? … and what climate action will help address that need. (focus on listening rather than telling so that people can see themselves in it).
  • Action 6.5 - Use the volunteer ambassadors to facilitate the dialogue in neighborhoods.

Racial Equity & Social Vulnerability/Community Partnerships

Goal 1 -- Incorporate input and feedback for the Climate Action Plan from key stakeholders and community members representing underserved communities and communities of color.

Strategy 1.1. -- Develop an inclusive process with key stakeholders and equity leaders to solicit input from underserved communities in 2020 leading up to finalizing the Climate Action Plan, building on work achieving in creating Racial Justice policy.

  • Action 1.1.1 -- Evolve the Climate Action Plan as a living document with ongoing feedback and leadership from equity stakeholders.
  • Action 1.1.2 -- Reach out to partners effectively engaged in racial justice Community Conversations as a starting point for planning. Meet equity partners, community members and faith leaders where they're at by engaging where communities already gather and interact to seek input. 
  • Action 1.1.3 -- Deepen existing trusted partnerships between County and communities and build new ones that will help promote equitable outcomes for County climate actions. Be meaningful & thoughtful in these engagement efforts -- not just focusing on communities who are receptive, but providing capacity, resources, and support for a thoughtful process to include communities who are more difficult to reach/have barriers to participation.

Strategy 1.2 -- Develop draft framework for holding Climate Justice Community Conversations through partnership and inclusive design with equity partners.

  • Action 1.2.1 -- Establish clearly at launch of Climate Action Plan what aspects of the plan target County-led systems change to benefit MoCo communities and government, versus what aspects target individual responsibility.
  • Action 1.2.2 -- Engage directly with health initiatives including Latino Health Initiative and African-American Health Initiative, and County Advisory Boards such as African-American Advisory Board, Muslim Advisory Board. 
  • Action 1.2.3 -- Ensure that leaders are engaged from MoCo's immigrant communities and met where they're at in their networks - African Diaspora, El Salvadorian community members for example. Take into account the heightened fear within immigrant communities around visibility and civic participation in the current federal era.
  • Action 1.2.4 -- Identify key stakeholders to include from these advisory boards, non-profits, civic associations, faith organizations, health initiatives / hospital / medical associations, and small business communities. Work closely with immigrant communities to not only seek their partnership on this work as residents, but to embed a lens of our global community and how the global impacts of the climate crisis affect our residents' families and other places in the world they call home.

Goal 2 -- Incorporate input and feedback for the Climate Action Plan from key stakeholders and community members representing underserved communities, communities of color & immigrant communities along with other key communities.

Strategy 2.1 -- Build on inclusive process and deep partnership work particularly with underserved communities, and educate County residents on how equitable outcomes will benefit all, while engaging communities in different ways based on needs, access, and opportunities.

  • Action 2.1.1 -- First, finalize framework and identify how Climate Justice Conversations will happen, especially at schools. Each conversation will need its own planning and deep community partnership. Figure out how many conversations, how many areas to go to, and an outline of what each conversation will seek to achieve.
  • Action 2.1.2 -- Hold Climate Justice Community Conversations to educate and engage the public on the intersections of energy equity and racial equity and deep learning on the County's Climate Action Plan and how it will benefit residents, choosing locations and times that are preferred by stakeholder partners representing underserved communities.

Strategy 2.2 -- Identify the most effective methods and tools for two-way, inclusive communication with stakeholders that is equitable and maximizes inclusion of vulnerable populations.

  • Action 2.2.1 -- Plan to engage community to talk with each other, not be talked at. When meeting people where they're at, consider opportunities to do so in deep connection with what already matters to them. For example, the Latino Health Initiative partnered with Corazon Latino for forest bathing walks for their volunteers, many of whom come from growing up in rural Central America with deep connection to the land. These experiences were deeply meaningful for participants and sparked emotional conversations.
  • Action 2.2.3 -- Perform a communication and technology needs assessment.
  • Strategy 2.3 --Increase countywide education on intersectional issues around climate and racial equity (longer term process).
  • Action 2.3.1 -- Modify guide developed for racial equity Community Conversations and use in this process. Following OLO recommendations, use the same set of prompts and require the collection of participant demographic data to generate more meaningful data to inform future County actions and decision-making. 
  • Action 2.3.2 -- Create OLO report from Community Conversations and meetings with equity partners. Workshop Climate Action Plan with Office of Racial Equity and other stakeholders and update based on this feedback.

Goal 3 -- Provide Office of Racial Equity with sufficient budget, staffing & training to provide continuous input, coordination and guidance on equitable process and outcomes as Climate Plan is fully developed, implemented, and iterated on.

Strategy 3.1 -- Increase staffing of racial equity office to enough FTE to support the deep equity engagement needed for ongoing improvements to and equitable implementation of the Climate Action Plan.

  • Action 3.1.1 -- Address in 2020 how Montgomery County Government can adequately fund the Racial Equity Office to grow beyond planned addition of 1 FTE in summer, and add capacity for in-depth engagement around key intersectional issues such as housing, health, education, and criminal justice reform. Continue on a trajectory over mid & long-term towards continued increases in capacity for this office if the County wants to truly commit to deep equity work and better serving all residents.
  • Action 3.1.2 -- Provide capacity through this office for coordination of Advisory Board, ongoing engagement in resiliency/vulnerability study, development with consultants of framework for Climate Justice Conversations, and equity engagement with proposed Climate Action Network / neighborhood ambassadors.
  • Action 3.1.3 -- Expand Advisory Committee by one position for an environmental justice / energy justice focused expert.

Goal 4 -- Provide context and support for Racial Equity & Social Justice Office to incorporate climate & energy justice into intersectional training curriculum for all County Employees, including Montgomery County Public Schools, M-NCPPC, and Montgomery County Police Department staff, which trains on racial justice, climate & energy justice, and economic justice.

Strategy 4.1 -- Modify existing and planned equity-related training program including Culture of Equity Training under direction of Office of Racial Equity, with community partner participation and feedback as helpful, building on Community Conversations on Racial Justice. Provide Racial Equity & Social Justice Office with any additional training and resources needed for modification.

  • Action 4.1.1 -- Incorporate fundamental elements of climate & energy justice into racial equity trainings so that trainees explore issues for county residents from an intersectional lens. Include comprehensive economic issues impacting cost of living, access to nutritious food and healthcare, and quality of life. Energy issues to include: Pollution & disproportionate health impacts on lower income communities, energy burden from utility bill costs, barriers to access clean energy
  • Action 4.1.2 -- Provide training to Racial Equity Social Justice Office, Advisory Committee members and other Advisory Board Members under County representing different communities.

Strategy 4.2 -- Pilot training program to learn from results and iterate and improve. Evaluate the County's current training requirements for employees and assess how to support employees having the capacity to engage in equity training on a deeper level.

  • Action 4.2.1 -- Select pilot program trainees from each County department/program (including police, MCPS, and M-NCPPC) for a diversity of trainee work areas. Engage Employee County equity experts as funded trainers where possible. Seek continuous feedback from trainees and equity partners. Assess trainees' evaluation of how equity training has impacted their work for the county. Report on results.  Seek out opportunities to use existing County wellness programs with group challenges for climate action in a way that supports equitable outcomes.

Goal 5 -- Ensure the HHS Minority Health Initiatives have additional budget, staffing, and training for expansion of (1) core functions linked to health equity, (2) emerging functions linked to climate adaptation/resiliency programming and climate/health communication (including health risks of climate change, health equity benefits of climate action), (3) meaningful collaborations with community/advocacy groups (including those that work against displacement and policing/incarceration/detention/deportation of communities of color and immigrant communities, which also represent public health threats), and (4) capacity to provide continuous input, coordination and guidance on equitable process and outcomes as Climate Plan is fully developed, implemented, and iterated on.

Strategy 5.1 -- Complement the community-based vulnerability/resiliency assessment and metrics outreach processes with ongoing engagement with HHS minority health initiatives (African American Health Program, Latino Health Initiative, Asian American Health Initiative), the communities they serve, and community/advocacy groups regarding climate vulnerability/resiliency through the lenses of health equity, racial justice, and (im)migrant justice.

Goal 6 -- Define equity long-term goals and near-term targets for county residents and incorporate goals into Climate Action Plan.

Strategy 6.1 -- Integrate climate equity objectives into Racial Equity Impact Assessments for legislation passed by the Council & Racial Equity Action Plans for County Departments.

  • Action 6.1.1 -- Incorporate energy equity metrics, health equity metrics, and intersectional approach to assessments that will assist in review and analysis of legislative impact. Develop methodology for scoring proposed legislation on intersectional equity issues.
  • Action 6.1.2 -- Identify key initiatives that will improve access and outcomes for employment, housing, education, transportation, and other policy areas which factor into residents' ability to engage with climate initiatives and create assessment methodology to interlink achievements in these areas with reaching climate objectives.
  • Action 6.1.3 -- Drawing from surveying & research assessing county residents together with utility data, define energy burden and other energy equity criteria as metrics to be measured for impact for proposed & enacted legislation.

Goal 7 -- Develop Community Climate Action Network with integrated champion / ambassador / block captain program to sustain community outreach and engagement. (This is not a prescriptive idea, but rather an opportunity for the County to develop a structure for ongoing community engagement, which could be supported by a non-profit with funding rather than the County itself.) Another idea for network title - Community Climate Action & Racial Equity" (Community CARE) Network to highlight equity as central.

Strategy 7.1 -- Build online / offline communication network bringing together stakeholders from all County communities, including government, residents and civic associations, youth & students, business, faith, civic action, and more to sustain key relationships with community connectors for continuous feedback and participation from a critical mass of residents.

  • Action 7.1.1 -- Build on existing networks from County Office of Partnerships and proposed stakeholders from climate workgroups (to be provided as supplemental info). Survey stakeholders/communities on how they want to be engaged through this network. Build a discussion listserv and resource its maintenance by county staff.
  • Action 7.1.2 -- Tap into existing email list from DEP to disseminate climate action plan e-blasts. Create standing advisory committee representing a diverse set of community stakeholders with a county staff coordinator. Resource multi-channel communications for multiple languages.

Strategy 7.2 -- Design impactful program to train & support community members as ambassadors for climate action plan. Build program with equity goals such that champions in underserved communities are supported to help their community members benefit and gain resources, while champions in communities with more resources are supported to help community members contribute and do their part.

  • Action 7.2.1 -- Engage equity partners in initial design and planning of block captain program and test pilots in differing communities.
  • Action 7.2.2 -- Draw from existing resources from organizations like Climate Reality Project, and link in to community action network built for outreach on climate action plan.
  • Action 7.2.3 -- Support representation of champions at community events and meetings of all kinds to deepen the connection with climate action, through a health lens as recommended by this climate workgroup.
  • Action 7.2.4 -- Pair champions from environmentally-focused groups with champions from other types of groups as "sister" ambassador method to learn from each other.

Goal 8 -- Identify areas of overlap and potential for partnerships between all jurisdictions within and outside Montgomery County to maximize effectiveness and leverage programs, methods, messaging, etc.

Strategy 8.1 -- Promote, encourage, and assist in the development of climate action plans by jurisdictions within and outside Montgomery County;

  • Action 8.1.1 -- Identify and utilize existing connections and partnerships between jurisdictions.
  • Action 8.1.2 -- Create annual summit or conference for sharing of ideas, best management practices, form partnerships and workgroups  etc.

Goal 9 -- Reform development process in Montgomery County for real accountability about how planning & zoning impacts environment and community health, and for sustainable outcomes that promote real community engagement & power, real systems change, and improved environmental & health outcomes.

Strategy 9.1 -- Developers have significant power in the zoning process. Address why development in the County benefits developers over communities and reform the community engagement progress and laws around zoning & planning for a more sustainable County that protects community health and where communities have real power in the planning process.

  • Action 9.1.1 -- Educate the planning department around climate, energy, & health equity issues from an intersectional lens. Define longer-term goals. Form a workgroup around this topic which is far too large to cover as part of another workgroup, and resource community members to participate with stipends, transportation, childcare, food
  • Action 9.1.2 -- Embed climate, energy, health equity into the planning and zoning process and address development that has driven negative environmental & health impacts.

Goal 10 -- When creating climate champions / ambassadors in the  Climate Action Network (characterized above), create dedicated “spheres”/initiatives for sharing expertise.

Strategy 10.1 -- Establish a program of local researchers and practitioners/professionals speaking at and creating interactive toolkits (in collaboration with formal or informal educators) for schools, colleges, universities, and informal education programs (e.g., afterschool programs, summer camps, nature centers). Place a special emphasis on encouraging participation of researchers and practitioners who are not formally in a "climate space" to explore connections between their work and climate issues, particularly climate justice.

  • Action 10.1.1 -- Promote climate-focused participation in existing programs like "Skype a Scientist" that can bridge (a) international expertise/innovation with MoCo educational settings and (b) MoCo expertise with educational settings throughout the world (e.g., in "sister jurisdictions").
  • Action 10.1.2 -- To address concerns that MCPS teachers don’t feel equipped or have room in the curriculum to devote to climate change,develop mechanism to bring climate-focused education into the classroom from resources outside of MCPS and/or champion the addition of climate change topics to the school curriculum.

Goal 11 -- Connect with students, faculty, and/or researchers in Montgomery College and local universities (both in and near Montgomery County) to co-lead climate efforts, in partnership with community groups, businesses, faith groups, government agencies, etc. Encourage transdisciplinary, cross-sectoral collaborations and knowledge-sharing/data-sharing with communities.

Strategy 11.1 -- Create a climate internship program as a pipeline for students.

  • Action 11.1.1 -- Emphasize inclusive recruitment, such as among students from communities of color, from immigrant communities, from low-income communities, with disabilities, and who were previously incarcerated or who otherwise face discrimination due to the criminal justice system.
  • Action 11.1.2 -- Increase accessibility by providing additional mentorship or sufficient funding for students who need it to participate fully. Ensure that funding mechanisms are not exclusionary (for example, to not mirror how many funding sources exclude students who are undocumented).
  • Action 11.1.3 -- Create climate cohorts where students periodically meet and exchange.

Strategy 11.2 -- Launch community science programs to increase both capacity and interest in data collection/analysis relating to climate action or climate impacts. [Terminology note: "Community science" is meant to be similar to "citizen science", but using less exclusionary wording.]

  • Action 11.2.1 -- These community science initiatives can involve synergies/coordination with the efforts about co-producing and tracking climate, energy, health equity metrics.

Strategy 11.3 -- Establish a program of local researchers and practitioners/professionals speaking at and creating interactive toolkits (in collaboration with formal or informal educators) for schools, colleges, universities, and informal education programs (e.g., afterschool programs, summer camps, nature centers).

  • Action 11.3.1 -- Place a special emphasis on encouraging participation of researchers and practitioners who are not formally in a "climate space" to explore connections between their work and climate issues, particularly climate justice.
  • Action 11.3.2 -- To address concerns that MCPS teachers don’t feel equipped or have room in the curriculum to devote to climate change, develop mechanism to bring climate-focused education into the classroom from resources outside of MCPS and/or champion the addition of climate change topics to the school curriculum.
  • Action 11.3.3 -- Promote climate-focused participation in existing programs like "Skype a Scientist" that can bridge (a) international expertise/innovation with MoCo educational settings and (b) County expertise with educational settings throughout the world (e.g., in "sister jurisdictions").

Goal 12 -- Develop climate, energy, and health equity metrics and a data-driven assessment / reporting process.

Strategy 12.1 -- Groundtruth, prioritize, and periodically reassess metrics for climate, energy, and health equity (housing burden, energy burden, etc) in frontline communities.

  • Action 12.1.1 -- With a deep engagement process (possibly in collaboration with the Climate Justice Conversations, Community Climate Action Network, vulnerability/resiliency assessment, DHHS Minority Health Initiatives, etc) in underserved communities, ground-truth and prioritize indicators for climate equity/health metrics. The metrics can include any relevant County-specific performance indicators in the Climate Action Plan, but also can  include/highlight regional indicators (e.g., by using the MWCOG Healthy Places index that assesses social/place-based determinants of health, can propel regional cooperation around a health equity lens).
  • Action 12.1.2 -- Hold periodic community workshops (participation from agency representatives, community groups, individuals) to revisit the relevance of metrics to the local scale (i.e., where benefits/harms of the actions assessed via these metrics are most felt). At the same time, use these workshops to build community organizing capacity around, for example, using the metrics to assess and direct County investments in local amenities/services.
  • Action 12.1.3 -- After each County-wide series of metrics-focused workshops, (a) assess the extent to which these metrics are standardized/comparable across the County scale, (b) collect/provide recommendations for how to ensure more consistent measurement/reporting, and (c) share summaries of the workshops (e.g., highlighting themes/success stories/challenges that specific to particular communities, as well as those that are shared across communities).
  • Action 12.1.4 -- While a standardized collection of County-wide metrics is necessary, also determine how to elevate particular metrics that are preferred at local scales. “Weight” different metrics for different communities to reflect their different priorities/needs/realities, e.g., determine how to represent this weighting in dashboards/GIS maps (incorporated in actions below) and operationalize it into decision-making criteria.

Strategy 12.2 -- For climate health/equity metrics that require additional data-collection, co-produce shared tools for assessing/surveying with frontline communities and partners (e.g., agency support staff, universities, community groups).

  • Action 12.2.1 -- Co-produce and pilot-test survey questions. Ensure translation into multiple languages.
  • Action 12.2.2 -- Build capacity (e.g., via funding and training) for communities to administer these survey tools. This can be in conjunction with building up participation in the integrated champion / ambassador / block program.
  • Action 12.2.3 -- Design follow-up into the surveying process that gives participants a clear understanding of how their participation impacted outcomes, and how it impacts their individual life and the lives of their families and local communities, and gives participants a sense of meaning and relationship.

Strategy 12.3 -- Present metric-based results/analysis in digital platforms and workshops.

  • Action 12.3.1 -- Present results in a regularly-updated climate health/equity dashboard, regularly-updated interactive maps (GIS decision-support tools/datasets), compelling StoryMaps that elevate community voices and narrative co-creation, and in workshops to participating communities (in locations that are convenient and familiar for them), partner agencies/organizations, the Community Climate Action Network, and decision-makers.

Strategy 12.4 -- Build capacity for how to leverage the metric-based results/analysis in community advocacy/organizing.

  • Action 12.4.1 -- Provide training/technical support (e.g., data analysis) that enables community members to use the results to advocate for equitable distribution of resources/amenities/opportunities.
  • Action 12.4.2 -- Continue to facilitate strong relationship-building and communication channels throughout the Community Climate Action Network, so that this Network is always available to provide broader-scale support/amplification of the demands of frontline communities, regardless of whether the advocacy is based on analysis of climate/energy/health metrics or not (since the urgent realities of some communities will be underreported via metrics).
  • Action 12.4.3 -- Hold an annual "State of the Climate" address where results of past year reported. The focus is not just CO2 emissions, but community engagement and progress along the equity-focused metrics.

Strategy 12.5 -- Maintain public-facing, data-driven progress reports to promote understanding performance, metrics, and progress. Ensure these reports are accessible and user-friendly to provide maximum reach. Use interactive, digital dashboards (potentially introduced via gamified platforms or narrative StoryMaps, with links to in-depth datasets and GIS maps) to track performance via climate metrics and climate/energy/health equity metrics. Climate metrics across these dashboards are common to all agencies and offices in the County. Dashboards include the opportunity for public questions/comments, with the option to make feedback publicly-visible if individuals wish.

  • Action 12.5.1 -- Maintain a compendium of climate and climate/energy/health equity dashboards on CountyStat and keep datasets updated on data.Montgomery. These dashboards should include links to the programs/initiatives that are targeted as assessed via particular metrics. Equity dashboards should include acknowledgment of underreporting of marginalized communities, such as immigrant communities.
  • Action 12.5.2 -- Dedicate one dashboard to the County-scale status on GHG reduction against targets/goals, with a special emphasis on inviting public input. Make this visible on the main page of the County website, as well as in periodic coverage by County social media, Montgomery Community Media, and County spokespeople.
  • Action 12.5.3 -- Require each County department/agency to prominently display their climate dashboard on the main page of their website.
  • Action 12.5.4 -- Present annual reports (with infographic “report cards”) for how each government department/agency performs along metrics relating to climate equity/health/mitigation/sequestration/resiliency, as applicable. Encourage voluntary participation from businesses and community groups in similarly reporting their progress.
  • Action 12.5.5 -- Use dashboard to also promote (a) transparency/accountability among government agencies and community partners, (b) engagement among individual community members, and (c) connections between larger-scale/structural actions (e.g., implementation of county-wide policies that were championed by particular agencies or community groups) and shifting trends in individual behaviors or well-being.
  • Action 12.5.6 -- Ensure that dashboards, Storymaps, reports, etc are translated into multiple languages.
  • Action 12.5.7 -- To ensure that key findings on digital platforms like dashboards are not prevented from reaching audiences that lack access to online media, collaborate with community groups, agencies, media outlets (e.g., radio stations) to ensure information accessibility via additional communication channels, community events, etc.
  • Action 12.5.8 -- Encourage widespread adoption of user-friendly carbon footprint tools (and other tools that promote behavior change) by creating capabilities for gamification and personalization, including among diverse audiences. To promote community engagement in linking “serious game” components to climate themes, crowdsource ideas and encourage pilot-testing from youth programs, individuals interested in creative writing / game design / art, etc.

Goal 13 -- Co-design and conduct a dedicated climate vulnerability/resiliency assessment that centers the visions/values/experiences of frontline communities.

Strategy 13.1 -- Form inclusive advisory board over the climate vulnerability/resiliency assessment process.

  • Action 13.1.1 -- Form a vulnerability/resiliency assessment advisory board that represents underserved communities via individuals and advocacy/community groups. Board members are provided with stipends, childcare, translation, and choices over meeting locations/platforms/timing. How it's implemented will determine if this is a process that works. Ensure that the frontline communities represented are not just county residents -- e.g., outdoor workers who live elsewhere in the DMV and who occasionally work in Montgomery County should also be represented.
  • Action 13.1.2 -- Design follow-up with Advisory Board into the surveying process that gives participants a clear understanding of how their participation impacted outcomes, and how it impacts their individual life and the lives of their families and local communities, and gives participants a sense of meaning and relationship.
  • Action 13.1.3 -- Explore with Advisory Board how they perceive the links between serving on the advisory board and the individual/family/communal impacts and move forward with their leadership on working with communities.
  • Action 13.1.4 -- Address how communities are continually both over-surveyed and underserved by closely partnering with community events/groups, being responsive to the type of participation that community members find comfortable/meaningful, and emphasizing County accountability. Fund art/music from members of the community as a highlight/aid to the visioning process, provide healthy food, and fund leadership/co-facilitation by trusted community groups that provide access to impactful resources and experiences at the events. In addition to designing the meaning-/relation-focused surveying follow-up (described in above recommendation), County staff should be immediately transparent about mechanisms for accountability in how the County government will use the results from this vulnerability/resiliency assessment to benefit communities/community members. Acknowledging the gaps in widespread community representation/participation (e.g., for immigrant communities who are experiencing substantial trauma from the government) that may be present in the assessment, County staff should also specifically talk with community members about how future feedback processes and delivery of benefits can be broadly meaningful to the community despite these gaps.

Strategy 13.2 -- Create locally-shared understandings of resiliency and values/principles/principles through a series of visioning workshops (also can be combined as part of community events that involve visioning for climate planning, broadly).

  • Action 13.2.1 -- Bring together community members around a "resilient and thriving future” (NACRP Community-Driven Climate Resilience Planning). Show mapping tools (e.g., MWCOG Equity Emphasis Areas maps, MD EJSCREEN, Montgomery County’s Foodstat, CDC Social Vulnerability Index, National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network - Data Explorer, etc) -- as a brief springboard that acknowledges both the value/limitations of these approaches/frameworks. Explore root causes of climate change and structurally-maintained "vulnerability".  Highlight examples of how resilience vision/values can drive climate planning, community organizing/advocacy, decision-making. Integrate personal stories into the collective vision that each workshop builds.
  • Action 13.2.2 -- Bridge visioning workshops with bringing frontline communities into additional assessment processes: prioritize metrics and co-create surveying tools (as described in other recommendations), identify community assets (not just based in infrastructure, but also in cultural/linguistic diversity, etc), identify threats from climate exposures (e.g., health-related) and climate planning (e.g., eco-gentrification) to further explore potential metrics/goals, map networks of local experts, conduct power mapping (as described in other recommendations), etc.
  • Action 13.2.3 -- Both during and after events, amplify visions through through art and media.
  • Action 13.2.4 -- Complement the community-based vulnerability/resiliency assessment and metrics outreach processes above with ongoing engagement with DHHS minority health initiatives (African American Health Program, Latino Health Initiative, Asian American Health Initiative), the communities they serve, and community/advocacy groups regarding climate vulnerability/resiliency through the lenses of health equity, racial justice, and (im)migrant justice.

Goal 14 -- Identify visibility campaign to speak to vulnerable residents about MoCo values in a meaningful way that is part of an accountable process -- not just stating values but demonstrating what MoCo gov is doing to make county more inclusive & safer for vulnerable residents.

Strategy 14.1 -- Incorporate this work in community engagement & Advisory Committee efforts to determine a meaningful way to do this. Example: "Hate has no business here" Take into account that no amount of campaigning or information will fully counteract the negative impact of this current federal era that is driving fear and trauma in immigrant communities, communities of color, LGBTQ communities and other vulnerable residents. For example, the terror around citizenship on the census will lead to suppressed responses despite the question not appearing ultimately. Work with community partners on resonance and accessibility for different cultural communities, including translation.

Goal 15 --  Leverage public and private funds through traditional and innovative funding streams to secure funding necessary to ensure Montgomery County's Climate Action Plan is supported and fully implemented.

Strategy 15.1 -- Create a temporary workgroup comprised of agency representatives, local experts and community leaders on climate change to identify 1) existing public funding streams best suited for supporting the action plan goals, 2) innovative partnership structures that have worked in other communities for this purpose, and 3) philanthropic sources that can be approached for funding support.

  • Action 15.1.1 -- Identify funding sources in other recent county initiatives. Identify funding models in other similar jurisdictions around the country. Survey philanthropic sources. Consider opportunities through Innovation Fund; examine public/private funding sources focused on adaptation and resilience, which may hold co-benefits to multiple sectors.  See:  

Goal 16 -- For public funds, use and elevate direct procurement as an opportunity to distribute the benefits of climate action equitably, improve socioeconomic conditions, and expand coalitions for climate action.

Strategy 16.1 -- Ensure that equity goals are closely integrated with purchasing (processes, sources, and amounts).