CA’s Environmentally Friendly Best Practices Make for a Cleaner, Greener Columbia

November 25, 2019

 

solar panels
Saving the planet starts at home, and every household and each community that pitches in will contribute to making a difference.

From conserving energy and combating climate change, to recycling plastics and incorporating renewable energy sources, Columbia Association (CA) has been adopting environmentally-friendly best practices that are improving the sustainability of our community.  

Here are 10 fun facts that show how CA is working toward a cleaner, greener Columbia:

  1. Energy management: 100% of CA’s electricity use is offset by renewable sources.  

The energy CA uses has become an increasingly important focus, especially in light of rising energy costs and the universal call to leave a smaller carbon footprint. But did you know that 100% of CA’s electricity use is offset by renewable energy sources? That’s right! The two-megawatt Nixon Solar Farm provides for 25% of our electricity consumption, and the balance of electricity consumption is offset with wind renewable energy certificates (RECs).  

  1. CA affirmed its stance on climate change in 2017 and has followed up since then.

The United Nations’ Paris Agreement charts a course for combating climate change on a global level. While CA has been a leader in clean energy, we officially committed to supporting the Paris Agreement in 2017 and have been focused on a number of specific sustainability initiatives ever since.

In addition, CA formed a Climate Change and Sustainability Advisory Committee with the goal of creating a resource to provide high-level guidance and subject matter expertise to support these efforts in our operations and in the community.  

Earlier in 2019, CA’s new Strategic Plan identified “Environmental Sustainability” as one of CA’s five strategic priorities for the next five years. The focus will be to advance Columbia as a leader in environmental sustainability in Maryland.  

And in September 2019, CA’s Board of Directors passed a resolution recognizing a climate emergency. The resolution says, in part: “CA commits to strengthening community outreach and advocacy efforts to increase awareness among individuals, households, businesses, and other stakeholders” in the community.

  1. CA’s Use of Solar Power Leads by Example

With the two-megawatt installation — nearly 10 acres of solar panels — at Nixon Solar Farm in western Howard County, 25% of CA’s electricity comes from the sun. We’re also proud to say that additional solar panels have been installed at eight of our facilities in the last several years. CA has also partnered with a local nonprofit, Civic Works, to implement a solar cooperative program to help encourage residents to install solar on their own homes with discounted prices and advisory support.

  1. We’re an ENERGY STAR Partner

ENERGY STAR products are certified to protect the climate, conserve energy, and save money. At CA, we’re committed to efficient energy management within our own organization, and we strive to educate and encourage CA community members to become ENERGY STAR consumers as well.

  1. We let our light shine (and it just happens to be an LED)!

As part of the Better Buildings Alliance’s Interior Lighting Campaign, CA has installed energy-efficient LED bulbs throughout most of our building portfolio — reducing energy consumption by up to 90%..  

  1. It’s all in the numbers ― our sustainability efforts are paying off!

Since 2012, CA has reduced its energy consumption by 25% and seen a 55% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.   

  1. CA performs energy audits to pinpoint ways to improve energy management. 

Energy audits evaluate a building’s equipment, operating practices, and general condition to identify energy management opportunities. CA has performed energy audits on all of its large facilities to determine what measures should be taken to reduce energy consumption and save money.

  1. CA’s energy management efforts are being nationally recognized.

CA is proud to have been recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with the following awards: 2015 ENERGY STAR Award for Excellence; 2016 Green Power Leadership Award; 2018 Better Buildings Challenge Goal Achiever; 2017 and 2019 Interior Lighting Campaign Award; 2019 ENERGY STAR Award for Excellence.

  1. CA’s fitness clubs have gone green!

Small changes can often make big differences. As of October 2019, CA began phasing out offering plastic bags for wet swimsuits and paper cups for water. It’s part of our Healthy Planet, Healthy You Challenge — and fitness club members have an opportunity to win a reusable water bottle, reusable swimsuit bag, and be entered to win other prizes.

  1. We regularly share environmentally friendly best practices with Columbia residents.

Wondering what you can do to contribute to Columbia’s sustainability initiatives while at the same time making your own home more energy-efficient? Attend one of our regular community energy meetings or turn to CA’s website to read up on our Ways to Save Tips. 

Taking steps to protect our environment is a responsibility that falls on all of us. At CA, we take our sustainability initiatives very seriously and we’re always open to new suggestions. If you have an environmentally friendly idea to share, we’d love to hear it! Reach us at Energy@ColumbiaAssociation.org. Every eco-friendly step we take helps ensure a greener future for us all.  

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