County's Climate Efforts Move Forward During Coronavirus Pandemic

green image test

Climate News

Covering the latest climate news in Montgomery County, MD

Wednesday, April 29, 2020 | Department of Environmental Protection

Climate Change in the Age of the Coronavirus

Even while we are in the midst of a pandemic, we cannot forget the urgency of climate change. I am committed to leading the way to make our County greener, to make progress toward zero waste and to combat the climate emergency. And I look forward to doing that with our many partners throughout the County.” -- County Executive Marc Elrich, April 22, 2020

Coronavirus and Climate Change Venn Diagram

The coronavirus pandemic is teaching us many lessons that also apply to climate change. Coronavirus is highlighting existing inequities in our society. The pandemic is stressing people’s abilities to cope and is fraying supply chains—and showing how interconnected and inter-dependent we all are.

As the County continues to develop the Climate Action and Resilience Plan, it is important to recognize parallels between the current pandemic and future health impacts of climate change in Montgomery County. Although it may be daunting to think about another crisis, there is great reason for hope! Our community’s response to COVID-19 provides a roadmap for better adaptation and resilience planning.

Read on to learn how the County is keeping momentum going on climate and resilience issues during the pandemic.

County Secures Technical Consultant, Moves Forward on Climate Planning

AECOM logo

Montgomery County’s climate planning process moves into its next phase: analysis and modeling with technical consultant assistance. The County has executed a contract with AECOM, whose proposal partners them with Nspiregreen LLC.  Despite challenges brought on by COVID-19, this move keeps the County on track to complete the Climate Action and Resilience Plan by early 2021.

AECOM, a California-based firm who will work on this project from their Germantown office, is a County Certified Green Business and a member of the Maryland Green Registry. Nspiregreen is a DC-based small business with experience in community planning, engagement and equity.  Previous climate planning experience includes Santa Clara County, Dallas, Baltimore, Long Beach, Somerville, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Nspiregreen has also been collaborating on equitable implementation of the County’s Vision Zero initiative.

Climate Survey Remains Open

Survey clip art

We want to hear from you! What should the County focus on when tackling climate change? How do you feel about the climate technical workgroup recommendations? What might we have overlooked?

Give us your feedback in a quick climate survey, or dive even deeper and annotate the recommendations themselves. The survey is now also available in Spanish and Chinese. Learn more on the county ‘s climate page here.

Climate Planning Team Presents to the Planning Board

Thrive 2050 Logo

On March 12, Montgomery County Climate Change Coordinator Adriana Hochberg and Doug Weisburger, Senior Planning Specialist in DEP, updated the Planning Board on the County’s climate planning work.  The briefing highlighted connections between the climate planning effort and the Planning Department’s Thrive Montgomery 2050 plan effort, including a discussion of the recommendations from the climate workgroups that are relevant to the Planning Department. In order for Thrive and the Climate Action and Resilience Plan to meet the goals of the County’s Climate Emergency, they must be fully integrated and complementary.

View the briefing here (climate briefing starts at 1:32)For more information on Thrive, see the April 16th Planning Board Meeting here (which starts at 1:22).

Additional Coverage of the Climate Town Hall

Although it feels like years ago, it was just in February that the County hosted the Climate Town Hall and Open House.  Community-based climate planning workgroups presented their recommendations to the public alongside remarks from County Executive Elrich.

View the full town hall event here, and read coverage of the event from Source of the Spring, Bethesda Beat, and MyMCMedia.

County Launches Commercial Composting Program

Montgomery County Commercial Foodscraps Collection Truck

On Earth Day, County Executive Elrich and DEP Director Ortiz announced a new initiative to reduce waste and save money in Montgomery County with a new commercial composting program. Featuring a truck exclusively to collect food scraps, this program will recycle food scraps from restaurants and businesses into compost. Collection will begin once restrictions due to COVID-19 are lifted. 

Watch the April 22 announcement. For more information, including a list of items approved for composting, read the press release and Patch coverage.

DIY Project of the Month: Home Composting

Food Composting

Feeling homebound? Spring is a great time to get outside and start composting, or refresh your existing compost pile! Home composting not only yields rich soil for your garden, but also helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions. When organic material decomposes in a landfill, lack of oxygen causes methane gas production. A well-maintained compost pile produces no methane. Whether you use an outdoor pile or an indoor pail, consider composting as a way to reduce your carbon footprint.

DEP has resources to help you get started. Montgomery County also offers curbside pickup for yard trim.

Opportunity for City of Rockville Residents and Workers

City of Rockville Logo

The City of Rockville is in the initial stages of scoping out the City’s own climate action planning process. Were you involved in Montgomery County’s Climate Action Plan workgroups AND live or work within the City of Rockville? If so, please drop a line to Amanda Campbell, City of Rockville Sustainability Coordinator, and let her know your role so that you can stay in touch. You can also sign up for the City of Rockville’s Environment & Sustainability Newsletter to stay in the loop on Rockville’s green happenings.

Green Jobs Board

Job Opportunities

Celebrate Earth Month by launching a new green career! Check out DEP’s Green Job Portal for climate and sustainability jobs, including open positions with Rocky Mountain Institute, Pew Charitable Trust, and Montgomery County DEP.

Climate News Round-Up


County Executive Marc Elrich’s Earth Day statement (MyMCMedia)

Q&A with Adriana Hochberg, the county’s “Climate Czarina” (Montgomery Magazine, page 24)

Own an electric car? Montgomery County is setting guidelines for charging stations (WTOP)

New proposal would require air conditioning in all Montgomery County rental units (WJLA)

Public Art Installation Encourages Montgomery County to Go Green (Silver Spring Patch)

Can ‘Carbon Smart’ Farming Play a Key Role in the Climate Fight? (Yale Environment 360)

Early analysis shows Maryland air quality Improving during pandemic (Maryland Matters)

The foot soldiers of the new environmental movement (Washington Post)

Welcoming nature: By planting native species, homeowners can provide a habitat for wildlife, birds and bees—and help save the planet (Bethesda Magazine)

Virtual Climate Events

Featured Webinar Recording: Climate Solutions for Maryland: Climate Action in the Maryland State Legislature in 2020 and Beyond

April 29 | Webinar 
People & Planet (Conversations at the Intersection of Covid & the Environment): Planetary Health

April 29 | Webinar
Climate Justice: Vulnerability and Resilience to COVID-19 and the Climate Crisis

April 30 | Webinar
DEP Energy Benchmarking Information Session

May 1 | Webinar
To Electrify, or Not to Electrify...?

May 5-June 2 | Webinar Series
The Health Emergency of Climate Change

May 7 | Webinar
How to Use Data to Promote Health Equity During COVID-19 Pandemic

May 12 | Webinar
Tap into Climate Resilience: Health and Equity Benefits of Localized Green Stormwater Infrastructure

May 13 | Webinar
Environmental Extreme Events and COVID-19 in 2020

May 14 | Webinar
Health Impacts of Extreme Heat

May 14, 21, 28 | Online Workshop/Training Series
Mastering En-ROADS: How to Understand the Simulator and Facilitate the En-ROADS Game or Workshop 

May 21 | Webinar
Renewable Energy Options for Small Businesses and Congregations

Ongoing | Short Films
DC Environmental Film Festival: Climate Change “Playlist”