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The major sectors where greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced are energy and transportation; however every sector will need to do its part to reduce emissions.

Sectors of the Plan

The plan will support a green economy, preserve valuable agricultural and forest land, aid in restoring Chesapeake Bay, diversify energy sources, and promote renewable energy.

The plan’s 150-plus programs and initiatives will aid in expanding the state’s economy, including its renewable energy, transportation, green buildings, agriculture, fisheries, and forestry sectors.

These pages summarize the main sectors included in the plan and which key programs are being implemented to achieve the greenhouse gas reduction goals.



Electricity consumption accounted for about 40 percent of Maryland’s gross greenhouse gas emissions in 2006, which was higher than the national average share of emissions from electricity consumption (34 percent). Energy programs that will reduce emissions include the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, EmPOWER Maryland, and the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard.

Investing in renewable energy, such as wind power, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and also supports a green economy.

The electricity supply sector accounts for greenhouse gas emissions occurring as a result of the combustion of fossil fuels at electricity-generating facilities located both within the state and outside its borders. Reductions from the energy sector are critical to achieving the 2020 goal. Thirty programs and initiatives are designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector. Full implementation of the 30 energy sector programs and initiatives will result in an estimated greenhouse gas reduction of 25.3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent annually, which is nearly half of the total reduction needed to meet Maryland’s greenhouse gas emissions goal.

Three important programs within the energy sector are the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the EmPOWER Maryland Initiative, and the Renewable Portfolio Standard. RGGI is a cooperative effort by nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from electricity-generating plants. In the United States, RGGI is the first program of its kind—a multi-state emissions cap-and-trade program with a market-based emissions trading system.

Under the EmPOWER Maryland initiative, the State’s goal is to reduce energy consumption 15 percent by 2015. Energy efficiency is the fastest and most cost-effective approach available to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Energy efficiency will not only help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but can also lower energy bills, help stabilize energy prices, and enhance electric and natural gas system reliability. Maryland’s five utilities offer many programs to save home and business owners energy and money. The state is currently working to determine how to achieve even greater reductions and economic benefits from EmPOWER Maryland by expanding and strengthening EmPOWER Maryland’s electricity and thermal energy efficiency goals.

Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard requires that 20 percent of Maryland’s electricity be generated from renewable energy sources by 2022, including two percent from solar energy. This will result in more residential and commercial solar installations in those years. Electricity suppliers are required to purchase specified percentages of renewable energy certificates from renewable resources. The Renewable Portfolio Standard can play an even greater role in meeting Maryland’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal if high carbon-emitting fuels are eventually removed from Tier I eligibility and if the overall Renewable Portfolio Standard is accelerated to 25 percent by 2020.


Key Programs

Maryland Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard

The intent of this law is to establish a market for new sources of mostly in-state renewable electricity generation by requiring that Maryland power providers supply 18 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2020, increasing to 20 percent renewables by 2022. If ‘black liquor’ and other carbon-emitting fuels are eliminated as qualified sources, and if the state’s Portfolio Standard is accelerated to require 25 percent of energy consumed by 2020, additional reductions would be realized.

EmPOWER Maryland

Enacted in 2008, the EmPOWER Maryland Energy Efficiency Act set a target to reduce both Maryland’s per capita total electricity consumption and peak load demand by 15 percent by 2015. EmPOWER includes numerous state- and utility-managed energy efficiency and conservation programs. The optimization of these programs should allow the state to increase its per capita electricity consumption reduction target above 15 percent and enable Maryland to achieve additional reductions.

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is a cooperative effort by nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states to design and implement a regional power plant emissions cap-and-trade program. Revenues from the program support energy efficiency programs and augment EmPOWER Maryland and the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard. The recent agreement by Maryland and the other RGGI states to lower the RGGI cap from 165 to 91 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent will directly contribute to emissions reductions by 2020.


Bus and Car

The Plan’s efforts to foster smarter, more sustainable growth and to expand transportation options will improve the quality of life for all Marylanders. Investing in alternative transportation and supporting the development of high-density, low-impact, livable communities will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The transportation sector is expected to account for a larger share of future greenhouse gas emissions in Maryland. The majority of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions from the transportation sector are associated with on-road gasoline powered vehicles. On-road diesel-powered vehicles, airplanes, trains, and commercial marine vessels also contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

Greenhouse gas emissions from this sector are the result of fossil fuel consumed primarily for transportation purposes. Full implementation of the 110 transportation sector programs and initiatives has the potential to reduce greenhouse emissions by 13.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent annually. This is more than a quarter of the total estimated reductions needed to meet the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan goal.

Transportation sector programs include: transit service expansion; electric and low-emitting vehicle incentives; traffic congestion mitigation; freight improvements; port and airport initiatives; and enhanced fuel economy standards (Maryland Clean Cars and federal CAFE standards).

Map showing transportation infrastructure in Maryland

Key Programs

Maryland Clean Cars

The Maryland Clean Cars Program adopts California’s stricter vehicle emission standards and directly regulates carbon dioxide emissions. These standards became effective in Maryland for model year 2011 vehicles, significantly reducing a number of emissions including volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides.

Public transportation initiatives

For several decades, vehicle miles traveled have risen faster than the increase in population in Maryland and nationwide, and land use development over the past 40 to 50 years has put more people living beyond the reach of easy access to transit facilities. Planned transit and Transit Oriented Development expansions in Maryland should lessen vehicle miles traveled in the State.

Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standards

First enacted by Congress in 1975, the purpose of the CAFE standard is to reduce energy consumption by increasing the fuel economy of cars and light trucks. Since introduction in 1975, CAFE standards have increased from the initial 18 miles per gallon standard to 35 miles per gallon by 2020, as established in the Federal Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

Land Use

Land Used Sector

Land Used Sector

How we develop our land affects the amount of greenhouse gases emitted. Clearing a forest removes a resource that stores carbon dioxide. Development of a forested area or cropland is also likely to be in a location that increases dependence on motor vehicles. The construction of roads and buildings also increases levels of greenhouse gases.

The Plan encourages counties, cities, and towns to plan development in ways that minimize greenhouse gas levels. By better managing growth, local communities can limit harmful sprawl development and contribute to a reduction in Maryland’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Incentives and requirements for local and regional land use patterns can reduce the dependence on motor vehicles to reduce vehicles miles traveled and greenhouse gas emissions. Development projects and local and regional land use patterns can be designed to minimize the distance between homes and jobs and other destinations. Public facilities can be centrally located. Development can also be planned to increase access to public transportation.

Full implementation of The Plan’s two land use strategies has the potential to reduce annual greenhouse emissions by 1.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent by 2020.


Land Use Map

Land Use in Maryland

Agriculture and Forestry

Agriculture and Forestry Logo

The agriculture and forestry sectors contribute a small percentage of Maryland’s overall greenhouse gas emissions, but these sectors also offer unique opportunities to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Forests, grasslands, crop lands, and wetlands all possess carbon-reducing and energy related benefits that are extensive and complex.

Activities in Maryland that can contribute to the increase in greenhouse gas emissions include clearing forest to create crop land, tilling and fertilizing crop lands, and draining wetlands. Through appropriate management, technology, and energy-conscious choices, the potential for carbon storage can be optimized and the net increase in greenhouse emissions from the agriculture and forestry sector reduced. Some programs that will help decrease greenhouse gas emissions are nutrient trading, managing forests to capture carbon, afforestation, and creating and protecting wetlands and buffers.

Emissions from cultivated soils account for the largest portions of agricultural emissions. They include nitrous oxide emissions resulting from fertilizer application (synthetic, organic, and livestock) and production of nitrogen-fixing crops. No-till farming and precision fertilization are among the most effective management practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions during the production of crops.

Sustainable forest and urban forest management is essential for mitigating climate change. Preserving forests and increasing forest canopy cover within urban and suburban settings stores carbon.

Full implementation of the agriculture and forestry sector policies will result in a potential greenhouse gas reduction of 5.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually. These 20 programs contribute nearly one-tenth of the total reductions needed to meet Maryland’s 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal.

Agriculture in Maryland

Agriculture Map

Agriculture Map

Key Programs

Managing forests to capture carbon

Managing forests to capture carbon will promote sustainable management practices in existing Maryland forests on public and private lands. The enhanced productivity resulting from enrolling unmanaged forests into management regimes will increase the amount of carbon captured in forest biomass, amounts of carbon stored in harvested, durable wood products, and availability of renewable biomass for energy production.

Planting forests in Maryland

Planting trees expands forest cover and associated carbon stocks by regenerating or establishing healthy, functional forests through practices such as soil preparation, erosion control, and supplemental planting to ensure optimum conditions to support forest growth. The implementation goal is to achieve the afforestation and/ or reforestation of 43,030 acres in Maryland by 2020.

Zero Waste


Residential and commercial waste releases greenhouse gases during processing or when buried in a landfill. The State is currently developing a zero waste strategy to eliminate 85 percent of Maryland’s solid waste (residential and commercial garbage) by 2030. Instead, Maryland’s waste would be reused, recycled, composted, or prevented through source reduction.

Zero Waste Sector

The State’s strategy sets forth specific policies to achieve these goals including actions aimed at increasing recycling of packaging (including beverage containers) and food waste. Composting of food scraps will be one of the State’s major focuses in increasing waste diversion through 2020. While Marylanders do compost yard waste, a significant amount of food scraps is going into the trash. Capturing additional organics, especially food scraps, would provide a significant portion of the additional recycling needed to meet zero waste goals.

The strategy seeks to target all sources of waste including commercial, institutional, governmental, multi-family, and residential generators. Finally, the Zero Waste Strategy emphasizes product stewardship and extended producer responsibility which place the environmental and economic costs of products throughout their life-cycle on the producers of those products.

The strategy establishes goals of 60 percent recycling and 65 percent for waste diversion by 2020. These reductions help to reach the target of reducing 4.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent annually.

Key Programs

Zero Waste

Zero Waste Plan centers on a number of progressive waste reduction, reuse, recycling and energy recovery goals, and policy reforms. As part of its legislatively-mandated Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan, the State has established long-term 2040 recycling and waste diversion goals of 80% and 85%, respectively, along with interim targets. Planned actions include: enhanced waste management reporting; new source reduction requirements; augmented composting, recycling and reuse guidance and mandates; clean energy recovery incentives; expanded materials and process bans; numerous government lead-by-example initiatives; and market and job creation inducements.

Green Buildings

Green Buildings icon

Since buildings require large amounts of energy to heat, cool, maintain, and operate, it is not a surprise that they account for almost one-third of total energy use and carbon dioxide emissions in the United States. Given the long lifetime of most buildings, it is necessary that both existing and new buildings achieve the greatest energy efficiency possible. Reduced emissions will be achieved through energy efficiency practices undertaken in building design, site location, and construction practices.

Energy-efficient building technology will be promoted and building codes will be updated. In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, implementing these programs will reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and mercury. Building programs will also reduce waste output and water usage. Full implementation of the green building sector initiatives will result in a potential emission reduction of 3.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually.

Insulation made from recycled materials

The Department of General Services ensures that lighting, water, building envelope infiltration, window, steam traps, occupancy controls, and automated energy management systems in State buildings meet 2009 High Performance Building standards.

Amending State and local building codes to include minimum energy efficiency requirements provides long-term greenhouse gas savings. The Statewide building code known as the Maryland Building Performance Standards is adopted and implemented by the Department of Housing and Community Development and is updated by regulation every three years.

Key Program

Buildings codes

Given the long life of most buildings, upgrading State and local building codes to include minimum energy efficiency requirements provides long-term emissions savings. Maryland’s Building Performance Standards are updated by regulation every three years following the three-year cycle of the International Code Council.

State of Maryland is leading by example with the help of the Department of General Services

Through a variety of strategies and initiatives, Energy Performance & Conservation (DGS Energy Office) helps State government conserve energy, save money, and protect the environment. The DGS Energy Office uses a three tiered approach to track State energy usage and cost, reduce State energy consumption, and procure renewable energy and deregulated energy for State facilities.