The Environmental Finance Center (EFC) at the University of Maryland announced the thirteen municipalities that achieved Sustainable Maryland Certified status for 2017, including nine that were re-certified from 2014. The certifications were bestowed at the Sustainable Maryland Awards during the annual Maryland Municipal League Conference on October 13 in Rockville, Maryland.
The Sustainable Maryland program provides support and guidance to municipalities looking for cost-effective and strategic ways to protect their natural assets and revitalize their communities. Using best practices in resource areas like water, energy, planning, health, food and economy, a municipality earns points toward sustainability certification. Currently, 68 of the state’s 157 incorporated municipalities have registered with the program to seek this award designation, with 39 achieving certification as of this year.
“The growing number of municipalities that share a vision for state-wide sustainability is a testament to Maryland’s commitment to a resilient future,” said Dan Nees, director of the Environmental Finance Center. “Now more than ever, it is critical for local leaders and advocates to take charge of moving their communities towards becoming healthier and more sustainable. It is exciting to see our Sustainable Maryland Certified program continue to empower elected officials and citizens with every new community we welcome.”
The newly certified and re-certified (denoted by *) communities are listed below, followed by a notable achievement from their local sustainability efforts:
*Town of Bel Air (Prince George’s County; first certified in 2014, re-certified in 2017) – Bel Air launched a new Community Garden in 2016, offering 70 garden plots to local residents.
*Town of Berwyn Heights (Prince George’s County; first certified in 2014, re-certified in 2017) – Berwyn Heights marked its 20th year as a Tree City USA community.
*Town of Boonsboro (Washington County; first certified in 2014, re-certified in 2017) – Boonsboro established an innovative Forest Mitigation Bank, which off-sets development within town by preserving land within a 45-acre town-owned forest.
Town of Burkittsville (Frederick County) – Burkittsville developed several innovative programs to support the local food economy, including a Backyard Produce Exchange, Local Food Directory, an annual Farm-to-Fork Town Picnic, and the Burkittsville Food Forest.
*Town of Chesapeake Beach (Calvert County; first certified in 2014, re-certified in 2017) – Chesapeake Beach hosted multiple volunteer stream clean-ups along sections of the local Fishing Creek. Additionally, several Osprey nests and monitoring cameras were installed by the town in Fishing Creek Marsh, with a live stream available to the local residents through the town website.
*Town of Cheverly (Prince George’s County; first certified in 2014, re-certified in 2017) – Cheverly amended a previous ordinance to allow bees to be kept on municipal and residential property. This was quickly followed by the installation of two new apiaries in the Community Garden.
City of Frostburg (the first municipality to be certified in Allegany County) – Frostburg city council passed a new local ordinance, allowing residents to keep small numbers of chickens on their property within the city, thereby promoting small-scale, local food production.
*City of Greenbelt (Prince George’s County; first certified in 2014, re-certified in 2017) – Greenbelt’s DPW initiated a food scraps composting program, and has since educated community members about composting at 22 different festivals and community events since. Additionally, the Green Team’s Zero Waste Circle has created an Organics Task Force which is researching city-wide compost options and the respective pricing.
Town of Mount Airy (Carroll/Frederick Counties; the first municipality to be certified in Carroll County) – Mount Airy took a step forward in supporting renewable energy by installing an electric charging station in the Municipal Parking Lot at Park Avenue and Cross Street.
Town of North Beach (Calvert County) – North Beach secured grant funding from the Fish and Wildlife Foundation to complete a 60-foot living shoreline project inside the Walton Beach Nature Preserve.
*Town of Riverdale Park (Prince George’s County; first certified in 2014, re-certified in 2017) – As part of a large sustainable design project within the Mixed-Use Town Center Zone of Riverdale Park, the Riverdale Park Station will be the first certified “LEED – Neighborhood Development” project completed in Prince George’s County.
*City of Takoma Park (2017 “Sustainability Champion” for highest point total award; Prince George’s County; first certified in 2014, re-certified in 2017) – In addition to being an active participant in the Montgomery County Solar Co-op, Takoma Park has reached maximum municipal roof solar capacity. The city purchases the rest of its municipal electricity through wind credits, and has plans to complete the installation of 1,500 solar-powered LED street lights by the end of 2017.
*Town of University Park (Prince George’s County; first certified in 2014, re-certified in 2017) – University Park funds and promotes the annual town-wide “Porchfest”, an innovative way to build community cohesiveness.
A full report on each certified community’s actions can be viewed here:
According to Mike Hunninghake, program manager for Sustainable Maryland, “In a time when municipal leadership is critical to driving change across a number of social and environmental issues, we are pleased to see municipalities throughout Maryland continue to do the hard and necessary work to be good stewards of their communities. This year’s class of Sustainable Maryland Certified communities serve as beacons along a path forward during these uncertain times.”
With the support of the Maryland Municipal League, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Town Creek Foundation, Sustainable Maryland is a free and voluntary program that helps communities choose a direction for their greening efforts; complete their chosen actions with help from program tools, trainings, expert guidance and other resources; and get recognized statewide for their accomplishments. For more information about Sustainable Maryland, please visit www.sustainablemaryland.com.
The Environmental Finance Center at the University of Maryland works to equip communities with the knowledge, resources and leadership needed to empower decision-making that advances resource management priorities in an innovative and efficient way. Through direct technical assistance, capacity building and program and policy analysis, it strives to move communities towards a more sustainable and resilient future. For more information about the Environmental Finance Center at the University of Maryland, please visit www.efc.umd.edu.