Municipalities throughout Maryland keen on improving their neighborhoods and environmental standing are making good headway through a free program offered by the University of Maryland’s Environmental Finance Center (EFC). Sustainable Maryland Certified (SMC), a sustainability certification program officially launched this past June, continues to gain momentum and popularity throughout the state. Fourteen municipalities across Maryland are currently participating, with several in the process of enrolling. The steady roll-out of SMC was reported this week in the Washington Post.
"We are delighted by the enthusiastic support for the SMC program,” says Joanne Throwe, director of the University of Maryland’s Environmental Finance Center. “Maryland municipalities are taking this program to heart and striving to be models of sustainability."
Developed with the support of the Maryland Municipal League, this free, voluntary program provides communities cost-effective and sustainable strategies to preserve assets and improve their quality of life. Program partners include the EFC’s sister center, the National Center for Smart Growth, as well as 87 other organizations from the public and private sectors, nonprofits, and academia.
With an extensive menu of “greening” actions to choose from, such as community gardens, storm water management and pet waste programs, municipalities can tailor their program to meet the needs and priorities of their community. Municipalities are awarded points towards certification for each action completed. To help towns realize their goals, SMC offers case studies, program tools and other various seminars and training programs.
Once such training program- SMC’s first “Green Team” training- took place September 24th before a packed house of representatives from eleven municipalities, some not yet enrolled and others well on their way to certification. The training, which was funded by the Town Creek Foundation, is designed to help teams create and develop their program “command centers”- a collection of government officials, employees and citizens- who will make crucial decisions on what actions will make up their certification. The trainings also offer a setting for municipalities to exchange information, ideas and success stories.
The number of success stories is growing, as registered municipalities create real environmental change within their communities. As reported in the Washington Post, several jurisdictions have initiatives underway which will directly impact their environmental sustainability. Mount Rainier has made significant community improvements, including the planting of 100 trees for the town’s centennial and an environmentally friendly police station, designed by UMD alums Jill Schick (ARCH ’79) and Howard Goldstein (ARCH ’77). The town of Forest Heights is in the process of installing bioretention ponds, a cistern and three 250-gallon rain barrels at the town administration building, a first step in the town’s initiative to manage storm water run-off. They will also offer demonstrations in front of the building to show residents how they can install their own systems at home.
“This will ensure that we’re doing our part in protecting the environment and our drinking water and making a difference to the whole area watershed,” Forest Heights Mayor Jacqueline E. Goodall told the Washington Post.
Once certified, municipalities will receive continued support, guidance and training sessions from the Environmental Finance Center, and may even receive preference for procuring public and private funding. But as explained by Bladensburg administrator John Moss, the real benefit of certification is a sustainable future.
“We’ve done a number of things to be accounted for in a positive way,” Moss said, “But in another way, there are things we need to do better. This [program] forces us to think about those things.”
The School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at the University of Maryland is home to four academic disciplines: architecture, urban planning, historic preservation and real estate development. Committed to educating its students and community about the importance of sustainability and smart growth, the School practices an interdisciplinary approach to education, research, creative work, and community and professional service. For more information, please e-mail us or call 301.405.8000.
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