The University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center (EFC) has officially launched the website for its sustainability certification program, Sustainable Maryland Certified (SMC). The website, which debuted at the Maryland League Convention in Ocean City, is now accepting registrations from municipalities across Maryland.
Developed with the support of the Maryland Municipal League, this free, voluntary program helps towns and communities go greener, providing cost-effective and sustainable strategies to preserve assets and improve their quality of life. By offering a menu of “greening” actions to choose from, the program helps municipalities tailor their plan to meet the needs and priorities of their community, offering trainings, case studies, program tools and other resources to help them meet their goals.
“Planning for and adopting green, sustainable practices can be intimidating at first, so our idea is to create a menu of options that will help and encourage local officials to get on the path,” says Joanne Throwe, director of the University of Maryland’s Environmental Finance Center. “Municipal leaders tell us they’d like to green their communities, especially because they think it will cut their long-run costs. Our goal is to give them a free, voluntary entry point to help them begin, and then guide them through the process.”
Municipalities are awarded points towards certification for each action completed. Tackling issues like water conservation and community wellness, some of the sample actions include creating farmers markets and community gardens, storm water management, establishing a local business directory and assessing the community carbon footprint. Those amassing a total of 150 points are eligible for certification, and may even receive preference for procuring public and private funding.
“We want to leverage our expertise to assist local officials across the state as they embark on sustainability programs,” says University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. “This can stimulate economic development and community wellbeing, and that’s a vital part of our mission as a service institution focused on the statewide needs of Maryland citizens.”
The program is already turning heads in towns across the state, with many jurisdictions expressing interest in participating. Berlin, Maryland passed a resolution to adopt the program roughly 24 hours after the site was unveiled, making them the first town to enroll in the program. There are several towns in line to follow Berlin’s lead, including the Eastern Shore town of Chestertown and the Port Towns community of Colmar Manor.
“Sustainability and healthy living go hand in hand,” says Colmar Manor Mayor Michael Hale. “It’s all part of the ecosystem we live in.”
A number of partners share the responsibility for creating and managing the Program. SMC sponsors include the Maryland Municipal League, the Town Creek Foundation, and The US Environmental Protection Agency. 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.
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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