Planning Students, PLCC Earn Accolades at Maryland Sustainable Growth Awards

By Maggie Haslam / Nov 18, 2022

Fairland mall area
Image Caption
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

A Fall 2021 urban planning studio that used scenario planning to chart a thriving, sustainable future for one Montgomery County community and a UMD-led initiative to bring sustainable, equitable growth along the Purple Line light rail corridor have been honored by the Maryland Department of Planning in this year’s Sustainable Growth Awards.

The Fairland and Briggs Chaney Scenario and Planning Analysis, which outlined creative strategies to combat heat islands, boost walkability, develop community-driven urban agriculture and increase affordable housing and job training, received an honorable mention at the state’s 10th annual awards ceremony yesterday. It was the only student-led project to earn an award. The Purple Line Corridor Coalition, a collective stakeholder effort administered by the National Center for Smart Growth to bring equitable policy and action along Maryland’s forthcoming light rail line, also earned an honorable mention.

“I congratulate the award recipients for their steadfast commitment to revitalizing and improving the communities of Maryland,” said Maryland Department of Planning Secretary Robert McCord. “These individuals and programs demonstrate the best approaches to sustainability while considering the needs and uses of both the built and natural environments.”

The Maryland Sustainable Growth Awards celebrate significant achievements by individuals, businesses, organizations and local governments to realize the 12 planning visions adopted by the Maryland General Assembly. The awards promote exemplary work that represents or inspires collaboration, innovation, conservation, community impact and quality of life; they are the highest level of recognition for managed growth and development in the state.

A community driven, semester-long project conducted as part of UMD’s Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability (PALS) program, the scenario and planning analysis envisioned how policy and development decisions—combined with external factors like climate and the economy—could shape Fairland/Briggs Chaney 10 years into the future. Strategies for achieving the community’s best possible future, which reflected heavy community engagement, were presented to Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission and community stakeholders last winter.

“I am pleased the students supported the process of planning for the Fairland and Briggs Cheney area during the community engagement process for the Thrive Montgomery 2050 Plan, now recently approved,” said Urban Studies and Planning Program Director Clara Irazabal. “The planning department was very appreciative of their analysis and proposals, which aimed to push the boundaries for a more just and sustainable community.”

Established in 2013, the Purple Line Corridor Coalition works to support affordable housing, enhance vibrant communities, preserve small businesses and strengthen equitable workforce pathways. A report released earlier this fall to federal, state and local lawmakers outlined strategies that boost affordable housing, pedestrian safety and small business preservation along Maryland’s Purple Line.


Short videos about each award recipient are available at

Program / Center Affiliation