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UMD Honors Local Communities for Sustainability Efforts

September 19, 2014
Contacts: 

Mike Hunninghake 301 405-7956

Five Prince George's Municipalities Receive "Sustainable Maryland Certified" Award

Sustainable Maryland Certified

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The Environmental Finance Center at the University of Maryland honored five Prince George's County municipalities for achieving Sustainable Maryland Certified status during an awards ceremony at the Maryland Municipal League's annual Fall Conference.

Officials from Berwyn Heights, Cheverly, Greenbelt, Riverdale Park, and University Park accepted their awards at the annual ceremony marking the achievements of Maryland communities striving to become more sustainable.

Joanne Throwe, director of the Environmental Finance Center, congratulated the certified towns: "These newly certified Sustainable Maryland municipalities have demonstrated, each in their own unique ways, their commitment to strengthening the social, economic and environmental pillars of sustainability in their towns and cities. I commend their elected officials, municipal staff, and of course the passionate volunteers of their Green Teams for their efforts to shine a guiding light on the path forward for all of Maryland's communities to a brighter, more sustainable future."

To achieve Sustainable Maryland Certified status, municipalities are required to form a Green Team comprised of local residents, community leaders, municipal staff and officials; complete a variety sustainability-related actions worth a total of at least 150 points (including two mandatory actions and two of six priority actions), and submit the appropriate documentation as evidence that the Sustainable Maryland Certified requirements have been satisfied.

Highlights of each municipality's sustainability efforts include:

Town of Berwyn Heights

Berwyn HeightsThe Berwyn Heights Green Team implemented a number of efforts to engage with Town residents. The Green Team established a regular page called the GreenBee in the Berwyn Heights Bulletin, which includes information such as gardening tips, information about local farmers' markets, energy efficiency recommendations and other suggestions for ways that residents could implement sustainable practices. Its Facebook page publicizes events and other information related to sustainable and environmentally-friendly actions for residents to consider. The Green Team has also helped in expanding the local school gardens, including establishing a composting system, creating a pollinator garden and creating a vegetable garden. The Town conducted energy audits on the Town Center, Senior Center, and Public Works building, which identified ways to save energy and save tax dollars. At a "Stormwater Solutions: Rain Barrels and More!" workshop, residents learned about rain barrel rebates, how to install a rain barrel, and where rain barrels were already installed in the local community. A Community Garden launched in 2014, which  includes a plot dedicated to a local food bank, provides residents the opportunity to both grow fresh food and connect with neighbors, and. A storm drain-marking project held in partnership with Berwyn Heights Elementary School alerted residents to the importance of protecting water quality in the local watershed.  The Town's Tree City USA designation affirms its commitment to maintaining a healthy urban tree canopy, providing numerous benefits including clean air, clean water, and reducing temperatures in the summer.
 
"We take great pride in that Berwyn Heights' effort to achieve Sustainable Maryland certification was a true community effort that involved citizen volunteers, town staff, and community stakeholders," said Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo. "Although the effort initially focused on getting the points required to become certified, it quickly took on a life of its own.  By rallying the community behind a shared goal and putting in place the infrastructure to promote green policies and practices, Sustainable Maryland will continue to yield meaningful benefits to the Town of Berwyn Heights and the environment well beyond this important milestone."

Town of Cheverly

CheverlyA strong base of volunteerism pervades the efforts of the Town of Cheverly's application this year. A Green Home and Garden Tour, organized by Cheverly Conservation Alliance, made up of Progressive Cheverly, the Cheverly Garden Club, and the Friends of Lower Beaverdam Creek, offers residents and visitors alike inspiration for a variety of ways to save energy and protect natural resources at the household scale. The pesticide-free Cheverly Vegetable Gardens are managed by volunteer residents who are Maryland Master Gardeners, and includes plots dedicated to producing food for two local food banks. The Cheverly Composting Program distributed low-cost compost bins to 10% of Cheverly residents in its first year, and has a 2-year goal of having about 25% of Cheverly households composting, providing significant savings on landfill tipping fees. Finally, a beacon of Cheverly's sustainability efforts can been observed in the form of a 60-foot high wind turbine, which generates power for the Cheverly Public Works building, and stands a testament to this community's commitment to a sustainable future for future generations.

"The town of Cheverly is honored to receive the Sustainable Maryland Certification award," said Dave Kneipp, Chair of Cheverly's Green Team. "This award recognizes the hard work on behalf of the town staff, various community organizations, and numerous individuals who make Cheverly a green community and a great place to live. Cheverly is proud to be a leader in the sustainable movement and ensuring a rich environment for future generations."

City of Greenbelt

GreenbeltSustainability is embedded in the history of the City of Greenbelt, a planned community designed during the Great Depression. It's unique cooperative structure, mixed-use town center, variety of housing types, and extensive grade-separated pedestrian pathways all contribute to a strong network of civic engagement and progressive endeavors.  The Greenbelt Advisory Committee on Environmental Sustainability (Green ACES) provides leadership for the community's efforts to go green. The Greenbelt Forest Preserve has protected 225 acres of woodlands for the enjoyment of residents, and the preservation of habitat and water quality within the City. The Greenbelt Community Garden Club manages three community gardens, which foster healthy food and social interaction. Fresh food is also available at the City's farmers market. A recently adopted Sustainability Plan offers a roadmap for local efforts to save energy, promote alternative transportation, reduce waste, and protect natural resources. The new Public Works building incorporates a variety of green features, including energy-efficient lighting, water conservation measures, and a high-efficiency geothermal heating system. And a variety of events and programs, including composting workshops, tree plantings, solar home tours, and the annual Green Man Festival all serve to promote sustainability to Greenbelt residents on regular basis.

"Greenbelt is proud to receive the Sustainable Maryland Certification," said Greenbelt Mayor Emmett V. Jordan. "There is a legacy of balance between the environmental, economic and social objectives that have shaped this community over time.  This certification reinforces the partnerships between residents, local civic/business organizations, and the city administration to improve our current practices and to strive for a more sustainable future."

Town of Riverdale Park

Riverdale ParkProgressive planning and community engagement were standouts in the Town of Riverdale Park's Sustainable Maryland application. Foremost amongst these efforts was the Town's commitment to making the new Riverdale Park Station as sustainable as possible. Town Council put several conditions on the property's zoning that included stormwater management, tree conservation, green space and walkability. Riverdale Park Station will be the first "LEED for Neighborhood Development" project in the Prince George's County. Another planning effort focused around Riverdale Park's Town Center, which features a MARC train station and a popular farmers market, but also long-vacant properties. University of Maryland - University College students, in conjunction with the Sustainability Committee, produced a "Revitalizing Riverdale Park's Town Center" report that surveyed residents and assessed current land uses. This report led to Developers Open House and design competition, which together with the report, is expected to yield a plan for re-activating multiple existing buildings within the long-vacant Town Center. Other planning efforts included a Green Design Workshop held at Town Hall, which engaged the community to express its needs and wants for a new municipal building. Feedback from the community will lead to a LEED certified development. Finally, in their efforts to engage the community, Riverdale Park's Sustainability Committee has created a website where residents can find out about RPSC, farmers market, tips for being green, planning and development in their backyard, and links to social media about other sustainable happenings.
 
"Riverdale Park is honored to be recognized for our efforts to leading Maryland's sustainable future," said Ashley Ebbeler, Chair of the Riverdale Park Sustainability Committee. "With the help of Sustainable Maryland Certified our Sustainability Committee worked along side residents, town staff and elected officials to consider the environment in all facets of municipal governance from policy creation to land use development. We are excited to continue to pursue a green future in way we can!"

Town of University Park

University ParkInnovative initiatives in the areas of energy efficiency, renewable energy, and waste reduction stand out in the Town of University Park's 2014 Sustainable Maryland application. The nationally recognized STEP-UP (Small Town Energy Program- University Park) program fostered a remarkable level of engagement amongst residents, with 25% of households conducting an Energy Star Home Performance assessment and 16% of households investing in incentive-assisted energy efficiency upgrades, resulting in a 13% reduction in energy usage. The University Park Elementary School became the first Prince George's County school to host a rooftop solar array, with the Town and the School District sharing in a revenue stream from the sale of electricity and renewable energy tax credits. On the waste reduction front, a municipally-run kitchen waste compost program diverts tons of food scraps from the municipal waste stream, saving on landfill tipping fees and creating valuable organic matter for use in local gardens. With these innovative initiatives, along with many others, including it's long-standing Tree City USA designation, back-yard mosquito control program, and annual stream cleanups, the Town of University Park has clearly demonstrated its leadership in municipal sustainability in Maryland.
 
"From protecting our stream and urban tree canopy to our solar-powered town hall, to stepping up to make our homes more energy efficient, we have shown that sustainability is a core principle in University Park," said Sarah Moseley, University Park Green Team Co-Chair. "Now we are proud to be recognized for that work as a Sustainable Maryland Certified community.  Our town has worked together for years, meaning 'It's Easy Being Green in University Park' ."
 
The complete list of municipalities to achieve Sustainable Maryland Certified status this year includes:

  • Town of Bel Air (first municipality certified in Harford County)
  • Town of Berwyn Heights (Prince George's County)
  • Town of Boonsboro (first municipality certified in Washington County)
  • Town of Chesapeake Beach (first municipality certified in Calvert County)
  • Town of Cheverly (Prince George's County)
  • City of Greenbelt (Prince George's County)
  • Town of Snow Hill (Worcester County)
  • City of Takoma Park (Montgomery County)
  • Town of Riverdale Park (Prince George's County)
  • Town of University Park (Prince George's County)

According to Mike Hunninghake, program manager for Sustainable Maryland, "These awards are a testament to the passion and dedication of volunteers, municipal staff and elected officials to lighten our collective imprint on the Earth, restore the natural world, and plan together to create a better tomorrow for our children and their children."