The program provides a framework, training, planning tools and an incentive to guide communities' greening efforts. The certification will prove to be a rigorous and meaningful designation, the organizers say. Certifications will be awarded at a ceremony in the fall of 2012.
Communities won't have to pay the Environmental Finance Center (EFC) to participate, and will be steered toward public or private funding that may help defray the costs of projects.
Eventually, the EFC hopes that communities that earn certification will get priority when they apply for state development funds. Communities can navigate the process at their own pace and tailor activities to fit their budgets.
INITIAL INTEREST FROM MAYORS
In Prince George's County, the Port Towns community of Colmar Manor says it wants to be one of the first municipalities to earn certification.
"Sustainability and healthy living go hand in hand," says Colmar Manor Mayor Michael Hale, a member of the program advisory panel. "It's all part of the ecosystem we live in."
Hale says he hopes to earn certification points for rooftop solar panels, rain gardens, and community gardens the town has recently worked to put in place.
"We need to create a stable relationship between human activities and the natural world by addressing economic, social, and environmental values," says Chestertown Mayor Margo Bailey on the Eastern Shore, stressing the need for the program.
"If municipalities are looking for cost-effective and strategic ways to protect their assets, revitalize their communities, and improve their long-term quality of life, we're there to help," Throwe says.
Communities can potentially see long-range economic benefits by incorporating energy saving measures, improving water quality and land preservation, strengthening local economi
|Contact: Neil Tickner|
University of Maryland