Sustainable Maryland Certified is the name of a new statewide community greening effort launched by the University of Maryland. It’s a voluntary program that awards points to participating municipalities as they adopt environmentally friendly practices. At 150 points a municipality is awarded certification by the program and is eligible to receive grant money. It’s based on Sustainable Jersey, a similar program that has already had success in the Garden State.
Greening actions will be tailored to each community, and in addition to certification and extra funds, the program promises participating cities and towns savings to their utility bills and stimulation to their local economy through the implementation of Sustainable Maryland’s recommended actions.
Sustainable Maryland’s website conscientiously disclaims, “Certification does not indicate that a municipality is ‘sustainable.’ Rather it indicates that the municipality has taken the first significant step on the journey toward sustainability.” Unfortunately, the website doesn’t define “sustainable.” Neither does it convey how far we are from truly responsible environmental stewardship in Maryland.
Throughout the program’s materials “green” is equated with simply better management of assets and resources. This could be a good start, but ultimately we’ll need to do better than better. A true understanding of sustainability would be useful here, one that’s not relative to our present rate of pollution and waste of resources. We could do plenty “better” and still be on a negative trend environmentally. The fact is that achieving sustainability is a much more enormous undertaking than we typically acknowledge, requiring no less than turning the tide on at least centuries of irresponsible practices.
For more information on Sustainable Maryland Certified and to find out how your locale can participate, visit www.sustainablemaryland.com.