BERLIN — Though initially announced last spring, it wasn’t until this week that Berlin officially received the first ever Sustainable Maryland Certified Award (SMC).
This isn’t just the first time that Berlin has won the award; it is the first time that any of the 157 municipalities in the state have been certified sustainable by the relatively new SMC.
After receiving the award, which was presented by Joanne Throwe, Director of the University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center (UMEFC), Mayor Gee Williams predicted that Berlin will become a model for other communities looking to go green.
“This is a great beginning but it is by no means the end,” he said.
To become certified, the town had to complete two mandatory actions toward producing a local “green team” as well as two more sustainability priority actions. Berlin also had to generate at least 150 “points” across nine different categories including resource management and economic development.
Economic and Community Development Director Michael Day explained being the first municipality in the state to achieve the SMC could have a huge positive impact on Berlin’s continued efforts to promote sustainability.
“It’s prestigious,” he said. “It’s something to tout.”
Day hopes the prestige from the award will help attract businesses with an environmental focus to Berlin. Anything from solar to wind to a company that crafts kayaks would improve the town, he said.
Williams added walking and biking trails in the area around Berlin could soon be a reality.
“We can look for those opportunities,” said Williams.
Even since the announcement of the award several months ago, the town has made progress in promoting that sustainability with the conclusion of a year-long stormwater impact study, conducted by UMEFC. The SMC award serves to encourage the town to stick to that path, according to Williams, and prompts Berlin to “steadily but gradually” add “green initiatives.”
“We’re apparently on the right track … I do believe in evolution over revolution,” he said.
Williams aimed the credit for winning the SMC squarely on the shoulders of three entities: residents, town employees and Grow Berlin Green (GBG).
“They bought into in immediately,” he said of town employees and department heads, adding that striving for sustainability “wasn’t a hard sell” for the average resident either.”