Ocean City Receives ‘Sustainable Maryland’ Award

OCEAN CITY – The town of Ocean City on Tuesday was one of 17 municipalities around the state honored with a Sustainable Maryland Award at the Maryland Municipal League (MML) annual fall conference.

Ocean City was first certified as a Sustainable Maryland Certified award winner in 2016 and the award for the resort was renewed in 2019. During Tuesday’s MML fall conference the town of Ocean City was honored with the Sustainable Maryland silver award.

The town was awarded after continuing to complete a variety of action items aimed at creating a sustainable community for residents and visitors. To achieve certification, the town created the Coastal Resources Legislative Committee, or Green Team, comprised of elected officials, municipal leaders, staff, local residents and community leaders to work through a lengthy checklist of action items to improve sustainability in the community.

The Sustainable Maryland program is an initiative of the Environmental Finance Center at the University of Maryland designed to support the state’s 157 municipalities as they look for cost-effective and strategic ways to protect their natural assets and revitalize their communities. The initiative encourages best practices in resource areas such as water, energy, planning, community health, food and the local economy.

The Sustainable Maryland program awards points for checking the boxes for each of its initiatives aimed at a greener approach. For example, a total of at least 150 points is required to reach the Sustainable Maryland bronze level, while 400 points is needed to reach the silver level. Over the course of multiple years, Ocean City and its Green Team members have been able to reach the silver level with the award this week.

The list of action items identified and completed by the town of Ocean City to achieve the renewed Sustainable Maryland certification was lengthy, but included things such as environmentally-friendly practices, supporting health and wellness for residents and visitors, expanding wi-fi access in public areas such as government buildings and public parks, expanding recreation opportunities, providing electric vehicle charging stations and encouraging renewable energy opportunities where possible and on and on. The Green Team and two staff worked through the checklist over the last three years to achieve the renewed certification. Mayor Rick Meehan praised the work of the Green Team and its partners for achieving the award this week.

“It’s an honor for the town of Ocean City to receive the Sustainable Maryland Certified Award,” he said. “Protecting our coastal community and investing in our natural environment is not only important for today, but for our future generations to come. The town has a great network of people who contributed to this award, both internally and through our partners. The Coastal Resources Legislative Committee has done an excellent job protecting resources in our community and working with our partners.”

Sustainable Maryland program director Mike Hunninghake, who presented the awards at the MML fall conference on Tuesday agreed it was partnerships that made gaining certifications for 17 communities in Maryland possible. Gaining success in the program is challenging, according to the statistics. Just 41, or 26%, of the 157 municipalities in the state are certified Sustainable Maryland communities, while 89, or 57%, are registered for the program.

“We are pleased to be awarding a record number of certifications this year,” he said. “These certifications show a commitment to sustainability by Maryland’s municipalities that is truly impressive in both depth and breadth. The commitments and associated actions are a critical investment for a future where local governments will increasingly be at the forefront in the fight against climate change.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.