Change In Role For Frederick County Office Of Sustainability

It will report directly to County Executive Gardner.

Frederick, Md (KM). You may not have heard about Frederick County’s Office of Sustainability and Environmental Resources, but that’s expected to change. During her public information briefing on Thursday, County Executive Jan Gardner announced that agency would report directly to her office starting on July 1st, 2017. It’s currently part of the Division of Planning and Permitting.

“Once again, that will elevate the Office of Sustainability to really have a county wide focus  where all divisions  will recognize that this is a priority of the County Executive,” Gardner says.

She also says this agency will return to its original mission of reducing energy costs, and protecting resources. “Well, certainly everybody likes to save money. So that’s something I believe everyone can agree to,” says Gardner. “And we really want to make sure we save the environment for future generations. We know we want to have a prosperous economy and a good place to live for our kids and our grandchildren.”

The Office of Sustainability and Environmental Resources was established in 2008 when Gardner was at that time President of the Board of County Commissioners. She says the last Board put the Office within the Division of Planning and Permitting.

She says the Office of Sustainability and Environmental Resources helped develop a Comprehensive Energy  Plan, which saved  taxpayers more than $585,000 annually through innovative initiatives. Some of them included  upgrading traffic lights to LED’s, conserving fuel in Fleet Services, improving the efficiency of the air-conditioning systems at several county facilities, installing a heat-reflecting pool on the Emmitsburg Community Center and investing in hybrid and electric buses.

During the public information briefing, the manager of the Office of Sustainability, Shannon Moore, said that plan is being updated. “That’s a really neat plan because it helps the county identify opportunities to save energy and save money, and also switch to renewable energy,” says Moore. “The plan as it stands has a goal of reducing non-renewable energy in Frederick County within our internal operations by 2024.”

She also said the Office is busy with other initiatives. One is signing up property owners into a reforestation program called “Creek Relief.” “We had sign ups by May 31st. And as of May 31st, we had 19 applications for 198-acres worth of private property. So that was may more than we thought. We thought we’d get 40 or 80 {acres},” says Moore.

County Executive Gardner says the county is losing an average of 420-acres of forest cover each year.

“We’re announcing today that we’re joining STAR Communities. I just signed up two days ago. And that means that we’ll be part of a cohort of other communities across the country and maybe even the world at this point who are basically benchmarking their sustainability efforts and making progress toward goals so that their citizens and their environment and their community can benefit,” says Moore.

According to its website, STAR Communities is a non-profit organization that works to evaluate, improve and certify sustainable communities. It helps cities and counties achieve a healthy environment, a strong economy and well being for their residents.

In a statement, County Executive Gardner’s office says the 13-member Frederick County Sustainability Commission will be asked to provide input on policies and legislation that could affect Frederick County.


By Kevin McManus