Collaboration comes easily for some local governments, and with more complication for others. Municipalities often seem at odds with one another as they compete to attract business and growth, but the City of Frederick, Maryland, and Frederick County have a long history of cooperation and know the importance of creating strong sustainable communities.
By simultaneously pursuing LEED for Cities and Communities certification, the city and county leveraged their history of collaboration and were designated by USGBC as a LEED Certified city and a LEED Silver community, respectively, in early August.
Sharing many of the same priorities, the city and county of Frederick often collaborate on projects, such as stream restoration and transportation. “Since the City’s department is quite small (one person), it helps to have an extended team to collaborate on larger projects and those that span both jurisdictions,” says Jenny Willoughby, Sustainability Manager for the city.
The data collection for LEED for Cities and Communities required sharing of resources and data. “We were able to share ideas and resources as we worked through the certification process," says Dawn Ashbacher, Sustainability Program Manager for the county. "It helps to talk with others as some issues, like transportation, related to improving sustainability and a high quality of life, are regional issues,” she explains. Now that both entities have a baseline from which to move forward, they can continue to collaborate on these regional issues.
While much of the data was gathered locally, a third partner also played a major role. The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) provided the city and county with data on energy, greenhouse gas emissions, transportation and air quality.
“COG annually collects and analyzes community-scale energy trends, completes community-scale greenhouse gas inventories, and provides training, tools and technical assistance to support our local government members’ sustainability goals,” says Maia Davis, Senior Environmental Planner with COG.
This assistance is extremely valuable for communities that can have limited resources and staff time. “COG contributed significantly; they have been and continue to be a great resource for data, as well as technical assistance for projects, such as climate action planning, transportation initiatives and innovative stormwater projects,” says Willoughby.
COG sees LEED for Cities and Communities as tool that can advance their whole region. “It’s a process that helps communities holistically evaluate quality of life and identify needs and best practices. LEED for Cities and Communities is very much aligned with COG’s Region Forward Vision to create a more prosperous, accessible, livable and sustainable metropolitan Washington,” says Davis.
Soon after the certifications were received, Frederick County announced a new pilot program aimed at increasing large-scale composting. This is one example of how, with good data in place, and a baseline from which to move forward, targeted programs and investments can be made and progress tracked. These programs and investments will benefit the sustainability mission of both the city and county
“We hope to make strides each year toward increasing levels of certification and expect to do so in conjunction with the county and our other partners,” says Willoughby.