Since 2011, Sustainable Maryland has empowered the state's 157 municipalities through training, financial incentives and support to develop sustainability programs that will build a better tomorrow, one community at a time.

Sustainable Maryland (SM) is the result of a collaborative venture between the University of Maryland’s Environmental Finance Center, the Maryland Municipal League, and the University of Maryland’s National Center for Smart Growth, along with 87 other organizations from public and private sectors, nonprofits and academia. SM is modeled after Sustainable New Jersey, a successful program that pairs technical assistance and research with municipalities in New Jersey’s 21 counties. In 2009, Gerrit Knaap, Director of the National Center for Smart Growth, brought the Sustainable New Jersey concept to EFC director Joanne Throwe, recognizing the potential for leveraging the EFC’s experience with applied technical assistance to enhance sustainability initiatives in Maryland communities. This connection set the broad and general foundation for the program that is now SM. Over the next two years, Throwe and her team at the EFC developed a comprehensive certification plan, using best practices from New Jersey and other states, and began collaborating with Maryland municipalities to realize more sustainable, cost-effective and livable communities. As of 2023, there were 88 municipalities registered with Sustainable Maryland (or 54% of the state's towns and cities), and of those, 41 have been certified.

The Sustainable Maryland initiative is modeled after the Sustainable Jersey ™ program.  It is designed to support Maryland’s municipalities as they look for cost effective and strategic ways to protect their natural assets and revitalize their communities. Using best practices in areas like water, energy, health, food and economy, a municipality can earn points toward sustainability certification.

Sustainable Jersey is a certification program for New Jersey municipalities that are actively taking steps to improve the long-term quality of life in their communities. The program, administered by the Municipal Land Use Center at the College of New Jersey, has experienced great success, with half the state's municipalities registered to participate.  Both states certification programs are based on a process of earning points for a variety of sustainable actions. These actions include best practices in a variety of areas including water, air, waste, energy, equity, and economy. When a certain number of actions have been suitably documented and a set number of points earned, the municipality is recognized with certification.  Visit the Sustainable Jersey website to learn more about the history of their program.  

Mission Statement

The mission of Sustainable Maryland is to enhance livability for all Marylanders by helping municipalities choose a direction for their sustainability efforts, improve access to resources needed to implement action, measure their progress, and gain recognition for their accomplishments.

Sustainable Maryland helps municipalities:
• Gain access to training, tools, and expert guidance; 
• Realize cost savings and improve the bottom line; 
• Conserve resources while promoting community viability.

Sustainable Maryland features:
• Menu of options lets communities choose actions that fit their needs; 
• Holistic vision helps communities plan across community priorities; 
• Free and voluntary makes participation easy.