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From the desk of
County Commissioner Gray

(2/10) Frederick County Government has a fundamental commitment to its constituents to make decisions that protect the economic, social, and environmental health of the community. Making decisions and taking action that is sustainable recognizes the "big picture" and takes into account the impact on future generations as well as today's pressing needs. Sustainability is a systematic, integrating principle that the Board of County Commissioners has endorsed to guide local decision-making. A sustainability framework requires that decisions are made that give equal consideration to the economy, society, and environment.

Frederick County Government is committed to lead by example, promote public participation, and engage in community partnerships that improve our quality of life and protect the natural systems that sustain life.

The Frederick County's sustainability vision is that:

  • The County leads by example through its own sustainable practices,
  • The County implements policies that encourage sustainable development within the community, and
  • The County engages in partnerships that promote sustainable living.

Office of Environmental Sustainability (OES)

Established by the Board of County Commissioners in 2008, the Office of Environmental Sustainability (OES) brings together community partners to build a sustainable future for the region. OES collaborates with County departments, businesses, citizens, and other organizations to advance practices, policies, and partnerships that:

  • Protect and restore our critical natural resources;
  • Minimize the environmental impact of the built environment;
  • Reduce overall energy consumption and;
  • Strengthen the social and economic health of the County.

This month, the OES celebrates its first year anniversary. Housed in the County Manager's Office in Winchester Hall the Office is leading sustainability efforts within county government; coordinating and collaborating on community sustainability goals - including serving as the liaison to the Frederick County Sustainability Commission, and establishing meaningful partnerships that move the County forward on achieving its vision of a more sustainable Frederick County.

Recently, the Office was awarded $659,800 from the U.S. Department of Energy to initiate green building, energy conservation, and renewable energy programs. The grant supports a Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory, an energy efficiency retrofit program for county buildings and facilities; a residential home energy audit program; energy audits for county buildings; a renewable energy demonstration project at the Adult Detention Center; and creation of the Energy and Green Building Program in the OES. Education and outreach to Frederick County residents and businesses is a key component of the overall initiative.

Sustainable Action Team

To effectively lead by example through our own sustainable practices, the OES coordinates an internal staff team comprised of 33 members representing 23 Divisions/Agencies. The Sustainable Action Teams' mission is to integrate sustainable practices into county operations and is currently developing a Sustainable Action Plan for County Operations that proposes a coordinated strategy and direction for these six program areas:

  • Transportation Alternatives
  • Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation
  • Natural Systems and Green Infrastructure
  • Building Standards and Sustainable Design
  • Green Purchasing
  • Waste Reduction and Recycling

The team started work in September 2009 by performing an inventory of existing environmentally responsible practices. Currently, they are prioritizing action items that will go to the BOCC for their guidance and hopeful endorsement. The action plan process will wrap up in late March with a presentation to the BOCC in April 2010.

Frederick County Sustainability Commission

The BOCC formally established the Frederick County Sustainability Commission by resolution on March 26, 2009, as a way to engage the broader community in the county's sustainability efforts. The BOCC recognized that building a sustainable future for Frederick County is not solely the work of government. There is a role for every member of the community, whether they are an individual, business, or organization, to engage in sustainability and stewardship efforts. As only one piece of the puzzle, the County cannot do it alone, but intends to provide leadership to the community as we move forward.

In order to hear the collective voices of the community, the BOCC appointed 13 citizens with expertise in energy, agriculture, local foods, land use, land preservation, green building practices, water quality, recycling/waste reduction, small/local business, human/environmental health, and community/grassroots environmental efforts.

The Commission met for the first time in July 2009 and since then has established bylaws, set a vision and mission, elected officers, and are currently developing a work plan to define their priorities for the next year. The Commission's vision is a healthy Frederick County community sustained by a culture of collaborative action that ensures the prosperity of our people and the natural world on which we depend. Their mission statement reads: The Frederick County Sustainability Commission advances and accelerates the adoption of measurable strategies that solve environmental problems, protect critical natural resources, and strengthen our social and economic health now and in the future.

The Board of County Commissioners, Sustainability Commission and Office of Environmental Sustainability would appreciate your feedback related to our efforts. The Sustainability Commission meets on the 3rd Wednesday of the month at 3:00 p.m. in the 3rd floor meeting room of Winchester Hall. Their meetings are open to the public and their agenda includes a public comment period. Browse the OES web pages to get a sense for the breadth and scope of work being coordinated at the county. The site is: You can access agendas and meeting minutes from the Commission there as well.

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