At Monday night’s Mayor and Council meeting, the annual Environmental Excellence Awards were presented to this year’s recipients.
Mark Charles, the City’s Environmental Manager explained that the awards were established in 2003 to bring community attention to extraordinary accomplishments made by residents, organizations, neighborhoods, and businesses working to enhance Rockville’s environment and sustainability. The Environment Commission reviews nominees and makes the recommendations.
“Outstanding Achievement in Green Building Technology” was awarded to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Rockville (UUCR).
The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Rockville is recognized as a leader in renewable energy by being one of a handful of congregations that have installed a solar photovoltaic system and achieving certification as a Green Sanctuary by the Unitarian Universalist Association. According to UUCR, When the solar panels were installed in 2015, the congregation was the third one in Montgomery County to go solar after Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation in Bethesda and Tikvat Israel Congregation in Rockville.
The decision-making process took three years from 2012 to 2015 and involved finding appropriate financing as a nonprofit organization. According to UUCR documents, the solar project was inspired by a group of high school students from Montgomery County who approached the congregation to explore the feasibility of installing solar panels to benefit the congregation and the two nursery schools that rent space at UUCR.
UUCR’s installation of solar panels was part of a broader effort to become certified as a Green Sanctuary, a program of the Unitarian Universalist Association. UUCR accomplished 12 actions of study, reflection, and action in response to environmental challenges in order to achieve the honor that has only been bestowed on 250 other U.S. congregations.
“Outstanding Leadership in Environmental Practices” went to Dawson’s Market, a natural foods market on North Washington Street. Dawson’s Market is recognized for environmentally conscious business practices that support local food programs, waste reduction, and energy efficiency. During the presentation, Dawson’s was recognized for working with local farmers to purchase what they sell and for donating extra food to nonprofits for those in need. The Market even gives food scraps to local farmers to compost and uses chalkboards instead of disposable signage. By using LED lighting and purchasing wind power, Dawson’s was commended for excellent energy practices.
“Outstanding Environmental Education and Academic Achievements” was given to the City of Rockville Community Services Youth Programs. In 2016 and 2015, students participating in Community Services’ Latino Youth Development Program and the Summer Civic Program collectively earned more than 364 hours of environmental service. The Summer Civic Program worked with City staff to clean up 30 bags of trash from local stream behind the Twinbrook Recreation Center, remove invasive plants from Dawson Farm park, mark 20 storm drains in Town Center, and assess stream health in two Save Our Streams sample collections. The Latino Youth Development Program picked up 16 bags of trash from three streams and also decided to adopt the stream by Julius West Middle School to continue stream clean ups.