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Sustainable Community

April 13, 2019, the Town of Emmitsburg received it's first Tree City USA Award.
Photo of Mayor Don Briggs and Lions Club President Bill Wivell holding the Town's first Tree City USA award
Mayor Don Briggs & Lions Club President Bill Wivell holding the Town's first Tree City USA Award.

Emmitsburg has been formally recognized for the first time as a Tree City USA.  Communities achieve Tree City USA status by meeting four core standards of sound urban forestry management: 

A TREE BOARD OR DEPARTMENT: The formation of a tree board or department (Emmitsburg Green Team) involving residents and business owners creates wide awareness of what trees do for the community and provides broad support for better tree care.

A TREE CARE ORDINANCE:(Ordinance 18-16) City ordinances reflect the values of a community. That is, they speak about what its residents believe are worth protecting to create or maintain their quality of life and an environment that is both safe and pleasant. Trees are certainly worthy of this formal attention for the common good.

A COMMUNITY FORESTRY PROGRAM: An annual budget of at least $2 per capita is required.  Community trees, when cared for can actually save money.  A managed program can ensure benefits that surely outweigh costs.

AN ARBOR DAY CELEBRATION AND PROCLAMATION: The importance of this tree planting holiday provides an excellent opportunity to educate about trees and tree care.

The Green Team, elected officials and Town staff worked together to meet those four standards.

On October 15, 2018 the Town of Emmitsburg received it's second
Sustainable Maryland Certified Award!

Town Manager Cathy Willets holding Emmitsburg Sustainable MD Award 2018
2018 Sustainable Maryland Community Certification Report

Press Release Emmitsburg Sustainable MD Award 2018

Emmitsburg Gold Leaf Award for 2019 Arbor Day activities
On April 28, 2018 the Town held it's first Arbor Day Activities.   Elected officials, Town staff and Emmitsburg residents joined together to plant twelve trees in Emmitsburg Community Park.  We are delighted to share this Gold Leaf Award with you. Thank you to all who participated in our Arbor Day festivities.

The Town of Emmitsburg won the 2017 Maryland Green Registry Leadership Award on Wednesday June 14th, 2017. 
The award is for organizations that show strong commitment to sustainable practices, measurable results, and continual improvement.

2017_Maryland Green Registry Award - Copy

The Town of Emmitsburg recognizes its responsibility to minimize negative impacts on human health and the environment while supporting a diverse, equitable, and vibrant community and economy. The Town recognizes that the types of products and services the Town buys have inherent social, human health, environmental and economic impacts, and that the Town should make procurement decisions that embody the Town’s commitment to sustainability.

Sustainable Energy

The Town of Emmitsburg has undertaken significant municipal infrastructure projects to promote environmental sustainability, and has been at the forefront of green initiatives within the state of Maryland.  The town is involved in several state programs intended to encourage energy savings and other environmentally beneficial endeavors.

Maryland Energy Administration Sustainable Communities grant program recognizes three areas of energy savings; electrical efficiency, renewable energy, and fuel efficiency.  Each program has specific five goals in terms of percentage savings. 

Emmitsburg is currently participating in two elements of this program; electrical efficiency and renewable energy. 

The program goal for electrical efficiency is a fifteen percent reduction in electrical use over five years.  To date, with the installation of LED lights, the Town has reduced its overall electrical use by 9.5%.  The Town is currently discussing additional efficiency technologies which will increase this percentage in order to meet the goal well in advance of the five year timeline.

The renewable energy program goal is to increase the jurisdiction’s share of renewable energy up to twenty percent of its total energy use within the five year time frame.  With the installation of the one megawatt solar array on the Waste Water Treatment Plant site, the Town of Emmitsburg municipal electrical accounts are supplied with renewable energy for well over ninety five percent of their energy needs, meeting the program goal well in advance of the five year time frame. 

MD Energy Administration awarded the Town energy grant money during 2014, of which about $22,000 went to the LED project and $8,000 went to prepare the Solar Array site for construction. It was hoped that the town could get an additional grant for a new power saving technology from Europe, but the MEA was unwilling to commit funding to a new technology unproven in the US.  

The Town has formed a Green Team which consists of three local citizens, the Mayor and 
a member of the Town staff.   The Team is a sustainability committee.  A Community Assessment Survey, was sent out in April 2015, the results of which will be used as the basis for our Three Year Action Plan.  The Town was certified as a Maryland Sustainable Community on October 27, 2015 by Sustainable Maryland. 


The Town installed LED street light bulbs on all the public poles.  Over a monitoring period of one year, the LED bulbs used over 60% less Kilo Watt hours than the regular bulbs.  The Town’s electrical cost for street lights has reduced by over 60% compared to the cost in 2011.  The LED bulbs cut the Towns overall electrical use by roughly 9%.   

expenses cut 2


The Phase I, one megawatt solar array went on line April 2014. It is sized to provide 1.1 megawatts of power over the course of a year.   The Array serves nineteen of the Town’s larsolargest accounts and Vigilant Hose is also included in the solar power service.   It is operated by a third party (UGI) through a Power Service Agreement.  This facility serves the Town government’s nineteen largest electrical accounts and the Vigilant Hose Company.   The Town government facilities are now approximately 95% served by renewable energy.  

 A Phase II array went online in the spring of 2015.  It is a one megawatt Solar Array and is sized and designed solely to provide power to the Town’s new, state of the art Waste Water Treatment Plant.  

Town Staff put together a really informative presentation on everything solar and sustainable in Emmitsburg for the Town meeting in April 2017. 

In recognition of all the above projects, in 2014, the Town of Emmitsburg was named a Smart Energy Community by the Maryland Energy Administration.  In February 2015, Emmitsburg made application and was approved as  a member of the Maryland Green Registry.  For more information visit

IMG_5111 cropAs a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) professional, Mayor Don Briggs has completed 36 hours of continuing education courses through the US Green Building Council (USGBC).

  • Composting: A Biological Solution, Part 1: The Science of Composting (USGBC online)
  • Composting: A Biological Solution, Part 2: University Composting Programs (USGBC online)
  • Understanding EcoDistricts (USGBC online)
  • From Existing Building to High Performance Workplace (USGBC online)
  • Every Drop Counts: Applying Water Efficiency Strategies (USGBC online)
  • Slim Down Your Footprint - Green Power & Carbon Offsets (USGBC online)
  • Getting N2 ND - LEED Neighborhood Development (USGBC online)
  • Putting the We In Team - Integrated Project Delivery (USGBC online)

greenteam4 - Copy **Emmitsburg Green Team**
A group of people (community leaders, Town staff, and organizations) that gather monthly to lead and coordinate sustainability activities in the community. The goal is to protect the community and plan for the use by future generations.  The more the merrier!  Call or email the Town Office for more information.


smartenergycommunityTown of Emmitsburg Sustainable Procurement Policy

Electrical Energy Efficiency Policy

Alternative Energy Policy

The Greening of a Municipality (article)

Sustainability as a Part of Revitalization (article)

The Town's sustainability efforts have also been recognized with Certificates of Appreciation from the Frederick County Sustainability Commission and the Frederick County Council.

Street Light Expenses 
Fiscal Annual   % Change
Year Cost Difference vs. 2011
2011 $51,228    
2012 $47,231 $3,997 8%
2013 $42,795 $8,433 16%
2014 $30,533 $20,695 40%
2015 $18,771 $32,457 63%
2016 $19,852 $31,376 61%
2017 $19,007 $32,221 63%