City of Rockville

Category: Communities (towns, neighborhoods, condo associations, faith-based organizations, etc.) that are promoting and implementing green practices

When the city of Rockville set out to improve its environmental stewardship five years ago, it quickly accomplished several goals by revamping zoning and building codes and rewriting stormwater management regulations.

Other goals are works in progress. After making it easier to recycle by no longer requiring the sorting of trash, the city has reduced the amount of waste delivered to landfills by 53 percent and expects to reach 60 percent by 2015. That move prompted Waste & Recycling News, a trade magazine, to name Rockville in March one of the nation’s top recycling programs among communities with fewer than 100,000 residents.

And, to encourage residents to leave their cars at home, the city has built dozens of bus shelters and created nearly 67 miles of bike lanes and trails.

The initiatives promote the creation of a sustainable future for this city of more than 62,000 residents and mark a fundamental philosophical change, says Mark Charles, the city’s chief of environmental management. That change is evident in everything from new rules requiring builders to add solar-ready wiring to their projects to Rockville’s transition to wind power for more than half of its electricity needs.

“We believe utility rates are only going to go up,” Charles says. “Having an existing building stock—both residential and commercial—that’s energy efficient will be attractive. Combine that with Rockville’s proximity to three Metro stations and an Amtrak commuter rail station, and we’re poised to be a sustainable city.”


Officials are using inventive ways to encourage residents to go green, as well, including quirky YouTube videos explaining Rockville’s revamped recycling program.

The city also encourages residents to install barrels to collect rainwater, and it won an award in July for a stormwater management project in a local park. The College Gardens Park project was named a 2012 Public Works Project of the Year by the American Public Works Association.

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