About the M-NCPPC Montgomery County Park & Planning Sustainability Program

As an agency, we are committed to stewardship of our environment, our community, and the workplace through implementation of sustainable practices that preserve natural and economic resources, reduce consumption and waste, reduce our environmental footprint, promote green practices in our facilities and programs, and that support the wellness of our employees and wider community that we serve.

M-NCPPC Montgomery County Park and Planning understands the value and importance of maintaining partnerships and collaborative efforts to efficiently advance region-wide sustainability by working with other local government agencies, universities and colleges, volunteer groups, as well as businesses and organizations.

The M-NCPPC, Montgomery County Sustainability Plan helps to guide this work. Evaluated and updated every 2 years, the Sustainability Plan identifies priorities to reduce the agency’s environmental footprint and advance sustainability Department-wide.

Efficiency of Park Buildings & Facilities

All new and retrofit park buildings/facilities of qualifying size are constructed to LEED Silver or equivalent standard.

In older facilities, upgrades are made to conserve and improve the efficiency of both energy and water resources – cutting back on consumption, utility bills, and pollution. These upgrades include installing high-efficiency heating and air conditioning units, improved insulation, motion sensor lighting and use of LED technology, installation of ‘smart’ thermostats for improved management and control of energy resources, and replacing faucets and toilets with low-flow fixtures.

  • The Rock Creek Maintenance Facility has been constructed to a LEED Gold standard. This site features geothermal technology for heating and cooling, evacuated tube solar water heating technology, utilization of harvested storm water for toilet flushing, and use of native plantings for landscaping.
  • The M-NCPPC Department of Parks and the Planning Department will soon collocate with four other county agencies in a new Wheaton Headquarters facility, designed to reach LEED Platinum, and is slated to open in 2020.
  • In an effort to conserve water, Brookside Gardens recently installed a 25,000-gallon capacity underground cistern. Rainwater collected from the roof of the adjacent greenhouse, is treated and stored in the underground cistern to be later utilized to water plants grown for the gardens. Small scale solar installations were recently completed at Olney Mill Neighborhood Park and Black Hill Regional Park. Both are 1.8 kilowatt systems. Also, at Black Hill there is an upcoming rainwater harvesting project that will be used for toilet flushing.
  • Maydale Nature Classroom, completed by Facilities Management staff in 2020, is our first net zero facility in Parks. The building is a repurposed double-wide trailer that was once used for staff offices at another location. By repurposing this trailer, we were able to keep 24,000lbs of material from going into the waste stream. Highlights from this site include: high-efficiency rated insulation, sustainably sourced materials, LED lighting, low consumption appliances and fixtures, rainwater harvesting for toilet flushing, and a Trombe wall. Soon the site will have a 17.4 kW roof mounted solar system installed.

Renewable Energy in Parks

2.5 megawatts of ground-mounted solar arrays were installed at Rock Creek Regional Park and South Germantown Recreational Park.   The combined arrays will produce about 3,500,000 kWh of solar electricity annually – offsetting 2,877 tons of greenhouse gases yearly. This offset is equivalent to the carbon sequestered by over 3,000 acres of U.S. forest or the amount of CO2 generated in the production of the grid-supplied electricity used by nearly 400 average American homes in a typical year.

These projects, completed through a long-term power purchase agreement with Standard Solar, allows Montgomery Parks to benefit from clean renewable solar energy with no upfront costs. These projects will lower utility bills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while also contributing to smart, clean, and resilient energy region-wide.

Curious to see how our solar fields are doing? Visit kiosk data readings overview to watch real-time energy production at these sites. The site also includes pictures of the construction process and learn more about how solar fields work!

Exterior LED Lights

Montgomery Parks works to keep county parkland safe and more energy-efficient through the installation of light emitting diode (LED) technology in parking lot and exterior areas. While LED technology does cost more up-front over traditional lighting, the cost savings in maintenance and energy consumption over their lifetime cannot be understated. LED lights produce high-quality illumination and, on average, consume anywhere from 30-60% less energy over traditional lighting for similar applications.

Waste Reduction & Recycling 

Montgomery Parks cares very much about reducing waste and ensuring that we divert materials for reuse or recycling, as appropriate. A few strategies we use to reduce our waste include:

  • All facilities recycle mixed paper/cardboard as well as commingled jars and containers of glass/plastic/aluminum/steel/tin. Additionally, we recycle scrap metal, motor fuel, tires, electronic waste, light bulbs, batteries, construction debris, concrete and asphalt.
  • Green Waste removed from parkland is composted to convert these waste materials into useful products, including compost, wood chips, and mulch, that can be used for future park projects.
  • In calendar year 2018 the total waste diversion was 4,552,980 lbs. In calendar year 2019 it was 4,202,900 lbs., showing an overall reduction in waste material being sent to trash.

Fulfilling Our Mission: Balancing Environmental Stewardship with Recreation

Our agency strives to conserve and preserve sensitive environmental features and habitats while also ensuring that development and maintenance of parkland areas and amenities are conducted with environmental stewardship in mind. Montgomery Parks strives to:

  • Incorporate sustainable goals, practices, and products into park construction projects and seeks candidate sites to apply for Sustainable SITES designation.
  • Coordinate with the University of Maryland in implementing sustainable turf grass practices for ballfields maintenance – addressing field compaction issues, reducing storm water runoff and erosion potential, and supporting responsible nutrient applications.
  • Effectively maintain over 700 storm water management facilities.
  • Manage non-native invasive plants across the park system and encourages the use of native, and/or climate-appropriate plants for landscaping, reforestation, and other plantings.
Last Updated: January 6, 2023