Sharpsburg Ecodistrict Achieves Nationally Recognized EcoDistricts™ Certification, Becomes Third Certified in the World
The Sharpsburg Ecodistrict has been recognized with EcoDistricts Certification, joining the Millvale Ecodistrict and Etna EcoDistrict to become the third community in the world to attain this certification. To be eligible for EcoDistricts Certification, communities must fulfill the rigorous requirements outlined in the EcoDistricts Protocol, a framework to guide neighborhood development that prioritizes Climate Protection, Resilience, and Equity.
The Protocol and Certification are administered by a Portland, Oregon, based nonprofit organization called EcoDistricts™. Certified communities must commit to prioritizing Equity, Resilience, and Climate Protection at the heart of every decision; form collaborative community governance; create an implementation roadmap to guide projects and programs; and track and measure impact over time. There are currently 14 other communities that are pursuing certification.
Sharpsburg Ecodistrict efforts began in 2016 as a means to address environmental, economic, and equity concerns. Like other communities in the Pittsburgh region, Sharpsburg is experiencing a transitioning economy with market pressure pushing from neighboring communities. A large-scale riverfront development project is currently underway, which has the potential to impact community character and affordability. This is all occuring while climate change is intensifying existing environmental challenges such as flooding and poor air quality.
The Sharpsburg Ecodistrict established a vision planning process in 2017 to create a roadmap and tools to guide the community’s future. This document, the Sharpsburg Community Vision Plan, acts as the guiding vision for the Sharpsburg Ecodistrict. Several organizations have come together to form the Sharpsburg Ecodistrict Collaborative and will work together using a collective impact model – an approach that brings organizations together across sectors in a structured, collaborative way to focus on a common vision. Working with Sharpsburg Neighborhood Organization, the backbone organization and primary steward of the Sharpsburg Community Vision Plan, other Sharpsburg Ecodistrict Collaborative members include Roots of Faith, Sharpsburg Community Library, Second Harvest, and Volunteers of America.
“Libraries are often one of the most trusted organizations in a community. As such, it is extremely important for the library to be an active part in a community-wide initiative like the Sharpsburg Ecodistrict. We are frequently evaluating programs and services through the Vision Plan and look forward to advancing these goals together with the other member organizations,” said Sara Mariacher, Branch Manager of the Sharpsburg Community Library.
“Second Harvest is proud to be a partner in the Sharpsburg Ecodistrict. The vision and goals of the Ecodistrict have helped to guide our development and shape our organization,” said Bonnie DeMotte, Executive Director of Second Harvest.
“Bringing neighbors together from different walks of life to pursue a shared vision for the community we love has been hugely inspiring. Finding common points of interest like improved green spaces, healthy local businesses, reduced flooding, walkable streets, quality affordable housing, and access to fresh produce has been a powerful opportunity,” said Brittany Reno, Executive Director of Sharpsburg Neighborhood Organization.
The Sharpsburg Ecodistrict focuses on six quality of life issue areas, a regional ecodistricts approach that was co-created by the Millvale Ecodistrict and evolveEA. This approach has now been adopted by the Etna EcoDistrict and Sharpsburg Ecodistrict, who together compose the Triboro Ecodistrict. The Triboro Ecodistrict was established in 2017 to share knowledge and resources, and scale the impact of all three communities.
evolveEA has enjoyed being a long-term partner of the Sharpsburg Ecodistrict, including leading the Sharpsburg Community Vision Planning process (SCVP). The SCVP’s EcoDistrict Roadmap includes specific indicators for year 2030 goals across 20 priority areas. The Roadmap also includes a baseline assessment of community energy consumption and outlines a path to carbon neutrality by the year 2050.
“We applaud Sharpsburg for being proactive about their community challenges and opportunities. Through the vision planning process we worked with the community to establish potential future scenarios and outline how to address them in a way that benefits the environment, the economy, and improves quality of life for all. We congratulate the Sharpsburg Ecodistrict on their certification and look forward to continued partnership,” said Anna Rosenblum, Associate with evolveEA.
New and ongoing initiatives for the Sharpsburg Ecodistrict Collaborative include:
- Efforts to reduce Sharpsburg flood insurance rates through FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program’s Community Rating System
- Home energy audits with Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh
- Solarizing of local buildings to reduce emissions and save money
- Free legal, health, and financial management clinics
- Community garden programming
- Public art projects
- Multilingual children’s literacy projects
- Workforce development training
- Youth training programs
- and more
Funding for the Sharpsburg Ecodistrict is provided through the Triboro Ecodistrict grant by the Henry L. Hillman Foundation as well as a Neighborhood Assistance Program grant from TriState Capital Bank through the PA Department of Community and Economic Development.