Maine Association of Planners Announces 2021 Annual Awards for Planning Excellence

The Maine Association of Planners recognizes excellence in planning each year. Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the normal schedule and presentation of awards has been disrupted. Nonetheless, as we begin to recover from the pandemic, our nominations and winners reflect the widespread concern shared among planners for the causes and consequences of climate change. 

We received nominations in two award categories this year. 

Map of greenhouse gas emissions in York County, Maine

Greenhouse gas emissions from on-road transportation for York County communities in 2018.

The 2021 MAP Project or Program of the Year is awarded to Estimating On-Road Transportation Emissions in York County prepared by Karina Graeter, Sustainability Coordinator for the Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission

This is a new kind of nomination for MAP. The project, more than most, is a dive into methods for leveraging big data to estimate greenhouse gas emissions associated with transportation. Past estimates of driving behavior have been based largely on sample surveys and vehicle counters.  In this case, travel information was purchased from Streetlight Data ®, “a cloud-based transportation data and analysis platform that uses records from smartphones and navigation devices in connected cars and trucks.” Comparisons are made of methods for aggregating data to estimate vehicle miles traveled (VMT) within and among different municipalities. The data provide a more precise estimate of the kinds of vehicles, which in turn enables a  more accurate conversion of VMT to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  

As the world converts to electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, we will have to know more about the mix of cars to estimate VMT and GHG emissions, but also to develop alternatives to fossil fuel taxes to sustain our roads. The data also provide insights into the reasons for travel and incentive structures that might encourage greater efficiency of travel. In this brave new world of big data this project points to the potential for harnessing data to promote greater environmental sustainability.

We encourage transportation, environmental and land use planners to explore this and similar methods to develop better information for decision-makers who are looking for ways to attenuate climate change while boosting their economies. The report

and other relevant documents are online at

Maine Climate Council logo

Maine Climate Council Action Plan

The 2021 MAP Plan of the Year Engraved Bowl is awarded to Maine Won’t Wait - A Four-Year Action Plan for Climate Change, prepared by an interdisciplinary team under the direction of Hannah Pingree, Director of the Governor's Office of Policy, Innovation and the Future, and Melanie Loyzim, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, with project management provided by Dr. Cassandra Rose. 

This is also a new kind of nomination for MAP. Maine Won’t Wait involved hundreds of active participants in six working groups and sub-teams covering a diverse range of causes and consequences of climate change, including Buildings, Infrastructure and Housing; Transportation; Energy; Resilience, Public Health and Emergency Management; Coastal and Marine; Natural and Working Lands. 

The breadth of this plan had the potential to become an overwhelming wish list of initiatives, incentives and projects. Rather, leadership pushed for each working group to come to agreements on highest priorities and most significant actions to slow climate change. The plan and many of the sub-plans and process documents can be found on the webpage of the Maine Climate Council

Contributed by:

Jim Fisher

Jim is the MAP Awards Committee Chair and Town Manager in Deer Isle, Maine. He has more than 30 years experience in regional planning in the US and abroad.