LED_Logo_wTagby Sharon D’Emidio

I recently bought some new lamps for my home and realized deciding what kind of bulb to use is like trying to pick a health insurance plan. Do I buy CFLs or LEDs? Does the light bulb need to support a dimmer? What is a comparable CFL or LED to a traditional 60 watt bulb?  How many lumens do I need? And by the way, what is a lumen?

As a working mother of two very young children, I started to have nightmares of dragging them to the hardware store with rows of light bulbs in front of me and not having the time to think through which one I should purchase. So, I hit the trusty internet to do some advanced shopping research. The only problem is, there is too much information. Why does this process have to be so confusing? Can’t someone just tell me which bulbs would be the right fit for my home and lighting needs?

Here are a few things I knew I wanted in the bulbs that I was planning to purchase:

  1. When I turn the light on – I want it to actually go on.  I have several CFLs in my home lighting fixtures that have a delay when you first put them on. When they do finally click on they are dim and take another minute or so to brighten.  I hate this feature and wanted to buy bulbs that would turn on to their full brightness immediately.
  2. I like bright, white light, not yellow light.  How do I know which bulbs will be bright white? How many lumens is the right number for the room I am putting the lamps in?
  3. Do I need a bulb that can dim? I have a few recessed lights in my living room and the CFL bulbs I have in there won’t allow any dimming so we always have them up at the highest setting, even though there is a delay to get them to go on and they take a minute to warm up to their full brightness (see number 1 above).

Before getting too stressed about making the right decision, I learned about a new program called the LED Diet  offered by Bethesda Systems, a Bethesda Green sponsor. The program helps navigate the challenging new world of light bulb choices on the market.  The best part about the program is that they come to YOUR house with a truck full of LED (highest performing, most energy efficient and longest lasting) lighting options.

The Bethesda Systems technician did a walk-through of each room and discussed the pros and cons of my current lighting. Not only did I wind up replacing several bulbs in my home, the technician also solved a long-standing kitchen light issue that would have cost me hundreds of dollars to fix if I stuck with my traditional lighting and had an electrician come out to the house.  Instead, he replaced an old light fixture with an LED version that is much brighter and energy efficient.

I couldn’t believe how easy and convenient the service was. With one lighting fixture in particular, the LED equivalent didn’t solve the issue so we decided that, until the LED technology catches up with this particular type of lighting, I will stick with what I currently have in place.  There were no sale gimmicks or requirements to purchase any products. We simply walked through my house trying out different bulbs until I got the right kind of feel.  At the end of our visit, the technician was able to tell me the cost savings of switching from my previous bulbs to the new LEDs.

Because  of this wonderful program, Bethesda Green has partnered with Bethesda Systems and the LED Diet to offer the program with a free at-home consultation (the consultation usually costs $29.99 with no obligation to buy anything).  So, simply by going to the LED Diet website and signing up for a free consultation (enter promo code BethesdaGreen14 when signing up), Bethesda Systems will come to your house and walk you through the options. It’s that simple and so worth it!  Honestly, I don’t know why anyone would bother stressing out about heading to the hardware store to buy a light bulb ever again.

Sharon D’Emidio is the Program Manager at Bethesda Green.

 

Cabin John Creek flows under the MacArthur Blvd. bridge.

Part of our local watershed, Cabin John Creek flows under the MacArthur Blvd. bridge.

by Julie Clendenin

I spend a lot of time enjoying Rock Creek Park, which runs alongside my Kensington neighborhood. I drive through it every day on my way to work.  I run and walk regularly on the Beach Drive path. I have enjoyed the playgrounds and wetlands with my children and friends. I love it. Rock Creek is an oasis of natural beauty in the midst of our highways, lawns, houses, supermarkets, and sports fields. But sometimes, when the rains (and snows) are heavy, Beach Drive is closed due to high water, which reminds me that our suburban sprawl is a real threat to this precious natural wetland. We are slowly edging out the Potomac River’s natural filtration system of forests and wetlands.

Right now the water is running fast and the marshy grass along the creek’s banks is pocked with huge puddles. And all of our runoff — fertilizers, pet waste, de-icing chemicals, and other pollutants — is headed straight for the Potomac River (our main source of drinking water) and the Chesapeake Bay.

According to the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin (ICPRB), of the 14,650 square miles in the Potomac River watershed, 57.6% is forest; 31.8% is agricultural; 5% is water or wetlands (like Rock Creek Park); and just 4.8% developed land. While agriculture and development play important roles in our community, it’s important to understand their far-reaching affects on the local watershed. Everything we do on land has an impact on our river, which is the source for 90% of DC’s drinking water; in fact, 486 million gallons are taken out of the Potomac every day to provide drinking water for 5 million people in the DC metro area. We need to protect our river.

Recently, a number of water conservation groups organized a regional river clean up day. including the Alice Ferguson Foundation, which reports that more than 5,000 volunteers picked up over 1oo tons of trash. Here’s some of the things pulled out of the river banks:

  • 73,700 beverage containers
  • 7,800 cigarettes
  • 18,300 plastic bags
  • 510 tires

RWFFLogo_FullColor_EST2012All of this trash was rescued from the Potomac River watershed. How does that make you feel? Disgusted? Regretful?  Personally, I feel grateful to the many people who spent their weekend cleaning up after us. I also feel inspired by them, and I’m thinking that maybe you do to. The Reel Water Film Festival, Saturday, June 14 at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, is a great place to learn more about local water issues. Also, here are a few things, including some from Potomac Riverkeeper, that you can do to help protect the Potomac River:

  • Scoop pet waste and dispose of it properly
  • Plant a rain garden or use a rain barrel – Montgomery County residents are eligible for rebates of up to $2,500 through the RainScapes Rewards Rebate Program
  • Properly dispose of hazardous wastes like oil and paint
  • Use natural fertilizers and do not over-fertilize your lawn or use chemical pesticides
  • Reduce, reuse and recycle (don’t forget your reusable shopping bags)
  • Wash your car at an eco-friendly commercial car wash or use biodegradable soap
  • Safely dispose of unused drugs and other chemicals – DO NOT FLUSH THEM
  • Spend time enjoying  the river and show your friends and family why it’s important to protect it

Julie Clendenin grew up in Montgomery County and is happily raising her family here with her husband, Tom.  She enjoys having unlimited access to Rock Creek Park; tasty, cold water from her kitchen tap; and swimming in the ocean.

BGnews_logoOcean rapidly warming

The length of the melt season for Arctic sea ice is growing by several days each decade, and an earlier start to the melt season is allowing the Arctic Ocean to absorb enough additional solar radiation in some places to melt as much as four feet of the Arctic ice cap’s thickness, according to a new study by National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and NASA researchers.

Arctic sea ice has been in sharp decline during the last four decades. The sea ice cover is shrinking and thinning, making scientists think an ice-free Arctic Ocean during the summer might be reached this century. The seven lowest September sea ice extents in the satellite record have all occurred in the past seven years.

“The Arctic is warming and this is causing the melt season to last longer,” said Julienne Stroeve, a senior scientist at NSIDC, Boulder and lead author of the new study, which has been accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters. “The lengthening of the melt season is allowing for more of the sun’s energy to get stored in the ocean and increase ice melt during the summer, overall weakening the sea ice cover.”

See NASA News article for full story.

Eat your fruits and vegetables

Eating seven or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day reduces your risk of death at any point in time by 42% compared to eating less than one portion, reports a new University College London (UCL) study.

Researchers used the Health Survey for England to study the eating habits of 65,226 people representative of the English population between 2001 and 2013, and found that the more fruit and vegetables they ate, the less likely they were to die at any age. Eating seven or more portions reduces the specific risks of death by cancer and heart disease by 25% and 31% respectively. The research also showed that vegetables have significantly higher health benefits than fruit.

This is the first study to link fruit and vegetable consumption with all-cause, cancer and heart disease deaths in a nationally-representative population, the first to quantify health benefits per-portion, and the first to identify the types of fruit and vegetable with the most benefit.

See UCL News article for full story.

Events

  • Rock Creek Extreme Cleanup –  Saturday, April 5, 9 am – noon. Join Rock Creek Conservancy at one of more than 50 locations along the 33-mile length of Rock Creek for volunteer trash cleanups.
  • Master-Metered Condo Alliance Meeting — Monday, April 7, 4 – 5:30 pm at Bethesda Green. A representative from WSSC will discuss ways to reduce water consumption and get some control of water and sewer bills.
  • Demystifying Clean Green Energy — Thursday, April 10, 6:30 – 8:30 pm, Silver Spring Civic Center, One Veterans Place, Silver Spring, MD. GreenWheaton, Silver Spring Green, and Bethesda Green present an expert assessment on the current state of the clean energy industry.

 

BGnews_logoTurf Management Goes Green

The Kentlands community in Gaithersburg is moving toward organic landscaping, an effort to reduce chemical application options and provide a healthy environment for pets and children.

Kentlands is consulting with Paul Tukey, an organic landscaping expert, who envisions maintaining at least 50 percent of the landscape organically by 2015.

Roger Ford, a member of the Kentlands group that is overseeing the project, said, “If [Tukey] does it right, I think it’s going to be a showcase for Montgomery County and beyond.”

For more details, see article in The Town Courier.

Going Green on your way to College

Go Green without breaking your bank! Here are some tips to go green and save money for the school year.

  • Re-use textbooks — Re-using textbooks is a great way to save paper and it also reduces the amount of junk we have to dispose later on. Some websites such as SwapTree.com, PaperBackSwap.com, and Bookins.com let you swap books with others.
  • Do your laundry in cold water — In the warm seasons, you can save tons of energy by washing clothes in cold water. By washing clothes in cold water, you decrease your electricity usage which is required to heat the water. This reduces your overall carbon footprint.
  • Recycle your cell phones — Instead of discarding your old phones in favor of a new and updated one, recycle your phones because certain small parts of the phones can be used for other items.
  • Shop at thrift shops — You can find just about any item in a thrift store and they are usually extremely cheap. Also instead of throwing away your clothes, think about donating them to a thrift store so other people can enjoy it for a much cheaper price.
  • Keep indoor plants — Keep a small plant inside your house near a window. It is an efficient way to release more oxygen into the air, therefore purifying it. Perfect for your health and environment.
  • Go to the farmers market — Make sure you go to the farmers market or any local market! It is a great place to get fresh and good quality food. It also promotes local farmers and produce.

To find out about more tips, check out this article.

Debating Metro fare increases

In setting fares for the Metro public transportation system, the Metro board attempts to balance the the goal of providing the best possible service on it trains, buses, and vans for their riders and how to minimize the impact of fare increases on its customers, especially among those who are financially vulnerable and depend on public transportation.

A recent Dr. Gridlock column in the Washington Post helps frame the debate and concludes that it’s not solely the job of the Metro board to reconcile the issue:

“Helping other people get around is the right thing to do, whether it involves aiding a rider on a platform or assisting the needy in covering their transit costs. The benefits bounce back. Ensuring that people can get to their jobs and medical appointments boosts the economy and enhances the general welfare. That’s a task for the entire region — its governments, social service agencies and individuals. The transit authority can’t fine-tune its fares well enough to achieve this goal.”

Events

  • Environmental Film Festival – March 18-30, at numerous DC-area venues. The theme of the 2014 Festival – Our Cities, Our Planet – will examine the challenges posed by Earth’s urban environments and the efforts of the world’s cities to balance environmental and economic needs.
  • Montgomery County Business Recycling Seminar – Thursday, March 27, 9 am – noon, Silver Spring Civic Center. Meet county staff and get all your recycling questions answered.
  • Wheaton Green Drinks – Thursday, March 27, 5-8 pm at Limerick Pub.
  • Rock Creek Extreme Cleanup – Saturday, April 5, 9 am – noon. Join Rock Creek Conservancy for its 6th annual volunteer cleanup event.

 

BGnews_logo

World’s Largest Urban Greenhouse

Giant Food Stores signed a deal with BrightFarms to build the world’s largest urban greenhouse, expected to open this fall.  At 100,000 square feet, the greenhouse aims to deliver 1 million pounds of fresh produce throughout the year to about 30 Giant supermarkets in the Washington, DC,  metro area. Plans also include making the greenhouse available to schools as an educational tool on urban agriculture and sustainability.

In addition to building greenhouses attached to supermarkets, BrightFarms designs rooftop farms and is working on projects in Kansas City, Oklahoma City, St. Louis, and St. Paul.

To read more, check out this article.

New Bike Lanes

As Bethesda proceeds through a new sector plan for future development, interested parties may want to take note of Alexandria’s plan to add new bike lanes. The Alexandria City Council voted unanimously recently to create bike lanes on a span of King Street from Janneys Lane to West Cedar Street, one of Alexandria’s busiest streets.  Many Alexandria residents objected to this plan, however, because it will cause the removal of more than two dozen parking spots and add to congestion. Those in favor of the bike lanes argue that more and more people are using bikes for commuting so creating a safe way for them is key to cities like Alexandria.

Ultimately, the bike lanes proposal was approved with the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians in mind. Bicyclists will share the traffic lanes with motorized vehicles in the areas where parking is still allowed. New crosswalks and electronic speed indicators will also be installed for the safety pedestrians and bicyclists.

To find out more information, check out the Washington Post.

Events

  • Maryland Day, a weekend celebration of all things Maryland, March 21-23, explores historic sites, cultural activities, and natural resources around Annapolis. See the Annapolis Green Growing a Little Greener webpage for more details.
  • H2O SummitMarch 22, 9:30 am – 4 pm, Silver Spring Civic Center, 1 Veterans Plaza, Silver Spring, MD. Topics covered include: What is Stormwater and How Can You Help Prevent Pollution? and Volunteerism & Community Efforts to Improve the Environment. The morning session (9:30 to 1:00 pm) will have speakers and workshops. Attendance is limited, so register in advance. The afternoon session will be a Family H2O Fair hosted by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission and will include kid’s crafts and environmental demos for families. An assortment of water related exhibitors will also be on hand located in the Great Hall. Registration is not required for the afternoon session.

by Julie Clendenin

DC Water lifted its two-day Boil Water Advisory March 7, which was a relief for many DC residents. Their short “water crisis” ended without much drama. It did, however, remind me of our good fortune when it comes to drinking water. It’s good that the remarkable days are those when our water supply is NOT absolutely safe.

And it made me wonder about the flip side of that luck that escapes my consciousness most of the time. I started really thinking about what it would be like to live without a reliable, convenient source of drinking water.

I wanted some perspective from the flip side, so I went looking for some data. Here’s what I found:

  • 768 million people in the world do not have access to safe, clean drinking water (UNICEF, 2014).
  • “Access to drinking water,” in international development language, means that the water source is less than 1 kilometer from its place of use.  That means that someone has to travel, collect water, and carry it home for use. EVERY DAY. The World Health Organization estimates that, globally, 200 million hours are spent EACH DAY collecting water for domestic use.
  • An American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than the average person in a developing country slum uses for an entire day (UN Development Program, 2006).

Our city’s briefly threatened water supply was an inconvenience for many of our neighbors – in fact, it was a very real health hazard that needed to be taken seriously. I am grateful that this kind of thing is a rare occurrence for us, and that we can remain confident about the safety of our drinking water.

RWFFLogo_FullColor_EST2012The thing is, in the developing world, the lack of clean drinking water is daunting crisis. In some African nations, less than half the population has access to clean drinking water. Every day, 1,400 children die from diseases directly linked to unsafe water or lack of basic sanitation.

The Reel Water Film Festival, Saturday, June 14 at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, is a great place to start exploring the global water crisis. It’s also an opportunity to explore our own, local water supply challenges. Roughly 6 million people live in the DC area – and most of us get our drinking water from the Potomac River, which is threatened by stormwater runoff from our paved surfaces, sewage overflows caused by massive rainstorms (and snowmelt!), chemical & nutrient pollution from our lawns as well as larger industrial and agricultural sources.

There are things we can each do to help, on both fronts. Let’s not take clean water for granted. It’s not really just a matter of good fortune. We need to get real about protecting it.

Julie Clendenin grew up in Bethesda, met her husband during high school at Walter Johnson, currently lives with her family in Kensington, and works for a consulting firm in Bethesda.

BGgreennews_logo1Bethesda Downtown Plan

Although there are still issues to work out, a development plan is taking shape for downtown Bethesda. The Montgomery County Planning Department is updating the 20-year-old Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan to manage future building and zoning decisions in the area. The Department recently hosted a workshop for residents, planners, and developers to help them move forward with their plan. Guests were asked to determine where the exact “heart of downtown Bethesda” was on a map on the wall and where the most troublesome areas were for pedestrians. Discussion also included changes that attendees thought needed to be made, with most saying there was a need for more green space.

Downtown Bethesda is growing rapidly; in fact, it is expected that between now and 2040 the population will double.

To get all the details, check out the Gazette.

Purple Line Project — Recommended by the White House

President Barack Obama’s new budget plan includes $100 million in federal construction money for the proposed light rail Purple Line Project, an infusion to help keep the $2.2 billion project on schedule. Also, the Purple Line Project was recommended for a full funding grant agreement, a long-term construction commitment that Maryland officials hope will amount to $900 million in federal funding. Purple Line construction is scheduled to start in 2015 and open in 2020.

Some of the advantages of the proposed plan would be faster and more reliable transit options for traveling east-west between suburbs and would encourage new investments around stations in older suburbs. Opponents of the project say that the construction would require cutting down hundreds of trees in popular trails and would bring noise pollution to residents living along the route. The town of Chevy Chase has been leading the opposition to the Purple Line Project because it would require condemning 116 homes and businesses; they also believe that the state hasn’t done enough to explore other options.

The Purple Line would consist of 21 stations with two-car trains mostly running above ground.

Read the Gazette article here.

Addendum: Council members call for Purple Line community task force (see article here).

Climate Change in Montgomery County

Climate change is becoming more apparent to farmers and gardeners because their farming or blossoming seasons are becoming unpredictable and unreliable. Last week, several horticulturists, biologists, and environmental activists met to discuss ways of adapting to climate change. They were part of a conference called “Green Matters 2014: Gardening in a Changing Climate” in Montgomery County.

Precise temperature and weather are key to growing healthy crops and plants but with the increasingly severe and erratic weather, the plants are susceptible to death.  Farmers and planters have to worry about temperatures dropping below freezing and damaging their crops. There is not much farmers and gardeners can do except respond to the changes they see. With higher temperatures, new pests can now survive farther north and at higher elevations than normal. For example, the mountain pine beetle, which is normally found in western forests, is beginning to spread. It and many other species could start invading Maryland.

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network leads efforts to fight climate change through political activism and encouragement to reduce fossil fuel consumption.

Read the Gazette article here.

Events

  • Raptors of the Chesapeake Bay: Past, Present, and Future Outlook for the Bald Eagle and Peregrine Falcon — Lecture, Thursday, March 13, 7 pm, Annapolis Maritime Museum, 723 Second Street, Annapolis. Speaker: Craig Koopie, Raptor Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Chesapeake Bay Office. Free for certain Museum members; $10 for the public.
  • 5th Annual Davidsonville Green Expo — Saturday, March 15, 10 am – 2 pm, Davidsonville Elementary School, 962 West Central Avenue, Davidsonville, MD. The Expo features awareness about environmental issues, children’s activities, free native tree give-aways, Bay-friendly lawn and landscape techniques, and more.
  • Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital — various venues from March 18 – March 30. The theme of the 2014 Festival — Our Cities, Our Planet — will examine the challenges posed by Earth’s urban environments and the efforts of the world’s cities to balance environmental and economic needs.
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