green news


by Dan Rudt

They were twelve men and women in business attire. The office building had been stripped down to cinder block, steel, concrete and glass. Each donned goggles and gloves, hoisted long-handled mallets, and proceeded to smash the windows in front of them. It was not an act of vandalism or a prank. It was a symbolic act of a new beginning for an old building. It was a glass breaking ceremony on Tuesday, November 8, at 7550 Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda.

Chip Akridge (L) ready to break glass with John Coury of Rockwood Capital

The vacant 120,000 square foot office building at the corner of Wisconsin and Commerce Lane was purchased at GSA auction in 2010 by Washington, DC commercial real estate developer Akridge in partnership with Rockwood Capital, LLC. Reconstruction is underway and expected to be completed by late 2012. New, energy-saving features are expected to earn the building LEED certification.

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The certification program was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in 2000. LEED certification is available for commercial buildings, schools, health care facilities, retailers and homes, whether new, existing or renovated. USGBC examines buildings for energy efficiency, CO2 reduction, indoor environmental quality, water intake, resource depletion, and other environmental factors. Certification is awarded at four levels, Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Certified.

Akridge is rebuilding 7550 Wisconsin Avenue with LEED Gold certification in mind. To attain that standard, a number of environmentally friendly changes will be incorporated into the building. Among the improvements, according to Lisa Steen, Akridge Vice President of Marketing:

  • A green source will be used to derive 35% of the building’s energy
  • Energy use will be reduced by nearly 20% compared to non-LEED certified buildings
  • Water conserving fixtures will assist in 35% reduction in water usage
  • A green roof with rooftop terrace is designed to assist in keeping the ambient temperature of the roof cooler through evaporation of water
  • Indoor air quality will be enhanced through the use of low emitting materials and ample fresh outdoor air to be distributed through the building
  • Reconstruction will utilize 20% recycled content, and more than 50% of construction waste will be recycled
  • Bicycle storage and changing facilities will be available to building occupants
  • Building occupants will benefit from daylight in 75% of the space and views in 90% of the space, adding to the quality of life and overall work environment

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot (L), with Ron Paul, Chairman & CEO of EagleBank

Akridge is no stranger to green buildings. Among its numerous awards, the company received Energy Star Leader “Top Performer” Awards in 2008, 09 and 10. It was named Energy Star Partner of the Year in 2009, the same year that the USGBC National Capital Region honored company founder and chairman, Chip Akridge, as Member of the Year.

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, speaking at the glassbreaking ceremony in Bethesda, thanked Chip Akridge and company president, Matt Klein for “providing employment and economic activity.” Franchot went on to say that “the private sector is the only engine that’s going to bring us out of the recession.”

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett commented at the ceremony that, “this is the right thing for Bethesda and this is the right thing for Montgomery County.”

Dan Rudt is a former radio news anchor and public affairs program host for WPGC-AM, and producer for Westwood One Radio Networks. He is currently a freelance writer/reporter in Montgomery County, MD covering the environmental beat.

by Dan Rudt                                                                                                               

Bethesda Magazine 2011 Green Champions Honored

Bethesda Green’s 2nd Annual Gala this past Wednesday (10/5) honored this year’s winners of the Bethesda Magazine Green Champion awards. Winners included green energy supplier Clean Currents, non-profit Rock Creek Conservancy, Congressional Bank, Brookside Gardens, the Bullis School, the Young Activists Club at Piney Branch Elementary, and Mike Tidwell of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. Beverly Firme writes about the event for the Bethesda Patch.

Community Meeting about Bus Rapid Transit

The Montgomery County Planning Department will host a community meeting to discuss bus rapid transit (BRT). The plan would include dedicated traffic lanes for buses along as many as 16 traffic corridors covering 150 miles. Come see where the service is proposed and let the planners know how you think Bus Rapid Transit service can best fit into our community. The meeting is on Monday, October 24 from 5:30 – 8:30 pm at Park and Planning headquarters,8787 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring.

Kodak American Greenways Award Goes to Potomac Conservancy

Potomac Conservancy is one of four honorees to receive national recognition for outstanding achievement in greenways and open space preservation at the 22nd annual Kodak American Greenways Awards, presented at the National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C. on Thursday (10/6).

“I am particularly pleased to present the Potomac Conservancy with an award for its outstanding record of leadership and accomplishment in conserving and advancing stewardship of the Potomac River corridor and its tributaries for the benefit of present and future generations,” said The Conservation Fund’s President and CEO, Larry Selzer. “In the face of relentless regional development and population growth, the Potomac Conservancy has been an effective voice for protecting this irreplaceable resource.”

The Kodak American Greenways Awards were established in 1989 by Eastman Kodak Company, National Geographic Society and The Conservation Fund. The other winners this year were U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Mayor Karl Dean of Nashville.

For Teens: Project Green Challenge

Youth-led non-profit Teens Turning Green has organized a Project Green Challenge that seeks to engage high school and college students across the country and inspire them to transition “from conventional to conscious.” The 30-day green lifestyle challenge runs through October. Huffington Post writes about this and other teen-focused green education offerings.

Chesapeake Bay Trust Seeking Award Nominations

The Chesapeake Bay Trust is currently soliciting applications for its 2012 Awards Program. Five awards are available, one for Teacher of the Year, two student scholarships, a Steward of the Year and a project grant. Nominations must be completed online by December 16. Award criteria are available here.

Upcoming Green Events

Bethesda Green Education, Outreach and Marketing (EOM) Group Meeting – Newcomers Welcome! Thursday, October 13, 4:00 – 5:30 pm. This team of volunteers meets monthly to discuss Bethesda Green’s marketing and communications needs.

Conservation Montgomery Four Corners Community Stroll, Saturday, October 15, 10:00 – Noon. Learn about the natural features of the Four Corners community and the threats to open space in the area. Carol Ann Barth, First Vice President of the Montgomery County Civic Federation, will lead the walk and discussion. More information.

Montgomery County Community Service Week, October 16 – 22. The Montgomery County Volunteer Center invites you and your group to participate. More information.

Green America’s Annual Luncheon, Wednesday, October 19, 12:00 – 1:00 pm. Washington Post Conference Center. Green America’s mission is to harness economic power, the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society. Learn about the organization, their campaigns and programs. More information.

Green Home Expo, Saturday October 22, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm at Bethesda Green. Learn easy ways to green your home and save money.  Presentations will cover conservation, efficiency and renewable energy.  In addition to industry vendors, meet representatives from nonprofits and Montgomery County government. More information.

Community Forklift Fundraising Extravaganza, Saturday, October 22, 7:00 – 10:30 pm, 4671 Tanglewood Drive, Edmonston, MD. Entertainment by the DC Lady Arm Wrestlers, Silent auction, Wonky Dog food truck, DJ One HeART Muszik, and adult beverages! Must be 21 or over. Community Forklift is a low-cost building materials warehouse open to the general public and a project of Sustainable Community Initiatives, a 501c3 nonprofit. More information on tickets, sponsorships, or to donate a silent auction item.

Food Day, Monday, October 24, 2011, 7:00 pm, at the Church in Bethesda, 5033 Wilson Lane, Bethesda, MD 20814. You are invited to a local screening of the documentary film “Ingredients” co-sponsored by Church in Bethesda, Bethesda Presbyterian and Graceful Growing Together. The evening will also include short presentations by community members about healthy food, sustainable farms and related topics. Please RSVP if you plan to attend.

Peter Doo LEED EB: O+M Event, Thursday, October 27, 8:00 – 11:00 am, Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Ave., 2nd floor. Building owners, managers, developers and other building professionals are invited to attend a special presentation on LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance. Details here.

Maryland Clean Energy Summit, Thursday, October 27 – Saturday, October 29, Hilton Inner Harbor, Baltimore. Includes a Consumer Trade Show – FREE TO THE PUBLIC – on Saturday 10/29, 9:30 – 2:30. More information.

by Dan Rudt                                                                                                              

It’s Pick Your Own Apples Time

Local apples were plentiful at the farmer’s markets the last couple of weekends. That should be the case for at least a couple more to come. If you love apples and like to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty, some orchards in Montgomery County welcome you to pick your own. The wet weather has closed some of the fields to visitors on some days, so be sure to call ahead. You can also find out what varieties are available on any given day. Pick-your-own orchards include Homestead Farm in Poolesville, Lewis Orchards in Dickerson, Rock Hill Orchard in Mt. Airy, and Butler’s Orchard in Germantown. If you know of others, feel free to leave a comment at the end of this news and events post.

University of Maryland “WaterShed” Home on Display at Solar Decathlon

The 2011 Solar Decathlon kicked off this weekend near the Roosevelt Memorial, at the National Mall. Once again, as in 2002, 2005 and 2007, UMCP was one of 20 universities whose students competed successfully for the right to build and display their solar home design on the mall. Their entry, called WaterShed, is a solar powered home that also conserves, filters and reuses water.

If you plan to visit the free exhibits, workshops and events, you can preview WaterShed and read about the students and mentors who made it happen at the UMCP solar team’s Website. For information about all the solar homes and daily workshops, visit the Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon Website. The event runs through Sunday, October  2nd.

Image: Leah Davies

University of Maryland Opens New Energy Research Center

The University of Maryland Energy Research Center (UMERC) that opened Monday, September 26 in College Park will be focused on alternative energy generation and storage. The center’s mission will be to develop energy efficient and environmentally sustainable technologies and practices and also educate the public about energy issues. The mission also includes improving the nation’s energy security by developing local and sustainable energy resources and policies that have a positive environmental impact. The center is part of the university’s A. James Clark School of Engineering and includes faculty from the engineering school and other colleges.

Leggett and Supporters of Nick’s Farm Disagree

Katie Griffith wrote in the Potomac Patch on 9/22 that, “A battalion of community members decked out in green showed up at Wednesday night’s [9/21] town hall meeting with Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) to support Nick’s Organic Farm at the Brickyard Road site.” The article says the farm issue took center stage for at least 20 minutes of the one-hour meeting. Nick’s supporters apparently were unsuccessful in swaying Leggett, who maintained his support for the deal made between Montgomery County Public Schools and the county government to turn the farm into soccer fields.

Upcoming Green Events

U.S. Dep’t. of Energy Solar Decathlon,  Friday, September 23 – Sunday, October 2, West Potomac Park, National Mall, Washington, D.C.  Competing collegiate teams (including University of Maryland) exhibit cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive solar-powered houses designed, built and operated by the students.  This free event includes tours of the solar homes, consumer workshops and award ceremonies for the winning teams.

BG101, Thursday, September 29, 4:00 – 5:30 pm, at Bethesda Green. Join us for an orientation about Bethesda Green, our history, upcoming events and volunteer opportunities.

Taste of Bethesda, Saturday, October 1, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm, at Bethesda’s Woodmont Triangle. More than 55 restaurants and four stages of entertainment and a kid’s corner for face painting and arts & crafts. Information here.

Tour of Solar Homes, Saturday and Sunday, October 1 – 2, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm.  The 21st annual tour includes more than 50 homes in the greater DC area and highlights a variety of design, technology and sustainable living concepts. Tour Guides are available for $5 at My Organic Market (Mom’s) or online.

2011 Bethesda Green Gala, Wednesday, October 5, 6:00 – 10:00 pm, Round House Theatre. Come meet local folks from the businesses, non-profits, community organizations and individuals whose innovations, practices and lifestyles promote environmental sustainability — winners and runner-ups of the 2011 Bethesda Magazine Green Awards, who will be announced and recognized for their inspiring work in the environmental community. This promises to be an evening of sharing and connecting as a community where we celebrate our greener future. More information.

Montgomery County Community Service Week, October 16 – 22. The Montgomery County Volunteer Center invites you and your group to participate. More information.

Green Home Expo, Saturday October 22, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm at Bethesda Green. Learn easy ways to green your home and save money.  Presentations will cover conservation, efficiency and renewable energy.  In addition to industry vendors, meet representatives from nonprofits and Montgomery County government. More information coming soon.

Community Forklift Fundraising Extravaganza, Saturday, October 22, 7:00 – 10:30 pm, 4671 Tanglewood Drive, Edmonston, MD. Entertainment by the DC Lady Arm Wrestlers, Silent auction, Wonky Dog food truck, DJ One HeART Muszik, and adult beverages! Must be 21 or over. Community Forklift is a low-cost building materials warehouse open to the general public and a project of Sustainable Community Initiatives, a 501c3 nonprofit. More information on tickets, sponsorships, or to donate a silent auction item.

Food Day, Monday, October 24, 2011, 7:00 pm, at the Church in Bethesda, 5033 Wilson Lane, Bethesda.  You are invited to a local screening of the documentary film “Ingredients” co-sponsored by Church in Bethesda, Bethesda Presbyterian and Graceful Growing Together. The evening will also include short presentations by community members about healthy food, sustainable farms and related topics. Please RSVP if you plan on attending!

by Dan Rudt                                                                                                                      

Redskins 22 – Arizona 21. Solar Power Wins the Day!

If you parked your car in the Platinum A1 parking lot at FedEx Field on Sunday (9/18), it would have been one of 850 vehicles parked in the shade. That shade was provided by 8,000 new solar panels built over the lot by NRG Energy, Inc. The largest solar power installation in the DC metropolitan area will provide 20% of the stadium’s electricity needs on game days and 100% on non-game days. Sunday’s game was dubbed “The Solar Bowl.” Go Redskins!

UMES Enters the Renewable Energy Business

University of Maryland Eastern Shore announced on September 13 the formation of a renewable energy development company, Eastern Shore Energy, LLC. The new company will create renewable energy projects at multiple sites on the lower Eastern Shore. The company’s goal is to develop systems capable of generating 100 to 150 megawatts from wind, solar and biomass projects. The regional initiative is the result of a partnership between the Maryland Hawk Corporation, (a non-profit affiliate of the university) and National Renewable Solutions, LLC of Minneapolis, MN, an affiliate of National Wind, LLC. More information here.

DC Wants Ideas about Improving Sustainability

Mayor Vincent Gray has launched a new Website called “Sustainable DC: Start in September”, and asks residents to, “Help make the District the greenest, healthiest, most livable city in the country.” The Website includes a discussion guide and invites users to share their feedback. It also includes a calendar of related discussions and events hosted by groups throughout the city.

Bethesda Central Farm Market Ranked Among Best in U.S.

Congratulations to the Bethesda Central Farm Market. In the “America’s Favorite Farmers Markets” contest, the local farm market was ranked 2nd best in the state of Maryland among markets of all sizes and 10th in the nation among medium sized farmers markets. The contest was put on by America’s Farmland Trust. Voting was online and open to all.

Upcoming Green Events

Savor Local Flavor: Four Course Dinner and Discussion with Chef Tony, Monday, September 19, 7:00 – 10:00 pm. Chef Tony’s, 4926 St. Elmo Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814. This is the third in the series On the Farm; Around the Table, connecting farmers, food and community in three meals. Chef Tony specializes in seafood and plans his menu based on what’s at its peak of ripeness that very day. During a fabulous four-course dinner, Chef Tony will talk about sourcing and cooking with seasonal and local ingredients. More information here.

Sustainable Office Seminar, Tuesday, September 20, 8:00-11:00 am, at Bethesda Green. Five sustainable office specialists offer concepts and practical tips to help people thrive in your office and make your company a “Best Place to Work.” Register here. For more information contact: sustainable.office.alliance@gmail.com.

Community Service Week Info Session, Thursday, September 22, 12:00 – 1:00 pm, at Bethesda Green. Learn more about Community Service Week and how your group can get involved as well as tips on planning a project. For more information about Community Service Week, visit www.montgomeryserves.org.

U.S. Dep’t. of Energy Solar Decathlon,  Friday, September 23 – Sunday, October 2, West Potomac Park, National Mall, Washington, D.C.  Competing collegiate teams (including University of Maryland) exhibit cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive solar-powered houses designed, built and operated by the students.  This free event includes tours of the solar homes, consumer workshops and award ceremonies for the winning teams.

Forest Glen Park Stroll, Saturday September 24, 2:00 – 4:00. A Conservation Montgomery event. Forest Glen Park in Silver Spring is surrounded by Rock Creek Park. The walk includes the grounds of historic National Park Seminary. More information.

BG101, Thursday, September 29, 4:00 – 5:30 pm, at Bethesda Green. Join us for an orientation about Bethesda Green, our history, upcoming events and volunteer opportunities.

Taste of Bethesda, Saturday, October 1, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm, at Bethesda’s Woodmont Triangle. More than 55 restaurants and four stages of entertainment and a kid’s corner for face painting and arts & crafts. Information here.

Tour of Solar Homes, Saturday and Sunday, October 1 – 2, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm.  The 21st annual tour includes more than 50 homes in the greater DC area and highlights a variety of design, technology and sustainable living concepts. Tour Guides are available for $5 at My Organic Market (Mom’s) or online.

2011 Bethesda Green Gala, Wednesday, October 5, 6:00 – 10:00 pm, Round House Theatre. Come meet local folks from the businesses, non-profits, community organizations and individuals whose innovations, practices and lifestyles promote environmental sustainability — winners and runner-ups of the 2011 Bethesda Magazine Green Awards, who will be announced and recognized for their inspiring work in the environmental community. This promises to be an evening of sharing and connecting as a community where we celebrate our greener future. More information.

Montgomery County Community Service Week, October 16 – 22.  The Montgomery County Volunteer Center invites you and your group to participate. More information.

Green Home Expo, Saturday October 22, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm at Bethesda Green. Learn easy ways to green your home and save money.  Presentations will cover conservation, efficiency and renewable energy.  In addition to industry vendors, meet representatives from nonprofits and Montgomery County government. More information coming soon.

Community Forklift Fundraising Extravaganza, Saturday, October 22, 7:00 – 10:30 pm, 4671 Tanglewood Drive, Edmonston, MD. Entertainment by the DC Lady Arm Wrestlers, Silent auction, Wonky Dog food truck, DJ One HeART Muszik, and adult beverages! Must be 21 or over. Community Forklift is a low-cost building materials warehouse open to the general public and a project of Sustainable Community Initiatives, a 501c3 nonprofit. More information on tickets, sponsorships, or to donate a silent auction item.

by Dan Rudt

MoCo Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program Accepting Applications

Interested in upgrading your home to improve comfort, reduce energy costs and even boost long-term home value? Montgomery County, using a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, is offering a one-time program to help you pay for the costs of these improvements. The Montgomery County Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program offers incentives to homeowners for energy efficiency improvements such as insulation, heating and cooling systems, and appliances. Owners of single family properties and condominiums can apply for up to $3,000 of funding per applicant. The minimum rebate size is $500 (typically a $2,000 to $3,000 project). In order to be eligible, each applicant must have an energy audit from an auditor participating in the Maryland Home Performance with ENERGY STAR or a utility (e.g., Pepco, BG&E, Potomac Edison) audit program. Homeowners are encouraged to use these funds in concert with other incentives available from utilities, the Maryland Energy Administration and others. Detailed information on the program, audit requirements, application, as well as links to other sources of funding is located on the website www.mcenergyfunding.com.

U.S. Homes Using Less Power

The Associated Press reported on September 7 that American households are consuming energy at a slower rate now than in the recent past, and the rate is expected to continue falling. The AP attributes the slowdown in consumption to several factors. Among them is the widespread use of energy efficient light bulbs, government programs (e.g., the Montgomery County energy efficiency rebate program in the article directly above), energy efficient new homes and energy conservation brought on by the poor economy. Energy experts, according to the AP article, expect household energy use to continue falling for years to come.

State Board of Education to Hear Appeals to Save Nick’s Organic Farm

The Maryland Board of Education decided on August 30 that 32 Potomac residents who filed complaints against the Montgomery County Board of Education have a right to be heard. The local board, which owns the land that Nick Maravell has farmed organically since 1980, agreed earlier this year to lease the Brickyard Road property to the County, which said it will work with a private recreation provider to turn the organic farm into soccer fields. The state board may take up the matter at their next meeting on October 25.

Maryland Clean Energy Summit Moves to Baltimore

Sorry about that, Bethesda. The 2011 Summit, originally scheduled for the Marriott North Bethesda Conference Center in late August, has been moved to the Hilton Inner Harbor in Baltimore. The new dates are Thursday, October 27 through Saturday, October 29. The program includes a free consumer trade show on Saturday 8/29 from 9:30 am – 2:30 pm. The Summit was postponed and moved because the Bethesda North Conference Center sustained damage caused by the August 23 earthquake.

Upcoming Green Events

Sustainability: Definitions and Implementation, Montgomery County Civic Federation meeting, Monday, September 12, 7:45 pm. County Council Building – 1st Floor Auditorium, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville. Speakers: Jennifer Bitting, Environmental Engineer, Dept. of Homeland Security; Doug Weisburger, Sustainability Programs, Montgomery County Dept. of Environmental Protection, Eric Coffman, Senior Energy Planner, Montgomery County Dept. of Environmental Protection, Councilmember Roger Berliner, Chair, County Council Committee on Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment. More information.

Trans-Atlantic Symposium on Cleantech Innovation and Federal Contracting, Thursday, September 15, 8:00 am – 2:00 pm. Johns Hopkins U., Montgomery County Campus. Networking and information event for renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable transportation firms in the U.S. and Switzerland. The day includes a live video conference with PlanetSolar, the world’s largest boat powered exclusively by high-efficiency solar cells, which is on its first round-the-world voyage.

Bethesda Green Education, Outreach and Marketing (EOM) Group MeetingNewcomers Welcome! Thursday, September 15, 4:00 – 5:30 pm. This team of volunteers meets once every month to discuss Bethesda Green’s marketing and communications needs.

Savor Local Flavor: Four Course Dinner and Discussion with Chef Tony, Monday, September 19, 7:00 – 10:00 pm. Chef Tony’s, 4926 St. Elmo Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814.  This is the third in the series On the Farm; Around the Table, connecting farmers, food and community in three meals. More information here.

Sustainable Office Seminar, Tuesday, September 20, 8:00-11:00 am, at Bethesda Green. Five sustainable office specialists offer concepts and practical tips to help people thrive in their office and make their company a “Best Place to Work.” Register here. For more information contact: sustainable.office.alliance@gmail.com.

U.S. Dep’t. of Energy Solar Decathlon,  Friday, September 23 – Sunday, October 2, West Potomac Park, National Mall, Washington, D.C.  Competing collegiate teams (including University of Maryland) exhibit cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive solar-powered houses designed, built and operated by the students.  This free event includes tours of the solar homes, consumer workshops and award ceremonies for the winning teams.

2011 Bethesda Green Gala, Wednesday, October 5, 6:00 – 10:00 pm, Round House Theatre. The gala recognizes Bethesda Magazine’s Green Award winners for their inspiring work in the environmental community. This promises to be an evening of sharing and connecting as a community where we celebrate our greener future. More information.

By Dan Rudt

photo by Dan Rudt

Despite prior predictions of rain, the sun was fully present Monday morning (August 8, 2011) along with politicians, business executives, reporters and area residents. They were gathered in a parking lot off Old Georgetown Road, just north of the Wildwood Shopping Center, for a ribbon-cutting ceremony and demonstration marking the debut of Maryland’s first solar energy-generating, electric vehicle (EV) charging station.

Made in Columbia, Maryland by Advanced Technology and Research Corp (ATR), the new charging station differs from EV chargers installed elsewhere around the state. The unit is the first to include a 1,410 watt array of 6 solar panels equipped with ATR’s GPS-based sun-tracking technology atop an 18-foot tall steel pole. Two Level II car chargers are mounted to the pole to service two vehicles at once. The solar generated electricity is fed through a micro-inverter that converts the DC electricity to AC, then into the utility grid, from which the chargers, in turn, draw their electricity. The sun-tracking technology allows the solar array to follow the sun throughout the day. ATR claims this will enable the solar panels to generate at least 30% more electricity than fixed panels would generate.

The entire installation is very compact. The charging station demonstrated on Monday sits atop a narrow island in the parking lot. A shopping center or transit station parking lot could offer customers the use of these charging stations with a minimal space allocation.

Alvin L. “Tripp”Aubinoe III, President of Aubinoe Property Management, and part owner of the property at 10401 Old Georgetown Road, purchased the charging station. Aubinoe stated he anticipates a growing number of EVs in the area and wants to provide a service for patrons of the surrounding businesses while they shop. “I hope that my actions here will inspire others to take their own steps towards a more sustainable future,” Aubinoe said.

photo by Dan Rudt

According to Cynthia K. Hoes, property manager for Alvin L. Aubinoe Inc., the two chargers are fully operational now. An EV driver (or two) can simply pull up, attach the charger cables to their cars and visit adjacent offices and stores while adding miles to their EV batteries. The service is free at this time. Aubinoe intends to charge a fee, which has yet to be determined, at some point in the future.

The pole mounted, sun-tracking solar energy generator was produced with the assistance of a $1.1 million Clean Energy Economic Development Initiative (CEEDI) grant that the Maryland Energy Administration and the U.S. Department of Energy awarded ATR last July. In addition to the EV charging station, the grant, which uses federal stimulus funds, helped enable ATR to develop sun-tracking solar power producing generators that mount on parking lot and highway light poles, a post mounted solar unit for residential use, and a system that attaches to a wind turbine to create a hybrid electrical generating unit.

Speakers at the Monday morning ceremony, in addition to Tripp Aubinoe, included Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett, ATR Founder and CEO Dr. Jackson Yang, Baltimore-Washington Electric Vehicle Initiative Executive Director Jill Sorensen, Bethesda Green Executive Director Dave Feldman and other government and ATR officials.

Governor O’Malley, a supporter of renewable energy and electric vehicles, spoke of the importance of “creating the high-tech jobs of tomorrow, using innovation and imagination to expand opportunity.” He called ATR’s sun-tracking charging station, “the very embodiment of an imagination economy” and said he was “pleased that ATR is innovating and manufacturing new green technologies right here in Maryland.”

Dan Rudt is a former radio news anchor and public affairs program host for WPGC-AM, and producer for Westwood One Radio Networks. He is currently a freelance writer/reporter in Montgomery County, Maryland covering the “green” beat.

Green News & Events, Week of August 01 – 07, 2011

by Dan Rudt

Earn a Certificate in Commercial Urban Agriculture at PGCC – Prince George’s Community College partners with ECO City Farms to offer the first program of its kind in the region, designed to give you a comprehensive introduction to starting your own urban farm. A total of six courses (28 hours of instruction) make up the Certificate program. The courses are taught by ECO City Farms staff at their urban farm at 4913 Crittenden Street, Edmonston, Maryland, 20781. More information here.

Volunteer and Experience Urban Farming – Not ready to farm for a living, but want to get your hands dirty? You can experience urban farming every Saturday as a volunteer at ECO City Farms. The educational, not-for-profit in Edmonston is designed to serve as a prototype for sustainable local farming. Workshops, potlucks and tours are also available.

Green Tech Company Wins DC Business Plan Competition – For the second year in a row, a green technology company has won the annual Washington, DC Economic Partnership (WDCEP) Business Plan Competition. The award consists of a $100,000 investment and $50,000 of in-kind services. The winning company, Skyline Innovations, offers solar water heating and energy efficient HVAC systems, with no capital outlay by the customer. EnviRelation, LLC, a District-based business that composts restaurant waste and scraps, was last year’s competition winner.

Planned Solar Installation will Double Maryland Solar Power ProductionThe Baltimore Sun reports that Maryland Solar, LLC was granted a 20-year lease by the state for 250 acres near the Maryland Correctional Institute in Hagerstown. The company plans to install 100,000 solar panels on the land and will create approximately 125 construction jobs, beginning later this year.

Good News for Electric Vehicle Owners – If you own an EV, you will soon be able to buy the GE WattStation Wall Mount Electric Vehicle Charging Station at Lowe’s. GE and Lowe’s have announced the WattStation will be available at 60 Lowe’s stores and nationwide at Lowes.com in September. Lowe’s will be the first retailer to carry the GE product.

More Good News for EV Owners – The nation’s largest drugstore chain plans to become the largest retail host of electric charging stations. Walgreens says it will install electric vehicle charging sites at 800 of its retail locations across the country (including the DC market) by the end of the year. Two types of chargers will be installed. One, a high speed charger, should add 30 miles of driving with a 10 minute charge. The other, a Level 2 charger, is expected to add up to 25 miles of range with a one hour charge. Walgreens also will have more than 100 rooftop solar installations at stores and distribution centers by the end of the year.

Upcoming Green Events

Bethesda Green First Thursday Happy Hour @ Flanagan’s Harp & Fiddle, Thursday, August 4, 5:00 PM, 4844 Cordell Avenue. Meet fun, like-minded people and learn about exciting, upcoming Bethesda Green events. Let us know you’re coming!

Green Networking Event at Dirty Martini, Wednesday, August 10, 5:30 – 8:00 pm. Capital Cabal and the Sustainable Business Network of Washington (SBNOW) invite you to enjoy appetizers, drink specials, door prizes and meet dozens of other “green” professionals at the 100% wind electrified Dirty Martini, 1223 Connecticut Avenue NW, (Dupont Circle). $15 in advance; $20 at the door. Preregister here.

2011 Montgomery County Agricultural Fair, August 12-20th. Experience the mobile science lab, Old MacDonald’s barn, animal birthing center & milking parlor, chat with master gardeners at the Bay Friendly Garden, and learn about honeybees. Don’t forget to buy some food and enjoy the rides and contests. More information here.

Closing the Loop in Our Food System: Breakfast, Panel Discussion & Optional Farm Market Visit, Sunday, August 21, 9:00 am – 1:00 pm. This is the first in the series On the Farm; Around the Table, connecting farmers, food and community in three meals. Location: Bethesda Green & Bethesda Central Farm Market. More information here.

Maryland Clean Energy Summit 2011, Thursday, August 25 – Saturday, August 27, Marriott North Bethesda Hotel and Conference Center. More than 60 speakers from business, government and energy non-profits will discuss how Maryland is “Investing in Energy to Generate Jobs.” Clean energy companies and those that serve them will exhibit. This is an excellent education and networking opportunity for those who are in the clean energy field or curious about it.

Fertile Ground: Local Sustainable Farm Tour and Lunch, Saturday, September 10, 12:30 – 3:00 pm. Rocklands Farm, 14525 Montevideo Rd., Poolesville, MD 20837. This is the second in the series On the Farm; Around the Table, connecting farmers, food and community in three meals.  More information here.

Savor Local Flavor: Four Course Dinner and Discussion with Chef Tony, Monday, September 19, 7:00 – 10:00 pm. Chef Tony’s, 4926 St. Elmo Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814.  This is the third in the series On the Farm; Around the Table, connecting farmers, food and community in three meals. More information here.

Green News & Events, Week of July 25 – 31, 2011

by Dan Rudt

Ribbon Cutting for Maryland’s First Wind Farm – Constellation Energy held a ribbon cutting ceremony last week at the site of Maryland’s first commercial wind farm. Constellation’s 28 wind turbines, spread along eight miles of Backbone Mountain in Garrett County, can produce enough electricity for 23,000 homes. Reporter Scott Calvert of the Baltimore Sun reports on the mixed reviews the turbines are receiving from Garrett County residents.

More American Families Growing Their Own Veggies – The National Gardening Association says the number of U.S. households with food gardens grew from 36 million in 2008 to 43 million, or 37% of all households, in 2009. Four out of five home gardeners have at least some college education, while two-thirds of them are over 45 and a slight majority are women. For more information, see the attractive infographic on the Mother Nature Network, or mnn.com.

Maryland Wins Federal Grant for Conservation and Parklands – Senators Cardin and Mikulski have announced a $723,598 matching grant to the state from the Department of Interior’s Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). According to the press release, the LWCF grant “will enable Maryland’s state and local governments to establish urban parks and community green spaces; to restore and provide public access to rivers, lakes and other water resources; and to conserve natural landscapes for public outdoor recreation use and enjoyment.” LWCF matching grants “leverage public and private investment in state and local public outdoor recreation.”

Car Sharing Provides Multiple Benefits to City of Baltimore – Zipcars, Inc., which has provided car sharing services in Baltimore for the past year, has released results of a Baltimore member survey showing multiple benefits for the city, as well as for Zipcar drivers. Nearly half the survey respondents were able to avoid buying a car, while 18% sold their existing cars. Some said they drive less and walk, bike and use public transit more than they did a year ago. For the city, fewer cars means less pollution, less congestion and less competition for parking spaces.

Sustainable Food JobsSustainablefoodjobs.wordpress.com has been around since 2009, so this may not, strictly speaking, belong in a news roundup, but if you are interested in the field and not familiar with the site, it is well worth visiting. Unlike the many sites that waste your time with jobs that are unrelated to your search term, all the listings I have seen are actual sustainable food jobs! The site also provides links to college programs in sustainable agriculture as well as sustainable food blogs and companies and organizations you can contact for information and networking.

Volunteers Needed to Distribute Recycling Info at MC Ag Fair – The Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection seeks volunteers to staff recycling information tables during the upcoming County Agricultural Fair, August 12 – 20. To volunteer or request additional information, contact the Recycling Volunteer Program at (240) 777-6445 or ana.arriaza@montgomerycountymd.gov.

Upcoming Green Events

The Buy Local Challenge, July 23 – 31. Support Maryland farms. Eat at least one thing from a local farm every day during Buy Local Week. And, bring the challenge to your workplace today.

BG 101, Thursday, July 28, 4 – 5:30 pm. Bethesda Green’s monthly orientation session. Learn about Bethesda Green history, programs, upcoming events and volunteer opportunities.

Home Canning Demonstration, Saturday, July 30, 10:30 – 11:30 am. Learn to can food at the Bethesda FreshFarm Farmers Market at Veteran’s Park, corner of Woodmont and Norfolk.

Connecting Local Farms, Food, and Community in Three Meals

Join Bethesda Green and Full Plate Ventures to enjoy the gastronomic pleasures of three local, seasonal, and home-style meals while meeting those who are building a healthy, local, sustainable food system in our region. Register early; space is limited!

  • Closing the Loop in Our Food System: Breakfast, Panel Discussion & Optional Farm Market Visit, Sunday, August 21, 9:00 am – 1:00 pm. Location: Bethesda Green & Bethesda Central Farm Market. More information here.
  • Fertile Ground: Local Sustainable Farm Tour and Lunch, Saturday, September 10, 12:30 – 3:00 pm. Location: Rocklands Farm, 14525 Montevideo Rd., Poolesville, MD 20837. More information here.
  • Savor Local Flavor: Four Course Dinner and Discussion with Chef Tony, Monday, September 19, 7:00 – 10:00 pm. Location: Chef Tony’s, 4926 St. Elmo Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814. More information here.

Green News & Events, Week of July 18 – 24, 2011

by Dan Rudt

Solar Installation Completed at Bethesda Synagogue, Adat Shalom – With 180 new, American-made solar panels on its roof, Adat Shalom expects to generate 50,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity every year. A project originated and developed by Kenergy Solar, the array was installed by Baltimore-based S.H. Silverblatt Electric, a Maryland Women-Owned Business Entity (WBE). Altus Power Management owns the solar system and is responsible for financing, operating and maintaining it. The synagogue incurred no construction costs, and will buy the generated power from Altus for the next 20 years for less than it would pay for power from the grid. Federal and state grants helped make the project possible. More information here and here.

Residential Clean Energy Grant Applications Are Growing Steadily – but not evenly. Grant applications filed with the Maryland Energy Administration for residential solar installations far outstrip those for wind installations, which lag behind geothermal as well. It appears local zoning ordinances overwhelmingly approve of rooftop solar. Most Maryland cities, towns and counties, on the other hand, have yet to decide their position on wind turbines; some have banned them from their jurisdictions. Barbara Pash, at baltimore.citybizlist.com, reports on the numbers and trends of the past few years.

Maryland Offshore Wind Farm May Be Half What O’Malley WantedThe (Ocean City) Dispatch reports that a Federal Environmental Assessment recommends reducing the area available for an offshore wind farm off the Maryland coast from around 206 square miles to ninety-four. The proposal to downsize was made after the U.S. Coast Guard expressed concern about the possible danger that the larger size wind farm might pose to coastal ship travel.

Hybrid Vehicle Scorecard Issued by Union of Concerned Scientists – The UCS compared thirty-four hybrid vehicles in two categories: luxury and non-luxury models. The scorecards compare the vehicles on four different measures: fuel efficiency, pollution relative to each car’s comparable non-hybrid model, cost-effectiveness, and the degree to which upgrade features are forced on the buyer as standard equipment. Topping the list of luxury models are the Lexus CT 200h and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. Among non-luxury models, the Toyota Prius stands head and shoulders above the rest. The scorecard is available here. Good information in the press release here.

Upcoming Green Events

Forest and Tree Conservation – Forest Conservation Advisory Committee, Tuesday, July 19, 7:00 – 9:00 pm. This meeting of the Montgomery County Dept. of Environmental Protection is open to the public. See the DEP Calendar of Events for address and contact information.

Conservation Landscaping Training, Saturday, July 23, 1:00 – 3:00 pm. Learn how to select, install and maintain native plants at Croydon Creek Nature Center in Rockville. To register, call the RainScapes Coordinator at 240-314-8877 or e-mail rainscapes@rockvillemd.gov.

Activist Workshop Sponsored by Environment America, Saturday, July 23, 1:00 – 4:00 pm. The workshop will cover the best techniques for organizing your neighbors to take action, and the best ways to persuade your local media to cover an issue you care about. Central Arlington Library, 2100 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington, VA 22201. RSVP.

22nd Annual Farm Tour & Harvest Sale, Saturday & Sunday, July 23 & 24, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm. Celebrate Montgomery County’s agricultural heritage at a dozen local farms. Purchase fresh fruit, vegetables, flowers, and plants – and the kids can pet the farm animals. Hooray!

Rain Barrel Information Session, Sunday, July 24, 1:00 – 3:00 pm. This free information session at Twinbrook Community Recreation Center, 12920 Twinbrook Parkway, Rockville, teaches how to select, install and maintain a rain barrel and how this storm water management technique helps protect city watersheds. To register, contact Amanda Matheny at amatheny@rockvillemd.gov or 240-314-8877.

Green News & Events, Week of July 11 – 17, 2011

by Dan Rudt

Deadline Tomorrow: Nominations for Bethesda Magazine 2011Green Awards – Nominate local individuals, businesses, non-profits, neighborhoods, school organizations, condo associations or faith-based organizations from Montgomery County or NW DC by Tuesday, July 12. Winners will be profiled in the November/December issue of Bethesda Magazine and recognized at the Bethesda Green Gala on October 5, 2011, at the Round House Theatre in Bethesda.

Maryland, DC and Virginia Create New, Green Jobs Database – The Mid-Atlantic Regional Collaborative’s (MARC) Green Consortium last week announced their new green jobs portal, available at www.marcgreenworks.com. The MARC Green Works Jobs portal provides free, real-time job search and recruitment tools for DC, Maryland and Virginia jobseekers and employers. In addition, the portal provides real-time labor market data (area profile, occupation profile, industry profile, and labor market facts) to help jobseekers and employers make real-life decisions.

Bethesda Avenue Restaurant, Cava Mezze Grill, Goes Zero Waste – Unlike many restaurants, where food scraps end up in a dumpster, Cava Mezze Grill separates its scraps and other recyclables, which are picked up daily by EnviRelation and transported to nearby composting facilities. All the restaurant’s bowls, drink cups, cutlery, napkins, and paper bags are compostable as well. Even the insulated foil used to keep sandwiches warm is gone, replaced by EcoCraft Biodegradable Deli Insulated Paper. Rob Gresham of Cava Mezze Grill, remarks, “We are proud to implement a program that not only has a positive impact on the environment, but empowers our customers. Our zero waste initiative fits perfectly with our ‘big flavor, small footprint’ motto.”

Montgomery Parks Foundation Invites You to Join the “Friends of Montgomery Parks” – The non-profit foundation is appealing to local residents and businesses to help counter county budget cuts that are hurting our parks. According to the Foundation website, “Over the past 10 years, the total acreage managed by M-NCPPC Montgomery Parks has increased by 11% to over 35,000 acres….Over the same time period, the staff available to support the work program has decreased by 22% and funding has been declining at an alarming rate for the past three years.” Membership is $35 and includes an invitation to a special, members-only night at Brookside Gardens “Garden of Lights,” Wednesday, November 23, 2011. WUSA9 story here. Foundation website here.

U.S. Production of Renewable Energy Surpasses that of Nuclear – The Takoma Park based Sun Day Campaign has crunched the numbers from the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s most recent “Monthly Energy Review” and the EIA “Electric Power Monthly.” Here are some highlights from the Sun Day Campaign analysis:

In the first quarter of 2011, renewable energy sources (biomass/biofuels, geothermal, solar, water, wind) accounted for 11.73% of U.S. energy production or 5.65% more than energy produced from nuclear power. The 11.73% represents a 15% increase from first quarter 2010 and a 25% increase from first quarter 2009. Biomass/biofuels accounted for half, hydropower for one-third and wind for one-eighth of the renewable energy, while geothermal and solar provided 2.45% and 1.16%, respectively.

Renewable energy sources, according to the Sun Day Campaign, accounted for 12.94% of first quarter U.S. electrical generation — up from 10.31% in first quarter 2010. “Solar-generated electricity increased by 104.8%, wind-generated electricity rose by 40.3%, hydropower output expanded by 28.7%, and geothermal electrical generation rose by 5.8%. Only electricity from biomass sources dropped — by 4.8%. By comparison, natural gas electrical output rose by 1.8% and nuclear-generated electricity increased by only 0.4% while coal-generated electricity dropped by 5.7%.”

Upcoming Green Events

Scaling Up Residential Biomass Heating: A Stakeholder Symposium, Wednesday, July 13, 2:00 – 4:00 pm. Free symposium “explores the opportunities for policy makers to maximize the potential of residential wood heat to reduce fossil fuel use…” Location: US Forest Service, 201 14th St. SW (14th & Independence) in the Yates Training Room. RSVP is required.

Bethesda Green Education, Outreach and Marketing (EOM) Group Meeting, Thursday, July 14, 4:00 – 5:30 pm. This team of volunteers meets on the second Thursday of every month to discuss Bethesda Green’s marketing and communications needs. New members are encouraged to join.

Green Wheaton, 2nd Annual Green Drinks Networking Happy Hour, Thursday, July 14, 5:00 – 8:00 pm. Come to the Royal Mile Pub, 2407 Price Avenue, Wheaton and meet friends from Green Wheaton and the Wheaton & Kensington Chamber of Commerce. Register to attend.

Greening Our Sanctuaries: An Interfaith Workshop and Expo, Sunday, July 17, 1:30 pm – 5:00 pm. Greater Washington Interfaith Power & Light hosts this event at Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation, 7727 Persimmon Tree Lane, Bethesda, MD 20817. Local congregations can learn to form a green team, save energy, green their grounds, go solar, and commit to greener procurement. Register here

Forest and Tree Conservation – Forest Conservation Advisory Committee, Tuesday, July 19, 7:00 – 9:00 pm. This meeting of the Montgomery County Dept. of Environmental Protection is open to the public. See the DEP Calendar of Events for address and contact information.

Mid-Atlantic SPROG, July 31-Aug 7.  The Sierra Club Student Coalition annual summer training program for student environmental leaders is accepting applications. High school and college students will spend the week at the Hard Bargain Farm in Accokeek, Maryland, learning to organize and manage environmental campaigns. They will also meet like-minded students from around the mid-Atlantic area and most likely have a great deal of fun.

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