transportation


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.

 

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.

By Alison Wentzell

Cheverly Students Participate in Bike to School Day BGgreennews_logo1

Every year Gladys Noon Spellman Elementary School in Cheverly puts on Fall Bike to School Day.  Bike to School Day was set up as part of a program run through the National Center for Safe Routes to School, with the hopes of reducing traffic and pollution.  This year 90 students rode from Legion Park to the school alongside a police escort.  The day is to encourage children to walk and bike to school to promote healthier lifestyles.  As it is, approximately 50 students walk or bike to school each day, and the school hopes that this number will increase.

Check out the full article on the Gazette here.

Thumbs up to the DC Circulator

A recent study conducted by Howard University’s Transit Research Center concluded that the DC Circulator is as popular as ever!  Created a decade ago, the public transportation system has been keeping riders happy, as it links people from neighborhoods to mass transit stations.  The team surveyed approximately 1,800 riders who use the system on a regular basis, and found that 9 out of 10 riders were satisfied with the service.  More than 80% of the respondents use the system to commute between home and work and use it as an alternative to other options. The study found that 57% of DC Circulator riders own their own vehicles,, showing that the system promotes the use of mass transit in the DC area.

For more information, check out the full article in the Washington Post.

Events

  • Save a Birding Hot Spot, Sunday, Oct. 20, 9 – 11 am, 20500 Zion Road, Laytonsville, MD

Join The Montgomery County Sierra Club, Montgomery Bird Club, and Department of Environmental Protection to remove invasive plants from the Blue Mash Nature Trail, and protect bird and other wildlife species from invasive non-native plants.  Tools are limited so please bring clippers, saws, and loopers, if you can!  For more information click here.  If your interested please RSVP to mimi.abdu@maryland.sierraclub.org or call 301-919-6060.

  • Paper Shredding and Electronic Recycling Event, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 5 -7 pm, 3015 University Blvd, Kensington, MD 20895

Come out to the Signal Financial Federal Credit Union parking lot for a paper shredding and electronic recycling event organized by GreenWheaton!  Bring all unwanted paper and document to be securely shredded and recycled.  You can also bring any unwanted electronics to be recycled by ECO City Junk.  If you’re interested in volunteering for this event, contact GreenWheaton at info@greenwheaton.org.

Alison Wentzell is a senior at American University and an intern with Bethesda Green.  Her interests in sustainability focus on environmental politics, cultural aspects of the environment, and environmental conflict.

BRT photoby Kelly Blynn

As we’re all well aware, our area suffers some of the worst congestion in the nation. According to the Census, we waste 20 more minutes every day in traffic, away from family and home, than any other region in the country. Congestion makes our air pollution among the worst in the country; and an ever-increasing threat to the health and well-being of children and the elderly. The major challenge is that our current transportation infrastructure simply cannot handle the current and projected number of cars on the road. In the coming years, Montgomery County will add more than 200,000 new residents, and the same number of jobs.

That’s why Montgomery County has looked to plans for a Rapid Transit System, based on successful bus rapid transit systems from around the nation. The best way to describe the Rapid Transit System is a high quality transit system that operates like Metrorail on rubber tires.

This summer, the Montgomery County Planning Board passed a draft plan for a 79-mile system, entitled the Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan, and this fall that same plan will go to the County Council for consideration. Now is the time to learn more about this plan, and get involved.  Luckily, there’s a new video to get up to speed about the basics of the project:

Clearly, we must do something to find a better way to get to and from home, work, and school. Building new roads is too costly, too harmful to our neighborhoods, and won’t solve the problem. Investing in transit is the best option we have to provide high-quality, affordable transportation options, clean up our air, and improve our quality of life.

To get more involved in this project, sign up to testify at the upcoming public hearings on September 24 and 26, or visit www.nextgentransit.org for upcoming educational events.

Kelly Blynn is the Campaign Manager for the Coalition for Smarter Growth’s Next Generation of Transit Campaign. A former international campaigner at the climate change organization 350.org, she believes in thinking globally while acting locally, and she is now working hard to organize with communities for sustainable and equitable transportation in the Washington, DC region.

by Alison Wentzell

Maryland updates Bike and Pedestrian PlanBGnews_logo

A little over a decade ago Maryland adopted the 20-year Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan.  Now at the half way point, it is time for the Department of Transportation to update the plan.  While the plan does not establish any specific projects, it does set goals and outlines what we will see over the next 10 years.

A lot has changed since the plan was originally drafted, and the number of Maryland residents who choose to bike and walk has increased, with a concurrent demand for more infrastructural supports.  Bike lanes are popping up in communities that never had them before, and programs that support bicycling are growing.

The state of Maryland has budgeted $151 million over the next six years, and once the plan is complete officials can start making decisions on which projects get funded.

To see the full article published in the Gazette, click here.

Residents push back on rapid transit proposal

To improve long-range transportation options, be more environmentally friendly and support local business, the Montgomery County Planning Board recently approved a proposal to dedicate two lanes for rapid transit buses along Wisconsin Avenue from Friendship Heights Metro to the Rockville Metro.

However, according to a report published in the Gazette, many residents attending a May 28 meeting challenged the plan, especially in the Green Mile corridor between Friendship Height and downtown Bethesda.

See the Gazette article here.

CO2 Emissions Rose 1.4% in 2012     

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), global carbon dioxide emissions rose 1.4% in 2012, warning that if  we don’t change by 2020, there will be more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than we can reasonably deal with.

IEA representative Fatih Birol warns that “climate change is slipping down in the political agenda in many countries.”  To keep this issue at the forefront of our global leaders’ minds the IEA is urging countries and companies to implement four drastic measures by 2015.  This includes implementing aggressive energy efficiency measures, limiting coal output from inefficient plants, reducing the release of methane in gas and oil operations, and phasing out fossil fuel subsidies.

Click here to read the complete article published in the Washington Post.

Upcoming Events Bethesda Green Events

Come out and see entrepreneurs practice their pitch for our panel of investors, and get helpful feedback!

Join Bethesda Green for a great baseball game.  Tickets are free and available while supplies last. Email info@bethesdagreen.org.

Upcoming Partner Events

Join GreenWheaton for their 3rd anniversary!  The night includes appetizers, beer, wine, refreshments, green vendors, and door prizes!  Tickets are $30.

Alison Wentzell is a senior at American University and an intern with Bethesda Green.  Her interests in sustainability focus on the community, environmental politics, and cultural aspects of the environmental movement.

by Susanna Parker

Green Entrepreneurs Explore Financing OptionsBGnews_logo

Going through a slow economic recovery, some start-ups are finding it difficult to secure investors, with green industry entrepreneurs  having a harder time than most. According to a recent Gazette.net article, Tom Matzzie, CEO of Ethical Electric, was able to land a green energy venture capital deal late last year — but he was the only one in Maryland to do so. Clean venture funding has fallen 28 percent over the last year, but there is hope; clean technology companies accounted for five of the top 10 deals of 2012.

It can be difficult to secure investors without ceding control; investors are trying to get the best deal they can, which may include increased involvement in company operations. The key to finding investors is having the right product, and knowing how to pitch it.

Bethesda Green’s Green Business Incubator is helping new companies become investor-ready, which includes finance and investment workshops as well as helping local investors become more familiar with the green mission. The next session of the Finance Workshop Series & Venture Forum, coming up on February 28, will address the different types of investments that can be utilized by early stage companies, and the financing structures related to each.

A Pledge to Stop Deforestation

Asia Pulp & Paper Group, one of the largest paper companies in the world, has pledged to stop its suppliers from from cutting down natural Indonesian forests. The move, geared toward the preservation of endangered species’ habitats, was created in conjunction with Greenpeace and the Forest Trust. The paper company had been pressured by environmental groups to change its practices, which included cutting down old growth forests to create farmed tree plantations. Their plan will work to retain carbon in two ways:

  • The rainforests act as a carbon sink, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and emitting oxygen
  • The soil in Indonesian forests is peat-heavy, so by preserving the sanctity of the soil, less carbon will be released from the ground.

The plan went into effect February 1. To read the full article, and for pictures of Indonesian deforestation, please visit The Huffington Post.

Fracking Moratorium Bill Introduced in Maryland House of Delegates

Last Thursday, Maryland legislators unveiled a three-point plan to establish a moratorium on hydrofracking. This legislation came the same week that Baltimore City voted against fracking, and new federal studies highlighted the potential harms of hydrofracking. Delegate Heather Mizeur, lead sponsor of the bill, said that the legislation would “ensure the General Assembly’s role in reviewing the study results before any final drilling decisions are made.”

The co-lead sponsors of the bill are Baltimore County Senator Robert Zirkin and Montgomery County Senator Jamie Raskin. For the full story, along with details of the three-point plan, please read the Chesapeake Climate Action Network’s press release.

Upcoming Events

  • The 8th Annual Spring 2013 Film Series, Wechsler Theater, 3rd Flood, Mary Graydon Center. American University, 4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC.

Hosted by Chris Palmer and presented by the American University’s Center for Environmental Filmmaking and Filmmakers for Conservation, this series of environmental films and discussions is offered free to the public with no reservations required.

February 12 @ 7 pm: Animal Planet’s Battleground: Rhino Wars

Battleground: Rhino Wars takes the viewer into the conflict between rhino poachers and a South African anti-poaching unit. The unit, which includes former members of U.S. special forces, finds itself fighting a bloody war as they struggle to put a stop to the cruel, illegal, and highly lucrative trade of rhino horns. Animal Planet’s Senior Director of Production & Executive Producer Erin Wanner will discuss the series, premiering March 7, and reveal the back story of the miniseries’ creation.

More details about the film series can be found here.

  • The Next Generation of Transit: the Key to Montgomery County’s Green Future, Wednesday February 13, 6 – 8 pm, Silver Spring Civic Center

Join the Coalition for Smarter Growth, Smart Growth America CEO Geoff Anderson, and Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner to discuss the future of Montgomery County public transit. Future transit infrastructure should preserve open space, cut our emissions, and reduce our air pollution – and we can take action to make that future a reality. For details and to RSVP please visit the Coalition for Smarter Growth.

  • Forward on Climate Rally, Sunday Feb. 17, noon, The National Mall

Join fellow environmentalists on the National Mall to tell President Barack Obama that the time to act against climate change is now – starting with the prevention of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. For more details and to RSVP, visit the event page.

  • Secrets of Scandinavian Sustainable City Planning, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 8 – 9:30 am @ Bethesda Green

Doo Consulting presents Chris Jakubiak on “Secrets of Scandinavian Sustainable City Planning,” summarizing his fact-finding tour of Malmo, Sweden and Copenhagen, Denmark from the perspective of a certified and accomplished City Planner. RSVP — limited seating – breakfast fare will be served.

  • 2013 Green School Summit, March 2, 8:00 am – 5:30 pm, Mary Graydon Center, American University, 4400 Massachusetts Avenue, Washington DC.

Are you a building professional interested in green development? Or are you a K-12 teacher that wants their school to become more environmentally friendly? Join the U.S. Green Building Council for the 2013 Green School Summit, and learn best practices for sustainable schools, including administrative policies, technical advancements in green building, and how to include sustainability in your school’s curriculum.

The event agenda can be found here and tickets can be purchased through the U.S. Green Building Council.

Susanna Parker is a recent college graduate and volunteer with Bethesda Green. Her interest in sustainability leads her to look for green solutions in uncommon places.

by Kiera Zitelman, UMD Environmental Economics student

From trails between downtown monuments to bike lanes on Woodmont Avenue, the DC metropolitan area is brimming with bicyclists in these summer months. The success of Capital Bikeshare (affectionately known as CaBi), which has added 874 new docks in the last eight months, has introduced a new community of casual bicyclist-commuters around the city. Users pay an annual, monthly, or daily fee to rent one of over 1,500  bikes from over 100 stations around the metro area. CaBi plans to expand into College Park with a $375,000 state grant this fall.  Future plans look to Rockville, Alexandria, Bethesda, Silver Spring, Takoma Park, and other suburbs.  A recent survey of CaBi’s 18,000 users showed annual transportation savings of over $800 a year and avoided 5 million collective miles of driving.

While bikesharing programs grow around the country, Bethesda enjoys some excellent bike trails. The Capital Crescent Trail and C&O Canal Towpath put Georgetown within an hour’s ride of downtown Bethesda. DC’s high gas prices and rising Metro fares make biking an excellent alternative to driving or public transportation. And biking is a great form of exercise, too – an hour of moderate speed burns close to 500 calories.

Getting on a bike has never been a better idea. The Washington Area Bicyclist Association offers educational events for adults and children. Annual Bikeshare memberships are just $75, and new or used bikes can be easily found at area bike shops and online. Try replacing one commute a week with a bike ride instead, or plan a family trip on the weekend. Happy riding!

Bethesda Green is hosting a reception to introduce regional entrepreneurs, investors and professional services firms to the Cleantech Open, the nation’s premier start up business competition in the clean technology sector.  The reception will be held at Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Ave., Bethesda, MD 20814, March 6, 5 – 7 pm.

The Cleantech Open covers a wide array of technology sectors, including energy efficiency; water, air and waste; green building; renewable energy; smart power, green grid and energy storage; and transportation.  The competition is open to early stage businesses and students.  Regional competitions are held beginning in the Spring with the national finals culminating in the Fall.

RSVP

Cleantech Open Overview

by Dan Rudt

County Requests $1 Million for Bikeshare Program

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) has, for the fifth time in three years, submitted an application to the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) for a $1 million grant to fund a bike-sharing system in down-county transit corridors. What is different about this application? It is the first since the state government announced a bike-share grant program this past November.

If approved, the grant will fund 29 docking stations and 204 bikes between the Beltway and the D.C. line. The docking stations will be located at several Montgomery County Metrorail stops on both branches of the Red Line and will be integrated with the Capital Bikeshare system in D.C. and Arlington.

Montgomery County previously secured a $1.3 million Federal Transit Administration (FTA) grant for a bike-sharing program in portions of the City of Rockville and Shady Grove. That grant is provided through the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments under the FTA’s Job Access Reverse Commute (JARC) program to link lower income residents and employers with jobs and job training. The City of Rockville is partnering with the County to provide matching funds and implement the program. The Rockville/Shady Grove bike-sharing program will eventually be connected with the proposed down-county system as it expands.

The new bike-sharing application requests 80 percent of the funding needed for capital facilities. The County would be responsible for the remaining 20 percent, which it intends to raise through private sector sources. The County also will be responsible for operating and maintenance costs, some of which are expected to be offset by revenues from membership and usage fees.

Building developers, businesses, residents and other organizations in the County that have an interest in bike sharing are invited to contact the County’s bike-share program staff at  mcdot.bikeshare@montgomerycountymd.gov  to explore opportunities for joint funding, as well as to suggest locations for bike-share stations.  

Montgomery County Food Council Taking Applicants through Friday

The Montgomery County Food Council aims to bring together a diverse representation of stakeholders in a public and private partnership to improve the environmental, economic, social and nutritional health of Montgomery County through the creation of a robust, local, sustainable food system. The Food Council Search Committee selects and appoints between 13 to 17 representatives for a two-year long term as Montgomery County Food Council Members. Members are selected based on their individual qualifications in the following areas:

1. Commitment to improving the Montgomery County food system.

2. Lives, works, or has a strong interest/investment in Montgomery County.

3. Expertise in one or more local food-related issues such as agriculture, food security and access, nutrition, food business and industrial practices, food education and research, land use, urban food production and distribution.

4. Representation of one of the five food-system sectors (production, processing, distribution, consumption, waste management) and one of the following “working communities”:

 ■ Business Community

 ■ Local Governance

 ■ Community Organizations and Citizens

 ■ Health and Educational Organizations

 ■ Rural and Regional Organizations

5. Capacity to bring specific food system relationships and resources to the effort, as well as potential to represent diverse sectors of the local food system and/or the community at large.

The application process closes this Friday, January 13. Council members will be selected by Friday, January 27 and the first general meeting of the Montgomery County Food Council will be on Wednesday, February 15. Application and more information here.

Thirteen Green New Buses for Ride On

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett recently announced the addition of 12 new hybrid electric-diesel buses and one new non-hybrid clean diesel or ultra-low-sulfur diesel (ULSD) bus to the existing Ride On fleet.

For many of us, the word diesel conjures up images of foul smelling black sooty exhaust. Today’s clean, or ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel, however, contains 98.5% less sulfur than the diesel fuel of two decades ago. In addition, the newer diesel engines inject a solution into the exhaust stream to help reduce nitrogen oxide emissions. Finally, today’s diesel engine exhaust systems include an emissions-reducing device called a particulate filter that traps most of the remaining tiny particles of soot in the exhaust. Given all these emission reduction measures, and the fact that diesel engines are more fuel efficient than gasoline engines, taking the bus today does more to curb air pollution than ever before.

Of course, these are not the first green buses for Ride On. Eighteen percent of the 339 bus fleet is now hybrid electric-diesel, another 19 percent are non-hybrid, ultra-low-sulfur-diesel, and 27 percent run on compressed natural gas (CNG).

The new buses, made in the USA by Hayward, California-based Gillig, were purchased with $6.55 million in federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) funds provided by the State of Maryland. They will be used on Ride On’s busiest routes in the down-county and mid-county areas.

Upcoming Green Events

Bethesda Green Education, Outreach and Marketing (EOM) Group Meeting – Newcomers Welcome! Wednesday, January 11, 4:00 – 5:30 pm., 4825 Cordell Ave., corner of Woodmont Ave., Suite 200, above the Capital One Bank. A team of volunteers, EOM supports all of Bethesda Green’s communication efforts. From recycling to energy efficiency, sustainability to green building/design, EOM expresses the organization’s various areas of expertise in a clear and concise manner via various media.  New members are welcome to join. More information here, or contact Bethesda Green Communications Director Dave Heffernan, dvheffernan@bethesdagreen.org.

Future Harvest – Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, 13th Annual Conference, “Farm to Institution: Making Local Food Economies a Reality,” January 13-14, National Conference Center, Lansdowne, VA. Two keynote addresses on local food economies, six learning tracks, pre-conference workshops, farmer panel on advocacy and much more! Information and registration here.

MLK Day of Service 2012, Monday, January 16, 1:00 – 3:00 pm. Montgomery County will be celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service at North Bethesda Marriott Hotel and Conference Center and at two satellite site locations (Universities at Shady Grove in Gaithersburg and the Silver Spring Civic Building). That is followed by a tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. at Strathmore Hall at 4 pm. Volunteers can sign up to participate in this exciting event and learn about the great work that local organizations are doing, find out ways to get involved, and make a difference. More information and registration here.

Help the Hungry Food Drive:  Support those in need by bringing non perishable food items to the Bethesda North Marriott.  Food collection will be located near the Montgomery County Volunteer Center table.  Donations will go to Manna Food Center.

TEDxManhattan 2012: Changing the Way We Eat, Saturday, January 21, 9:00am – 5:30pm, at Bethesda Green. This all day, free event is a combination of live video from TEDxManhattan and local sessions at Bethesda Green. The event will highlight several aspects of the sustainable food movement and the work being done to shift our food system from industrially based agriculture to one in which healthy, nutritious food is accessible to all. Speakers with various backgrounds in food and farming will share their insights and expertise.

Learn about our burgeoning local food movement and opportunities to engage in our community, here in Montgomery County. No need to stay for the whole day. Drop in as your schedule allows. Local co-hosts of this event are Bethesda Green, Full Plate Ventures and Slow Food D.C.

Information about the New York speakers is here. The Bethesda program is outlined here, where you will find a registration link as well.

2012 “Keep Winter Cold” Polar Bear Plunge sponsored by CCAN, Saturday, January 21, 2012 at 11:00 am, The Beach at National Harbor, Maryland. For seven years, groups of people who care have plunged into cold bodies of water in our region to fight climate change, bring back the Arctic sea ice, and save polar bears. The Polar Bear Plunge is the Chesapeake Climate Action Network’s biggest annual fundraising event. The money raised during the plunge goes to support programs to combat global warming at the state level in our area. Information here.

BG 101, Wednesday, January 25, 4:00 – 5:30 pm, at Bethesda Green. Join us for an orientation about Bethesda Green, our history, upcoming events and volunteer opportunities.

Dan Rudt is the editor of Montgomery County Sustainability News,  or MoCo-Sustain.com serving the local area with environmental sustainability news, information and events.

by Dan Rudt

County RainScapes Rebate Program

The Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection’s rainscapes rewards rebate program offers financial incentives in the form of rebates to residential, commercial, multi-family and institutional property owners who install rainscapes techniques. Eligible projects include rain gardens, conservation landscaping, urban tree canopy, permeable pavers, pavement removal, green roofs, rain barrels, cisterns, and dry wells. Residential rebates range from $200 for installation of rain barrels to $1,200 for a rain garden, green roof retrofit, permeable pavers or pavement removal. Rebates for eligible projects may be combined until the homeowner reaches the maximum residential rebate amount of $1,200. The maximum rebate amount for commercial, multi-family, or institutional property is $5,000.

Rainfall does not penetrate roads, sidewalks, driveways, parking lots or other hard, impermeable surfaces. It runs off into storm water drainage systems (sewers) and streams. Unfortunately, water runoff carries pollutants such as oil, grease, excess lawn and garden fertilizers, pesticides, pet waste, trash and debris into those streams. In some cases, the pollutants end up in supplies of drinking water. The rainscapes techniques covered by the county rebate program are meant to reduce the runoff of pollutants into our streams, protecting the waterways, wildlife and public health.  

The RainScapes Rewards Rebate Program is funded by the county’s Water Quality Protection Charge that appears on property tax bills. Properties within the city limits of Rockville, Gaithersburg and Takoma Park are not eligible for the county rebates. Rockville and Gaithersburg have rainscapes programs for properties within their respective jurisdictions.

Annual funds for this fiscal year’s program are limited and rebates are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. All applications must be made online and will be accepted beginning January 3, 2012. Further information and the online application form are available at the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection Website.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Purchases 100% Wind Power

Rockville-based Clean Currents announced on December 8 that the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) has committed to purchasing Green-e Energy certified wind power from Clean Currents for 100% of its facility’s electricity needs.  

Since its founding 40 years ago, the CBF has been dedicated solely to restoring and protecting the Chesapeake Bay and its tributary rivers by reducing pollution. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s stunning headquarters (also known as The Philip Merrill Center) located in the Bay Ridge neighborhood east of downtown Annapolis, has won international acclaim as a model for energy efficiency, low impact design, and water conservation. It also has the distinction of being the first building in the United States to receive a Platinum rating through the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating program.

“CBF is one of the country’s leading environmental organizations, housed in one of the country’s greenest commercial structures – so it makes sense that they also receive their electricity from a clean and renewable energy source like wind power,” said Ron Rodriguez, Vice President of Business Development for Clean Currents.

The CBF’s energy purchase will avoid a total of more than six hundred thousand pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions annually – or the equivalent of removing nearly 100 cars from the roads for an entire year.

Update on the Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program

We have another update for you on the Montgomery County Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program. Eric R. Coffman, Senior Energy Planner for the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection, has told Bethesda Green that his office has approved 513 projects totaling over $630,000 in rebates to county homeowners. Rebates may range between $500-$3,000. Coffman says the average so far has amounted to $1,200 per household.

The county rebate program, funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, offers incentives for owners of single family properties and condominiums who install energy efficiency improvements such as insulation, Energy Star home heating and cooling systems, and Energy Star appliances. Homeowner upgrades will conserve energy. They are also good for local energy equipment sellers and installers and energy auditors. The upgrades applied for so far account for more than $3 million in economic activity within the county since September. That is more than $4 in economic activity for every $1 of program funds spent.

The remaining program funding amounts to $467,000. As for rebate applications, Coffman says, “We are seeing substantial program volume,” at this time.

The rebate program has a website for information and online applications. Anyone who has questions or is struggling with the application is encouraged to email help@mcenergyfunding.com for assistance.

For those who have already applied, Coffman reminds you that you have 90 days to complete the work and file for reimbursement. If you have exceeded the 90 days, you may be able to get a 30 day extension at this point. “However,” Coffman stressed, “our ability to grant extensions after the first of the year will be much more limited due to the County’s grant deadlines.”

Upcoming Green Events

The Future of Ride-On, Tuesday, December 13, 7:30 – 8:30 pm, Silver Spring Center, 8818 Georgia Ave, Silver Spring. The Action Committee for Transit sponsors this talk by Carolyn Biggins, Chief, Montgomery County Division of Transit Services. The meeting takes place at the Woodside Conference Room in the Silver Spring Center. The Center is a 10-minute walk north from the Silver Spring Metro Station. Ride On #5 stops two blocks west of the Center at Spring and 1st. Metrobus “Q” and “Y” routes stop in front of the Center. If coming by car, enter the parking lot from Ballard Street. More information on the ACT website.

BG101, Wednesday, December 28, 4:00 – 5:30 pm, at Bethesda Green. Join us for an orientation about Bethesda Green, our history, upcoming events and volunteer opportunities.

First Thursday Happy Hour @ BlackFinn, Thursday, Jan. 5, 5-8 pm, 4901 Fairmont Avenue, Bethesda. Ring in the New Year with Bethesda Green. Join us for casual conversation and social networking.

What’s your New Year’s Green Resolution?

Jot it down with your name and email address. Bring your Green Resolution to the Happy Hour for a chance to win a BlackFinn gift card. We’ll share ideas and publish highlights on our website.

* Hear about upcoming Bethesda Green events
* Meet members of our Green Business Incubator
* Learn what you can do to make a difference in your community

RSVP through Meetup

Bethesda Green Education, Outreach and Marketing (EOM) Group Meeting – Newcomers Welcome! Wednesday, January 11, 4:00 – 5:30 pm., 4825 Cordell Ave., above the Capital One Bank in Bethesda.A team of volunteers, EOM supports all of Bethesda Green’s communication efforts. From recycling to energy efficiency, sustainability to green building/design, EOM expresses the organization’s various areas of expertise in a clear and concise manner via various media.  New members are welcome to join. More information here, or contact Bethesda Green Communications Director Dave Heffernan, dvheffernan@bethesdagreen.org.

Future Harvest – Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, 13th Annual Conference, “Farm to Institution: Making Local Food Economies a Reality” January 13-14, National Conference Center, Lansdowne, VA. Two keynote addresses on local food economies, six learning tracks, pre-conference workshops, farmer panel on advocacy and much more! Information and registration here.

MLK Day of Service 2012, Monday, January 16, 1:00 – 3:00 pm. Montgomery County will be celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service at North Bethesda Marriott Hotel and Conference Center and at two satellite site locations (Universities at Shady Grove in Gaithersburg and the Silver Spring Civic Building). That is followed by a tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. at Strathmore Hall at 4:00pm. Volunteers can sign up to participate in this exciting event and learn about the great work that local organizations are doing, find out ways to get involved, and make a difference. More information and registration here.

Help the Hungry Food Drive:  Support those in need by bringing non perishable food items to the Bethesda North Marriott.  Food collection will be located near the Montgomery County Volunteer Center table.  Donations will go to Manna Food Center.

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