BGnews_logoBethesda Green looks to produce rooftop gardens in downtown Bethesda

Bethesda Green is looking to partner with the owners of flat rooftops in town — mostly businesses — to plant gardens and grow produce that would then be sold to local restaurants.

“We want to start a new business model,” said Sharon D’Emidio, program manager for Bethesda Green and head of the rooftop gardens program. “We’d love to see every roof with a garden on it.”

The rooftop gardens are a good fit for many of the roofs on Bethesda’s commercial properties because of their flat surfaces, plenty of sunlight and easy access to water, D’Emidio said. Produce from these gardens could be labeled pesticide-free.

See full article in Gazette.net.

Green Events

by Dave Feldman

Consider the following water-related facts:
  • 70% of the earth’s surface is covered with water but less than 1% is drinkable.
  • The Chesapeake Bay watershed consists of more than 100,000 streams, creeks and rivers; 18 trillion gallons of water; 11,600 miles of shoreline. It  goes through 6 states and Washington, DC, and is home to 17 million people.
  • A typical individual in the United States uses 80 -100 gallons of water (reports vary) each day.  Over 1 billion people use less than 1.5 gallons a day.
  • On average, women in Africa and Asia walk 3.7 miles to collect water

The numbers tell compelling stories. Water is vital to all life on our planet.

On Saturday, June 14, Bethesda Green and partners Mark Leisher Productions and Journey’s Crossing will hold our third annual Reel Water Film Festival at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club.

This inspiring event will share beautifully produced films about water and explore what is taking place around the world and within our communities. Plus, you’ll hear personal stories directly from many of the filmmakers. Our highlight of the evening is the award-winning feature film DamNation that explores the changes in our national attitudes about dams and healthy rivers. Click here to see schedule details.

RWFF est 2012 logoOur work doesn’t end when the festival is over. We use the funds raised to support international water projects and local education about water sustainability. This year, we are partnering with Rukundo International to work in a village in southern Uganda called Kabale. We’ll be installing water-harvesting tanks to support a primary school and the surrounding community. Locally, Bethesda Green will work with partners to protect the Chesapeake Bay and support various storm-water management projects.

The documentary movement is growing everywhere and film stands at the crossroads of culture, somewhere between journalism, narrative and television entertainment. Water is our story. Film is our medium.

Tickets are now available to purchase online. See you at the festival Saturday, June 14.

Dave Feldman is Executive Director of Bethesda Green.

by Betsy Reinstein DeweySolar City logo

I have a confession to make: I don’t have solar panels on my house.

I can make a million excuses (well at least 3 or 4), but the bottom line is that I just haven’t made it a priority. Do I feel guilty about this? Clearly. But that is about to change.

Recently I met some young people whose passion for accessing power from the sun brought them to Montgomery County to work for Solar City, the largest provider of rooftop solar systems in the country. They are on a mission to bring solar power to as many homes in our area as possible. Rather than selling the panels to customers, with their new program, Solar City will pay for the panels as well as all the costs of the installation, maintenance and support. So I can go solar at no cost to me. In fact my monthly utility bills will go down. Better yet, I don’t have to do any of the legwork. It’s hassle-free!

It took them about 2 minutes to show me my house on Google maps (their first step to see if you’re a good candidate) and then to tell me approximately how much I’ll save on my monthly electric bills. How it works is that the power that is generated goes into the grid and is “owned” by Solar City, since they will own the panels on my roof. I get to buy back the electricity I need at a set rate, which is actually lower than what I’m currently paying.

If you’re considering solar panels, take note: Solar City will donate $250 to Bethesda Green for every no-obligation site survey, whether or not you decide to proceed with installation — a green win-win-win.

So I set up a date for an engineer to come to my house to do a site survey. I have to admit I was a bit skeptical, because it all seemed too good to be true, but there really is no catch. Everything about the visit was pleasant, professional, quick and easy. He took measurements, photos and made assessments of my roof, and was able to give me an idea of how much solar my house would likely produce. Then he took this information back to the company so they can produce a custom design for my home. I’m looking forward to seeing the design they recommend. But here’s the best part. Whether or not I decide to contract with Solar City, they have agreed to make a donation of $250 to Bethesda Green for my site survey and for every site survey that comes through a Bethesda Green referral.

There’s no hard sell and no obligation. So if you decide to have your roof checked out, you’ll not only be doing something good for the planet, you’ll also be responsible for a donation of $250 to Bethesda Green. To me, this sounds like a green win-win-win.

If you’re interested in learning more or setting up an appointment, contact Danielle Kruse at dkruse@solarcity.com and be sure to mention Bethesda Green!

Betsy Reinstein Dewey is the Bethesda Green Development Officer.

LED_Logo_wTagby Sharon D’Emidio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Cabin John Creek flows under the MacArthur Blvd. bridge.

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

by Julie Clendenin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BGnews_logoOcean rapidly warming

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

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

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

See NASA News article for full story.

Eat your fruits and vegetables

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

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

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

See UCL News article for full story.

Events

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

 

BGnews_logoTurf Management Goes Green

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

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

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

For more details, see article in The Town Courier.

Going Green on your way to College

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

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

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

Debating Metro fare increases

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

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

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

Events

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

 

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