BGnews_logoMaryland Showcase of Sustainability

Monday, Jan. 27
8 – 11 am
Weston Annapolis

This interactive and engaging event brings together change agents from across the state — including Bethesda Green Executive Director Dave Feldman and the team from Doo Consulting — who have created exciting and innovative programs in their communities, businesses or industries. Their work will be an inspiration to some, a beacon to others, and a call to action to the rest.  Click here for more info.

Montgomery County Sustainability Network

Tonight (Tuesday), Jan. 14
6 pm
Dawson’s Market Rockville

The newly formed Montgomery County Sustainability Network invites everyone to its first meeting this evening (Jan. 14), 6 pm at Dawson’s Market in Rockville.  For more information, click here.

Good Green Fun

Wednesday, Jan. 15
5:30 – 7:30 pm
Urban Butcher, Silver Spring

Silver Spring Green Happy Hour features “Salad Grazing: Healthy Livestock, People, & Planet” with a Tesla S on display.  For more information, click here.

News from GreenWheaton

GreenWheaton’s recent newsletter features 10 Green Tips compiled by Sara H. Brosnan: Use Less Energy When Heating Your Home and Other Winter Tips

BGnews_logoWhat is the future for Solar Energy?

GreenBiz.com recently published a solar industry forecast with a bright future — at least in the short term.  Solar energy has been growing and becoming more popular throughout the last five years but what does the future look like for it? The solar energy industry is moving extremely fast and, according to the GTM Research’s annual solar industry conference, the United States is expecting to install more solar capacity this year than Germany.

Solar energy is becoming popular because it is able to be sold to consumers through numerous channels, including traditional installers, car companies, environmental groups, home improvement stores, and home automation companies.  Solar energy is also becoming a favorite of institutional investors, which allows new companies such as SolarCity and Sungevity to innovate around financing.

Solar energy is the second largest source of new power generation and if it continues to grow, it is estimated that it could contribute nearly 10 percent of electricity generation in 15 years.

The challenge is that solar energy’s continued fast growth is not guaranteed. Future cuts in federal tax credits could slow down sales.

To read all of the details, check out this article.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle — but first Avoid

This article published by Shareable asks: What would a zero waste world look like? One dimension is efficient recycling. But to truly get to zero waste, you’d need to go beyond recycling into reduce and reuse. In South Australia, they’re experimenting with how to take this one step further by adding “avoid” to the top of the waste management hierarchy.

Insects help our food system

Eating bugs certainly is not an accepted part of our cultural appetite.  But that all may be changing.  According to an article published by Worldwatch, insects are an important part of the future for our food. The prices of grains and meats that depend on these grain supplies to feed livestock will definitely rise. Insects, however, offer a great alternative because they are easy to raise, healthy, and much more efficient in processing. The only problem is that bugs are usually not a friendly or attractive topic.

Most people relate disgust to insects so the biggest hurdle would be introducing insects as an appetizing and healthy food. The easiest way to integrate insects in our diet is through processed food, where the texture and taste of the bugs are lost but the healthy and sustainable source of protein is preserved.

Who knows?  It may not be too long before raising bugs is a normal part of the U.S. food consumption economy.

Learn more at this article.

Opportunities in water technology innovations

According to 77 percent of the respondents to the 2013 CDP Global 500 Water Report, business opportunities exist in addressing water-related risks. Many companies identified new products and services as one of the opportunities. The commercialization of innovative water technologies can be challenging though. These reasons include a disconnect between the price and the value of water and a lack of funding for water infrastructure and technologies in the public sector. Despite the challenges, water technology innovation continues.

To find out more, check out this article.

Events

BGnews_logoCut your own Christmas tree from the several tree farms around the D.C area

As you decorate your homes for Christmas consider visiting your local farm stand to pick up a fresh, Christmas tree. You can take your family to pick up a pre-cut Christmas tree or cut down your own! Not only will you be supporting your local farms, but you’ll be helping the environment, as well. Real Christmas trees are 100 percent environmentally friendly unlike artificial trees, which may contain harmful lead toxins and plastics and last centuries in a landfill after thrown away. Real trees naturally decompose over time and provide wildlife habitats for your little critters.

Check out the Washington Post to find out where the tree farms are!

Take care of your home during the winter season

Make sure to pay attention to your home during the busy holidays. If you tackle these tasks now, you may prevent problems later. Here are some quick and easy household tips:

  • Clean your kitchen vents whether they have an over the range microwave or a hood that is vented to the outdoors. Before the holiday cooking starts, clean or replace the grease filter in a dish washer or in a sink.
  • For better freeze-protection of outdoor faucets, replace standard frost-protected faucets with ones that have a built-in pressure relief valve.
  • Periodically watch the snow to  pinpoint maintenance issues you might otherwise never notice.

To see more details and more tips check out this article!

Events

  • Bethesda Green First Thursday Happy Hour, today, Dec. 5, 5 – 8 pm at Parva in Bethesda.  Hear from Interfaith Power & Light  about what local congregations are doing to save energy and go green. For more details and to RSVP, go to the Bethesda Green Meetup website.

 

           

savenia_Hor_w_arrow_TM_NEWA Bethesda Green Business Incubator company, Savenia Labs recently launched its new Home Ratings service.  We spoke to Savenia Founder John Jabara about the new offering.

So tell us a little about this new service your company has come out with.

Sure, Savenia tells home buyers, for the first time, the lifetime value of what’s in a home before they buy it. We’re talking about energy efficient appliances, lighting, water heaters, solar panels. These things saved you money when you lived in the home – what are these savings worth to the new buyer? That hasn’t been calculated before – and that’s what we do.  Home sellers and home buyers want to know how much it costs to run a home, not to mention the environmental impact.  This is what we capture on our Savenia Home Rating Label.

So, it’s a little like a BlueBook report for a car.

Exactly, and people forget that BlueBook is not only good for the buyer – but also the seller – because a seller with a car with premium features can get a premium price. But before BlueBook, you could tell people that the car was valuable because it had extra features, but it was hard to quantify. Same for Savenia. Home owners make efficiency improvements to their home all the time, efficient appliances, LED lighting, but when they go to sell their home, they and their Realtors have found it difficult to quantify and explain this in dollars and cents.  Savenia steps in with a simple way to clarify the lifetime value of what’s in the house.

OK, I think I get it. So how does it work. Where does Savenia get the data.

Savenia is a subscription service for home sellers, they send the data about what’s in the home to Savenia, and we can use our huge proprietary energy efficiency databases to crunch the numbers and tell them what these items are worth, how much energy they use, how much they cost to run, and how all that compares to other homes with the same types of products.

How do you make sure you get accurate data?

Great question.  The short answer is that we verify everything. Savenia uses 3 systems to verify and manage the data that users put in our system. We have 2 verification processes, where first we get subscribers to sign a contract regarding the quality of the data they put into the system, but also we do unannounced checks on homes to make sure the data is accurate. Then, for maximum transparency, we color code and disclose data sources on all our Home Rating Labels for quick reference in words and in color; light green labels are subscriber provider data, and dark green labels are independently verified.

So the Realtor puts the data in, and this results in a rating – how does that work?

Right. The Realtor puts in the data, and the system tells them which home systems qualify for a Savenia Rating, either a Bronze, Silver or Gold. Let’s say we have a home where the appliances qualify for a Silver, but the lighting only qualifies for a Bronze. The Realtor has the opportunity to make some changes, for example swap out the lighting for more efficient bulbs and get them a Bronze, Silver or Gold for the lighting.

Why don’t you just get your system to force a whole home rating – good and bad.

That approach has been tried all over the country, and unless the government mandates it, it is very difficult to get everyone on board in practice. And the reason is simple – people don’t upgrade their entire home at one time. They do it in sections. They remodel a kitchen. They replace an air conditioner. When they go to sell their home, they should be able to highlight the upgrades they made, without having to highlight the things that have not been upgraded. Buyers should use home inspections and auditors to dig deeper on these things. The Savenia system is not meant to replace a professional auditor or home inspector.

So how is your system different from other rating systems out there.

There is nothing out there in the market like the Savenia Home Rating System. If you’re a home seller and you’ve recently remodeled, and probably spent some money on this, there aren’t that many options that are quick and easy to communicate to buyers the cost saving benefits they get when they buy a home. You can always get a home energy audit or an inspection, and we recommend these pre-close, but some people don’t want to spend the money or the time to do this upfront. That’s where Savenia comes in.

Very interesting John. Thanks for that explanation. With so many people doing these efficiency improvements, this seems like a great way for them to explain the benefits and maybe even get some of their money back when they sell the house. How does someone get a Savenia Rating on their home.

Savenia Home is a subscription service for professional home sellers, builders and buyers…but we all reap the rewards. Right now Savenia availability is limited to a select group of professionals in the region, one of the largest custom home builders Sandy Spring Builders and one of the largest Realtors, Jane Fairweather are using the system.  Savenia Home Ratings are also guiding the historic renovation project at The Button Farmhouse in Seneca Creek State Park. And next year we will be able to add a second group of subscribers, again limited, as we plan to expand across the DC metro region. Realtors, builders and renovators should contact us at our website to grab a slot for 2014, and we can lock them in for this next phase.

You can get more information on Savenia Home Ratings at www.saveniahome.com. And you can also get many of the Savenia rated products that go behind this system at Ace Hardware stores across the region.

bggreennews_logo11Want To Do Something About Climate Change?
The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is organizing a series of public events drawing attention to proposals to transport liquified natural gas thru Maryland. Click here for details.

County Leading the Charge in Electric Vehicles
According to the Gazette, “Businesses across the county have been working to make it more convenient for the growing number of electric vehicle drivers to find a place to plug in and charge up, with about 15 percent of Maryland’s electric car charging stations now in Montgomery County.” Click here to see article.

Healthier Food in Schools
Seeking to find out why and how school food should be made more healthy, Real Food for Kids-Montgomery and Montgomery Victory Gardens recently hosted a community forum to get some answers. Click here for the Gazette’s coverage of the event. 

MD’s New Lawn Fertilizer Law Kicks in this Week
Maryland’s newly enacted Lawn Fertilizer Law prohibits the use of fertilizer products containing nitrogen or phosphorus during cold weather months. Click here for details.

Mow, Don’t Rake Leaves
While there’s still a few weeks left before the trees shed all their leaves, consider mowing your leaves into a healthy mulch for your yard. More 

Events

  • Bethesda Central Farm Market — Open Sundays, 9 am – 1 pm at the Bethesda Elementary School parking lot on Arlington Road, at the corner of Wilson Lane and Old Georgetown Road.
  • Support DC Greenworks – Wednesday, Nov. 20, 5 – 10 pm, 20 percent of sales at Le Grenier Restaurant, 502 H St. NE, Washington, DC 20002 will support DC Greenworks’ stormwater mitigation and green job training services in the District. More
  • Poultry Fair Share Town Hall Forum – Organized by Food & Water Watch, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 6 – 7 pm,  6810 Eastern Ave NW, Takoma Park, DC. More detail here
  • Greening Your Retail Business – Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2 – 4 pm, All Eco Center, 2662 University Blvd, Wheaton, MD. Free seminar organized by GreenWheaton.  More 

fall-leaves-200Raking leaves into big piles along the street for the county to pick up is in high gear this time of year.  But an alternative to consider is mowing your leaves into a healthy mulch for your yard, and it’s a lot less work.

An excellent blog post on this topic was originally published by the Little Falls Watershed Alliance in 2011, which includes details about the benefits of mowing your leaves from Scotts Fertilizer company.  Here’s what they recommend on their website:

Take the grass catcher off your mower and mow over the leaves on your lawn. You want to reduce your leaf clutter to dime-size pieces. You’ll know you’re done when about half an inch of grass can be seen through the mulched leaf layer. Once the leaf bits settle in, microbes and worms get to work recycling them. Any kind of rotary-action mower will do the job, and any kind of leaves can be chopped up.

So while there’s a few weeks left for all the leaves to come off the trees, give the mow, don’t rake approach a try.  It’s an easy way to treat your lawn and reduce the runoff into the gutters.

BGnews_logoBethesda Downtown 20-Year Plan Launched

A large, overflowing crowd gathered Monday evening, Nov. 4, at the County Regional Services Center, providing opinions to the Montgomery County Planning Board about what works and doesn’t work in downtown Bethesda.

With a focus on listening to residents, the event was the first step in launching a new Sector Plan for Bethesda that will culminate in about a year with a proposal for the approval of the County Council, providing a fresh look at how Bethesda might evolve over the next 20 years.

The new plan will revisit the 1994 Sector Plan’s recommendations, including issues related to walking, biking and environmental quality.  There will be plenty of opportunities for residents to weigh in, including this evening, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 7 -9 pm at Imagination Stage.

Click here for more information.

Advocates Aim to Stop Fracked Natural Gas Shipments in Maryland

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) is sounding the alarm about a proposal to build a liquified natural gas export facility in Cove Point, Maryland, along the Chesapeake Bay, fed from a web of pipelines throughout the state that would deliver fracked natural gas to the facility.

crossroads-tour-logo-emailCCAN Executive Director Mike Tidwell wrote in a recent Washington Post Op-Ed column that if allowed to go forward, the “Cove Point facility would become the biggest cause of global-warming pollution in Maryland.”

CCAN and other organizations are planning a series of town hall meetings across the state for people to learn more about the issue.  Locally, a meeting is scheduled Thursday, Nov. 7, 7:30 – 9 pm at the Silver Spring Civic Center.  Click here for more information.

BG Incubator Companies in the News

Energy Dynamics, one of the Bethesda Green Business Incubator companies, is competing along with a number of other start-ups across the nation to have an opportunity to pitch its product before Silicon Valley and Energy Sector investors.

The company designs and manufactures devices that capture and store wasted energy in the electrical system and then recycles it on demand.  The devices maximize the efficiency of electrical system utilization at commercial, industrial and residential facilities, yielding savings of between 6-12% on energy bills.

Energy Dynamics is asking for a vote of support to pitch its product.  Go here to vote.

Pictured left to right: Robert Dixon, Head of Industry Affairs, Siemens Industry, Inc.; Montgomery County Councilman Roger Berliner; John Jabara, Founder of Savenia Labs; Howard County Executive Ken Ulman; and Eric Coffman, Senior Energy Planner, Montgomery County.

Pictured left to right: Robert Dixon, Head of Industry Affairs, Siemens Industry, Inc.; Montgomery County Councilman Roger Berliner; John Jabara, Founder of Savenia Labs; Howard County Executive Ken Ulman; and Eric Coffman, Senior Energy Planner, Montgomery County.

John Jabara, Founder of Savenia Labs, a startup company in the Bethesda Green Business Incubator, received the Maryland Clean Energy Center Entrepreneur of the Year award at the annual MCEC summit this October.

Since 2009, a team of scientists and researchers working with Savenia Labs perfected its 10-step process of independently testing popular appliances to determine each model’s energy usage. Today, Savenia Labs Energy Rating labels can be found in local stores to aide consumers.

Events

  • First Thursday Happy Hour — Celebrate Autumn, Sustainability and Trees with Bethesda Green and Trees for the Future.  Enjoy casual conversation and social networking, Thursday, Nov. 7, 5-8 pm @ Jaleo, 7271 Woodmont Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814.  RSVP via Meetup.
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