Bullis pic1by Jon Akpapunam

Sustainable.  Steward.  School. 

What do these three words have in common?  Well, for one, they all begin with the letter “s”—but they also accurately describe Bullis School, located in Potomac, MD.

Bullis School made a commitment to environmental stewardship and education several years ago—and as an independent, college preparatory school, the decision to embed environmental consciousness within the school community was solely a decision of their own.

All of this seemed to jumpstart in 2005 with the Green Cup Challenge, a recycling challenge in which middle school classes participated pioneered by teacher, Rita Gerharz.  Clearly inspiration was drawn from this, as many other efforts followed shortly after.  In 2009, the school implemented an 11kW solar photovoltaic system (consisting of 540 panels) on the roof of their Blair Family Center for the Arts, with all remaining electrical needs fulfilled through the purchase of 100% wind power.  The Bullis Community Garden grows 30 different types of crops, providing food for the school’s dining hall and space for classroom use.  It does so without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides.  Also, as a Buddy Bison School, environmental education is incorporated throughout the curriculum and the partnership with the National Park Trust.

bullis pic2Second grade teacher, Carolyn Cohen, won the first Buddy National Teacher Award for Outstanding Environmental Stewardship from the National Park Trust.  Bullis was also ranked fourth in the country for its renewable energy use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Green Power Partnership, awarded membership to the 2011 Green Power Leadership Club, and received a Green Award from Bethesda Magazine in 2011.

Efforts have not ceased, however, with recognition in the last couple of years.  Students at Bullis continue to be environmentally aware and interested.  “Young people enjoy making a difference and leaving an impact,” explains Susie Zimmerman, the school’s Communications Director.  She attributes some of the school’s success in this regard to the early exposure provided to students.  Environmental education is incorporated into the curriculum starting in the second grade.

Susie stresses the importance and effectiveness of engaging students in hands-on experience that will connect students to the natural world and allow them to make a difference.  These experiences culminate in environmental stewardship becoming second nature—a part of everyday life.“

“Bullis seeks to prepare all students to become caring citizens who further demonstrate life-long proficiency in 21st century skills related to critical thinking, communication, creativity, collaboration, and resourcefulness,” the curriculum mission states.  Critical thinking, communication, creativity, collaboration, and resourcefulness are all vital skills necessary to lessen environmental impacts for a more sustainable future.

A school—teaching sustainability, acting as an environmental steward—that is Bullis.

A recent graduate of Denison University, Jon Akpapunam is an intern at both Clean Currents and the City Parks Alliance. He is passionate about both learning and developing new perspectives and strategies to create a more sustainable future.

Gala13_ArtDeco_logo v22013 BETHESDA GREEN GALA

Bethesda Green celebrates 5 years of promoting sustainable living with a fabulous Gala at the historic Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, Thursday, October 3. This event brings people from DC metro area who share the vision of a more green and sustainable community.  See more info about the Gala.

Highlights of the evening include honoring the 2013 Bethesda Magazine Green Award winners — businesses, organizations, communities and individuals who are providing green services or promoting and living a green lifestyle.

Buy Gala Tickets Now

Gala13_ArtDeco_logo v2Bethesda Green celebrates 5 years of promoting sustainable living with a fabulous Gala Thursday, October 3, at the historic Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club. This event gathers people from the DC metro area who share the vision of a more green and sustainable community.

Highlights of the evening include honoring 2013 Bethesda Magazine Green Award winners and recognizing businesses, organizations, communities and individuals who are providing green services or promoting and living a green lifestyle.  Click here for more details about the Gala.

Early Bird tickets (20% discount) available through Friday, Sept. 13.

Buy Your Tickets Now!

Do you know a Green Champion?

Nominations for the 4th annual Bethesda Magazine Green Awards, conducted in partnership with Bethesda Green, are now being accepted for businesses, organizations, communities and individuals who are providing green services or promoting and living a green lifestyle.

Click HERE for details and entry form. Submission deadline is June 28; self-nominations ok.

Winners will be profiled in the November/December 2013 issue of Bethesda Magazine and honored at the Bethesda Green Gala, October 3.

by Lori Hill

Peter Grazzini, the owner of Perfect Settings, is just like any other corporate head:  he is constantly looking to save money for his $14 million dollar company based in Landover, MD.  But for the past four years, he has been constantly thinking of new and innovative ways to reduce his environmental impact while also saving his company many thousands of dollars each year.

Perfect Settings owner Peter Grazzini

Since 1998, Perfect Settings has been providing gorgeous linen and premium and contemporary flatware, china, glassware and other tabletop accessories to caterers, event planners, venues and private individuals in the Washington, DC metropolitan area and throughout the United States.

So what prompted Peter to go green?  While on a buying trip to China in October 2008, he experienced several things that disturbed him.  First of all, there was a large bird cage in the lobby bar of the hotel where he was staying.  The cage contained approximately 100 birds and of course the birds were really loud.  Peter asked his server to be moved further away from the cage so that he could carry on a conversation.  He then inquired why there were so many birds.  The server explained that there were no birds in the cities of China and that it was considered a luxury to hear them sing.  When Peter inquired why there were no birds in the cities, the server explained that the air pollution made it difficult for the birds to breathe and more importantly, insects, a major source for the birds, could not survive with the pollution.  This was the first time that Peter had ever considered the effect humans are having on the environment.  It was a shocking realization that opened Peter’s eyes and caused him to notice more things on his trip that year.  For example, he spent 8 days in China and never saw the sun, even though it never rained.  For 8 days, he looked for birds and insects and never saw one.  On his way home, he watched Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and that was the straw the broke the camel’s back.  Peter has been trying to lessen his company’s impact on the planet ever since.

As a former event producer who concentrated on sustainable special events, I know that the rental industry is somewhat green by design since items are used over and over again.  Nonetheless, there is still a lot of waste and Peter Grazzini is working to minimize that waste.

When someone rents linens from a party rental company, the linens are delivered on hangers and covered in plastic just like your dry cleaning.  Similarly, plates, silverware, glassware and just about every item a rental company delivers to you comes wrapped in shrink wrap to protect it when it is transported from the rental facility to the venue.  Peter had the enterprising idea to collect all the shrink wrap and plastic bags and then bale and recycle them. His company also collects wire hangers for reuse and recycles all cardboard boxes.  In addition, when you rent equipment from Perfect Settings, they make available recycle bins for collecting glass, plastic bottles and aluminum cans.  So even if your event venue does not recycle, you can still recycle thanks to Perfect Settings.

Another innovation of Peter’s involves the use of high cocktail tables.  You’ve seen these at events.  It’s a table you typically stand at during a cocktail reception.  Traditionally, these are covered with linen, an option that can involve extra costs.  For example, in addition to the cost to purchase the material – much of which is premium, high quality fabric – you have the labor cost to sew the linen in assorted sizes to pair with tables in assorted sizes.  After the linen is used, you have the cost to clean the linen which includes electricity, water, cleaning solution and of course more labor.  As an alternative, Peter offers metal tables which cost less for the renter since a table linen is not needed. By not requiring a full table linen, less water and electricity are used and as a result, Peter is able to pass on the cost savings to the renter.  While the metal tables are often wrapped with fabric, the amount is much less:  2 yards vs. 10 yards for a traditional table linen.  In addition, the tables are virtually indestructible and Peter uses eco-friendly materials whenever possible.

Another example of how Peter is always looking for the more sustainable option is the picnic tables he recently acquired through Forever Redwood in California.  The company reforests old growth redwood forests that were clear cut in the 1920s and 1930s and then makes picnic tables from fast-growing oak, birch and walnut trees that block the sun and prevent growth of baby redwoods.

Reinvention is also a part of Peter’s vocabulary.  Rental equipment is often delivered in milk crates lined with clear trash bags that are much larger than the actual crate.  Peter realized how wasteful this was since less than half the bag was actually being utilized.  As a result, he found a manufacturer to create him a bag that is 60% smaller than a regular trash bag and is also biodegradable.  As a result, he saves 6 cents per bag or $18,000 a year compared to when he was using the larger sized bags!

Peter has re-engineered how he washes all the dishes he rents for special events.  By washing the cleaner dishes first, with a LEED-approved dish wash, a load lasts longer.

Like most green companies, Peter is conscientious about his lighting costs.  His 165,000 square foot warehouse, which once belonged to Giant, is open nearly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Since some sections of the warehouse are used more frequently than others, Peter installed motion sensors to save on energy costs.  And like many green companies, Perfect Settings is 100% wind powered thanks to Clean Currents.

As you’d probably suspect, even the vehicle Peter drives is eco-friendly.  He now drives a Chevy Volt and proudly boasts that at the 10,000 mile mark, he had only used 7 gallons of gas.

For third year in a row, Perfect Settings is a top level sponsor for the Bethesda Green Gala.  Take notice of the gorgeous table linens, dishware, glassware and other equipment used to make the gala look beautiful.  And be sure to say hi to Peter.

Lori Hill inspires people to add green to their lives.  Visit her website for more information.

The 3rd annual Bethesda Green Gala, Thursday, October 11, 2012, hosted at 2000 Tower Oaks Boulevard – a “green” building that has earned LEED Platinum certification – will offer an evening of inspiration, celebration and recognition of local green champions.

In addition to recognizing the 2012 Bethesda Magazine Green Award Winners, highlights of the evening with the theme of The Sky Is the Limit will include displays that imagine what a green community can be.  The Gala will offer fare from local purveyors, an open bar with local beer and wine, a silent auction featuring sustainable gifts and services, and more.

More information about the Gala can be found here, or you may purchase tickets directly at the link below.

With a June 29 deadline approaching, now is the time to enter the 3rd Annual Green Awards, presented by Bethesda Magazine and Bethesda Green. Nominations are being accepted here for the 2012 Green Awards.

Winners will be profiled in the November/December issue of Bethesda Magazine and recognized at the Bethesda Green Gala on October 11, 2012. The Green Awards recognize businesses, non-profits, communities and individuals that are leading the local fight to protect the environment.

Click here to read about last year’s winners.

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.

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