BreezBee® Wind Panel

BreezBee® Wind Panels (Photo by Altenera Technology)

by Dan Kulpinski

Wind does more than make turbines spin: It also causes objects to vibrate. What if the energy in those vibrations could be tapped to generate electricity, using a method that is silent and has no moving parts?

Altenera Technology, a Bethesda Green incubator company, is developing a new device to do just that. Their modular BreezBee® Wind Panel prototype holds many “reeds” that vibrate in the wind. By utilizing a magnetic field, the device transforms the vibrational energy into an electric current.

The reeds can be assembled in panels of any shape and size, which can be connected together like Legos. The panels are light and have no moving parts — both big plusses in cities.

“It’s really the first, practical wind solution that’s good for residential locations because it doesn’t have rotating parts,” said Chase McCarthy, chief business development officer. “You can use sites that never would have been considered for wind before with this wind panel, because it’s small, light and silent.”

Because tall buildings create unusual wind patterns, there’s plenty of opportunity for small-scale wind power in urban areas. “You have very turbulent wind conditions in cities,” said McCarthy.

Altenera’s wind panels could go atop roofs, or form a kind of webbing in the framework of municipal sites such as bridges and water towers, or be used in mobile arrays for military or other purposes.

Chief Technology Officer Morris Kaplan proved the concept when he built a reed-like power source for sensors in remote, hard-to-access industrial equipment. Since beginning work on the technology, he’s filed two patents for Altenera and registered the BreezBee® trademark.

Solar house with BreezBee® Wind Panels

Solar house with BreezBee® Wind Panels. (Image by Altenera Technology)

“Although we’re competing with small turbines, our model is really closer to solar’s,” said Kaplan, who is an internationally recognized researcher in the modeling, design and fabrication of various mechanical and electro-optical components. “We use the same infrastructure and same electronics as solar. We think of the panel as a missing link between utility wind farms and the residential, solar panel market.”

In fact, the wind panels complement solar panels and could be easily installed by solar power companies at the same time they put solar on a roof.

As a start-up company, Altenera seeks to put some financial wind in its sails. “We’re building early-stage prototypes and looking for funding to take it to the final stage,” said McCarthy.

Dan Kulpinski is a freelance writer who covers environmental science and sustainability topics.

This year, the Environmental Film Festival celebrates its 20th Anniversary in the Nation’s Capital. The festival runs March 13-25, 2012, and features 180 documentary, narrative, animated, archival, experimental and children’s films. Most screenings include discussion and are free.

Bethesda Green is participating in the discussion after the Thursday, March 15, 7 pm showing of Cape Spin: An American Power Struggle at St. Columba’s Episcopal Church, 4201 Albemarle St. NW, Washington, DC, near the Tenleytown/AU Metro station. Cape Spin examines the unusual political alliances lined up for and against a major wind farm proposed for the middle of Nantucket Sound.

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.

by Dan Rudt

Maryland Solar Installation Applications to Double this Year

Margie Hyslop writes in the October 7 Gazette that the state Public Service Commission says it has received 1,550 applications so far this year from Marylanders seeking to certify their homes or businesses as solar renewable energy facilities. At that rate, applications are expected to double the 922 received last year. Montgomery County has more solar power installations than any other jurisdiction in the state. Hyslop says Kevin Lucas of the Maryland Energy Administration estimates 150 to 200 of Maryland’s 1,700 solar power installations are commercial; the rest are residential. The state currently generates 26 megawatts of solar power.

Maryland is not alone in solar energy growth. Public Radio International program, Living On Earth, reports that this year, “the U.S. [solar panel] industry expects to double its production.” The program mentions three reasons for this stunning growth. The first is the federal government solar installation incentive signed by President Bush three years ago. (Not mentioned in the story are the many state and local government incentives.) The second is the huge drop in the cost of solar panels from roughly four dollars and twenty cents a watt three years ago, down to roughly one dollar and twenty cents a watt today. Finally, the advent of solar leasing programs that eliminate the up-front cost of rooftop solar has created a spike in demand.

Gaithersburg Residents Create their Own “Citizens Plan” for Smart Growth

An article by Pam Lindstrom in the October 5 Greater Greater Washington begins with: “Filling a void of vision for a livable, sustainable future for Gaithersburg, my neighbors and I created our own plan for managing growth along the MD-355 corridor.” Lindstrom, with fellow Gaithersburg resident Judy Christensen, and architect Scott Knudson of Wiencek and Associates offering pro bono services, organized three charrettes in spring 2011, inviting neighbors and zoning lawyers representing some of the larger land and building owners in the 355 corridor. They presented their “Citizens’ Plan” to Gaithersburg elected officials and Planning Commission in July, and were met with a positive response. Here is a link to the article and another to a PDF of the Citizens’ Plan on the City of Gaithersburg Website.

Wind Energy: Marylanders are Ready; Are Politicians Willing?

A survey of 805 registered Maryland voters found 62 percent said they are willing to pay an additional $2 per month for electricity if more of it is generated by “clean, local offshore wind farms, instead of coming from coal, oil and gas.” Only 34 percent said they are not willing to pay more. The telephone survey was conducted throughout the state in late September for the National Wildlife Federation and the Offshore Wind Coalition. Margie Hyslop breaks down the poll numbers in the October 10 Gazette, and discusses the possible political ramifications of the survey in a follow up article on October 14.

Hyslop found that politicians who support a Maryland offshore wind farm plan to use the survey results in the next General Assembly session as one justification to move forward. In addition, she says, “advocates are more organized, have hired a lobbyist and are putting together a business coalition” to support the wind farm.

Let your Voice Be Heard; Take the Cycle Maryland Survey

The Maryland Office of Tourism, Department of Transportation, and State Highway Administration are conducting a bicycle user survey to learn more about cyclists in Maryland and what products they would find most useful to help plan bicycle trips. They hope to gain knowledge that will be used to improve cycling products and services. The survey is expected to take approximately 10 to 15 minutes to complete. After you are finished, you may choose to enter a prize drawing. The survey is here. The Cycle Maryland Webpage is here.

County Farmers Selling Pumpkins, Hayrides and Seasonal Fun

Support your local farmer, and have fun doing so! A number of Montgomery County farms are now offering pumpkins and hay rides, pony rides, petting zoos, mazes and haunted houses. For a list of pumpkin farms and their offerings, click here and scroll down to the Montgomery County listings.

Upcoming Green Events

Montgomery County Community Service Week, October 16 – 22. The Montgomery County Volunteer Center invites you to participate.  Attend the Volunteer Engagement Expo on Saturday, October 15 from 1-6pm at White Flint Mall where representatives from 20 local nonprofits will have information about current volunteer opportunities or click here for more information.

Green Home Expo, Saturday October 22, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm. This free educational event is held at Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Ave., 2nd floor, above Capital One Bank. 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.

Community Meeting about Bus Rapid Transit, Monday, October 24, 5:30 – 8:30 pm, Parks and Planning headquarters, 8787   Georgia  Ave., Silver Spring. The Montgomery County Planning Department hosts a community meeting to discuss bus rapid transit (BRT). The proposal includes 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.

Food Day, Monday, October 24, 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 on attending!

LEED for Existing Buildings, Operations + Maintenance Event, Thursday, October 27, 8:00 – 11:00 am, Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Ave., 2nd floor. This presentation is designed specifically for building owners, managers, developers and other building professionals. Details here.

BG101, Thursday, October 27, 4:00 – 5:30 pm, at Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Ave., 2nd floor. Join us for an orientation about Bethesda Green, our history, upcoming events and volunteer opportunities.

Maryland Clean Energy Summit, Thursday, October 27 – Saturday, October 29, Hilton Inner Harbor, Baltimore. Includes a consumer trade show and conference sessions that are FREE TO THE PUBLIC – on Saturday 10/29 9:30 – 2:30. Test drive a Chevy Volt, learn how to use your smart phone to control your home’s thermostat and lighting while you’re away, how to finance home energy improvements and much more. Click here, then scroll down to “Saturday, October 29th” for more information about the free consumer event.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 268 other followers