February 2009

For those who want to adopt a more green lifestyle, perhaps no other question gets asked more than, How do I go about doing that?  And, depending on who you ask, you’ll no doubt get a range of answers 090226-sogb-marketingfrom the misinformed to a litany of tasks untenable to all but monastic green monks.

With that in mind, a recent blog entry by Joel Makower of GreenBiz.com caught my eye.  Excerpting from The State of Green Business 2009 (which you can download for free after answering a short survey), Makower touches on consumers’ struggle to decipher among all the green claims of virtually every product and service in the market today.  Consumers understandably get confused.  As Makower states, “Given the lack of definitions, just about anything can be claimed as “green” — or “greenwash” — further muddying the waters.

My own take on all this, one I believe Makower shares, is that egregious forms of greenwashing should be called out, but any efforts to move in the right direction are welcome.

For communicators and organizations like Bethesda Green, our challenge is to first inform ourselves as best we can, then make that information available to the interested public.  We hope we’re putting in place the means to communicate the green message to our Bethesda Green audience — through this blog, the website, and numerous upcoming events — and welcome your ideas and insights that we can share with others.

Cindy Powers, Michael Belisle, and Catriona Fraser on the PeriPoint rooftop with a view of the Bethesda cityscape.

Cindy Powers, Michael Belisle, and Catriona Fraser on the PeriPoint rooftop with a view of the Bethesda cityscape looking out Old Georgetown Road.

Bethesda Green enjoyed a tour of PeriPoint yesterday.  That’s the unique, new building at the corner of Wilson Lane and Old Georgetown Road, designed by architect Michael Belisle, that replaced the old vacuum repair shop.

Bethesda Green Environmental Program Coordinator Cindy Powers and I met Michael and his wife, Elyse Harrison, Founder of Gallery Neptune, housed on the second floor of PeriPoint.  Joining us was Catriona Fraser, Director of Fraser Gallery, which will soon be exhibiting examples of what I call eco-art, featuring pieces created from discarded materials.

A visionary restaurant owner wanting a prominent location in a featured green space, should consider the PeriPoint first-floor vacancy.  The building’s green features include:

  • a reduced energy system for electrical, mechanical, and plumbing systems
  • pavers and perimeters on the sidewalk terrace to reduce storm water run-off
  • partial green roof on the upper rooftop garden
  • bike racks and showers to encourage walking and biking to work
  • maximum daylight lighting with operable windows
  • louvered solar screens, designed to block sunlight during hot summer months
  • renewable building materials, including recycled material content, recycled demolished building parts, and avoiding any non-renewable materials
  • highly efficient energy recovery ventilator for exhausting stale air from the building and drawing fresh air in to replace it
  • circular, exterior stair takes up less room than a normal staircase; does not have to be cooled, heated or continuously lit, saving money on energy costs
  • non-hydraulic KONE elevator uses 20% of the energy of a typical elevator.

Thanks to Michael for the tour of his building.  Gallery Neptune is currently exhibiting Emily Piccirillo, “Into the Open,” until February 28, with an Artist’s Talk scheduled Saturday, February 21, 2 p.m.

Recommended reading for our Bethesda Green friends and neighbors is wapomagcover1yesterday’s cover story in the Washington Post Magazine.  Liza Mundy, magazine staffer and veteran DC reporter, profiles her personal experience trying to make her pre-World War II Arlington home greener and answers the question, “Can one small household help save the planet from global warming?” 

In a well-researched, fact-filled and often-humorous piece, Mundy muses about the challenges of identifying what’s the right thing to do and changing well-entrenched habits among family members.  She tries to answer three key questions: “Do small actions matter?  How do we know the right actions to take?  And can we really address global warming without sacrificing too much comfort and leisure, not to mention family harmony?”

In many ways, the article reflects my personal position in this journey to creating a greener society.  Also worth checking out are the numerous article comments, covering the range of perspectives, and tomorrow’s online chat with the Mundy.

BG in Gazette 2.11.09Well, check it out.  Bethesda Green gets some pub in today’s issue of The Gazette.  The article by staff writer Bradford Pearson, “Bethesda nonprofit sets green goals,” outlines where we are in today’s tough economic climate and where we hope to go.

Note the photo, a copy of the online version, crops out BG Executive Director Dave Feldman.  This was not my doing.  That’s the way the Gazette published the photo online. To see photographer Charles E. Shoemaker’s original, you have to check the newsprint version, page A-4, a copy of which is available at BG.  For those keeping track, the photo here shows BG staffer Cindy Powers, yours truly, and BG Board member Ilaya Hopkins.  Dave Feldman would have appeared standing to the right of Ilaya, but they had to crop somewhere and better Dave than Cindy, I think.

Since this is turning into strictly a vanity entry, let me also pass a thanks for the kind words in the article to Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center Executive Director Ken Hartman and the Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce President Ginanne Italiano.

What we’re building is truly community oriented, and we wouldn’t be where we are today without the support of people like Ken and Ginanne.

BCC students get briefed about surveying Bethesda restaurants as part of the local biodiesel fuel research project.

BCC students get briefed about surveying Bethesda restaurants as part of the local biodiesel fuel research project.

Bethesda Green recently launched an exciting project in partnership with Montgomery County to research the disposal of waste vegetable oil from Bethesda restaurants.  It turns out that grease is a hot commodity for the production of biodiesel fuel, which could be used to power vehicles in the County fleet.

As a first step, Bethesda Green and the County developed a restaurant survey to estimate the total amount of grease available for possibly generating biodiesel locally and to improve the environmental choices restaurants have for disposing their waste vegetable oil.

BCC high school students have volunteered to help conduct the restaurant survey and recently dropped by Bethesda Green for a project orientation.  We’ll keep you posted on this important effort as it moves forward.

Restaurants wanting more information in general about the County’s Vegetable Oil Exchange program should go to www.montgomerycountymd.gov/veggieoil.

More information about the biodiesel program can be found on the Bethesda Green website.

Here’s an excellent online MD Recycling Directory.  Thanks to Alan Pultyniewicz, Montgomery County’s Recycling Coordinator with the Division of Solid Waste Services, for passing along the tip on a directory he says comes from the Maryland Recyclers Coalition.

A permanent link to the MD Recycling Directory is now in our blogroll list.

While we didn’t have a table at the recent Green Jobs Expo, representatives of Bethesda Green spread the good word about our work and exciting plans ahead.  I’m reluctant to start naming attendees we know — inevitably overlooking folks — but here’s a shout out to our friends at Clean Currents and Live Green.

BG Executive Director Dave Feldman, a tireless networker with few peers, started chatting with acquaintances and making new ones even before getting into the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel hosting the expo as part of the Good Jobs, Green Jobs National Conference.

Don’t kick yourself if you missed this chance to check out opportunities for green jobs, there’s another fair later this month.

The Virginia Sustainable Building Network and the Green Careers Center are organizing a Green Job Fair, Friday, Feb. 27, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. at the Westin Arlington Gateway, 801 North Glebe Road, Arlington, VA, near the Ballston Metro.  Event sponsor is the Sustainable Business Network of Washington (SB NOW).

Job seekers from a range of fields and experience are encouraged to attend — including the building design, engineering, and construction areas; new graduates in environmental and technical fields; green product and consulting representatives; others interested in new green business opportunities.

As our friend Lynn Miller writes in a new posting for Bethesda Green, “It’s well past New Years but never too late to make a resolution to go green – to tread a little more lightly on Mother Earth.”

She offers Nine Tips for Going Green in ’09.  What do you think of Lynn’s suggestions?  Do you have ideas of your own you’d like to share?