by Dan Rudt

Net-Zero Development in Downtown Frederick

They start at $264,000 for a townhouse; even the freestanding homes are in the mid-$300s. And each home produces as much energy as it consumes. Nexus Energy Homes, a Stevensville, Maryland construction company, is building a community of 55 affordable, net-zero homes in downtown Frederick. Each home generates both geothermal and solar energy and is equipped with Energy Star appliances, LED and CFL lights and other energy saving and energy monitoring features. More information from the Washington Post, Mother Nature Network and Nexus Energy Homes.

Update on Hagerstown Solar Farm

The Herald-Mail reports the Hagerstown Solar Farm that received approval in July from the Maryland Board of Public Works is still not a done deal. The solar installation would generate about 20 megawatts, doubling the state’s solar power output. A hearing Thursday at the Maryland Public Service Commission headquarters in Baltimore went smoothly, with no opposition presented. The plan now faces a public hearing at Hagerstown Community College on Wednesday (8/24) and several more state and local government approvals before Maryland Solar LLC can make the plan a reality.

Baltimore Firm Developing New Floating Power Generating Station

The American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) announced it has issued its first Approval in Principle for a new ocean-based renewable energy design. Developed by OTEC International LLC of Baltimore, the approach converts liquid ammonia into gas in a heat exchanger using warm ocean surface water. The ammonia gas then drives turbines that turn generators to produce electricity which is then exported through a submarine power cable to a land-based utility company. The ammonia is condensed back into a liquid phase using cold ocean water pumped from 3,000 feet below the water’s surface and the process begins again.

Citigroup Puts Up $50 Million for Solar Leasing

Sungevity last week announced a renewable energy tax equity fund with Citigroup Inc. that will support over $50 million of new residential solar lease projects. Sungetivity has become one of the fastest growing solar companies in the country thanks to its innovative lease program that allows homeowners to install solar panels with no up front cost. The funding was arranged through Citigroup’s Alternative Energy Finance Group. Sungetivity says it plans to hire 200 new employees by the end of 2011, doubling its current workforce.

U.S. Military Developing Green Energy Solutions

CNN reports the U.S. military is becoming “a leading buyer of cutting-edge renewable energy technology.” The network reports a number of reasons why this is happening. One is cost. The combined U.S. forces consume 80% of the energy used by the federal government and spends $15 billion a year on fuel. The military has also had to overcome serious logistical difficulties getting diesel fuel to its forces in remote areas of Iraq and Afghanistan. The cost of doing so has been heavy. One out of eight U.S. Army casualties in Iraq was sustained by soldiers protecting fuel convoys. CNN describes, in this online article, the steps being taken by the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines to reduce costs and casualties through renewable energy technology.

Upcoming Green Events

Maryland Clean Energy Summit 2011, Thursday, August 25 – Saturday, August 27, Marriott North Bethesda Hotel and Conference Center. More than 60 speakers from business, government and energy non-profits will discuss how Maryland is “Investing in Energy to Generate Jobs.” Clean energy companies and those that serve them will exhibit. This is an excellent education and networking opportunity for those who are in the clean energy field or curious about it.

BG 101, Thursday, August 25, 4 – 5:30 pm. Bethesda Green’s monthly orientation session. Learn about Bethesda Green history, programs, upcoming events and volunteer opportunities.

Fertile Ground: Local Sustainable Farm Tour and Lunch, Saturday, September 10, 12:30 – 3:00 pm. Rocklands Farm, 14525 Montevideo Rd., Poolesville, MD 20837. Free shuttle transportation available from Bethesda Green. This is the second in the series On the Farm; Around the Table, connecting farmers, food and community in three meals.  More information here.

Savor Local Flavor: Four Course Dinner and Discussion with Chef Tony, Monday, September 19, 7:00 – 10:00 pm. Chef Tony’s, 4926 St. Elmo Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814.  This is the third in the series On the Farm; Around the Table, connecting farmers, food and community in three meals. More information here.

U.S. Dep’t. of Energy Solar Decathlon,  Friday, September 23 – Sunday, October 2, West Potomac Park, National Mall, Washington, D.C.  Competing collegiate teams (including University of Maryland) exhibit cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive solar-powered houses designed, built and operated by the students.  This free event includes tours of the solar homes, consumer workshops and award ceremonies for the winning teams.

20th Annual Tour des Trees, Sunday, October 2 – Saturday, October 8. The seven day, 500 mile ride takes participants from Virginia Beach through Williamsburg, Richmond, Charlottsville, along the Shenandoahs and over to Harper’s Ferry before winding back down the shores of the Potomac to DC and the National Arboretum. The annual ride raises funds for tree research and scholarships.

2011 Bethesda Green Gala, Wednesday, October 5, 6 – 10 pm, Round House Theatre. The gala recognizes Bethesda Magazine‘s Green Award winners for their inspiring work in the environmental community.  Mark your calendar now. More information to come.