by Dan Rudt

MoCo Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program Accepting Applications

Interested in upgrading your home to improve comfort, reduce energy costs and even boost long-term home value? Montgomery County, using a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, is offering a one-time program to help you pay for the costs of these improvements. The Montgomery County Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program offers incentives to homeowners for energy efficiency improvements such as insulation, heating and cooling systems, and appliances. Owners of single family properties and condominiums can apply for up to $3,000 of funding per applicant. The minimum rebate size is $500 (typically a $2,000 to $3,000 project). In order to be eligible, each applicant must have an energy audit from an auditor participating in the Maryland Home Performance with ENERGY STAR or a utility (e.g., Pepco, BG&E, Potomac Edison) audit program. Homeowners are encouraged to use these funds in concert with other incentives available from utilities, the Maryland Energy Administration and others. Detailed information on the program, audit requirements, application, as well as links to other sources of funding is located on the website

U.S. Homes Using Less Power

The Associated Press reported on September 7 that American households are consuming energy at a slower rate now than in the recent past, and the rate is expected to continue falling. The AP attributes the slowdown in consumption to several factors. Among them is the widespread use of energy efficient light bulbs, government programs (e.g., the Montgomery County energy efficiency rebate program in the article directly above), energy efficient new homes and energy conservation brought on by the poor economy. Energy experts, according to the AP article, expect household energy use to continue falling for years to come.

State Board of Education to Hear Appeals to Save Nick’s Organic Farm

The Maryland Board of Education decided on August 30 that 32 Potomac residents who filed complaints against the Montgomery County Board of Education have a right to be heard. The local board, which owns the land that Nick Maravell has farmed organically since 1980, agreed earlier this year to lease the Brickyard Road property to the County, which said it will work with a private recreation provider to turn the organic farm into soccer fields. The state board may take up the matter at their next meeting on October 25.

Maryland Clean Energy Summit Moves to Baltimore

Sorry about that, Bethesda. The 2011 Summit, originally scheduled for the Marriott North Bethesda Conference Center in late August, has been moved to the Hilton Inner Harbor in Baltimore. The new dates are Thursday, October 27 through Saturday, October 29. The program includes a free consumer trade show on Saturday 8/29 from 9:30 am – 2:30 pm. The Summit was postponed and moved because the Bethesda North Conference Center sustained damage caused by the August 23 earthquake.

Upcoming Green Events

Sustainability: Definitions and Implementation, Montgomery County Civic Federation meeting, Monday, September 12, 7:45 pm. County Council Building – 1st Floor Auditorium, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville. Speakers: Jennifer Bitting, Environmental Engineer, Dept. of Homeland Security; Doug Weisburger, Sustainability Programs, Montgomery County Dept. of Environmental Protection, Eric Coffman, Senior Energy Planner, Montgomery County Dept. of Environmental Protection, Councilmember Roger Berliner, Chair, County Council Committee on Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment. More information.

Trans-Atlantic Symposium on Cleantech Innovation and Federal Contracting, Thursday, September 15, 8:00 am – 2:00 pm. Johns Hopkins U., Montgomery County Campus. Networking and information event for renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable transportation firms in the U.S. and Switzerland. The day includes a live video conference with PlanetSolar, the world’s largest boat powered exclusively by high-efficiency solar cells, which is on its first round-the-world voyage.

Bethesda Green Education, Outreach and Marketing (EOM) Group MeetingNewcomers Welcome! Thursday, September 15, 4:00 – 5:30 pm. This team of volunteers meets once every month to discuss Bethesda Green’s marketing and communications needs.

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.

Sustainable Office Seminar, Tuesday, September 20, 8:00-11:00 am, at Bethesda Green. Five sustainable office specialists offer concepts and practical tips to help people thrive in their office and make their company a “Best Place to Work.” Register here. For more information contact:

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.

2011 Bethesda Green Gala, Wednesday, October 5, 6:00 – 10:00 pm, Round House Theatre. The gala recognizes Bethesda Magazine’s Green Award winners for their inspiring work in the environmental community. This promises to be an evening of sharing and connecting as a community where we celebrate our greener future. More information.