by Dan Rudt                                                                                                                               

EPA Recognizes Maryland’s Panera Bakery-Cafes
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced on October 25 that Panera Bread’s 35 Maryland locations are on EPA’s list of top green power purchasers among retailers. Panera Bread of Maryland purchases 100 percent of its electricity through wind power renewable electricity certificates (RECs). The company’s purchase of more than 11 million kilowatt hours is equivalent to avoiding the yearly carbon dioxide emissions of 1,350 passenger vehicles. “Supporting clean power makes good business sense and is good for the communities we serve,” said Brian J. Lemek, owner of Lemek, LLC, franchisee for Panera Bread bakery-cafes in the state of Maryland.

The EPA Green Power Partnership works with more than 1,300 partner organizations that are voluntarily purchasing green power to reduce the environmental impacts of conventional electricity use. Purchases of green power also help accelerate the development of new renewable energy capacity nationwide and produce no net increase to greenhouse gas emissions.

Leggett Seeks Applicants for Ag Advisory Committee

County Executive Isiah Leggett is seeking applicants to fill seven vacancies on the Agricultural Advisory Committee. Four positions are for farmers selected to represent the farm community, and three positions are for non-farmers. The 15-member committee advises the County Executive and County Council on all matters affecting agriculture in the County. Farmer representatives serve three-year terms and non-farmer members serve one-year terms. Members serve without compensation, but are eligible for reimbursement for travel and dependent care for meetings attended. Meetings are held on the third Tuesday evening of each month in Germantown. The deadline for application is November 12, 2010.

County Rebates Still Available for Homeowners

Eric Coffman of the County’s Department of Environmental Protection this week gave Bethesda Green an update on the Montgomery County Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program. As of Tuesday, October 25, more than 250 residents are participating in the program, reserving a total of $310,000 for a variety of energy efficiency projects. The roughly 75 jobs completed to date have created (in combination with the state Home Performance and Utility Programs) more than 2,000 hours of work for local energy efficiency professionals. The County still has almost $800,000 of funding available for Montgomery  County residents to help improve the efficiency of their homes.

Coffman suggests applicants ask for electronic copies of audits, proposals and invoices from service providers to make the application process easier. He says the vast majority of projects have been approved within 48 business hours of receiving the application. A few notices to proceed have gotten caught in spam filters, so if an applicant doesn’t hear from them in a week, he suggests they log into their account online. If they still have not received approval, he asks that applicants contact help@mcenergyfunding.com. One last tip for applicants: Make sure to check the “other sources of funding” link on www.mcenergyfunding.com for information about state, federal, and utility company incentives.

Bethesda Central Farm Market to Stay Open Year-round

The Bethesda Patch reports, in an October 26 article by Anna Isaacs, that the Bethesda Central Farm Market will remain open on Sundays throughout the winter at its location on Elm Street between Woodmont and Wisconsin avenues. According to the article, market co-founder Mitch Berliner expects at least 20 vendors to offer a variety of products this winter. Read the Patch article here.

Pepco Pledge to Save Campaign

Pepco is conducting a multi-pronged Pledge to Save Campaign in support of the state of Maryland EmPOWER initiative, which seeks to reduce energy consumption 15 percent by 2015. Pepco Maryland customers can make a “Pledge to Save,” signaling their commitment to reduce electricity use and entering them for a chance to win a $250 Lowe’s Home Improvement gift card. The deadline to submit a pledge is December 1, 2011.

Another feature of the campaign is a children’s art contest. Kids ages 5-10 (grades K-5) are invited to draw a picture illustrating what they are doing to save energy at home, at school or at play. The contest deadline is November 15, 2011. Six winners will be chosen and each will receive a $100 gift card. Pepco has started posting entries on the campaign’s Facebook page. Also for kids, the Energy Detective Activity Book teaches what electricity is, why it is important to conserve it, and what we can do to use less of it.

Upcoming Green Events

Open House about the proposed Purple Line Project, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm, National 4-H Youth Conference Center, 7100 Connecticut Ave., Chevy Chase. Hosted by the Maryland Transit Administration  (MTA). The Purple Line is a proposed 16-mile light rail line from Bethesda to New Carrollton. Help design a project that best serves the community. Learn about the  benefits and status of the Purple Line Project, light rail systems and stations, and what’s next.

Learn How to Protect the Seneca Creek Watershed, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 6:30 pm8:30 pm, Izaak Walton League of America – Rockville Chapter, 18301 Waring Station Road in Germantown. Great Seneca Creek is the largest watershed located entirely within Montgomery County and is a source of drinking water for much of the area. Meet local watershed partners and discuss ways to work together to improve local water quality. Sponsored by the City of Gaithersburg, Montgomery County Dept. of Environmental Protection, the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin, and Seneca Creek Watershed Partners.  For more information please contact Audra Lew at 301-274-8110 or e-mail alew@icprb.org.

Bethesda Green Happy Hour, Thursday, Nov. 3, 5 pm – 8 pm, The Parva Restaurant and Lounge, 7904 Woodmont Avenue. You are invited for casual conversation and networking. Meet the Bethesda Green Incubator Companies and learn more about the Incubator. Enjoy complimentary appetizers in Parva’s beautiful second floor lounge. Donation requested at the door. RSVP at the Bethesda Green Meetup page.

Thursday, Nov. 3, “Wind Jobs Potential for Montgomery County” expo, featuring local businesses that would create offshore wind energy jobs, 6 pm – 7 pm. Followed by a Town Hall Forum: Maryland Offshore Wind Power for Montgomery County, 7 pm, Featuring: State Delegate Ben Kramer and State Senator Manno, along with health, economic, environmental experts, and local businesses. Mid County Community Center, 2004 Queensguard Rd., Silver Spring. Hosted by the Montgomery County Department of Economic Development. Register at CCAN Website. Background information here.

E-cycling day @ Whitman High School, Sunday, Nov. 6, noon – 4 p.m., Walt Whitman High School parking lot, 7100 Whittier Boulevard, Bethesda. Bring your old TVs, computers, small appliances, etc. Help spread the work and share this flyer with others.

Local Food Goes Digital, Monday, Nov. 7, 6 pm – 8:30 pm, Chef Tony’s Restaurant, 4926 St. Elmo Avenue, Bethesda. Support the Montgomery Countryside Alliance. Join us for cocktails and appetizers at Chef Tony’s Restaurant, specializing in seasonal, fresh and locally-grown cuisine. Learn how Foodem.com, a web-based marketplace, is connecting local farmers, food distributors and specialty food manufacturers with restaurants, schools, hotels and grocers. By doing so, Foodem.com does its part for the sustainable food movement by satisfying the growing consumer and business demand for more local, sustainably-produced, and healthier food choices. Cocktails and appetizers will be available at a discounted price. Part of the sales will be given to Montgomery Countryside Alliance, preserving and enhancing Montgomery  County’s Agricultural Reserve. Please RSVP by November 5.

Bethesda Green Education, Outreach and Marketing (EOM) Group Meeting – Newcomers Welcome! Thursday, Nov. 10, 4 pm – 5:30 pm., 4825 Cordell Ave., corner of Woodmont Ave., Suite 200, above the Capital One Bank, 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.

Montgomery County’s first “Know Your Farmer,” Call-In Webinar, Wednesday, November 16, 8 pm. Montgomery Victory Gardens hosts “Challenges and Opportunities Facing Organic Agriculture in the 21st Century,” a discussion with Montgomery  County farmers Nick and Sophia Maravell.  Nick is the operator of Nick’s Organic Farm in Potomac and one of only four farmers sitting on the prestigious National Organic Standards Board, while his daughter Sophia, who has studied organic agriculture throughout the world, is one of our nation’s new generation of aspiring farmers. Register here.

Montgomery County Green Business Crash Course Webinar, November 17, 8:00 – 11:00 am. Offered in partnership by Montgomery College and Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce. The course instructor will guide you through the application process to accelerate your certification. More info and registration.

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