by Dan Rudt
Editor, Montgomery County Sustainability News  

EV Chargers Coming to Bethesda, Rockville

Electric vehicle charging stations are coming to Bethesda Row, Rockville Town Square, and Congressional Plaza on Rockville Pike. Miami-based Car Charging Group will install Level II, 240-volt, EV charging stations, manufactured by Coulomb Technologies at the three sites, all owned and/or managed by Rockville-based Federal Realty Investment Trust.

Drivers will have access to the ChargePoint® Network, an online network connecting EV drivers to unoccupied charging stations. That access means EV owners will have flexible payment options, mapping and driver support services and the ability to make reservations through their mobile apps.

“Besides the obvious environmental benefits, a big advantage of electric cars will be the ability to conveniently charge your vehicle when you’re already stopped somewhere on your daily routine,” said Michael D. Farkas, CEO of Car Charging Group.

Federal Realty has taken other steps toward environmental sustainability. Mike Kelleher, director of asset management for the company stated, “The partnership with Car Charging Group to install EV charging stations is the next step in the continual greening of our operations, which already includes the creation of biofuels through recycled oil and grease waste from restaurants at our Bethesda Row mixed-use development, LEED certifications at many of our recent developments as well as numerous energy efficiencies and minimized usage of natural resource at a number of properties throughout the portfolio.”

Very Special Food Event at Bethesda Green

“Changing the Way We Eat” is the topic of an all-day, free event at Bethesda Green on Saturday, January 21. No, it’s not a diet seminar. It’s a day of talks about the growing sustainable food movement here in Montgomery County and around the world – and how we can all hop aboard. The day will be split between live video sessions from New York City and local sessions in Bethesda where attendees can learn about the new Montgomery Food Council, preview a portion of a documentary-in-progress about our local food system and the Montgomery County Ag reserve, share a pot luck lunch of local winter foods, and meet others who are interested in a local sustainable food system. Click to the Bethesda Green event calendar for the where and the when and for more detailed information.

SemaConnect is Growing Fast

One year ago, SemaConnect was a startup with two employees. Today, the Annapolis-based company has a staff of twelve. By this time next year, the Maryland Clean Energy Center reports in its December newsletter, SemaConnect founder and CEO Mahi Reddy expects that number to double. His company’s product is an electric vehicle (EV) charging station.

The company developed the ChargePro, with features such as smart grid integration, RFID card authentication and sustainability reporting. SemaConnect also partnered with solar companies, including Advanced Technology and Research (ATR) Corp. of Columbia and TimberRock Energy Solutions of Frederick, to create EV charging stations with solar voltaic panels built onto them.

“This autumn,” the CEC reports, “the company raised $4.2 million to support increased production and signed a deal with 350Green, a California-based developer of EV charging networks, that will see 1,500 ChargePro units installed in California, Pennsylvania, Illinois, New York and elsewhere. Company officials estimate that recent developments will push SemaConnect’s revenues close to $5 million in 2012.”

” ‘When you talk about green collar jobs, these are the green collar jobs,’ ” Reddy said. ” ‘They are jobs that pay well and are right here in our state and really help establish our state as a clean tech industry leader. So I think this is all coming together and I am so happy to be part of it.’ “

Announcing an Environmental News Website Devoted to Montgomery County

This week marks the introduction of a new local Website, Montgomery County Sustainability News, or The site is dedicated entirely to publishing daily (M-F) news and information that impacts the environmental sustainability of Montgomery County. includes links to local resources, and calendar listings of local environmental events, as well as the latest news. The Website is edited by Dan Rudt, who will continue to provide this column of Green News & Events for Bethesda Green.

Upcoming Green Events   

First Thursday Happy Hour @ BlackFinn, Thursday, Jan. 5, 5-8 pm, 4901 Fairmont Avenue, Bethesda. Ring in the New Year w/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

Free Screening of Bag It: Is Your Life Too Plastic? January 9, 2012, 7:00 pm, Brookside Gardens Visitor Center. Presented by GreenWheaton, with Brookside Gardens, Silver Spring Green and Safeway.  Join us to watch this engaging film about how single-use plastics affect our environment and our health — and simple steps we can take to reduce this waste.

Chronicling the global production, use and disposal of plastic bags and other plastics, the film documents the environmental consequences of these products, including the effects of plastics on a wide range of species, lands, waterways and oceans. Traveling the world on a fact-finding mission, the film also identifies smart alternatives and solutions. Plastic will never look the same again! Directed by Suzan Beraza. Produced by Suzan Beraza and Michelle Hill.

Free reusable grocery bags from Safeway will be available at the event on a first come first served basis.

The event is free, however, tax deductible donations to GreenWheaton are appreciated.

Please register now as seating is limited.

Bethesda Green Education, Outreach and Marketing (EOM) Group Meeting – Newcomers Welcome! Wednesday, January 11, 4:00 – 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,

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 on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  Food collection will be located near the Montgomery County Volunteer Center table.  Donations will go to Manna Food Center.

TEDxManhattan 2012: Changing the Way We Eat, Saturday, January 21, 9:00am – 5:30pm, at Bethesda Green. This all day, free event is a combination of live video from TEDxManhattan and local sessions at Bethesda Green. The event will highlight several aspects of the sustainable food movement and the work being done to shift our food system from industrially based agriculture to one in which healthy, nutritious food is accessible to all. Speakers with various backgrounds in food and farming will share their insights and expertise.

Learn about our burgeoning local food movement and opportunities to engage in our community, here in Montgomery County. No need to stay for the whole day. Drop in as your schedule allows. Local co-hosts of this event are Bethesda Green, Full Plate Ventures and Slow Food D.C.

Information about the New York speakers is here. The Bethesda program is outlined here, where you will find a registration link as well.

2012 “Keep Winter Cold” Polar Bear Plunge sponsored by CCAN, Saturday, January 21, 2012 at 11:00 am, The Beach at National Harbor, Maryland. For seven years, groups of people who care have plunged into cold bodies of water in our region to fight climate change, bring back the Arctic sea ice, and save polar bears. The Polar Bear Plunge is the Chesapeake Climate Action Network’s biggest annual fundraising event. The money we raise during the plunge goes to support our programs to combat global warming at the state level in our area. Information here.

BG101, Wednesday, January 25, 4:00 – 5:30 pm, at Bethesda Green. Join us for an orientation about Bethesda Green, our history, upcoming events and volunteer opportunities.

Dan Rudt is the editor of Montgomery County Sustainability News, a daily news Website serving the local area with environmental sustainability news, information and events.