by Dan Rudt                                                                                                                       

Strong LEED Numbers for DC, Virginia and Maryland

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) on January 19 released data on the 10 states (plus the District of Columbia) with the largest square footage per capita of commercial and institutional building space to earn LEED certification in 2011. DC was included on the list because it outranked all the leading states, and did so by a healthy margin. The District came in with 31.5 square feet of LEED certified building space per person. In contrast, the top 10 states all ranged between 2.74 and 1.81 square feet per person.

The local area was well represented on the list. In addition to the District’s leading performance, Virginia ranked third among the states and Maryland fifth. The other top five states were Colorado and Illinois, first and second, and Washington State, placing fourth. “This is a great accomplishment for the D.C. metropolitan region and a testament to the drive, commitment and leadership of all those who live, work and play in our community,” said Mike Babcock, board chair of the National Capital Region Chapter of USGBC. “We also realize there is still more to do and hope to effectively guide the effort by engaging, educating and encouraging the dialogue around the value of sustainability.”

In terms of the total square footage of commercial and institutional building space earning LEED certification in 2011, as opposed to the per capita figures, DC came in with more than 18.5 million, Virginia with 19.4 million and Maryland just under 12 million square feet.

Starting a Small Farm in Maryland

For anyone interested in starting a small scale farm or for farmers interested in improving their skills, this is for you. 

University of Maryland Extension, Baltimore County has partnered with Future Harvest – Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, and the Maryland Agricultural Resource Council to offer a workshop series to learn about starting and operating a successful, intensive small farm. Workshops start January 31 and are held at University of Maryland Extension in Cockeysville.

The focus of this series is on small-scale, fruit and vegetable production using conventional, sustainable and organic methods. The program is open to all and is taught by farmers and knowledgeable university faculty. Participants will learn marketing, production and business skills necessary to become successful market farmers. The $40 fee covers the entire workshop series. Please register by January 25. More information in this online PDF.

Swedes Planning Intercity Bikeway

The Swedish Traffic Authority, A. K. Streeter reports in Treehugger, has studied, and now proposes, a four-lane bikeway from Malmo to Lund, two cities about 20 miles apart. Like a limited access highway, the bikeway will have exits, but no roads will intersect it.

Bicyclists will have a dual layer of protection from wind consisting of bushes and a solid fence. The bikeway also will include “periodic bicycle service stations.” The intercity route, which will connect the two cities’ downtown areas, is expected to cost $7.1 million.

Streeter reports that in Lund, 60% of the population uses bicycles or public transportation to get around. In Malmo, “cycling has increased 30% each year for the last four years.” That last fact would indicate that someone in Malmo, either local government or a very active civic group, has rallied a great many people to switch from cars to bicycles in a short period of time. Surely it can happen here.

Upcoming Green Events   

BG 101, Wednesday, Jan 25, 4:00 – 5:30 pm, at Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814. We’re on the second floor above the Capital One Bank branch on the corner of Woodmont and Cordell. Join us for an orientation about Bethesda Green, our history, upcoming events and volunteer opportunities.

WSSC Talks About Our Drinking Water, Jan 31, 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm, Gaithersburg City Hall, 31 S. Summit Avenue, Gaithersburg, MD 20877. Sponsored by Muddy Branch Alliance, co-sponsored by GO GREEN. The speaker is Joe Johnson, WSSC Chief Superintendent for Potomac Water Treatment Plant. Joe is an excellent speaker and is always a delight to learn from. Montgomery County and Prince George’s counties have a sanitary sewer system as opposed to Washington DC’s combined sewer system.  In other words, WSSC is not responsible for stormwater because stormwater does not enter WSSC’s sanitary sewer system. But the Potomac Water Treatment Plant does have an intake in the Potomac River-below Muddy Branch.  So we are drinking what comes off our lawns. Please RSVP using the form link at the bottom of this page:

Bethesda Green First Thursday Happy Hour: Warm up for Valentine’s Day, Thursday, Feb 2, 5 – 8 pm, The Wine Bar, Doubletree Hotel lobby. Join Bethesda Green for casual conversation and social networking. Win a romantic dinner for two at The OZ restaurant. 

■ Hear about Bethesda Green’s community outreach plans

■ Briefing about new website,

■ Enjoy light appetizers

■ Happy-hour-priced beer, wine and specialty drinks

■ Raffle for gift card — dinner for two at The OZ, the Doubletree’s signature restaurant

RSVP through Meetup

Documentary film: “Bag It: Is your life too plastic?”  Saturday, Feb 4, 7:30 pm- 9:30 p.m.  Washington Ethical Society (library), 7750 16th Street, NW, Washington DC 20012 (0.7 miles from Silver Spring Metro Station; S4 Metrobus). “Bag it: Is your life too plastic?” is an eye-opening and funny documentary film that navigates the plastic world.  Are plastic bags neccessary? What are plastic bags made from? What happens to plastic bags after they are discarded? The 65-minute award-winning documentary film will give answers to this questions.  65 min. movie followed by 30 min. discussion.  Snacks provided; $5 donation requested.  RSVPs helpful but drop-ins welcome. Sponsored by the WES Earth Ethics Committee. Email for movie information and RSVP: or call Sue Jacobson, 301-309-6731.

Bethesda Green Education, Outreach and Marketing (EOM) Group Meeting, Wednesday, Feb 8, 4:00-5:30 pm at Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814. We’re on the second floor above the Capital One Bank branch on the corner of Woodmont and Cordell. 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. 

Specifically, EOM:

■ Designs and schedules educational programs

■ Collects and shares best practices

■ Engages in general marketing for Bethesda Green

■  Manages all aspects of the website

■ Creates content for the newsletter

■ Uses online tools for outreach purposes

For more information, contact Bethesda Green Communications Director Dave Heffernan,

Green Matters: Urban Farming Pioneers, Friday, Feb 24, 8:30 am – 4:00 pm, Brookside Gardens. This year’s Green Matters will kindle your inner urban farmer and entice you to think about food production in wholly different ways. We’ll highlight innovative approaches to feeding the world’s population. For complete information about speakers and sessions, visit this page.

Bethesda Green’s Third Annual Fields of Green Internship Fair, Saturday, Feb 25, 10 am – 2 pm. 4825 Cordell Avenue, Second Floor above the Capital One Bank. The Internship Fair provides college-age young people an opportunity to meet representatives from a number of companies and non-profits offering job experience in the green business sector. More than 20 companies will be in attendance. Learn about academic and government programs, as well as a variety of internships, including those with our own Green Business Incubator companies. Check out more details and internship opportunities here.

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