February 2012

Bethesda Green is hosting a reception to introduce regional entrepreneurs, investors and professional services firms to the Cleantech Open, the nation’s premier start up business competition in the clean technology sector.  The reception will be held at Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Ave., Bethesda, MD 20814, March 6, 5 – 7 pm.

The Cleantech Open covers a wide array of technology sectors, including energy efficiency; water, air and waste; green building; renewable energy; smart power, green grid and energy storage; and transportation.  The competition is open to early stage businesses and students.  Regional competitions are held beginning in the Spring with the national finals culminating in the Fall.


Cleantech Open Overview

by Lori Hill

I first heard about Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company (CBRC) just over 3 years ago when I was helping the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) plan their annual Keep Winter Cold Polar Bear Plunge. Since CCAN’s mission is to fight climate change, their event needed to be sustainable and it was my job to make this happen. Everything from food and beverages, cups and napkins and the way we disposed of our waste needed to be earth friendly. When it came to coffee, we wanted fair trade, organic coffee, ideally provided by a local roaster. In my mind, it would have been bad PR if an organization that cared about the environment used a mainstream coffee company that had little concern for sustainability or the health and well-being of its workers! Since that year’s plunge was in Annapolis, I asked Lynne Forsman, co-founder of Annapolis Green Drinks, and now the co-founder of Annapolis Green, for suggestions. She suggested I contact Rick Erber, Food Service Sales Manager and Partner at CBRC. Rick and his team generously provided the most delicious coffee for the Plunge and have continued to do so for 3 more Plunges.  I’ve been a fan of the coffee – and the company – ever since.

A Commitment to Sustainability

Roasting Fair Trade Organic coffee isn’t CBRC’s only sign of its commitment to environmental sustainability. First of all, they use a Sirocco roaster, a natural gas powered hybrid roaster that uses 78% less energy and reduces emissions by 80% over traditional roasters in use today. There are only a few in use throughout the country and CBRC’s is the only one of its kind in the region. Next, once their coffee is roasted, it is packaged in a steel can – the number one sustainable packaging material. The can is 100% recyclable and reusable as opposed to non-recyclable, non-compostable bags, and ensures freshness. On top of all this, CBRC purchases 100% wind power energy offsets.

Giving Back to the Community

But that’s not all. CBRC founded the H2O Initiative which gives 2% of sales to organizations across the Chesapeake Bay Watershed that clean up, protect and preserve clean water — our most precious resource (we all need to protect and preserve our water).  You know, that’s what green companies do:  they operate sustainably, they provide an earth-friendly product AND they give back to protect the environment. Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company is the real deal!

Lori Hill and Rick Erber

Growing, Growing, Growing

Since I met Rick Erber 3 years ago, I’ve seen the company grow by noticing their expanded presence at not only earth friendly grocery stores, but also mainstream food outlets, too. Whenever I’m in a different grocery store from my usual one and I see their familiar cans, I pump my fist and say, “Yeah!” in celebration of a great company that is doing great things. Others are taking notice and hopping on the CBRC bandwagon. The company now serves more than 300 food service clients and can be found in more than 125 grocery and specialty food markets. Some of their many partners include campus dining and healthcare organizations, coffee cafes, restaurants, grocery accounts and dozens of independent retailers.

Recently, CBRC announced that their coffees are now available throughout the entire Whole Foods’ Mid-Atlantic region, including 40 stores across 8 states. In addition to Whole Foods Markets, the coffee can be found in retailers including Safeway, Giant Foods, Wegmans and Fresh Market.

Taste It For Yourself

If you haven’t yet tried coffee from Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company, I encourage you to do so today. Just visit their website to find out where you can purchase their coffee or you can buy it online.

Bethesda Green gratefully acknowledges sponsor CBRC for keeping us well-stocked with coffee.

Lori Hill is a renowned green event producer and sustainable lifestyle consultant.  Visit her blog for more green lifestyle tips.

(This article was posted at Montgomery County Sustainability News  or MoCo-Sustain.com, and is re-posted here by permission.)

by Dan Rudt

February is a good time for students to check in with potential employers for possible summer and fall internships. Bethesda Green will help area college students do just that when it hosts one of its signature events on Saturday, the 25th of this month. The Third Annual Fields of Green Internship Fair will give environmentally conscious college students the opportunity to meet face-to-face with representatives from two dozen or more local companies and non-profits that have at least two things in common. They all, in their own way, strive to make our natural environment healthier and more sustainable, and from 10am to 2pm on the 25th, they will all be under the same roof.

The internship fair, of course, benefits employers as well. If past experience repeats itself, the fair may draw 100 or more smart, local college students looking for a future in environmental sustainability. That kind of talent pool offers great potential for green businesses and non-profits seeking interns who may one day become valuable employees.

Bethesda Green Executive Director Dave Feldman told Montgomery County Sustainability News that the internship fair was founded to fill a need on the part of students and employers alike. “When we launched our first Fields of Green Internship Fair in 2010,” Feldman explained, “the idea was prompted by both ends of the employment spectrum, those looking for internship opportunities and those looking for interns.  We’re excited to once again provide 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.”

Some of the employers internship seekers can expect to see at the Bethesda Green event include 4GreenPs, a strategic marketing firm for sustainable brands; Arganica, a “farm club” that delivers local farm food to homes from Hampton Roads to Philadelphia; Just Peachy Organics, makers of organic teas, skin care and household products; international conservation non-profit, The Nature Conservancy; Rock Creek Conservancy, a non-profit that protects and restores Rock Creek and surrounding lands; Savenia Labs, an independent testing laboratory that provides lab tested energy and environmental impact ratings on popular appliances such as coffee makers, toaster ovens, and microwaves; the Student Conservation Association, who protect and restore green spaces in all 50 states, and other companies and non-profits. The internships provide experience in various areas of green business and non-profit operations and may be paid or unpaid positions.

Sharon D’Emidio, Bethesda Green Program Manager, suggests internship seekers dress as they would for a job interview, and show up with resumes in hand. As for references, D’Emidio thinks they are a good idea. “I think it is always impressive when someone is totally prepared for the job.” She suggests internship seekers review the positions posted on the Internship Fair website and expect the interviews to last ten to fifteen minutes each.

John Jabara, the founder of Savenia Labs, told MoCo-Sustain.com the Fields of Green Internship Fair provided positive outcomes for his company in 2011. “Last year,” Jabara told us, “we were looking for interns with science and engineering backgrounds and were impressed with the number and quality of the candidates.  We ended up hiring one for the summer as a paid internship and this worked out very well.  We plan to attend again this year and expect it to be a great event.”

The Bethesda Green, Fields of Green Internship Fair is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012, from 10 am to 2 pm. Bethesda Green is located at 4825 Cordell Avenue, at the corner of Woodmont and Cordell, on the Second Floor above the Capital One Bank.

They Came Hungry for Change and Left Inspired

By Cheryl Kollin, Full Plate Ventures

Before settling into a full day of TEDxManhattan presentations, our local viewing party began with a different kind of meet and greet activity—human mapping. Participants moved around Bethesda Green’s spacious lobby in different spatial configurations as if it were a Google Map in response to: Where do you live within the DC metro area; who do you represent along the food value chain; and what one food-related issue do you want to voice your passion about?

More than 70 people attended the second annual local viewing party co-hosted by Bethesda Green, Full Plate Ventures, and SlowFood DC. As the only TEDxManhattan viewing location in the Metro DC region, we had a very diverse group of participants that provided a rich mix of locales, interests, ages, and community sectors. Throughout the day people mixed and mingled, grouped in two different viewing rooms, and feasted on delicious and homemade fare — responding to our local, seasonal potluck challenge.

Seasonal Local Potluck Challenge

People shared some new terms and concepts they learned throughout the day, including: Food labeling transparency, green carts (in the Bronx), aquaponics vs. aquaculture, good food = good health, food traceability,  neurogastronomy, and Land Link. The inspiring TEDxManhattan presentations, sponsored by the Glynwood Institute will be posted online soon. Our local program featured several new initiatives and entrepreneurial businesses bubbling up in Montgomery County.

Land and Labor Link

The national demand for local food has exploded and continues to grow, yet in our region the supply can’t keep up with demand. The problem stems from a lack of affordable, accessible land in which to grow food locally along with a lack of training for a new generation of farmers without family farm ties and available labor to farm. Kristina Bostick, senior conservation specialist with Montgomery Countryside Alliance described Land Link and Labor Link, two new programs launched this year to facilitate linking farmers with farmland and labor. “We are proud to announce the first match between land owner and farmer this year!” Kristina reported.

This farmer and land link will expand our supply of locally-grown table crops in years to come without the volatility of short-term leases.

Montgomery County Food Council

The new Montgomery County Food Council launches this month with a diverse group of stakeholders whose mission is to foster a robust, local, and sustainable food system in Montgomery County. This independently organized diverse group of stakeholders is charged with improving the environmental, economic, social and nutritional health of our local food system. “The public is welcome to join the broad-reaching Council network by attending monthly meetings, joining a Council working group, or joining as a capacity partner organization,” explained Council Coordinator Claire Cummings on ways the public can get involved.

On-line Food Marketplaces

In the last few years, a plethora of on-line market places have sprung up on the web to help people find local sources of sustainably-grown food. Among the many direct farm to consumer sites include: Local Harvest, which shows you where to find farmer’s markets;  Real Time Farms, a crowd-source online, nationwide food guide that gives you local farmer’s market and eatery locations; and Arganica, a food-buying club that delivers in the DC Metro Region.

Foodem.com is a new on-line food marketplace that matches wholesale food sellers and buyers. “I saw the need  to make wholesale food distribution more efficient and competitively-priced as an alternative to the largest national distributors like US Foods and Sysco,” explained Kash Rehman, CEO and founder of Foodem, who launched in 2010. “I’m very excited to connect local farms with local restaurants and food institutions as a way to grow the sustainable food movement.”

Tracing our Food to its Source

As food contamination outbreaks continue to make headlines, there’s a growing need to know exactly where our food comes from.  Also, small farmers don’t have the budgets to effectively market their products. Dick Stoner, of Locale Chesapeake, shared his exciting entrepreneurial labeling venture. “Locale Chesapeake uses  new affordable technology—such as bar codes, QR codes read with smart phones, and radio frequency ID tags to provide both traceability and better marketing so that farmers can share their story about their growing practices and unique products,” said Stoner.

It Takes a Community to Feed the Homeless

Today, one in six Americans is food insecure, meaning that individuals are not getting adequate nutrition for themselves and their families. Even in affluent Bethesda, the non-profit Bethesda Cares serves 20,000 meals to the homeless every year. Executive Director Sue Kirk outlined the grim reality of their clients—the long-term homeless population that are the hard to reach.

Yet, food—especially a hot meal is a great way to connect, to engage, and offer additional social services and medical resources needed to break  long-term homelessness.

“We are so fortunate to have a vast network of government, business, community groups, houses of worship, and volunteers who partner with Bethesda Cares,” explained Kirk.

Viewing TEDx

At the end of the day, participants offered their reflections. “This was an immensely invigorating and inspiring event,” shared Ashley Shaloo. Others pledged new habits they plan to adopt, including to deepen their commitment to buy local, compost more aggressively, join a CSA, garden more at home.

Next up: A new six-week discussion circle will begin in March using the Northwest Earth Institute’s curriculum, Hungry for Change: Food, Ethics and Sustainability, led by Marney Bruce, Simplicity Matters. Contact Marney marneyb@earthlink.net for more information.

We gratefully acknowledge our sponsors for this event: South Mountain Creamery, Honest Tea, and Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company.

TEDxManhattan’s “Changing the Way We Eat” is a one-day event in New York City that was simulcast at viewing parties all over the world.

Bethesda Green brings business, government and community together to promote a healthy economy and sustainable living practices in order to reduce our collective impact on the environment.

Cheryl Kollin of Full Plate Ventures, LLC is passionate about building sustainable, regional food systems. She provides business consulting and educational programming to social enterprises to enhance their profitability while serving their social mission.

SlowFood DC is a community that promotes and celebrates local, seasonal, and sustainable food sources; works to preserve the culinary traditions of the region’s ethnically and culturally diverse populations; and supports the right of all people to enjoy good, clean, fair food.

by Dan Rudt, www.MoCo-Sustain.com

County Residential Energy Rebate Funds Nearly Depleted

The Montgomery County Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program introduced in August 2011 is reaching the end of its $1.1 million in U.S. Department of Energy funding. To date, the program has provided incentives to 845 homeowners to make energy efficiency improvements to their single family homes, town homes and condominiums. Eligible improvements include the purchase of Energy Star kitchen appliances, duct sealing and attic insulation, to new furnaces and central air conditioning, among other things. Any given home may qualify for up to $3,000 in rebates.

A visit to the rebate program website indicates the fund has $0 left, but the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (MCDEP) has told us there is a very small amount of funding still available from program reserves. In addition, small amounts are anticipated to become available from projects that are not completed or liquidated.

To manage applications from this point forward, MCDEP is implementing a wait list process. A homeowner who qualifies and wishes to apply should go to the website and log-on and register as if applying for a rebate. The wait list will only take basic information. If funding becomes available, the homeowner will be emailed with instructions to log-in and complete the remainder of the application. This will all be done on a first-come, first-served basis.

What If I Have Already Been Approved?

Homeowners who have already been approved have their funds reserved for them. As long as they complete the agreed upon improvements, meet the program requirements and submit invoices within 90 days of approval, they should receive their rebates. If they miss the 90 day deadline, MCDEP says they will be notified by email that their rebate is in jeopardy. Failure to respond to that email may result in the loss of the rebate.

What If I Applied and Was Denied?

The DEP says it has adequate funds for homeowners who applied by January 29 who were denied, but from whom additional information was requested. “Those individuals will be our first priority to get approved so they can proceed with their projects,” said Senior Energy Planner Eric R. Coffman. Those homeowners should promptly clear up questions about their eligibility, (e.g., whether the equipment they are purchasing qualifies for the rebate) to avoid having the funds for which they applied released to others on the wait list. Coffman indicated his department would move very quickly to clear up outstanding questions and allocate the last of the funds to qualifying applicants.

O’Malley Renews Efforts for Offshore Wind Energy

The Legislature is in session, and Governor O’Malley has released his 2012 agenda. This year, the governor hopes to pass the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act that was put on hold in 2011 following debate in both chambers. This past autumn, the Maryland House Economic Matters Committee and the Senate Finance Committee convened study sessions to examine policies and to weigh the benefits of offshore wind for the state. Maryland is obligated to develop renewable sources of electricity by a state law passed in 2008 requiring electric utilities to purchase 20 percent of the electricity they sell from renewable sources by 2022.

The bill before the legislature is designed to encourage private investment in wind energy by establishing an offshore wind renewable energy credit (OREC) similar to that created by a bi-partisan New Jersey legislature to facilitate offshore wind construction in that state. O’Malley believes that the OREC model he has proposed would enable at least a 450 MW project to be built, creating an estimated 1,800 construction jobs and 360 ongoing maintenance jobs. Wind advocates say the 100 or so ocean-based wind turbines could produce electricity equivalent to 70 percent of Maryland Eastern Shore’s current demand.

The bill would limit the anticipated rate impact to $2 per month for the average residential customer. The $2 increase would not take effect until 2017. Last fall, Gonzales Research and Marketing Strategies conducted a poll for a coalition of environmental, business, labor and faith groups called Marylanders for Offshore Wind. The poll asked respondents whether they agreed or disagreed with the following statement: “I would be willing to pay $2 more per month on my electric bill if a greater percentage of my electricity came from clean, local offshore wind farms, instead of coming from coal, oil, and gas.” Sixty-two percent of respondents agreed with the statement.

Pepco Buys WaterShed

The University of Maryland announced on Monday (1/30) that it will sell WaterShed, the top prize winning home in the 2011 U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, to Pepco for an undisclosed amount. The sale was announced at a campus celebration honoring the WaterShed team’s achievement. Under the agreement of sale, Pepco will cover WaterShed’s outstanding project costs and pay for its transport and reassembly at a PEPCO facility in Montgomery County. The precise location has not been chosen yet.

The University of Maryland entry was awarded the Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon architecture prize and declared the overall winner in a contest that included 19 other collegiate teams from Belgium, Canada, China, New Zealand and the United States. Decathlon competitors were challenged to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. Like the other competition entrants, WaterShed is a solar powered home. Unlike the others, it also conserves, collects, filters and reuses water. Its unique design elements, such as “manufactured wetlands” that help reduce storm water runoff and its patent-pending indoor waterfall that provides humidity control in an aesthetically pleasing manner, set WaterShed apart from the competing solar homes.

“The WaterShed team took on a double challenge when it built a house that would run on the sun and address a significant source of Chesapeake Bay pollution, so its first-place performance on the international stage was more than a major source of pride,” said Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. “We’re extremely pleased that Pepco has agreed to provide a permanent home for WaterShed, so that its educational impact and research can continue.”

Under the arrangement, Pepco and the University will partner on the prize-winning home’s operation, monitor its performance, conduct ongoing research and work closely on designing educational materials about WaterShed. The house will serve as a “living classroom” and a “living laboratory” to demonstrate smart, clean energy options, blending its original technological and design innovations with Pepco’s own advanced technology, such as its smart thermostats and home-based electric vehicle charging stations. Pepco plans to open WaterShed to the public for conferences, educational presentations and occasional public tours. It will also serve as an energy testing facility. University researchers will continue measuring performance of its various systems to assess its long-term operation. Student members of the team that designed and built WaterShed will serve as docents once the facility opens, explaining to visitors the house’s capabilities and design features. (Photo: Jim Tetro)

Hudson Trail Outfitters Switches To Wind Power

Clean Currents, a leading retail provider of wind power in Maryland and the District of Columbia, announced on January 24 that Hudson Trail Outfitters (HTO) will purchase renewable wind energy for its Maryland and DC locations.  HTO has committed to purchasing Green-e Energy certified wind power from Clean Currents for 100 percent of its Annapolis, Rockville and Tenleytown stores’ electricity.

HTO’s switch to wind energy will avoid one-and-a-half million pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions annually – or the equivalent of removing 133 passenger vehicles from the road for an entire year.

Hudson Trail Outfitters is a popular outdoor clothing and gear retailer that opened its doors in 1971. Today the company has stores in Fairfax and Pentagon Row in addition to Annapolis, Rockville and Tenleytown.

“Hudson Trail Outfitters exists only to be recognized as the leader in all things ‘Specialty Active Outdoors’ related – the company’s 40 year history has been rooted in health, in happiness, and in the preservation of the environment.  We believe that making the switch to wind power through Clean Currents supports the core initiatives of the company.  Today, HTO, Ltd remains focused on environmental awareness, community preservation, and on being an active participant in prolonging & maintaining the future growth of the environment around us,” said Sandy Cohan, General Manager of HTO, Ltd.

Clean Currents, which has supplied wind power through the grid to residences and businesses since its founding in 2005, now claims more than  9,000 residential and 500 commercial customers across Maryland, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. Clean Currents is a registered Benefit LLC and B-Corporation.

“We’re very excited to be partnering with a locally based company that is similarly passionate about the environment as we are,” said Ron Rodriguez, Vice President of Business Development at Clean Currents.  “Providing clean wind power to Hudson Trail’s Maryland and DC locations represents a real synergy between companies that are dedicated to making our world a greener place,” added Rodriguez.

Upcoming Green Events

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, mygreenmontgomery.org

■ 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 necessary? 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: EarthEthics2@verizon.net 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, dvheffernan@bethesdagreen.org.

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.

Employers: Is your organization looking for some stellar interns this summer? Or, perhaps your organization has a need for interns year round?  If so, we have an excellent opportunity for you to participate in.  Right now we are in the process of inviting employers looking for highly qualified candidates to sign up to be a part of our internship fair.  Not only will you meet the candidates for the internships face-to-face on Feb. 25th but your internship posting will be widely shared among our diverse network as well as posted on our Fields of Green webpage leading up to the event.  In year’s past we have matched many amazing candidates with wonderful green job sector opportunities.

Help us develop the next generation of green leaders and promote local job creation by participating in the Fields of Green Internship Fair!  We accept both paid and unpaid positions at the fair.

Interested in Sponsoring the Fields of Green Internship Fair?  Get details HERE.

Have a job or internship to offer? Download and fill out the Job Description Form HERE.

Check out more details and internship opportunities here.

For more information, please contact Sharon D’Emidio at sharon@bethesdagreen.org.

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