November 2012


by Susanna Parker

Lester Brown and the Crisis of Peak Food 

Peak oil is a term we’re all familiar with, but it is looking as though the most worrying shortage of the 21st century will not be petroleum, but food. Lester Brown, founder of the Worldwatch Institute and the Earth Policy Institute, goes into detail in his new book, Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity. Anca Novacovici of The Huffington Post discussed these potential shortages with Brown, who argued that we’re going from an era of food surplus to food scarcity. Some of the causes include ethanol production competing for a share of the world grain output, aquifers being depleted faster than they can replenish themselves, rice and wheat yields plateauing, and the continuing erosion of topsoil. Brown states that, to combat this scarcity, nations must work on increasing water productivity, improving access to family planning, increasing energy efficiency, and investing in renewable energy. To learn more about food scarcity, visit the The Huffington Post for the full article.

Bethesda’s Navy Exchange Is LEED Gold Certified, and Looks Out For Electric Cars

The Navy Exchange’s new store in Bethesda will serve military families all over the Metro area, has achieved LEED Gold Certification, and will provide four ChargePoint electric vehicle charging stations, the first at a Navy Exchange facility. Located in the two-level parking garage adjacent to the Navy Exchange, these spots are specifically reserved for eco-friendly, low emissions vehicles. Sold and installed by Green Power Technology, these ChargePoint stations are a crucial part of the Navy Exchange’s efforts to be more efficient and environmentally friendly. Pat Romano, President and CEO of ChargePoint, praises the Navy Exchange for this decision, stating that “Offering EV charging services… is an important endorsement for the future of electric vehicles.” For more information about the ChargePoint, Green Power Technology, and the Navy Exchange, please visit Herald Online.

Upcoming Green Events

If Black Friday got you down, and the prospect of visiting the mall in December leaves you cold, check out the 14th Annual Takoma Park Alternative Gift Fair. This yearly fair features 14-18 charities striving to make our world a better place, highlighting their work and providing the community easy opportunities for charitable donations. Last year the fair raised over $25,000 for local, national, and international charities! This year the fair will also feature live music, raffles, kids activities, a bake sale, and refreshments. Come by, get in the holiday spirit, and help your community!

Come join us next Wednesday as a panel of Montgomery County and metro area leaders discuss emergency preparedness in the DC area. Learn what items your family should have stocked in case of a weather or human-caused disaster, the role of local, state, and federal governments during an emergency, what plans the County has in place for situations like Hurricane Sandy or derecho storms, and much more.

Please RSVP to Sharon D’Emidio at sharon@bethesdagreen.org if you plan to attend this important and informative event.

Kick off the holiday season with our monthly networking happy hour! This month, we are excited to host this event along with Interfaith Power and Light, whose associated congregations will share their efforts to save energy and go green. Enjoy complimentary appetizers in the restaurant’s beautiful second floor lounge; donation requested at the door.

Susanna Parker is a recent college graduate and volunteer with Bethesda Green. Her interest in sustainability leads her to look for green solutions in uncommon places.

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by Susanna Parker

Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Plan faces legal, political challenges

Facing various legal challenges over the issue of nutrient trading, the Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Plan could wind up back on the drawing board, according to an article by Washington Post reporter Darryl Fears. Similar to the cap and trade program in air pollution control, nutrient trading would allow farms and other enterprises that met or surpassed their pollution-control expectations to sell off their remaining allowances to businesses that fail to meet the set limits.

Raising an intramural political fight with other Cleanup Plan supporters, some groups have filed a lawsuit to remove nutrient trading, calling it a “pay to pollute” program to get around the requirements of the Clean Water Act.

U.S. District Judge Sylvia H. Rambo is presiding over the case, and she has set no timetable as to when she will make a decision on the plan’s fate.

For more information, read the full Washington Post article. To learn more about the lawsuit, as well as other initiatives to restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay, please visit the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s website.

DC Seeks Public Input on the April 2012 Sustainability Vision

DC Mayor Vincent Gray’s April 2012 Sustainability Vision is moving steadily toward implementation. On November 7, over 100 DC residents met as part of the public outreach process headed by the Department of Environment and the DC Office of Planning. Over the past summer, working groups were formed to discuss topics such as climate, energy, transportation, and a green economy, among others. The working groups identified more than 1,000 possible implementation action items which were submitted to the DC sustainability task force. While sorting through suggestions, the task force focused on jobs, as well as “big impact things that will move the needle.” The Department of Environment and the DC Office of Planning expect to release the final document before the end of the year, and city-wide implementation activities will be launched soon after.

For more information, visit the April 2012 Sustainability Vision site.

Upcoming Green Events

The holiday season is fast approaching; come and learn some gorgeous and eco-friendly gift wrapping techniques from designer Reena Kazmann. Forget the cheap wrapping paper, it just gets thrown away! Through words and pictures, Reena will demonstrate ways to present your gifts inside beautiful, sustainable materials. Visit here for more details.

Please RSVP to sharon@bethesdagreen.org

  • Climate, Energy, and Upper Montgomery County, Friday November 16, 6 – 8:30 pm, Kettler Forlines Brightwell Crossing Model Home, 17919 Elgin Road, Poolesville, MD 20873

As part of the “What Is It All About?” series presented by Poolesville Green, this educational event will feature discussions of energy options, led by County Councilman Roger Berliner, Poolesville Commissioner Eddie Kuhlman, and Dan Savino of the Poolesville Global Ecology Program. Come learn, socialize, and enjoy refreshments provided by Whole Food Kentlands. Visit here for more details. The event is open to all; please email poolesvillegreen@gmail.com with any questions.

  • Making Black Friday Green: How We Can Promote Sustainable Business Practices, Monday November 19, 6:45 – 8:30 pm, Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Neighborhood Library, 1630 7th Street NW, Washington DC

While the fervor around Black Friday can make some consider abstaining from holiday shopping altogether, a middle ground exists: local businesses with sustainable practices. This panel will teach attendees both how to find already-green businesses, and how to encourage their favorite stores to adopt sustainable practices. The panel will be moderated by Kurt Walters of CarbonFreeDC, and will feature Live Green President Stephanie Sheridan, Megan Barrett of Clean Currents, and Andy Shallal, owner of Busboys and Poets.

For details, please visit CarbonFreeDC’s MeetUp.

Susanna Parker is a recent college graduate and volunteer with Bethesda Green. Her interest in sustainability leads her to look for green solutions in uncommon places.

WGES CleanSteps® Carbon Offsets, offered in partnership with Bethesda Green, is a green product that allows you to support clean air and water projects in the Chesapeake Bay region.

A carbon offset represents a greenhouse gas emission reduction made in one place to compensate for emissions created in another place. With WGES CleanSteps Carbon Offsets, you can counterbalance the environmental impact of your natural gas use from everyday activities such as heating and cooking. WGES CleanSteps Carbon Offsets are derived from verified emssion-reduction projects (intermodal transport and methane gas capture), and they are unique because they also fund new local carbon offset projects managed by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, such as tree plantings along rivers and streams.

Since the launch of WGES CleanSteps Carbon Offsets in September 2010…

  • More than 50,000 carbon offsets have been matched to WGES customers’ natural gas usage.
  • More than $400,000 in contributions have been made to the Carbon Reduction Fund managed by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
  • The funds have been used to plant 9,000 trees in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick and Talbot counties in Maryland and to start a nutrient-management project.

When customers choose WGES for their natural gas supply, they can match 100% of their natural gas use with WGES CleanSteps Carbon Offsets. And as part of its partnership with Bethesda Green, WGES is offering special pricing for Bethesda Green members.

For more information about WGES CleanSteps Carbon Offsets and to enroll at special pricing, visit www.wges.com/greenspecialoffsets.

Happy Election Day! Be sure to get out and vote

by Susanna Parker

Bethesda Named “Bicycle Friendly Community”

The League of American Bicyclists named Bethesda as one of its 28 new “Bicycle Friendly Communities.” Bicycle Friendly Communities are those that welcome cyclists by providing safe accommodations and encourage residents to bike for recreation, transportation, and fitness. Encouraging bicycling leads to community benefits including reduced traffic demands, improved air quality, increased fitness, and a higher quality of life. Bethesda has been awarded the Bronze designation, signifying that the community has made improvements in each of the “Five Es” of Bicycle Friendly Communities: Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, and Evaluation & Planning.

See Montgomery County Council press release for more details.

DC Region Not Prepared for Increased Electric Vehicle Usage

In a report released October 2012, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) analyzed the region’s current and future use of electric vehicles and the challenges of establishing a regional readiness plan for more e-cars on the road in the future. While electric vehicle usage in the DC region currently is relatively low compared with Portland or Los Angeles, consumer interest is growing, and the region’s charging infrastructure and policy frameworks are not prepared for more e-cars on the road.

The report issued by COG contains recommendations to remove barriers to electric vehicle adoption and mitigate negative impact on the electrical grid. COG states that local governments will play a critical role in the DC region’s electric vehicle readiness. Zoning, building codes, permitting, and inspection processes can all ease the way to the installation of charging equipment, while incentives, infrastructure readiness, and low permitting costs will contribute to reducing barriers to greater e-car usage.

Link here to see the full report.

Upcoming Green Events

Share energy saving tips and learn about incentive programs that can help you reduce your gas and energy bills. Talk about what you hope to do in your own home, get information on getting started with home energy efficiency, and learn how to save money and reduce your carbon footprint.

RSVP to ryan.sober@maryland.sierraclub.org

  • Farm to Freezer at Silver Spring Farmers Market, Saturday Nov. 10, 9am-1pm, Downtown Silver Spring, 916 Ellsworth Drive, Silver Spring MD

Featured at the Bethesda Green National Food Day event, Farm to Freezer’s organic tomato sauce was a delicious hit. Stop by the Silver Spring Farmers Market to say hi, buy some sauce, and watch a cooking demo on making Ratatouille from frozen veggies. Proceeds of the sales go to support Farm to Freezer and its work with Bethesda Cares.

  • Meet N’ Greet With the Nature Conservancy, Tuesday Nov. 13, 6:30-8:30pm, Founding Farmers, 12505 Potomac Park Avenue, Potomac MD

A green social hour hosted by the DC/MD chapter of the Nature Conservancy. Socializing, networking, and a presentation by John Myers, deputy director of The Nature Conservancy’s Carribean Program. Registration required, and the event is $15/person.

RSVP to getoutside@tnc.org

Susanna Parker is a recent college graduate and volunteer with Bethesda Green. Her interest in sustainability leads her to look for green solutions in uncommon places.