May 2013


by Susanna Parker

Litter Prevention Contest Deadline Extended!BGgreennews_logo1

The Alice Ferguson Foundation has announced that the deadline for their Litter Prevention Video Contest has been extended to June 15th. If you’re interested in testing your marketing skills and showing your support for clean land, safe water, and healthy lives in your community, don’t delay! Entrants are competing for a chance to win $1,000 and have their video used as a PSA for the Regional Litter Prevention Campaign. For contest and entry details, please visit the Alice Ferguson Foundation.

Invasive Beetle Attacks Ash Trees Across the Northeast

First spotted in Michigan in 2002, the Asian emerald ash borer poses a serious threat to native ash trees and the people that live near them. The invasive insect feeds solely on the inner bark of all 22 species of native ash tree and has destroyed more than 100 million trees in 15 states – including Maryland and Virginia. Urban areas with fewer species diversity are at particular risk; Baltimore, for example, has a tree canopy comprised primarily of ash trees and could see major losses if the emerald borers establish a foothold within the city.

Studies of the insect have shown a correlation between tree death and human mortality rates. A recent study showed an increase of deaths from cardiovascular and lower respiratory illness that coincided with the decreasing population of ash trees. While the study’s authors refrained from any direct cause-and-effect relationships, they did cite previous studies that demonstrated health benefits of trees, including improved air quality and temperature moderation.

Preventive measures against the insects are mostly comprised of targeted pesticide usage. However, some biological control measures, such as introduced parasitic wasps, have been successful. In Michigan, where the wasps have been widely established, emerald ash borer populations have been reduced by one-third. People who spot emerald ash borers are encouraged to report the sighting. In Maryland, call 410-841-5920; in the District, dial 301-313-9327. For more information on the emerald ash borers, please read the full Washington Post article in Urban Jungle.

Upcoming Bethesda Green Events

  • First Thursday Happy Hour at Ri-Ra Irish Pub, Thursday, June 6, 5 – 8 pm, 4931 Elm Street

Join us for casual conversation and social networking. This month’s highlights include a presentation by Mike Hunninghake of MD Smart Energy Communities, a meet-and-greet with members of the Bethesda Green Business Incubator, and information on ways to make a difference in your community. Discount drink prices and complimentary appetizers courtesy of Ri-Ra. For more information, and to RSVP, please visit the Bethesda Green Meetup.

  • 2nd Annual Reel Water Film Festival, Saturday, June 15, 1 – 9 pm, Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club, 7719 Wisconsin Avenue

The Reel Water Film Festival aims to educate the community about local and global water issues through the use of film, expert presentations, and networking with environmental and humanitarian organizations. At least 50% of all proceeds are donated to water projects in developing countries as well as right here at home. This year, we’re excited to present the film Chasing Ice, a breathtaking film that portrays the story of one man’s mission to change the tide of history. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit ReelWaterFilmFest.org 

Upcoming Partner Events

  • Montgomery County Green Business Certification, Wednesday, May 22, 6:30 – 8:30 pm, Crossway Community, 3015 Upton Drive, Kensington

Do you want to certify your business or organization as “green” but don’t know where to start? GreenWheaton and Silver Spring Green are proud to present this FREE Green Business Certification Workshop to help community members learn more. Offices, congregations, faith-based organizations, retail stores, and landscape companies are all eligible for County certification as a green business/organization. Featured speakers will include Doug Weisburger of the Department of Environmental Protection, Dave Taghipour of All Eco Center, Jon Widrick of Acensus Law, and Gary Skulnik of Clean Currents.

Register for FREE at http://greenbuscertification.eventbrite.com/

  • Green Drinks Networking Happy Hour, Thursday, May 23, 5 – 8 pm, Hollywood East Cafe, 11160 Veirs Mill Road

Join GreenWheaton and the other community Greens for Green Drinks with others who want to thrive in environmentally sustainable communities. Eat, drink, and be Green!

  • Congressional Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Expo, Wednesday, June 12, 9:30 am – 4:30 pm, Cannon House Office Building, Independence Ave. & New Jersey Ave., SE

Join the Sustainable Energy Coalition for this expo that will bring together businesses, sustainable energy trade associations, government agencies, and energy policy research organizations to showcase the status and near-term potential of the cross-section of renewable energy. This free event will discuss the role sustainable energy technologies can play in meeting America’s energy needs, as well as issues of national security, high energy costs, and more. To learn more about the event, please visit the Environmental and Energy Study Institute.

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

Bethesda Green Introduces Energy Tool Lending LibraryBGnews_logo

In partnership with the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection, Bethesda Green is proud to present our Energy Tool Lending Library. This program is intended to encourage members of the community to start thinking about energy efficiency in their own homes. These basic energy tools will be made accessible, with a refundable deposit, so county residents can explore the energy needs and waste that occurs in their homes. These tools are not intended to take the place of a full energy audit, but rather to encourage residents to start thinking about areas in their homes where energy losses may occur.

For more details on the program, including tool instructions and deposit fees, please visit BethesdaGreen.org. 

Cicadas Return to DC

They’re back! A population of the 17-year cicadas known as Brood 2 will emerge from the ground shortly, and dominate all conversation from North Carolina to Connecticut. Once the ground temperature reaches 64 degrees, which should happen within the next week, millions of cicadas will burst forth in a harmless, but noisy, invasion of the East Coast. All along the I-95 corridor, the song of cicadas will be heard, reaching sound levels of up to 90 decibels – the same level as many rock concerts. The males will emerge from the ground first; they’ll mature to adulthood within one week, latch onto trees, and begin to sing for mates. Male cicadas have been shown to sing both individually and in chorus, which no doubt contributes to the overwhelming volume of cicada song. Though many consider them an annoyance, scientists are fascinated by these noisy insects. Their timing, specifically, is the cause of much scientific inquiry – no one knows how the cicadas know when to emerge! Though some theorize that cicadas track time via the tree roots the larvae attach themselves to, there is still the question of how they time their movements so accurately – how do they know when 17 years exactly have passed? For those who are bracing for a miserable time, take some solace in the shortness of their presence above ground. They’ll mate, lay their eggs, and disappear for another 17 years, all in less than 2 months. Invest in ear plugs and look forward to July!

For more information on the cicadas, please watch the Washington Post video here.

Bethesda Green Events

  • APPLICATION DEADLINE: Investor Pitch Training Program, Friday May 17

Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to hone your pitch and get expert feedback from our panel of investors. Open to green businesses in DC, Maryland, and Virginia, this educational program is part of Bethesda Green’s efforts to foster the green economy in the DC Metro region. The program is open to tech and non-tech early stage businesses that have both sustainable products/services and a growth-oriented business model. The deadline is this Friday, so don’t delay! For more details and to apply, please visit BethesdaGreen.org.

Upcoming Partner Events

  • Bike to Work Day 2013, Friday May 17, 6:30 am – 8:30 am, corner of Woodmont and Bethesda Avenue.

Biking in to work on Friday? Swing by the Bethesda Pit Stop, located at Woodmont and Bethesda Avenue. Presented by Bethesda Commuter Solutions, the pit stop will feature DJ entertainment, state and local dignitaries, raffle prizes & giveaways, bike maintenance checks, and plenty of food and drink to fuel your bike ride into work! Register at Bike to Work Day 2013!

  • 5th Annual Volunteering for Business Day, Saturday May 18, 8:30 am – 1 pm, Button Farm Living History Center, 16820 Black Rock Road, Germantown

Gather your colleagues, invite your clients, call on your customers, and join us for this incredible morning of networking and service. Come prepared to roll up your sleeves and get to work; you will be instrumental in providing much needed help to this historic venue in Seneca Creek State Park. There is no charge to participate in this great team-building event; a hearty lunch will be served. For details on the planned projects for the day, and to register, please visit the Corporate Volunteer Council.

  • Montgomery County Green Business Certification Program, May 22, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm, Crossway Community, 3015 Upton Drive, Kensington

Do you want to certify your business or organization as “green” but don’t know where to start? GreenWheaton and Silver Spring Green are proud to present this FREE Green Business Certification workshop to learn more. Offices, congregations, faith-based organizations, retail stores, and landscape companies are all eligible for County certification as a green business/organization. Featured speakers will include Doug Weisburger of the Department of Environmental Protection, Dave Taghipour of All Eco Center, Jon Widrick of Ascensus Law, and Gary Skulnik of Clean Currents.

Register for FREE at http://greenbuscertification.eventbrite.com/

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.

by Susanna Parker

On Friday April 26, I was excited to represent Bethesda Green at the Francis Scott Key Middle School’s 6th Annual Green Day. As the culmination of their Earth Month activities, the school invited representatives from environmental organizations around the Maryland & DC area, including the U.S. National Park Service, the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation, Locust Grove Nature Center, the Department of Natural Resources, and more, to staff tables and discuss their environmental and sustainability efforts. Treva Coates, coordinator of the IB Middle Years Programme, explained that while Green Day is an annual event, the school’s environmental and sustainability efforts continue year round.

Francis Scott Key is an excellent example of a green school. Several years ago, the old building was torn down and a modern up-to-date building was constructed in its place. However, rather than generate tons of construction waste, Francis Scott Key was re-built using 95% of the materials from the old building. Additionally, the new building is equipped with solar panels, and the back field has geothermal tanks installed beneath to assist with the temperature management of their water. These accomplishments are some of the reasons that Francis Scott Key Middle School is a LEED Gold School and the first school in Montgomery County to be designated a U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School.

The staff at Francis Scott Key are passionate about getting the students involved in environmental stewardship. They have eliminated the use of Styrofoam trays in the cafeteria, and taught the students to separate trash, paper, and plastic after they’ve finished eating. As I walked through the building on Green Day, I noticed the presence of paper and plastic recycling bins in every hallway and room. To make sure that the student population works with the program, the school has formed a student-led School Energy and Recycling Team that monitors the proper use of the recycling and trash containers in each classroom. Besides the SERT team, there is also the School Beautification Group; students rotate into the group every four weeks learning about ways to be green and sustainable and participate in the monitoring of the recycling program. Finally, a staff member sponsored the Green Crafts club, in which she teaches students how to design and make crafts and jewelry from recyclable materials such as plastic bags.

Throughout the day, students were sent into the activities hall in groups and walked around to inspect the tables and learn about the various organizations. The Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation presented students with dwarf sunflower seeds and growing pods; the Locust Grove Nature Center showcased shells and exoskeletons of species native to Maryland; Montgomery County School Energy & Recycling Team discussed the waste cycle and demonstrated the differences between incandescent, compact fluorescent, and LED lightbulbs; A.I.R. Lawn Care displayed its solar-powered trailer and equipment and talked about the importance of green landscaping. Watching the kids’ reactions as they learned more about the green movement was a great experience. Some kids really seemed to be inspired by what they saw, and I’m sure that Francis Scott Key will see a spike in its SERT team and School Beautification Group. A school that’s already taken such great steps toward sustainability is sure to go further in that direction, and the newly inspired students will certainly help lead them down the path.

FSK Green Day

Images courtesy of Treva Coates.

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.

BG.GreenHome_logoby Jennifer Roe

Are you interested in greening your home?  Do you want to save money and create a healthier environment for your family?  If so, plan now to attend Bethesda Green’s 4th annual Solar & Green Home Expo, Saturday, May 11, 10 am – 3 pm.

The event will be held at the Bethesda Green offices, 4825 Cordell Avenue, 2nd floor above the Capital One Bank. All are invited to attend this FREE community event, explore and participate in workshops, and discuss practical ways to green your home.

Representatives from the Montgomery Department of Environmental Protection Energy and Pepco will answer questions about costs, benefits, tax credits, and other incentives.  Learn about the advantages of going solar in your home!

Local green businesses will showcase products and services that can help homeowners go green.  Participating companies and organizations include: Solar Energy World, Standard Solar, ecobeco, Growing SOUL, Savenia Labs, A.I.R. Lawn Care, Bethesda Systems, Energy Squad.  Click here to see a complete list.

Workshop topics will include:

  • Composting 101: In Your Home or Backyard
  • Deep Green Homes, Living in Harmony with Nature and not the Utility Company
  • Community Solar Power Purchasing: Solar Power for the other 80%
  • County, State and Federal Tax Benefits for Energy Efficiency and Solar Power
  • Efficiency Incentives: Pepco Rebate Programs for 2013

Learn more about the Solar & Green Home Expo and see a detailed program schedule here.

by Susanna Parker BGnews_logo

Re-Inventing the Wheel for Studying Snakeheads 

Snakeheads, the invasive species that’s been the bane of the Potomac since 2004, have been granted a mild reprieve by local governmental agencies. While the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service still recommends that fisherman kill and report any snakeheads they capture, the Virginia Department of Game and Fisheries, along with its DC and Maryland counterparts, has begun a new monitoring program geared toward understanding the snakeheads’ impact on local ecology. The program, which covers four tributaries of the Potomac, sends out workers to capture, measure, tag, and release snakehead fish. John Odenkirk, biologist with the VA Dept. of Game & Fisheries, says that its been hard to determine whether the snakeheads actually have a negative impact on the Potomac watershed. He points out that the area is practically a fish factory, and has more than enough resources to feed the increasing number of new mouths. So while he does not advocate for the snakeheads, he finds it hard to strongly advocate against them without more conclusive data.

That’s where the monitoring program comes in. Because the snakeheads are native to Africa and Asia, many of the scholarly papers discussing their behaviors and life cycle are not written in English. Those few that have been translated are not peer-reviewed. Thus, there is little to no substantiated information about their impact on local water systems and ecological niches. The monitoring program relies on electrofishing to capture the snakeheads. This form of fishing involves electrified anodes whose currents shock, but do not kill, nearby fish, causing them to float to the surface and be easily netted. Typical of the snakeheads’ difficult nature, these fish do not succumb easily to the shock. Rather than float to the surface, snakeheads expel all the oxygen from their air bladders. While this gives off a tell-tale series of bubbles, the expulsion causes them to lose their buoyancy and sink to the bottom of the stream bed. Odenkirk says that this behavior means that he and members of the program have one shot to catch the fish before they’re no longer within reach.

Once the fish are captured, they are measured, tagged, and released. If the team catches a fish that has been previously captured, they record its growth. Odenkirk says that the team is gathering as much data as they can on the life cycle of the fish, including spawning cycles, spawns per year, average growth per year, and habitat differentiation between adolescent and adult snakeheads. The more information that Odenkirk and his team can gather, the better we will be able to understand the impact of this invasive species.

For more information on the snakehead monitoring program, please watch the video at The Washington Post.

Hurricane Sandy’s Impact Continues to be Felt

Though its been six months since the superstorm touched ground and devastated New Jersey and New York, Hurricane Sandy’s impacts are still being felt up and down the East Coast. A report released last week revealed that one of the major effects was the spillage of 11 billion gallons of sewage from East Coast treatment plants into streams, canals, and roadways. 90 percent of the spills occurred in New Jersey and New York, the states that were arguably hit hardest by the hurricane. Of the sewage, approximately 3.5 billion gallons was raw, untreated, and unfiltered. The remaining 7.5 billion gallons were partially treated.

Alysosn Kenward, researcher at Climate Central and author of the recently released report, states that the report has revealed “just how vulnerable the system is to floods, storms, and climate change,” and points out that, “our system isn’t designed to handle these kinds of storm surges and the sea-level rise associated with climate change.” According to Climate Central, the state of New York will need to spend about $2 billion to repair damages to the sewage treatment plants, while New Jersey plans to allocate $1 billion for repairs.

For more information, please read the full article on The Huffington Post.

Upcoming Bethesda Green Events 

  • Bethesda Green Education, Outreach, and Marketing Group Meeting, Wednesday May 8, 4 pm – 5:30 pm, 4825 Cordell Avenue

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; for information contact Bethesda Green’s Director of Communications Dave Heffernan at dvheffernan@bethesdagreen.org.

  • Bethesda Green’s Fourth Annual Solar & Green Home Expo, Saturday May 11, 10 am – 3 pm, 4825 Cordell Avenue

Join us for our 4th annual Solar & Green Home Expo, an information-packed showcase event featuring many green home expert services and solar providers. The goal of this event is to provide homeowners and other interested parties an opportunity to get the latest information about area services and incentives to green their homes. Local area green home businesses will display their services throughout the Bethesda Green office space while individual workshops related to greening your home will be conducted throughout the day. To learn more about his free community event, please visit the event page here.

Upcoming Partner Events 

  • Bike to Work Day 2013, Friday May 17 6:30 am – 8:30 am, Reed Street (Corner of Woodmont Ave & Bethesda Ave)

Get your wheels turning at the 2013 Bike to Work Day! Presented by Bethesda Commuter Solutions, the Bethesda pit stop will feature DJ entertainment, state and local dignitaries, tons of raffle prizes and giveaways, bike maintenance checks, and plenty of food and drink to fuel your commute. The grand prize in the raffle will be a brand new bike from Griffin Cycle! To learn more about the event and to register, please visit Bethesda Transportation Solutions.

  • Run for the Animals! Saturday May 19, 8:30 am, Wheaton Regional Park

Poplar Springs Animal Sanctuary is holding its 10th Annual Run for the Animals! The 5k run and 1 mile fun walk is a fundraiser dedicated to supporting the lifesaving work Poplar Spring does everyday. From the warm up, running and walking on the scenic trails, the dog and people raffles, the prizes, and the abundance of food, a good time will be had by all. Register online at http://poplarspring.kintera.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.

GrowingBusiness_logoby Susanna Parker

Bethesda Green is excited to present the Investor Pitch Training Program for entrepreneurs in the green sector. This event is the culmination of our six-month finance workshop series and will put highly qualified entrepreneurs in front of active investors to receive sophisticated feedback on their readiness to seek investment.

Approximately six tech and non-tech early-stage businesses based in Maryland, DC and Virginia will be selected to present. The companies applying should have sustainable products or services and a growth-oriented business model. The Investor Pitch Training Program is ideal preparation for those getting ready to seek financing or for participation in accelerator programs such as CleanTech Open. The selection process for participating companies will be based on feasibility, scalability, business model and sustainable criteria.

The application requirements are as follows: A one page “teaser” company profile; a 3-5 page executive summary including product/service description, competitive advantage, market, revenue generation, team and sustainability; financials; a pitch presentation of up to 10 slides. Because sustainability is a key component of our judging criteria, please be sure to describe the net positive environmental and social impact of your product or service.

This program is an excellent opportunity for entrepreneurs looking to perfect their pitch through experience and expert feedback. Bethesda Green’s objective with this and our Finance Workshop series has been to promote the growth of the green industry sector in the region. Robert Snyder, Bethesda Green’s Incubator Manager, points out that a major part of that growth is preparing entrepreneurs to successfully access financing. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity — submit today!

THE DEADLINE FOR SUBMITTING APPLICATIONS IS MAY 17. For more information on applying, including application materials, visit the Bethesda Green website. For questions, email Robert Snyder, Bethesda Green’s Incubator Manager, at rsnyder@bethesdagreen.org.

by Susanna Parkerjoyful bath co

Rochel Roland is firm in her belief that taking a bath is one of the best ways to relax your body and mind. The founder of Joyful Bath Co. has had a life-long love affair with hot baths but was always disappointed by the bath products available. Some had too much fragrance, others left an oily residue, and all were filled with unnatural chemicals. Rochel began creating her own formulations mixing organic salts, pure essential oils and healing food-grade ingredients, unlike any other bath products on the market. That’s when she realized she’d found her niche, and Joyful Bath Co. was born.

Starting out small, Rochel sold her products at schools, churches, fundraising events, and military facilities all over the area. She was able to interact directly with customers, get immediate feedback and realize the extent of the customer demand for her products. During that time, she also established her supply chain and prepared for growth. In 2010, Rochel exhibited at the natural products industry’s national trade show and began receiving her first large retail orders.

Rochel cares about more than a good bathing experience – sustainability is a big focus at Joyful Bath Co. Rochel selected her manufacturers based on their concern for quality and sustainable sourcing. She strives to balance environmental concerns with product freshness, and deliberately uses glass jars as packaging to encourage recycling and re-purposing. Whenever possible, Rochel uses recycled paper and paper products. The all-natural ingredients that go into all Joyful Bath Co. products are truly 100% natural. Rochel believes that cutting corners doesn’t work if it means acting in a way that harms the environment. Rochel is also concerned about saving water – Joyful Bath Co. gives their customers instructions on how to take a “Power Bath” that provides all the wellness benefits of taking a bath without using any more water than a shower. Joyful Bath Co. soaps are all biodegradable.

Rochel and Joyful Bath Co. joined the Bethesda Green Incubator in October 2012. Since then, Rochel has made business connections through the Incubator and had access to educational resources that have helped her expand Joyful Bath Co. The monthly Incubator meetings allow her to share experiences and tools with the other Incubator companies, and the lunch talks have featured speakers well-versed in starting small, sustainable businesses.

When asked about the overarching goal of Joyful Bath Co., Rochel responds, “Our mission is simple. We just want to help clean up the world one bath or shower at a time.” She smiles, and adds, “And everyone needs to bathe – if not daily, at least every once in a while!”

Joyful Bath Co. products are available at Whole Foods Market, Dawson’s Market, and online at joyfulbathco.com. For bath lovers, Rochel recommends the Bath Variety Six Pack that includes one each of the six signature salts. Soap lovers can try out a variety of soaps by purchasing the travel/trial size bars, available in all six scents.

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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