By Alison Wentzell

BGnews_logoSolar Panels Make a Comeback at the White House

Fulfilling a promise made in 2010, the Obama Administration is installing solar panels at the White House as a sign of its commitment to renewable energy.  According to an article in the Washington Post, quoting a White House official, the installation is “a part of an energy retrofit that will improve the overall energy efficiency of the building.”   It’s nice to know that the President is catching the energy efficiency wave.

Solar panels were originally installed at the White House over 30 years ago by Jimmy Carter.  Ronald Reagan had them removed in 1986; George W. Bush had a solar photovoltaic system installed in 2003 to heat the White House swimming pool.

See the Washington Post article here about solar energy at the White House.

Virginia Mountain Lion Sighting: Real or Not Real

A mountain lion was allegedly spotted at Prince William Forest Park outside the dining hall by a young woman.  The woman frantically called the police and park rangers to report the sighting, but by the time officials arrived the animal was gone.

Based on the woman’s description of the animal, wildlife biologists and state officials believe that the animal was more likely to be a bobcat or a fox.  Many of the people who come to the park are not used to the outdoors, which, in return, can lead to over exaggerations or the mistaken identities of animals.  In 2006, Paul Peterson conducted a survey of all carnivorous animals in Prince William Forest Park and found evidence of black bears, bobcats, foxes, and coyotes; but no mountain lions.  In addition, the Eastern Puma—the type of mountain lion native to Virginia—has been declared extinct since 2011.

However, I wouldn’t be so quick to entirely rule out the possibility of a mountain lion at the park.  Peterson’s study was conducted over 5 years ago, and since then times have changed.  The changing of global temperatures and strain for natural resource leaves animals with two options: die off and become extinct, or adapt to the situation.  It is entirely possible that mountain lion species are relocating in search for the resources necessary for their survival.

In fact, a mountain lion was hit by a car in Connecticut in 2011.  It was the first one to be seen in the state in 100 years.  After scientists conducted DNA tests, they found that the animal had belonged to the mountain lions in the Black Hills of South Dakota and presumably walked all the way to Connecticut.

Check out Inside Nova’s article here.

Weekly Fun Rides Gaining Popularity in DC

In recent years, legislation in the DC metro area has made it easier for cyclists to get from point A to point B.  Even more recently, we are noticing a spike in the number of cyclists, and an overall increase in popularity.  We can thank programs such as Capital Bikeshare and many new bike shops for this surge in popularity.  But now, bike shops are taking it to the next level by organizing social bike rides.

Shops, such as BicycleSpace, have started sponsoring a plethora of weekly bike rides including “Seventh Street Social”, “Cupcake Rambles”, “City Explorers”, and moonlight rides on the full moon.  Although BicycleSpace isn’t the first shop to sponsor bike rides, they are one of the first to make the rides more casual and open to less hardcore cyclists.

Bike rides are a growing trend both in DC and big cities across America.  With any hope, biking will become such a popular trend that it will move out of the fad stage and become the social norm.  Also, the more demand we have for biking, the more likely we are to have safer bike lanes and fewer cars on the road.  This would significantly improve our nation’s health, since people would be more active and the amount of hazardous chemicals produced by cars would be greatly reduced.

For more information on these casual bike rides, read the Washington Post article here.


  •  Caleva Dirty Dinners: A Farm to Table Series, August 24, 6-9 PM, Calleva Farm, 19120 Martinsburg Road, Dickerson MD.

Come out to Calleva Farms and enjoy a delicious meal that has been grown and prepared on site.  Meals include wine, festive music, and non-alcoholic “mocktails.”  Make your reservation and find out more info at

  • BG 101, August 28, 4-5:30 PM, Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814

Join Bethesda Green for our regular session of BG 101, where we will provide an orientation about our organization, history and upcoming events and volunteer opportunities.

Alison Wentzell is a senior at American University and an intern with Bethesda Green.  Her interests in sustainability focus on the community, environmental politics, and cultural aspects of the environmental movement.