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World’s Largest Urban Greenhouse

Giant Food Stores signed a deal with BrightFarms to build the world’s largest urban greenhouse, expected to open this fall.  At 100,000 square feet, the greenhouse aims to deliver 1 million pounds of fresh produce throughout the year to about 30 Giant supermarkets in the Washington, DC,  metro area. Plans also include making the greenhouse available to schools as an educational tool on urban agriculture and sustainability.

In addition to building greenhouses attached to supermarkets, BrightFarms designs rooftop farms and is working on projects in Kansas City, Oklahoma City, St. Louis, and St. Paul.

To read more, check out this article.

New Bike Lanes

As Bethesda proceeds through a new sector plan for future development, interested parties may want to take note of Alexandria’s plan to add new bike lanes. The Alexandria City Council voted unanimously recently to create bike lanes on a span of King Street from Janneys Lane to West Cedar Street, one of Alexandria’s busiest streets.  Many Alexandria residents objected to this plan, however, because it will cause the removal of more than two dozen parking spots and add to congestion. Those in favor of the bike lanes argue that more and more people are using bikes for commuting so creating a safe way for them is key to cities like Alexandria.

Ultimately, the bike lanes proposal was approved with the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians in mind. Bicyclists will share the traffic lanes with motorized vehicles in the areas where parking is still allowed. New crosswalks and electronic speed indicators will also be installed for the safety pedestrians and bicyclists.

To find out more information, check out the Washington Post.

Events

  • Maryland Day, a weekend celebration of all things Maryland, March 21-23, explores historic sites, cultural activities, and natural resources around Annapolis. See the Annapolis Green Growing a Little Greener webpage for more details.
  • H2O SummitMarch 22, 9:30 am – 4 pm, Silver Spring Civic Center, 1 Veterans Plaza, Silver Spring, MD. Topics covered include: What is Stormwater and How Can You Help Prevent Pollution? and Volunteerism & Community Efforts to Improve the Environment. The morning session (9:30 to 1:00 pm) will have speakers and workshops. Attendance is limited, so register in advance. The afternoon session will be a Family H2O Fair hosted by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission and will include kid’s crafts and environmental demos for families. An assortment of water related exhibitors will also be on hand located in the Great Hall. Registration is not required for the afternoon session.

By Alison Wentzell

New Road Rules Make DC Cycling SaferBGnews_logo

In the past year, the number of bicyclists on DC streets has risen 130%.  With so many more bikes on the roads, the District government has passed a new bill making it much safer for bikes.  The bill allows cyclists to cross intersections ahead of the light, so that they don’t feel so pushed by the people in cars.

The new legislation also puts more responsibility on the drivers.  Drivers failing to yield to cyclists will receive 3 points on their license as well as a $250 fine.  Drivers colliding with cyclists will have to pay $500 and get 6 points on their license.  However, many drivers claim that the rules aren’t fair and put too much responsibility on them without considering what the cyclists might be doing.

Check out the full article at WJLA.

Bethesda Firm Helps You Pick LED Light Bulbs

Since the Energy Independence and Security Act was passed in 2007, many people have been confused about what to do for light bulbs.  The law has resulted in many of the most popular incandescent light bulbs being taken off the shelf because they do not meet new energy efficiency standards.  Since then, consumers have become overwhelmed with the array of lighting options, that all vary in brightness, color, and environmental safety.

However, coming to the rescue is Bethesda Systems, an audio-visual company that offers a new service called LED Diet, which aims to cut down on electric bills by helping homeowners pick the light bulbs that best fit their needs. The people from Bethesda Systems, which sells fixtures and bulbs not typically found at hardware stores, will come to your house to test various options during both the day and night.

The company believe that what’s important is how the light looks in the room, not the brand.  These bulbs are generally more expensive than what you would get at the store; however, after the initial sticker price, an LED bulb can save $267 in energy costs over a comparable incandescent for the lifetime of the bulb, according to Bethesda Systems.

For more information, check out the Washington Post article.

Events

  • BG 101,  Oct 30, 4-5:30 PM, 4825 Cordell Ave, Second Floor, Bethesda, MD

Come out to Bethesda Green for an orientation about the organization and to learn about volunteer opportunities!

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

By Alison Wentzell

Cheverly Students Participate in Bike to School Day BGgreennews_logo1

Every year Gladys Noon Spellman Elementary School in Cheverly puts on Fall Bike to School Day.  Bike to School Day was set up as part of a program run through the National Center for Safe Routes to School, with the hopes of reducing traffic and pollution.  This year 90 students rode from Legion Park to the school alongside a police escort.  The day is to encourage children to walk and bike to school to promote healthier lifestyles.  As it is, approximately 50 students walk or bike to school each day, and the school hopes that this number will increase.

Check out the full article on the Gazette here.

Thumbs up to the DC Circulator

A recent study conducted by Howard University’s Transit Research Center concluded that the DC Circulator is as popular as ever!  Created a decade ago, the public transportation system has been keeping riders happy, as it links people from neighborhoods to mass transit stations.  The team surveyed approximately 1,800 riders who use the system on a regular basis, and found that 9 out of 10 riders were satisfied with the service.  More than 80% of the respondents use the system to commute between home and work and use it as an alternative to other options. The study found that 57% of DC Circulator riders own their own vehicles,, showing that the system promotes the use of mass transit in the DC area.

For more information, check out the full article in the Washington Post.

Events

  • Save a Birding Hot Spot, Sunday, Oct. 20, 9 – 11 am, 20500 Zion Road, Laytonsville, MD

Join The Montgomery County Sierra Club, Montgomery Bird Club, and Department of Environmental Protection to remove invasive plants from the Blue Mash Nature Trail, and protect bird and other wildlife species from invasive non-native plants.  Tools are limited so please bring clippers, saws, and loopers, if you can!  For more information click here.  If your interested please RSVP to mimi.abdu@maryland.sierraclub.org or call 301-919-6060.

  • Paper Shredding and Electronic Recycling Event, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 5 -7 pm, 3015 University Blvd, Kensington, MD 20895

Come out to the Signal Financial Federal Credit Union parking lot for a paper shredding and electronic recycling event organized by GreenWheaton!  Bring all unwanted paper and document to be securely shredded and recycled.  You can also bring any unwanted electronics to be recycled by ECO City Junk.  If you’re interested in volunteering for this event, contact GreenWheaton at info@greenwheaton.org.

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

BGnews_logoBy Alison Wentzell

Public Hunting Not a Part of Park Service’s Deer Control Plan

Recently there has been a huge spike in the deer population in Virginia and Maryland civil war parks.  The increase in the number of deer has caused new problems for Park Service officials, and they are unsure what to do about them.  Recent surveys have found that there is an estimated 82 deer per square mile in the parks.  However, the areas can only support about 20 deer per square mile.  In addition, the deer affect the cultural landscapes, which presents the officials with a huge dilemma.  Tourists flock to the parks every year to experience them the way they were 150 years ago, but high deer population is changing the appearance of the park at a rate faster than the officials can fix.

Local hunting advocates are pushing the government to allow deer hunting in these parks.  Organizations have arranged for deer “harvests” across the country, including DC.  Hunters killed 20 deer during the span of 3 days at Rock Creek Park back in March.  They even donated the collected venison to food pantries.  However, the organization of this event caused uproar among the local community including protests and an unsuccessful lawsuit.

In spite of the gun community’s vocalization of their support for hunting in these parks, Park Service officials aren’t budging.  They refuse to allow hunting in the parks.  Not to mention, congressional legislation does not even allow Park Services to consider the option of hunting as a means for deer population control.  And with good reason, these parks are open to the public and are visited by thousands of tourists each season.  In my opinion, it seems that the addition of guns adds a tremendous safety concern for all of these people, no matter how regulated they are.  It will also give officials the added challenge of implementing hunting regulations.

For more information, check out the Washington Post article here.

Biking to Work Promotes Healthy Lifestyle

More and more frequently we hear stories promoting a biking lifestyle.  And for good reason.  When it comes down to it, bikes have many advantages over cars.  But an article in this week’s Gazette puts a different spin on the increasingly popular trend.  This story focuses on two local doctors who work for the NIH Heart Center at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda.  Keith Horvath, director of cardiothoracic surgery, and Brad Dick, and interventionalist radiologist, started biking to work five years ago and believe others should do the same.

Horvath takes the phrase “practice what you preach” to heart.  He says that part of his job is promoting a healthy lifestyle, and biking has done that for him.  He claims that the hardest part about exercising is finding the time to do it.  Now he uses his morning commute not only as his exercise for the day, but to relax, plan out his day, and prepare for surgery.

Radiologist Brad Dick also bikes to work, and can’t help but notice the stress people have on their morning commute.  Unlike the people he passes over on the Beltway, Dick never has to deal with traffic because you can always get around it on a bike.  Dick also mentions, “The less gas we use as a society the more healthy we are.”  So, while Dick and Horvath ride their bikes to work every day, they’re not only benefiting from it themselves, but they are also making you healthier by reducing gas usage and traffic congestion.

For the full article, check out the Gazette.

Events

  • Bethesda Green Happy Hour, Sept. 5, 5-8 pm, The Courtyard by Marriott Chevy Chase, 5220 Wisconsin Avenue

Join Bethesda Green for its First Thursday Happy Hour at The Courtyard and have a chance to win a raffle, get discounts on wine, beer, and cocktails, and delicious appetizers.  Also, meet the people protecting the local watershed—Friends of Cabin John Creek, Little Falls Watershed Alliance and Rock Creek Conservancy.  There is a $10 entrance fee with the proceeds shared among the local watershed groups.  RSVP via Meetup.

  • Red Wiggler Annual Harvest Celebration, Sept. 7, 4-8:30 pm, Red Wiggler Community Farm, 23400 Ridge Road, Germantown, MD

Come out and honor the work of the season and savor the delicious flavors of the fields.  Dishes are prepared by local chefs and consist of ingredients that have been grown right on the farm.  There will be live music and a Silent Auction full of items and services for your home, garden, and family.  Tickets cost $75 for adults and $40 for children.  All proceeds help programs at the Red Wiggler Farm.  To find out more information, check out the Bethesda Green Calendar.

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.

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.

Events

  •  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 http://www.DirtyDinners.org.

  • 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.

by Alison Wentzell

Maryland updates Bike and Pedestrian PlanBGnews_logo

A little over a decade ago Maryland adopted the 20-year Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan.  Now at the half way point, it is time for the Department of Transportation to update the plan.  While the plan does not establish any specific projects, it does set goals and outlines what we will see over the next 10 years.

A lot has changed since the plan was originally drafted, and the number of Maryland residents who choose to bike and walk has increased, with a concurrent demand for more infrastructural supports.  Bike lanes are popping up in communities that never had them before, and programs that support bicycling are growing.

The state of Maryland has budgeted $151 million over the next six years, and once the plan is complete officials can start making decisions on which projects get funded.

To see the full article published in the Gazette, click here.

Residents push back on rapid transit proposal

To improve long-range transportation options, be more environmentally friendly and support local business, the Montgomery County Planning Board recently approved a proposal to dedicate two lanes for rapid transit buses along Wisconsin Avenue from Friendship Heights Metro to the Rockville Metro.

However, according to a report published in the Gazette, many residents attending a May 28 meeting challenged the plan, especially in the Green Mile corridor between Friendship Height and downtown Bethesda.

See the Gazette article here.

CO2 Emissions Rose 1.4% in 2012     

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), global carbon dioxide emissions rose 1.4% in 2012, warning that if  we don’t change by 2020, there will be more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than we can reasonably deal with.

IEA representative Fatih Birol warns that “climate change is slipping down in the political agenda in many countries.”  To keep this issue at the forefront of our global leaders’ minds the IEA is urging countries and companies to implement four drastic measures by 2015.  This includes implementing aggressive energy efficiency measures, limiting coal output from inefficient plants, reducing the release of methane in gas and oil operations, and phasing out fossil fuel subsidies.

Click here to read the complete article published in the Washington Post.

Upcoming Events Bethesda Green Events

Come out and see entrepreneurs practice their pitch for our panel of investors, and get helpful feedback!

Join Bethesda Green for a great baseball game.  Tickets are free and available while supplies last. Email info@bethesdagreen.org.

Upcoming Partner Events

Join GreenWheaton for their 3rd anniversary!  The night includes appetizers, beer, wine, refreshments, green vendors, and door prizes!  Tickets are $30.

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.

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.

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