green business certification

BGnews_logoMontgomery Council creates two new offices to tackle environmental issues in county

Montgomery County Council created two new offices Tuesday to oversee efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and promote the use of sustainable energy sources in the county.

The county has a broad portfolio of environmental regulations and goals, many of them established by a 2008 working group created by County Executive Isiah Leggett. They include an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050.

But council members said progress toward the goals needed to be accelerated and the county held more accountable. It voted unanimously to create an Office of Sustainability within the Department of Environmental Protection and an Office of Energy and Sustainability within the county’s Department of General Services.

The estimated annual cost of the new offices is $900,000, mostly for additional staff. The council approved funding as part of the fiscal 2015 budget it passed last month.

See full article published in The Washington Post

Poolesville Goes Solar

Poolesville recently celebrated the opening of its new solar array, expected to save $30,000 in energy costs in the first year of operation. Since the array came online in February, it has created enough energy to power 40 homes for a year and has saved nearly 600,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere.

Poolesville partnered with Standard Solar to build the 4,480-panel array to offset electricity for the wastewater treatment plant.

See full article published in the Gazette.

Solar Mowing Business Grows in Bethesda

In 2009, Lyn DeWitt decided that she had had enough of the fumes and noise associated with gasoline-powered lawn mowers and launched Solar Mowing, a company using battery-powered mowers charged by photovoltaic solar panels affixed to a truck.

She initially invested about $30,000 on the truck, solar panels, mowers and other equipment. Since then, the company has grown to six mowers, eight trimmers, three trucks with solar panels and a dozen employees. A year ago, it was certified by the Montgomery County Green Business Certification Program, signifying its effective environmental stewardship.

See full article published in the Gazette.

Green Events

  • Good Green Fun Happy Hour — Wednesday, June 18, 5-8 pm, Silver Spring Green networking event at La Malinche Spanish Tapas Restaurant, 8622 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, MD.
  • Bethesda EcoDistrict Workshop — Wednesday, June 18, 7-9 pm, Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, 4805 Edgemoor Lane, Bethesda, MD.
  • Rock Creek Community Meeting — Saturday, June 21, 9:30 am – 12:30 pm, Mount Pleasant Library, 3160 16th Street NW, DC , hosted by Rock Creek Conservancy.
  • GreenWheaton Gala — Wednesday, June 25, 6-9 pm, Ballroom at Wheaton Glen, 2400 Arcola Ave., Wheaton, MD.
  • Fishbowl Investor Pitch — Thursday, June 26, 1-5 pm, plus reception at Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Ave., Bethesda, MD, a “shark tank” like-program hosted in partnership with the William James Foundation.

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 

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

  • 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.

Speedy Signs:  Offering Eco Friendly Options for Your Business and Personal Sign Needs

By Lori Hill

If you’ve ever been in the Bethesda Green office, you may have noticed the big Bethesda Green sign in the conference room.  I’ve always assumed that everything in the Bethesda Green office is eco-friendly, and indeed, that sign is no different.  It was created by Dave Taghipour and the team at Speedy Signs in Wheaton, MD.

You might wonder, “How can a sign be eco-friendly?”  The materials used to make the sign are one component, but the business practices of the company making the signs also matter.  I produced special events for 16 years and signage was one component of just about every event.  I became more conscientious about the materials used to make signs when I realized that foam core and foam board are not going to biodegrade and corrugated plastic, a material I once used on a regular basis, will take a very long time to break down in a landfill.  So what materials should you use?

According to Taghipour, “In place of acrylic and other plastic materials, one can use 3form materials. Made from ecoresin, their co-polyester sheet material contains a significant amount of both pre- and post-consumer recycled content. Their products range from 25% to 77.5% pre-consumer recycled content, to 100% post-consumer recycled content. Utilizing 3form materials can contribute to LEED points. In place of conventional banner materials, one can use BIOflex™, the first biodegradable vinyl banner material.

“When exposed to conditions in a landfill (darkness, high heat and moisture), BIOflex™ attracts microbes that break down PVC and turn it into dust. One can also use EarthSmart™, a non-PVC banner material that is 100% biodegradable, compostable, and recyclable. In place of foam core, one can use BioBoard™, which contains approximately 63% post-consumer recycled content (cardboard) and is 100% recyclable.”

Recently, Bethesda Green had Speedy Signs make bike rack signs made of recycled aluminum and printed using bio solvent inks. Speedy Signs made these signs out of a plastic sheet containing approximately 30% recycled content, sandwiched between two sheets of recycled aluminum.

Speedy Signs works hard to minimize its footprint in an industry that is full of scraps, vinyl, and waste.  They start by purchasing eco-friendly materials when feasible (clients must be receptive and often be willing to pay a small premium), continue with consciously utilizing the materials to slash the amount of waste, and finish with recycling whatever scraps are left at the end. The post production vinyl scraps that are too small for their machines to use are absolutely perfect for creative use by artists and children, so they always look to give these items a second chance at utility before being so quick to scrap them.

Although they we were one of the original 20 companies to obtain Montgomery County Green Business Certification in April 2010, they engaged in green practices long before then. For example, they were among the first businesses in the Wheaton area to join a buying group to purchase wind power.  And even though the landlord at their previous location did not offer any recycling program, they have been recycling cardboard and other items by driving to the Derwood transfer station weekly since the company was founded.

Other company green initiatives include:

  • Conserving paper by conducting 90%+ of their promotions through the Internet
  • Conserving water by using dual flush toilets and utilizing automatic faucets
  • Conserving energy by using flat panel monitors on every computer in the store and turning off unused equipment
  • Conserving resources and building with reclaimed wood from barns, fences and old structures along with bamboo and cork
  • Encouraging employees to carpool or take public transit, offering incentives
  • Using natural biodegradable cleaning materials throughout the business
  • Using e-mail, rather than paper, whenever possible for all correspondence
  • Using natural lighting instead of artificial lighting throughout showroom
  • Telecommute whenever possible, reducing gas usage and emissions
  • Providing employees with access to kitchenware, reducing the need for disposable cutlery
  • Providing customers with a station of Energy Star information

Taghipour, who also owns  All-Eco Center, which sells sustainable building materials, was involved with launching GreenWheaton.

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

Bethesda Green proudly received recognition as one of the first businesses and organizations to be certified by Montgomery County’s Green Business Certification Program.  County Executive Isiah Leggett announced the program at a December 16 media event (see News Release).

“Many businesses are taking steps to incorporate environmentally sound practices into their operations, thus creating a greener environment and economy and improving their bottom lines,” said Leggett.  “With the Green Business Certification Program, the County is encouraging environmental responsibility, and customers will have a way of recognizing which businesses are going green.  Businesses are telling us that our comprehensive program is actually motivating them to further expand their green activities.”

Ralph Smith, a Bethesda Green volunteer and President of Smith Design/Construction, accepted the certification on our behalf.  Ralph and volunteer Cindy Powers took lead roles in guiding us through the process.

“This certification process has helped us to focus our attention on continuing improvement and to celebrate the achievements we have accomplished,” said Ralph during his acceptance remarks.  “Just as Montgomery County is leading the state to an important goal of sustainably operating businesses, Bethesda Green is leading the way as a model of sustainability for businesses and residents.”

Bethesda Green volunteer Ralph Smith (center) receives the county's Green Business Certification with (L-R) County Executive Isiah Leggett, County Council President Nancy Floreen, Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce President Gigi Godwin, and Montgomery College Interim Dean Steve Greenfield.

Bethesda Green was among the first 11 businesses, nonprofits and organizations to be certified, a list that includes our friends from Honest Tea, Calvert and Clean Currents.

To view the online certification application and other information about the program, go to

Interested in becoming a green certified business?  Montgomery College is now offering courses to help you through the process.  For a listing of offerings,  click here.