green incubator


RCC logoby Nic Wells

I wouldn’t consider driving a pastime. Driving drains me, and radio stations never seem to live up to their “no commercial” arrangements. Driving doesn’t do Mother Nature any favors, either. But, as I drove through Northwest DC to get to work this morning, I rolled down my windows and, quite frankly, enjoyed my ride for once.

I cruised down streets filled with shades of green, so many that even Crayola’s 96 Crayons cartons couldn’t compare. I know I’m not the only one who is impressed. National Geographic’s  “Nine Cities That Love Their Trees” recognizes the District’s 36% tree cover – much of which belongs to our very own national park, Rock Creek Park, and its constituent parks scattered throughout the city.

Now, you don’t have to be a treehugger to appreciate what Rock Creek Park has to offer. Its trees provide shade that is desperately sought by profusely sweaty people like myself on those humid summer days. Civil War buffs can troop through Fort Stevens and Fort DeRussy to trace the footsteps of long-gone soldiers.  Whatever your reason for visiting, you are guaranteed to find something of interest in Rock Creek Park.

Unfortunately, Rock Creek Park is not as lucky as its visitors. In recent years, its natural and cultural resources have taken a beating. Non-native invasive species like English ivy threaten the ecosystem’s fragile balance, and historical landmarks and access routes have deteriorated. Luckily, Rock Creek Conservancy  is working to change this.

With the 125th anniversary of the park approaching in 2015, Rock Creek Conservancy is developing exciting yearlong plans to celebrate the occasion, some of which include engaging with neighbors in local communities that use the Park and its resources. Rock Creek Conservancy will host two Saturday morning meetings: one on June 21 in the Mount Pleasant Neighborhood Library from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm and the other on June 28 in the Chevy Chase Library from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm.

The meetings will include four “topic tables” relating to Access, Historic Buildings & Designed Landscapes and Civil War Defenses, Programming and Recreation, and the Environment. The meetings will provide platforms for local residents to offer ideas and are designed to give residents the opportunity to play a vital role in the Park’s future.

If you’re allergic to driving like I am, these meetings can help secure a future with scenic drives through Northwest DC. That doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

Nic Wells, a McLean native, interns for Rock Creek Conservancy, part of the Bethesda Green Business Incubator, and studies Geography and Social Anthropology at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.

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Incubator Spotlight is a continuing series of features about companies in the Bethesda Green Business Incubator.

Gator ron logoGator Ron’s Zesty Sauces & Mixes offers six unique, delicious products; two versions each of Divine Bloody Mary Mix, Angel Wing Sauce & Heavenly BBQ Sauce.  All products are made with all natural ingredients, and are gluten, dairy, and fat free, contain no GMOs or HVPs, are Kosher, vegan, low in calories and carbs and high in flavor & versatility; there are numerous recipes on our website for easy, healthy appetizers, entrées, side dishes and beverages using our products.

The unique recipes for these sauces and mixes were created by “Gator” Ron Griffith, who died of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in November 2011; we are manufacturing and selling his products to raise money for ALS research. Constance Griffith, Ron’s wife, is Founder & President of Gator Ron’s Zesty Sauces & Mixes; Debra Kaufmann is Co-Founder & Vice President, Public Relations & Communications.  A percentage of all proceeds are donated to the Robert Packard Center at Johns Hopkins.

In the 18 months since we first received our manufactured products, we are delighted to say that Gator Ron’s Zesty Sauces & Mixes are now in more than 100 locations in the Baltimore/Washington metro area, including several stores and restaurants on the Eastern Shore.  We are also with a distributor in Ontario, Canada for placement in gourmet and gift shops, and our Bloody Mary Mix is in numerous liquor stores in Delaware and Pennsylvania, as well as all Montgomery County and Worcester County Liquor Stores.  We have online sales through our website, Abe’s Market, Open Sky and Amazon.

Gator Ron’s is currently in local programs with Whole Foods and MOM’s Organic Market, and will be placing some of our products in local Giant Food Stores in the fall, and we are in discussions with potential distributors, which would help us really grow the business.  We are also hoping to find investors to help fund this upcoming growth – and even plan to apply to Shark Tank!  We are very excited and believe that 2014 has the possibility of becoming a huge year for Gator Ron’s!

Please help us “take a bite out of ALS” by purchasing Gator Ron’s Zesty Sauces & Mixes – we hope to become the Paul Newman’s for ALS.

BGnews_logoMaryland Showcase of Sustainability

Monday, Jan. 27
8 – 11 am
Weston Annapolis

This interactive and engaging event brings together change agents from across the state — including Bethesda Green Executive Director Dave Feldman and the team from Doo Consulting — who have created exciting and innovative programs in their communities, businesses or industries. Their work will be an inspiration to some, a beacon to others, and a call to action to the rest.  Click here for more info.

Montgomery County Sustainability Network

Tonight (Tuesday), Jan. 14
6 pm
Dawson’s Market Rockville

The newly formed Montgomery County Sustainability Network invites everyone to its first meeting this evening (Jan. 14), 6 pm at Dawson’s Market in Rockville.  For more information, click here.

Good Green Fun

Wednesday, Jan. 15
5:30 – 7:30 pm
Urban Butcher, Silver Spring

Silver Spring Green Happy Hour features “Salad Grazing: Healthy Livestock, People, & Planet” with a Tesla S on display.  For more information, click here.

News from GreenWheaton

GreenWheaton’s recent newsletter features 10 Green Tips compiled by Sara H. Brosnan: Use Less Energy When Heating Your Home and Other Winter Tips

BGnews_logoBethesda Downtown 20-Year Plan Launched

A large, overflowing crowd gathered Monday evening, Nov. 4, at the County Regional Services Center, providing opinions to the Montgomery County Planning Board about what works and doesn’t work in downtown Bethesda.

With a focus on listening to residents, the event was the first step in launching a new Sector Plan for Bethesda that will culminate in about a year with a proposal for the approval of the County Council, providing a fresh look at how Bethesda might evolve over the next 20 years.

The new plan will revisit the 1994 Sector Plan’s recommendations, including issues related to walking, biking and environmental quality.  There will be plenty of opportunities for residents to weigh in, including this evening, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 7 -9 pm at Imagination Stage.

Click here for more information.

Advocates Aim to Stop Fracked Natural Gas Shipments in Maryland

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) is sounding the alarm about a proposal to build a liquified natural gas export facility in Cove Point, Maryland, along the Chesapeake Bay, fed from a web of pipelines throughout the state that would deliver fracked natural gas to the facility.

crossroads-tour-logo-emailCCAN Executive Director Mike Tidwell wrote in a recent Washington Post Op-Ed column that if allowed to go forward, the “Cove Point facility would become the biggest cause of global-warming pollution in Maryland.”

CCAN and other organizations are planning a series of town hall meetings across the state for people to learn more about the issue.  Locally, a meeting is scheduled Thursday, Nov. 7, 7:30 – 9 pm at the Silver Spring Civic Center.  Click here for more information.

BG Incubator Companies in the News

Energy Dynamics, one of the Bethesda Green Business Incubator companies, is competing along with a number of other start-ups across the nation to have an opportunity to pitch its product before Silicon Valley and Energy Sector investors.

The company designs and manufactures devices that capture and store wasted energy in the electrical system and then recycles it on demand.  The devices maximize the efficiency of electrical system utilization at commercial, industrial and residential facilities, yielding savings of between 6-12% on energy bills.

Energy Dynamics is asking for a vote of support to pitch its product.  Go here to vote.

Pictured left to right: Robert Dixon, Head of Industry Affairs, Siemens Industry, Inc.; Montgomery County Councilman Roger Berliner; John Jabara, Founder of Savenia Labs; Howard County Executive Ken Ulman; and Eric Coffman, Senior Energy Planner, Montgomery County.

Pictured left to right: Robert Dixon, Head of Industry Affairs, Siemens Industry, Inc.; Montgomery County Councilman Roger Berliner; John Jabara, Founder of Savenia Labs; Howard County Executive Ken Ulman; and Eric Coffman, Senior Energy Planner, Montgomery County.

John Jabara, Founder of Savenia Labs, a startup company in the Bethesda Green Business Incubator, received the Maryland Clean Energy Center Entrepreneur of the Year award at the annual MCEC summit this October.

Since 2009, a team of scientists and researchers working with Savenia Labs perfected its 10-step process of independently testing popular appliances to determine each model’s energy usage. Today, Savenia Labs Energy Rating labels can be found in local stores to aide consumers.

Events

  • First Thursday Happy Hour — Celebrate Autumn, Sustainability and Trees with Bethesda Green and Trees for the Future.  Enjoy casual conversation and social networking, Thursday, Nov. 7, 5-8 pm @ Jaleo, 7271 Woodmont Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814.  RSVP via Meetup.
savenia 2

Bethesda Green is proud to announce that Savenia Labs Founder John Jabara was named Maryland Entrepreneur of the Year by the Maryland Clean Energy Center (MCEC), an award that recognizes an individual that brings new technologies, products or services to the market in Maryland.

 

Founded in 2009 in the Bethesda Green Business Incubator, Savenia Labs has revolutionized shopping with its innovative energy ratings labels that inform consumers about the lifetime energy costs and environmental impacts of various household appliances.

 

“Congratulations to John and the Savenia team for bringing these breakthrough energy and environmental impact ratings to Maryland and beyond,” said Bethesda Green Incubator Manager Robert Snyder.

 

“It is an honor to receive this award, and I would like to thank all the people that have helped get Savenia Labs Energy Ratings into the hands of consumers so quickly across the region,” said Jabara. Participating retailers and enterprise customers can download energy rating labels on site, customized by zip code for energy costs and environmental impacts.

 

The full press release is here.

MLP staff: Shane Yaeger, Tiffany Jones, Mark Leisher, and Susanna Parker.

MLP staff: Shane Yaeger, Tiffany Jones, Mark Leisher, and Susanna Parker.

A lot has happened with Mark Leisher Productions (MLP) over the past two years. The most exciting development for the Bethesda Green Incubator company is the addition of three new team members — Videographer and Editor Shane Yaeger, Production Manager Tiffany Jones, and Social Media Manager Susanna Parker. Shane traveled with Mark to document The Beach Boys 50th Anniversary tour last summer, a working relationship that went so smoothly that Mark asked Shane to come on as a partner in the company. Tiffany and Mark met a year ago, when they worked together on the Reel Water Film Festival.  Tiffany joined the team in March, supporting client communications and expanding the MLP brand. Mark first saw Susanna’s work for the Bethesda Green blog, where she was a weekly contributor. He realized that, as a growing company, they would need someone dedicated to social media and brand management, increasing awareness of current and upcoming projects.

Mark Leisher Productions has kept busy, creating commercial and marketing videos for a variety of local companies, co-sponsoring the 2nd Annual Reel Water Film Festival, and developing two feature films: a documentary about the Underground Railroad and a psychological horror film. Additionally, MLP has begun offering brand management and social media marketing services to clients, creating engaging videos and marketing them to increase their reach and impact.

Through it all, Mark has remained dedicated to increasing awareness of sustainability and the green community. MLP continues to co-sponsor the Reel Water Film Festival, works with Active Nature to encourage river stewardship in the paddling community, and supports fellow Bethesda Green Incubator companies by helping them create and market promotional videos. MLP has also worked with Lori Hill of Sister Eden to develop her brand as “Your Guide to Living the Green Life.” The team has created videos, managed social media relations, and developed content for the Sister Eden blog.  The future is bright for Mark Leisher Productions, working to make the video process fun, engaging, and simple.

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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