green schools


As students go back to school to start their spring semester, finding a summer internship is definitely on their to-do list, and now is the time when employers are looking for talented students to fill their organizational needs. So each year Bethesda Green hosts Fields of Green Internship Fair to connect highly qualified students who are looking for opportunities in the environmental sector with DC metro area’s green employers. Getting ready for the event this year, we decided to share a series of profiles (wrapped up with this edition) about some of the amazing interns who have worked with us recently.

Natalia Salazar PhotoMeet Natalia Salazar. Natalia graduated from Mount Holyoke College in May 2013 with a degree in Environmental Studies and a concentration in Ecosystem Science. Since September 2013, she has been interning at Bethesda Green and Calleva Farm, focusing on sustainable agriculture. She is passionate about building a local, ethical, and sustainable food system.

How did you hear about Bethesda Green? After the end of my last semester in college, I started searching online for green internships in Bethesda. The first link that came up was Bethesda Green’s list of internships from the 2013 Fields of Green Internship Fair. Thanks to this list, I found out about Bethesda Green and Calleva, and I am enjoying wonderful opportunities at both places.

The best thing about interning at Bethesda Green is the chance to work on a project of my interest and receive all the support and resources I need to complete my project. I especially love the level of involvement I’m granted in the Greening Restaurants program and the exposure to the local sustainability world. Thanks to my internship at BG, I have learned  a great deal about restaurants serving delicious, local, seasonal food in downtown Bethesda that I previously had not know about.

What do you do at Bethesda Green? Since I started my internship at Bethesda Green, I’ve been immersing myself in the topic of sustainable agriculture. I’m helping to bring a local food day in downtown Bethesda and creating a webpage within the BG site to educate the public about sustainable agriculture, our county’s agricultural reserve, and sources for local food.

I am most passionate about environmental stewardship, health, animal welfare, and social justice. I also love the outdoors, traveling, dancing, cooking, and eating.

One thing I do to protect the environment is drive a small, fuel-efficient car. My goal, however, is to drive an electric car powered by clean energy sources.

Future goals/plans? This fall I hope to enroll in the University of Maryland’s Environmental Science and Technology M.S. program. I would like to do research and gain expertise on sustainable agriculture and soil.

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Maddy Go is currently a senior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, interning at Bethesda Green for the fall and spring semesters.

How did you hear about Bethesda Green? I was looking for an internship in the environmental field as part of my school’s internship program, and a quick Google search brought me to Bethesda Green’s website. After meeting with Bethesda Green staff, I started interning months later in the fall.

The best thing about interning at BG…is the extremely welcoming and encouraging Bethesda Green staff. BG is a great environment to learn and grow, and that’s made possible entirely by them.

What do you do at Bethesda Green? Anything that’s needed, including working on the database, the BG website, media outreach, and my own personal project. With the help of Bethesda Green, I’ve recently been able to begin to renovate my school’s greenhouse, which has been a fantastic experience for me.

I am most passionate about finding innovative ways to do things and exploring new ideas, especially in the environmental field.

One thing you do to protect the environment? Whenever I go out I try to carpool, take public transportation, or walk/bike.

Future goals/plans? This year I’m going to head to college and begin my undergraduate studies in environmental science. However, things are still uncertain down the road. Hopefully I’ll be able to take advantage of study-abroad opportunities, or try World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) or the Peace Corps.

As students go back to school to start their spring semester, finding a summer internship is definitely on their to-do list, and now is the time when employers are looking for talented students to fill their organizational needs. So each year Bethesda Green hosts Fields of Green Internship Fair to connect highly qualified students who are looking for opportunities in the environmental sector with DC metro area’s green employers. Getting ready for the event this year, we decided to share a series of profiles about some of the amazing interns who have worked with us recently.

Jenny Roe PhotoMeet Jennifer Roe. She grew up in Bethesda but has lived all over the world since then.  She spent a year in Edinburgh, Scotland, and received a Master’s degree in Sustainable Development. During her time in Scotland she became passionate about moving away from an unhealthy, unfair food system and has been working towards building a healthier system ever since.

How did you hear about Bethesda Green? I found out about Bethesda Green when I first moved back to the U.S. from Scotland.  During my job search I came across BG’s website; decided to attend the Education, Outreach and Marketing meeting; and soon after, began my internship.

The best thing about interning at Bethesda Green…was getting to know the people there.  I loved working with the BG team and all the community members who are so passionate about making Bethesda and surrounding communities more sustainable.  Everyone is filled with inspiring ideas about how to change the world for the better.

What have you been up to since your internship at Bethesda Green? After my internship, I started working for a start-up company called Relay Foods.  We are an online farmers market and grocery store that offers 300 local products as well as everyday groceries.  Relay is working towards building a more efficient, no-waste food system that supports small, local business. I am so proud of the growth I have seen in the company over the past 6 months and think everyone should try it out!

I am most passionate about healthy, delicious food that is good for the earth!

One thing you do to protect the environment? Shop local whenever possible.

Future goals/plans? TRAVEL! I have spent  a lot of time traveling but the list never ends. I also hope to one day go to business school to learn about starting my own organization that gives back to those in needs and creates a healthier world.

As students go back to school to start their spring semester, finding a summer internship is definitely on their to-do list, and now is the time when employers are looking for talented students to fill their organizational needs. So each year Bethesda Green hosts Fields of Green Internship Fair to connect highly qualified students who are looking for opportunities in the environmental sector with DC metro area’s green employers. Getting ready for the event this year, we decided to share a series of profiles about some of the amazing interns who have worked with us recently.

Megan Clark PhotoMeet Megan Clark. She is a junior at American University, studying Public Communication with minors in Marketing and Psychology. She has held several positions in sustainability-related fields because she is interested in making the world a greener place.

How did you hear about Bethesda Green? I heard about Bethesda Green through a position I held at American University’s Office of Sustainability. They told us about the Fields of Green Internship Fair where I learned about the internship positions available at Bethesda Green.

The best thing about interning at Bethesda Green…was getting to know the people that work there and getting involved in a multitude of projects. Every day was different, and I liked that there was always something new to learn.

What have you been up to since your internship at Bethesda Green? I just got back from studying European Sustainable Development in Copenhagen, Denmark, for the fall semester, which was a great experience, but now I am looking forward to getting further involved on my campus again at AU.

I am most passionate about my friends and family. These are the people that love and support me. Wherever I find myself in my future, I know that they will be by my side.

One thing you do to protect the environment? I always bring reusable bags to the grocery store, and I have my own recycling bin in my room in my apartment. Incorporating sustainability into my daily life is a huge priority for me.

Future goals/plans? My future plans for this year are to get more involved in service opportunities on my campus and expand my network. As for beyond this year, I am looking forward to pursuing different career opportunities and really getting my feet wet working in different fields. I would also like to travel back to Europe at some point and visit the places I haven’t been to yet such as London, Paris, Rome and Vienna!

Bullis pic1by Jon Akpapunam

Sustainable.  Steward.  School. 

What do these three words have in common?  Well, for one, they all begin with the letter “s”—but they also accurately describe Bullis School, located in Potomac, MD.

Bullis School made a commitment to environmental stewardship and education several years ago—and as an independent, college preparatory school, the decision to embed environmental consciousness within the school community was solely a decision of their own.

All of this seemed to jumpstart in 2005 with the Green Cup Challenge, a recycling challenge in which middle school classes participated pioneered by teacher, Rita Gerharz.  Clearly inspiration was drawn from this, as many other efforts followed shortly after.  In 2009, the school implemented an 11kW solar photovoltaic system (consisting of 540 panels) on the roof of their Blair Family Center for the Arts, with all remaining electrical needs fulfilled through the purchase of 100% wind power.  The Bullis Community Garden grows 30 different types of crops, providing food for the school’s dining hall and space for classroom use.  It does so without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides.  Also, as a Buddy Bison School, environmental education is incorporated throughout the curriculum and the partnership with the National Park Trust.

bullis pic2Second grade teacher, Carolyn Cohen, won the first Buddy National Teacher Award for Outstanding Environmental Stewardship from the National Park Trust.  Bullis was also ranked fourth in the country for its renewable energy use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Green Power Partnership, awarded membership to the 2011 Green Power Leadership Club, and received a Green Award from Bethesda Magazine in 2011.

Efforts have not ceased, however, with recognition in the last couple of years.  Students at Bullis continue to be environmentally aware and interested.  “Young people enjoy making a difference and leaving an impact,” explains Susie Zimmerman, the school’s Communications Director.  She attributes some of the school’s success in this regard to the early exposure provided to students.  Environmental education is incorporated into the curriculum starting in the second grade.

Susie stresses the importance and effectiveness of engaging students in hands-on experience that will connect students to the natural world and allow them to make a difference.  These experiences culminate in environmental stewardship becoming second nature—a part of everyday life.“

“Bullis seeks to prepare all students to become caring citizens who further demonstrate life-long proficiency in 21st century skills related to critical thinking, communication, creativity, collaboration, and resourcefulness,” the curriculum mission states.  Critical thinking, communication, creativity, collaboration, and resourcefulness are all vital skills necessary to lessen environmental impacts for a more sustainable future.

A school—teaching sustainability, acting as an environmental steward—that is Bullis.

A recent graduate of Denison University, Jon Akpapunam is an intern at both Clean Currents and the City Parks Alliance. He is passionate about both learning and developing new perspectives and strategies to create a more sustainable future.

Gala13_ArtDeco_logo v22013 BETHESDA GREEN GALA

Bethesda Green celebrates 5 years of promoting sustainable living with a fabulous Gala at the historic Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, Thursday, October 3. This event brings people from DC metro area who share the vision of a more green and sustainable community.  See more info about the Gala.

Highlights of the evening include honoring the 2013 Bethesda Magazine Green Award winners — businesses, organizations, communities and individuals who are providing green services or promoting and living a green lifestyle.

Buy Gala Tickets Now

BGnews_logoBy Alison Wentzell

Climate Panel Warns Human Activity is the Cause for Warming

Recently, a draft of the International Panel of Climate Change’s “Fifth Assessment Report” has been leaked and the report looks bleak, according to an article in the New York Times.  The International Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) is a team of several hundred scientists that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, along with Al Gore. Although the team does not conduct any of their own research, it is their duty to analyze work done by other scientists and publish the most important findings regarding climate change.  Many governments rely on these findings to create policies and prepare for the future impacts climate change will have.

This year’s assessment report, which will be finalized in September, strengthened many scientists’ beliefs regarding the future of climate change.  The assessment’s first major finding is that human activity is the cause of the increase in global temperature.  In the past climate skeptics have dismissed the idea that global warming was the adverse effects of human activity, but something that happened naturally.  But now, scientists are about 95% certain that the rapid increase in global temperature since the industrial revolution is the cause of carbon emissions produced from human activities.  Scientists have also dismissed the recent notion of a slowdown in the pace of warming.

The draft also elaborates on how strongly correlated carbon emissions and global temperatures are.  The report states that the lowest possible increase would be 2.7 degrees Celsius, down from 3.6 degrees published in the “Fourth Assessment Report”.  However, the IPCC was quick to point out that just because 2.7 degrees is possible, doesn’t mean it’s likely.  If we continue with a business as usual mindset, then carbon emission will double in the next few decades, increasing the global temperature by approximately 5 degrees.  This will cause extreme heat waves, difficulty growing food, mass extinctions and changes in plant and animal life, and land ice to melt.  The melting of ice is one of the biggest concerns for scientists, since it will displace many communities and many of the world’s major cities.

The report will be finalized in September, but until then check out this article in the New York Times.

Students Succeed in Building Electric Vehicle

A group of 7 students in Sandy Spring Friends School’s Advance Placement environmental science class won fourth place in the 2013 DC Electric Vehicle Grand Prix this summer, which was open to high school students in DC, Maryland, and Virginia.  In addition to placing fourth in the competition, the students’ car won Best Technical Innovation and Best Graphic, and the team won Best Team Photo.   The team started working in December, when they were inspired to create a battery powered vehicle as a class project.  In March they started to build the vehicle to make their idea a reality.  The students hit many roadblocks while working on the project, but they believe that they learned more from the overall experience because of these roadblocks than if the project had ran smoothly.

These students are the future innovators and designers of our country, and have proven that they have the potential to change the world.  Competitions like the DC Electric Vehicle Grand Prix help to foster and motivate students to take action and prove that they can do something remarkable, not only for them but for the world.  I can only hope that these students will continue on the path of brilliance and someday change our society’s infrastructure, to create a greener, healthier world.

For the full article, check out the Gazette here.

Events

  • 4th Annual Bake Bethesda A Pie Contest, September 1st, 9am-12pm, Bethesda Central Farm Market, located at the Bethesda Elementary School parking lot

Come out to the annual “Bake Bethesda a Pie” contest and help raise money for Mana Food Center!  Last year over 200 people attended for the judging of more than 45 different pies.

  •  Happy Hour, September 5, 5pm-8pm, The Courtyard by Marriott Chevy Chase, 5220 Wisconsin Avenue

 Join Bethesda Green for their 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—Cabin John, Little Falls and Rock Creek.  There is a $10 entrance fee and the proceeds are shared with local watershed groups.

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

Montgomery County Interest in School Gardens GrowsBGnews_logo

Montgomery County fosters 202 different schools, 35 of which have gardens where students can observe, ask questions, and take control of their health as part of a local food and advocacy project, according to an article in the Washington Post.  But, interest in gardens is growing throughout the entire school district.

The Montgomery County school district mandates that students pass three different sciences in order to graduate.  Historically, horticulture has been an easy class to pass and draws in students that don’t have much interest in other science fields.  Elizabeth Levien, who teaches at Blair High School in Silver Spring, is excited to see that the students taking horticulture are now excited by the gardens and their class.

Students’ interest in horticulture classes is also growing in Clarksburg, Damascus, and Springbrook high schools.  Teachers from these schools are working together to make gardens a part of the horticulture curriculum throughout the district.  They have already structured a three-year program allowing students to become certified horticulturists.  But students enrolled in the program aren’t the only ones showing interest in the gardens.  Teacher Jill Couts from Sherwood High School has approximately 30 students who go to the green house each week that aren’t even in the program.

Montgomery Victory Gardens’ project director Gordon Clark is ecstatic about the impact gardens are having on schools.  He’s now working with other PTAs and schools in the district to give them the knowledge and resources to help them get started on their own gardens.

For more information, read the Washington Post article here.

North Dakota Flare Ups, Crude Oil Transportation, and the Rise of Solar Energy

Between an 18,000 square mile flare up, the increase in shipping crude oil by rail, and a third growing phase for solar energy; saying there’s a lot going on in the energy sector is a bit of an understatement.  One third of the natural gas produced in the Bakken shale in North Dakota is being burned off in the air.  The effects of the burning are so big they can be seen from space and produces the carbon equivalent of an extra 1 million cars.  Even though oil drillers are burning $1 billion worth every year, low prices, the remote location, and cost of developing pipelines prevent the gas from being utilized.

In fact, leaders in the oil industry are becoming wary of pipeline projects all together, and more shipments are being made by railroad.  However, the Obama administration’s efforts to boost safety standards are making it a bit more difficult to ship crude oil.  To fight this, the oil industry and U.S. railroads are fighting these efforts by pointing out the technical challenges and economic costs.

While the United States is still focusing on natural gas and crude oil, other countries are investing more in solar energy.  In a recent study the Deutsche Bank found that solar energy is entering a third growing phase.  Even oil producing countries are increasing their investment in solar energy, finally allowing it to become a competitive source of energy rather than just an alternative.  The solar energy industry can now start the process of weaning itself off of subsidies and become a self-sustaining industry.

For more information, read the Wall Street Journal article here.

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

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.

by Susanna Parker

Green Entrepreneurs Explore Financing OptionsBGnews_logo

Going through a slow economic recovery, some start-ups are finding it difficult to secure investors, with green industry entrepreneurs  having a harder time than most. According to a recent Gazette.net article, Tom Matzzie, CEO of Ethical Electric, was able to land a green energy venture capital deal late last year — but he was the only one in Maryland to do so. Clean venture funding has fallen 28 percent over the last year, but there is hope; clean technology companies accounted for five of the top 10 deals of 2012.

It can be difficult to secure investors without ceding control; investors are trying to get the best deal they can, which may include increased involvement in company operations. The key to finding investors is having the right product, and knowing how to pitch it.

Bethesda Green’s Green Business Incubator is helping new companies become investor-ready, which includes finance and investment workshops as well as helping local investors become more familiar with the green mission. The next session of the Finance Workshop Series & Venture Forum, coming up on February 28, will address the different types of investments that can be utilized by early stage companies, and the financing structures related to each.

A Pledge to Stop Deforestation

Asia Pulp & Paper Group, one of the largest paper companies in the world, has pledged to stop its suppliers from from cutting down natural Indonesian forests. The move, geared toward the preservation of endangered species’ habitats, was created in conjunction with Greenpeace and the Forest Trust. The paper company had been pressured by environmental groups to change its practices, which included cutting down old growth forests to create farmed tree plantations. Their plan will work to retain carbon in two ways:

  • The rainforests act as a carbon sink, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and emitting oxygen
  • The soil in Indonesian forests is peat-heavy, so by preserving the sanctity of the soil, less carbon will be released from the ground.

The plan went into effect February 1. To read the full article, and for pictures of Indonesian deforestation, please visit The Huffington Post.

Fracking Moratorium Bill Introduced in Maryland House of Delegates

Last Thursday, Maryland legislators unveiled a three-point plan to establish a moratorium on hydrofracking. This legislation came the same week that Baltimore City voted against fracking, and new federal studies highlighted the potential harms of hydrofracking. Delegate Heather Mizeur, lead sponsor of the bill, said that the legislation would “ensure the General Assembly’s role in reviewing the study results before any final drilling decisions are made.”

The co-lead sponsors of the bill are Baltimore County Senator Robert Zirkin and Montgomery County Senator Jamie Raskin. For the full story, along with details of the three-point plan, please read the Chesapeake Climate Action Network’s press release.

Upcoming Events

  • The 8th Annual Spring 2013 Film Series, Wechsler Theater, 3rd Flood, Mary Graydon Center. American University, 4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC.

Hosted by Chris Palmer and presented by the American University’s Center for Environmental Filmmaking and Filmmakers for Conservation, this series of environmental films and discussions is offered free to the public with no reservations required.

February 12 @ 7 pm: Animal Planet’s Battleground: Rhino Wars

Battleground: Rhino Wars takes the viewer into the conflict between rhino poachers and a South African anti-poaching unit. The unit, which includes former members of U.S. special forces, finds itself fighting a bloody war as they struggle to put a stop to the cruel, illegal, and highly lucrative trade of rhino horns. Animal Planet’s Senior Director of Production & Executive Producer Erin Wanner will discuss the series, premiering March 7, and reveal the back story of the miniseries’ creation.

More details about the film series can be found here.

  • The Next Generation of Transit: the Key to Montgomery County’s Green Future, Wednesday February 13, 6 – 8 pm, Silver Spring Civic Center

Join the Coalition for Smarter Growth, Smart Growth America CEO Geoff Anderson, and Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner to discuss the future of Montgomery County public transit. Future transit infrastructure should preserve open space, cut our emissions, and reduce our air pollution – and we can take action to make that future a reality. For details and to RSVP please visit the Coalition for Smarter Growth.

  • Forward on Climate Rally, Sunday Feb. 17, noon, The National Mall

Join fellow environmentalists on the National Mall to tell President Barack Obama that the time to act against climate change is now – starting with the prevention of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. For more details and to RSVP, visit the event page.

  • Secrets of Scandinavian Sustainable City Planning, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 8 – 9:30 am @ Bethesda Green

Doo Consulting presents Chris Jakubiak on “Secrets of Scandinavian Sustainable City Planning,” summarizing his fact-finding tour of Malmo, Sweden and Copenhagen, Denmark from the perspective of a certified and accomplished City Planner. RSVP — limited seating – breakfast fare will be served.

  • 2013 Green School Summit, March 2, 8:00 am – 5:30 pm, Mary Graydon Center, American University, 4400 Massachusetts Avenue, Washington DC.

Are you a building professional interested in green development? Or are you a K-12 teacher that wants their school to become more environmentally friendly? Join the U.S. Green Building Council for the 2013 Green School Summit, and learn best practices for sustainable schools, including administrative policies, technical advancements in green building, and how to include sustainability in your school’s curriculum.

The event agenda can be found here and tickets can be purchased through the U.S. Green Building Council.

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 Dan Rudt                                                                                                

EPA Names DC 2011 Green Power Community of the Year

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the District’s government, businesses, institutions, and residents collectively purchase nearly 760 million kilowatt-hours of green power annually, making it the largest Green Power Community in the nation. More than 8 percent of the electricity sold in the District comes from green power. The city government alone purchases 244 million kilowatt-hours of green power annually, or 50 percent of its total municipal load. The only other city to receive the 2011 Green Power Community of the Year Award is Portland, Oregon. Read about the Green Power Leadership Awards.

Virginia Approves Hefty Residential Solar Fee

Regulators in Virginia have approved a fee, requested by Dominion Virginia Power, on homeowners who install solar arrays of 10kw or more. Dominion’s rationale for this “standby” fee, according to a Virginian-Pilot article, is that they still “must maintain the poles, wires and operating equipment” for customers who generate their own electricity through solar power. Dominion currently has only one residential customer whose solar array is large enough for them to impose the fee. That has led smaller customers to worry that the company will use the approval as a stepping stone to request the fee for all residences with solar in the future. The one customer who qualifies for the fee says it amounts to 20% of his electrical cost savings, a heavy penalty to pay for switching to solar. Virginian-Pilot article by Carolyn Shapiro.  

Local Farmers Sell Direct to You

Montgomery Countryside Alliance recommends we take some time this winter to learn about buying food direct from the source. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has been around for 20 years, and provides a model (with variations) that benefit both consumer and farmer. Read about CSAs here. View a list of local CSA farms here.

FSU Building Sustainable Energy Research Facility

Frostburg State University has begun construction on a new Sustainable Energy Research Facility (SERF) that will support the research, education and community outreach programs of the FSU Renewable Energy Center. The facility will serve as an example of an energy-efficient, sustainable building for homeowners, farmers or businesses in western Maryland. The 6,300 square foot SERF, built with the aid of US DOE grants, will generate its own electricity from solar and wind power, and solar thermal collectors and geothermal energy will be used for heating, cooling and air conditioning.

Upcoming Green Events

MCDOT Public Meeting: Proposed Bikesharing Initiative along Metrorail Red Line, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 6:00 – 8:30 pm., lobby auditorium of the Executive Office Building, 101 Monroe Street, Rockville. Staff is seeking your input on bike sharing locations from the DC line to the Beltway along both Montgomery County portions of the Metrorail Red Line. More information here.

Talk: “An Ozone Monitoring Garden,” Tuesday, Nov. 29, 7:30 pm, Kensington Park Public Library, 4201 Knowles Avenue, Kensington. Monthly meeting of the Maryland Native Plant Society. Speaker Jeannie Allen is a Science Education Specialist for Sigma Space Corp at NASA Goddard. In summer, our area experiences ozone levels that are well above what is healthy for plants, animals, and people. Several common native plants are sensitive to ozone and, when over-exposed, show specific changes in their leaves. Learn how ozone is formed; how to recognize ozone damage and which plants may show it; hear an update on our regional air quality based on NASA observations of Earth from space. There will be refreshments. Pot luck refreshments are always welcome. Bring native plants for “give-a-ways.” Sign up to attend.

Lighting the Way to a Greener Community! First Thursday Happy Hour, Dec. 1, 5 – 8 pm. Redwood Restaurant and Wine Bar, 7121 Bethesda Lane. An evening of casual conversation and networking with Bethesda Green and Greater Washington Interfaith Power & Light. Learn what local congregations are doing to save energy and go green. Complimentary vegetarian appetizers, Happy Hour drink specials. Contribution: $10 at the door will support both organizations. RSVP.

Maryland 2012: Legislation to Protect our Air, Land, Water, and People, Monday, Dec. 5, 6:30- 8:30 pm, Salisbury University, Guerrieri University Center – Nanticoke Room # 236, 1101 Camden Ave. Salisbury, MD 21801.  2012 will be a year with a continuing tough economy and budget cuts affecting our environment. Learn the issues from leaders in the environmental community, share what you think should happen in Annapolis, and hear from our elected officials. Refreshments will be served. RSVP for this FREE event.

Maryland-Asia Environmental Partnership (MD-AEP), 3rd Annual Energy and Environmental Leadership Series Banquet, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 6 – 9 pm. Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (home of the world’s first sustainable aquaculture system), The Columbus Center, Baltimore. Philippines Ambassador to the United States, The Honorable Jose L. Cuisia will keynote the event. Also expected to attend are MD Secretary of the Environment Bob Summers, Secretary John Griffin of DNR, Chesapeake Bay Commission Director Ann Swanson and key Environmental Committee members of the MD General Assembly. Tickets are $90. When registering, type “BethesdaGreen” when prompted for a discount code and receive a $15 discount. More information and registration.

ACORE Phase II National Policy Conference: “Renewable Energy in America – Creating Security and Prosperity,” Wednesday, Dec. 7, 7  am – 5  pm, Cannon Caucus Room, Cannon House Office Building (& Reception, Dec. 6, 6 – 8 pm @ Folger Shakespeare Library). The American Council on Renewable Energy conference will explore the key policy issues related to increasing private investment in and use of renewable energy in both the electricity and transportation sectors, and will lay the groundwork for the 2012 U.S. renewable energy market and finance policy agenda. Conference Website and registration. Discount available using code: SPT20BEG

Bethesda Green Education, Outreach and Marketing (EOM) Group Meeting – Newcomers Welcome! Wednesday, Dec. 7, 4:00 – 5:30 pm at Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Ave., corner of Woodmont Ave., Suite 200, above the Capital One Bank. 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. More information here, or contact Bethesda Green Communications Director Dave Heffernan, dvheffernan@bethesdagreen.org.

Crete: The Roots of the Mediterranean Diet, Presentation & Brunch, Sunday, December 11, 2011, 12:30 – 3:30 pm. Enjoy the benefits of one of the world’s healthiest cuisines. Free presentation by Chef-Author Nikki Rose at Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Ave. Suite 200, Bethesda (12:30 – 1:30pm). Followed by Brunch at Yamas Mediterranean Grill, 4806 Rugby Ave., Bethesda (1:30 – 3:30 pm). Brunch is $30 and includes a complimentary glass of wine. More information and reservations here.

Here are some of the latest stories and events from the green scene in Montgomery County, Prince George’s County and Washington, D.C.

  • How to Decipher Nutrition Buzzwords and Food Marketing Labels – The Post had a useful article by Melissa Bell last week about what some of the descriptions on food packages—such as “natural,” “organic,” “healthy” and others–really mean.
  • Solar Power to the People – Homeowners are winning decisions in and out of court against homeowner associations that want to block them from installing solar electric or solar hot water panels on their roofs, according to Kiplinger.com. Maryland has a law limiting the ability of associations to issue blanket denials of homeowners’ requests to install rooftop solar systems.
  • P.G. Environmental Planning Proposal Draws Fire From All Sides – Planning officials in Prince George’s County are updating environmental regulations that affect stream buffers, water quality and woodland conservation. Environmentalists say the new rules won’t go far enough.
  • Wal-Mart Solar School Program to Put Panels on Some D.C. Schools – Wal-Mart recently announced it is providing a $1.2 million grant to put solar panels on 20 schools in five cities, including Washington, D.C.

Local Green Events

  • June 3 from 5 to 8 p.m. — Bethesda Green First Thursday Happy Hour. Join us for casual conversation and social networking at The Wine Bar in the Doubletree Hotel, 8120 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda.
  • June 3 from 8 to 9 p.m. — Author Kim Todd speaks at the Audubon Naturalist Society’s Woodend Sanctuary in Chevy Chase, Md. She’ll discuss her new book, Chrysalis: Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis, which looks at the life of a pioneering explorer/​naturalist who traveled to South America in 1699 to study insect metamorphosis. RSVP to kwilson@audubonnaturalist.org.
  • June 3 at 7:30 p.m. — ReThink Montgomery Speaker Series — Health — In the final talk of this series, Joan Almon of the Alliance for Childhood will discuss the vital role of play and how planners can design and build spaces that make it easy for children to be active. Where: Park & Planning Headquarters, 8787 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring.
  • June 7 at 7 p.m. — Film screening: ‘The Greening of Southie”See a revolutionary green building come to life! Eco-Coach presents the story of Boston’s first residential green building: a young development team makes bamboo flooring to dual-flush toilets a reality, despite job site skeptics and construction mishaps. Where: George Washington University, Duquès Hall, 2201 G Street NW. Please RSVP at the above link or e-mail info@eco-coach.com with “film screening” in the subject line.
  • June 9 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. — DC Gulf Relief and Rally for an End to Oil at BP Gas StationHear a briefing from Aaron Viles, Campaign Director of the Gulf Restoration Network, who is on the ground assisting the recovery effort in New Orleans. Sponsored by Sierra Club. Where:  Logan Circle area, 1301 N 13th Street, NW, Washington, DC.
  • June 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Solar Bethesda ExpoCurious about solar? Ready to learn more? Come to Bethesda Green’s *free* Solar Bethesda Expo! There’ll be exhibits from 10 local solar companies, as well as the Maryland Clean Energy Center and other organizations. Hear local residents with solar homes talk about their experiences; learn about the generous solar tax credits now available; and use a satellite mapping station to find out if your home is well situated for solar.

Check the Bethesda Green Calendar for more upcoming green events in the community.

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