Montgomery County rebates


Cabin John Creek flows under the MacArthur Blvd. bridge.

Part of our local watershed, Cabin John Creek flows under the MacArthur Blvd. bridge.

by Julie Clendenin

I spend a lot of time enjoying Rock Creek Park, which runs alongside my Kensington neighborhood. I drive through it every day on my way to work.  I run and walk regularly on the Beach Drive path. I have enjoyed the playgrounds and wetlands with my children and friends. I love it. Rock Creek is an oasis of natural beauty in the midst of our highways, lawns, houses, supermarkets, and sports fields. But sometimes, when the rains (and snows) are heavy, Beach Drive is closed due to high water, which reminds me that our suburban sprawl is a real threat to this precious natural wetland. We are slowly edging out the Potomac River’s natural filtration system of forests and wetlands.

Right now the water is running fast and the marshy grass along the creek’s banks is pocked with huge puddles. And all of our runoff — fertilizers, pet waste, de-icing chemicals, and other pollutants — is headed straight for the Potomac River (our main source of drinking water) and the Chesapeake Bay.

According to the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin (ICPRB), of the 14,650 square miles in the Potomac River watershed, 57.6% is forest; 31.8% is agricultural; 5% is water or wetlands (like Rock Creek Park); and just 4.8% developed land. While agriculture and development play important roles in our community, it’s important to understand their far-reaching affects on the local watershed. Everything we do on land has an impact on our river, which is the source for 90% of DC’s drinking water; in fact, 486 million gallons are taken out of the Potomac every day to provide drinking water for 5 million people in the DC metro area. We need to protect our river.

Recently, a number of water conservation groups organized a regional river clean up day. including the Alice Ferguson Foundation, which reports that more than 5,000 volunteers picked up over 1oo tons of trash. Here’s some of the things pulled out of the river banks:

  • 73,700 beverage containers
  • 7,800 cigarettes
  • 18,300 plastic bags
  • 510 tires

RWFFLogo_FullColor_EST2012All of this trash was rescued from the Potomac River watershed. How does that make you feel? Disgusted? Regretful?  Personally, I feel grateful to the many people who spent their weekend cleaning up after us. I also feel inspired by them, and I’m thinking that maybe you do to. The Reel Water Film Festival, Saturday, June 14 at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, is a great place to learn more about local water issues. Also, here are a few things, including some from Potomac Riverkeeper, that you can do to help protect the Potomac River:

  • Scoop pet waste and dispose of it properly
  • Plant a rain garden or use a rain barrel – Montgomery County residents are eligible for rebates of up to $2,500 through the RainScapes Rewards Rebate Program
  • Properly dispose of hazardous wastes like oil and paint
  • Use natural fertilizers and do not over-fertilize your lawn or use chemical pesticides
  • Reduce, reuse and recycle (don’t forget your reusable shopping bags)
  • Wash your car at an eco-friendly commercial car wash or use biodegradable soap
  • Safely dispose of unused drugs and other chemicals – DO NOT FLUSH THEM
  • Spend time enjoying  the river and show your friends and family why it’s important to protect it

Julie Clendenin grew up in Montgomery County and is happily raising her family here with her husband, Tom.  She enjoys having unlimited access to Rock Creek Park; tasty, cold water from her kitchen tap; and swimming in the ocean.

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by Dan Rudt, www.MoCo-Sustain.com

County Residential Energy Rebate Funds Nearly Depleted

The Montgomery County Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program introduced in August 2011 is reaching the end of its $1.1 million in U.S. Department of Energy funding. To date, the program has provided incentives to 845 homeowners to make energy efficiency improvements to their single family homes, town homes and condominiums. Eligible improvements include the purchase of Energy Star kitchen appliances, duct sealing and attic insulation, to new furnaces and central air conditioning, among other things. Any given home may qualify for up to $3,000 in rebates.

A visit to the rebate program website indicates the fund has $0 left, but the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (MCDEP) has told us there is a very small amount of funding still available from program reserves. In addition, small amounts are anticipated to become available from projects that are not completed or liquidated.

To manage applications from this point forward, MCDEP is implementing a wait list process. A homeowner who qualifies and wishes to apply should go to the website and log-on and register as if applying for a rebate. The wait list will only take basic information. If funding becomes available, the homeowner will be emailed with instructions to log-in and complete the remainder of the application. This will all be done on a first-come, first-served basis.

What If I Have Already Been Approved?

Homeowners who have already been approved have their funds reserved for them. As long as they complete the agreed upon improvements, meet the program requirements and submit invoices within 90 days of approval, they should receive their rebates. If they miss the 90 day deadline, MCDEP says they will be notified by email that their rebate is in jeopardy. Failure to respond to that email may result in the loss of the rebate.

What If I Applied and Was Denied?

The DEP says it has adequate funds for homeowners who applied by January 29 who were denied, but from whom additional information was requested. “Those individuals will be our first priority to get approved so they can proceed with their projects,” said Senior Energy Planner Eric R. Coffman. Those homeowners should promptly clear up questions about their eligibility, (e.g., whether the equipment they are purchasing qualifies for the rebate) to avoid having the funds for which they applied released to others on the wait list. Coffman indicated his department would move very quickly to clear up outstanding questions and allocate the last of the funds to qualifying applicants.

O’Malley Renews Efforts for Offshore Wind Energy

The Legislature is in session, and Governor O’Malley has released his 2012 agenda. This year, the governor hopes to pass the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act that was put on hold in 2011 following debate in both chambers. This past autumn, the Maryland House Economic Matters Committee and the Senate Finance Committee convened study sessions to examine policies and to weigh the benefits of offshore wind for the state. Maryland is obligated to develop renewable sources of electricity by a state law passed in 2008 requiring electric utilities to purchase 20 percent of the electricity they sell from renewable sources by 2022.

The bill before the legislature is designed to encourage private investment in wind energy by establishing an offshore wind renewable energy credit (OREC) similar to that created by a bi-partisan New Jersey legislature to facilitate offshore wind construction in that state. O’Malley believes that the OREC model he has proposed would enable at least a 450 MW project to be built, creating an estimated 1,800 construction jobs and 360 ongoing maintenance jobs. Wind advocates say the 100 or so ocean-based wind turbines could produce electricity equivalent to 70 percent of Maryland Eastern Shore’s current demand.

The bill would limit the anticipated rate impact to $2 per month for the average residential customer. The $2 increase would not take effect until 2017. Last fall, Gonzales Research and Marketing Strategies conducted a poll for a coalition of environmental, business, labor and faith groups called Marylanders for Offshore Wind. The poll asked respondents whether they agreed or disagreed with the following statement: “I would be willing to pay $2 more per month on my electric bill if a greater percentage of my electricity came from clean, local offshore wind farms, instead of coming from coal, oil, and gas.” Sixty-two percent of respondents agreed with the statement.

Pepco Buys WaterShed

The University of Maryland announced on Monday (1/30) that it will sell WaterShed, the top prize winning home in the 2011 U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, to Pepco for an undisclosed amount. The sale was announced at a campus celebration honoring the WaterShed team’s achievement. Under the agreement of sale, Pepco will cover WaterShed’s outstanding project costs and pay for its transport and reassembly at a PEPCO facility in Montgomery County. The precise location has not been chosen yet.

The University of Maryland entry was awarded the Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon architecture prize and declared the overall winner in a contest that included 19 other collegiate teams from Belgium, Canada, China, New Zealand and the United States. Decathlon competitors were challenged to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. Like the other competition entrants, WaterShed is a solar powered home. Unlike the others, it also conserves, collects, filters and reuses water. Its unique design elements, such as “manufactured wetlands” that help reduce storm water runoff and its patent-pending indoor waterfall that provides humidity control in an aesthetically pleasing manner, set WaterShed apart from the competing solar homes.

“The WaterShed team took on a double challenge when it built a house that would run on the sun and address a significant source of Chesapeake Bay pollution, so its first-place performance on the international stage was more than a major source of pride,” said Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. “We’re extremely pleased that Pepco has agreed to provide a permanent home for WaterShed, so that its educational impact and research can continue.”

Under the arrangement, Pepco and the University will partner on the prize-winning home’s operation, monitor its performance, conduct ongoing research and work closely on designing educational materials about WaterShed. The house will serve as a “living classroom” and a “living laboratory” to demonstrate smart, clean energy options, blending its original technological and design innovations with Pepco’s own advanced technology, such as its smart thermostats and home-based electric vehicle charging stations. Pepco plans to open WaterShed to the public for conferences, educational presentations and occasional public tours. It will also serve as an energy testing facility. University researchers will continue measuring performance of its various systems to assess its long-term operation. Student members of the team that designed and built WaterShed will serve as docents once the facility opens, explaining to visitors the house’s capabilities and design features. (Photo: Jim Tetro)

Hudson Trail Outfitters Switches To Wind Power

Clean Currents, a leading retail provider of wind power in Maryland and the District of Columbia, announced on January 24 that Hudson Trail Outfitters (HTO) will purchase renewable wind energy for its Maryland and DC locations.  HTO has committed to purchasing Green-e Energy certified wind power from Clean Currents for 100 percent of its Annapolis, Rockville and Tenleytown stores’ electricity.

HTO’s switch to wind energy will avoid one-and-a-half million pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions annually – or the equivalent of removing 133 passenger vehicles from the road for an entire year.

Hudson Trail Outfitters is a popular outdoor clothing and gear retailer that opened its doors in 1971. Today the company has stores in Fairfax and Pentagon Row in addition to Annapolis, Rockville and Tenleytown.

“Hudson Trail Outfitters exists only to be recognized as the leader in all things ‘Specialty Active Outdoors’ related – the company’s 40 year history has been rooted in health, in happiness, and in the preservation of the environment.  We believe that making the switch to wind power through Clean Currents supports the core initiatives of the company.  Today, HTO, Ltd remains focused on environmental awareness, community preservation, and on being an active participant in prolonging & maintaining the future growth of the environment around us,” said Sandy Cohan, General Manager of HTO, Ltd.

Clean Currents, which has supplied wind power through the grid to residences and businesses since its founding in 2005, now claims more than  9,000 residential and 500 commercial customers across Maryland, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. Clean Currents is a registered Benefit LLC and B-Corporation.

“We’re very excited to be partnering with a locally based company that is similarly passionate about the environment as we are,” said Ron Rodriguez, Vice President of Business Development at Clean Currents.  “Providing clean wind power to Hudson Trail’s Maryland and DC locations represents a real synergy between companies that are dedicated to making our world a greener place,” added Rodriguez.

Upcoming Green Events

Bethesda Green First Thursday Happy Hour: Warm up for Valentine’s Day, Thursday, Feb 2, 5 – 8 pm, The Wine Bar, Doubletree Hotel lobby. Join Bethesda Green for casual conversation and social networking. Win a romantic dinner for two at The OZ restaurant.

■ Hear about Bethesda Green’s community outreach plans

■ Briefing about new website, mygreenmontgomery.org

■ Enjoy light appetizers

■ Happy-hour-priced beer, wine and specialty drinks

■ Raffle for gift card — dinner for two at The OZ, the Doubletree’s signature restaurant

RSVP through Meetup

Documentary film: “Bag It: Is your life too plastic?”  Saturday, Feb 4, 7:30 pm- 9:30 p.m.  Washington Ethical Society (library), 7750 16th Street, NW, Washington DC 20012 (0.7 miles from Silver Spring Metro Station; S4 Metrobus). “Bag it: Is your life too plastic?” is an eye-opening and funny documentary film that navigates the plastic world.  Are plastic bags necessary? What are plastic bags made from? What happens to plastic bags after they are discarded? The 65-minute award-winning documentary film will give answers to this questions.  65 min. movie followed by 30 min. discussion.  Snacks provided; $5 donation requested.  RSVPs helpful but drop-ins welcome. Sponsored by the WES Earth Ethics Committee. Email for movie information and RSVP: EarthEthics2@verizon.net or call Sue Jacobson, 301-309-6731.

Bethesda Green Education, Outreach and Marketing (EOM) Group Meeting, Wednesday, Feb 8, 4:00-5:30 pm at Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814. We’re on the second floor above the Capital One Bank branch on the corner of Woodmont and Cordell. 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.

Specifically, EOM:

■ Designs and schedules educational programs

■ Collects and shares best practices

■ Engages in general marketing for Bethesda Green

■  Manages all aspects of the website

■ Creates content for the newsletter

■ Uses online tools for outreach purposes

For more information, contact Bethesda Green Communications Director Dave Heffernan, dvheffernan@bethesdagreen.org.

Green Matters: Urban Farming Pioneers, Friday, Feb 24, 8:30 am – 4:00 pm, Brookside Gardens. This year’s Green Matters will kindle your inner urban farmer and entice you to think about food production in wholly different ways. We’ll highlight innovative approaches to feeding the world’s population. For complete information about speakers and sessions, visit this page.

Bethesda Green’s Third Annual Fields of Green Internship Fair, Saturday, Feb 25, 10 am – 2 pm. 4825 Cordell Avenue, Second Floor above the Capital One Bank. The Internship Fair provides college-age young people an opportunity to meet representatives from a number of companies and non-profits offering job experience in the green business sector. More than 20 companies will be in attendance. Learn about academic and government programs, as well as a variety of internships, including those with our own Green Business Incubator companies.

Employers: Is your organization looking for some stellar interns this summer? Or, perhaps your organization has a need for interns year round?  If so, we have an excellent opportunity for you to participate in.  Right now we are in the process of inviting employers looking for highly qualified candidates to sign up to be a part of our internship fair.  Not only will you meet the candidates for the internships face-to-face on Feb. 25th but your internship posting will be widely shared among our diverse network as well as posted on our Fields of Green webpage leading up to the event.  In year’s past we have matched many amazing candidates with wonderful green job sector opportunities.

Help us develop the next generation of green leaders and promote local job creation by participating in the Fields of Green Internship Fair!  We accept both paid and unpaid positions at the fair.

Interested in Sponsoring the Fields of Green Internship Fair?  Get details HERE.

Have a job or internship to offer? Download and fill out the Job Description Form HERE.

Check out more details and internship opportunities here.

For more information, please contact Sharon D’Emidio at sharon@bethesdagreen.org.

Dan Rudt is the editor of Montgomery County Sustainability News, or MoCo-Sustain.com, a daily news Website serving the local area with environmental sustainability news, information and events.

by Dan Rudt

County RainScapes Rebate Program

The Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection’s rainscapes rewards rebate program offers financial incentives in the form of rebates to residential, commercial, multi-family and institutional property owners who install rainscapes techniques. Eligible projects include rain gardens, conservation landscaping, urban tree canopy, permeable pavers, pavement removal, green roofs, rain barrels, cisterns, and dry wells. Residential rebates range from $200 for installation of rain barrels to $1,200 for a rain garden, green roof retrofit, permeable pavers or pavement removal. Rebates for eligible projects may be combined until the homeowner reaches the maximum residential rebate amount of $1,200. The maximum rebate amount for commercial, multi-family, or institutional property is $5,000.

Rainfall does not penetrate roads, sidewalks, driveways, parking lots or other hard, impermeable surfaces. It runs off into storm water drainage systems (sewers) and streams. Unfortunately, water runoff carries pollutants such as oil, grease, excess lawn and garden fertilizers, pesticides, pet waste, trash and debris into those streams. In some cases, the pollutants end up in supplies of drinking water. The rainscapes techniques covered by the county rebate program are meant to reduce the runoff of pollutants into our streams, protecting the waterways, wildlife and public health.  

The RainScapes Rewards Rebate Program is funded by the county’s Water Quality Protection Charge that appears on property tax bills. Properties within the city limits of Rockville, Gaithersburg and Takoma Park are not eligible for the county rebates. Rockville and Gaithersburg have rainscapes programs for properties within their respective jurisdictions.

Annual funds for this fiscal year’s program are limited and rebates are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. All applications must be made online and will be accepted beginning January 3, 2012. Further information and the online application form are available at the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection Website.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Purchases 100% Wind Power

Rockville-based Clean Currents announced on December 8 that the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) has committed to purchasing Green-e Energy certified wind power from Clean Currents for 100% of its facility’s electricity needs.  

Since its founding 40 years ago, the CBF has been dedicated solely to restoring and protecting the Chesapeake Bay and its tributary rivers by reducing pollution. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s stunning headquarters (also known as The Philip Merrill Center) located in the Bay Ridge neighborhood east of downtown Annapolis, has won international acclaim as a model for energy efficiency, low impact design, and water conservation. It also has the distinction of being the first building in the United States to receive a Platinum rating through the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating program.

“CBF is one of the country’s leading environmental organizations, housed in one of the country’s greenest commercial structures – so it makes sense that they also receive their electricity from a clean and renewable energy source like wind power,” said Ron Rodriguez, Vice President of Business Development for Clean Currents.

The CBF’s energy purchase will avoid a total of more than six hundred thousand pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions annually – or the equivalent of removing nearly 100 cars from the roads for an entire year.

Update on the Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program

We have another update for you on the Montgomery County Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program. Eric R. Coffman, Senior Energy Planner for the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection, has told Bethesda Green that his office has approved 513 projects totaling over $630,000 in rebates to county homeowners. Rebates may range between $500-$3,000. Coffman says the average so far has amounted to $1,200 per household.

The county rebate program, funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, offers incentives for owners of single family properties and condominiums who install energy efficiency improvements such as insulation, Energy Star home heating and cooling systems, and Energy Star appliances. Homeowner upgrades will conserve energy. They are also good for local energy equipment sellers and installers and energy auditors. The upgrades applied for so far account for more than $3 million in economic activity within the county since September. That is more than $4 in economic activity for every $1 of program funds spent.

The remaining program funding amounts to $467,000. As for rebate applications, Coffman says, “We are seeing substantial program volume,” at this time.

The rebate program has a website for information and online applications. Anyone who has questions or is struggling with the application is encouraged to email help@mcenergyfunding.com for assistance.

For those who have already applied, Coffman reminds you that you have 90 days to complete the work and file for reimbursement. If you have exceeded the 90 days, you may be able to get a 30 day extension at this point. “However,” Coffman stressed, “our ability to grant extensions after the first of the year will be much more limited due to the County’s grant deadlines.”

Upcoming Green Events

The Future of Ride-On, Tuesday, December 13, 7:30 – 8:30 pm, Silver Spring Center, 8818 Georgia Ave, Silver Spring. The Action Committee for Transit sponsors this talk by Carolyn Biggins, Chief, Montgomery County Division of Transit Services. The meeting takes place at the Woodside Conference Room in the Silver Spring Center. The Center is a 10-minute walk north from the Silver Spring Metro Station. Ride On #5 stops two blocks west of the Center at Spring and 1st. Metrobus “Q” and “Y” routes stop in front of the Center. If coming by car, enter the parking lot from Ballard Street. More information on the ACT website.

BG101, Wednesday, December 28, 4:00 – 5:30 pm, at Bethesda Green. Join us for an orientation about Bethesda Green, our history, upcoming events and volunteer opportunities.

First Thursday Happy Hour @ BlackFinn, Thursday, Jan. 5, 5-8 pm, 4901 Fairmont Avenue, Bethesda. Ring in the New Year with Bethesda Green. Join us for casual conversation and social networking.

What’s your New Year’s Green Resolution?

Jot it down with your name and email address. Bring your Green Resolution to the Happy Hour for a chance to win a BlackFinn gift card. We’ll share ideas and publish highlights on our website.

* Hear about upcoming Bethesda Green events
* Meet members of our Green Business Incubator
* Learn what you can do to make a difference in your community

RSVP through Meetup

Bethesda Green Education, Outreach and Marketing (EOM) Group Meeting – Newcomers Welcome! Wednesday, January 11, 4:00 – 5:30 pm., 4825 Cordell Ave., above the Capital One Bank in Bethesda.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.

Future Harvest – Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, 13th Annual Conference, “Farm to Institution: Making Local Food Economies a Reality” January 13-14, National Conference Center, Lansdowne, VA. Two keynote addresses on local food economies, six learning tracks, pre-conference workshops, farmer panel on advocacy and much more! Information and registration here.

MLK Day of Service 2012, Monday, January 16, 1:00 – 3:00 pm. Montgomery County will be celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service at North Bethesda Marriott Hotel and Conference Center and at two satellite site locations (Universities at Shady Grove in Gaithersburg and the Silver Spring Civic Building). That is followed by a tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. at Strathmore Hall at 4:00pm. Volunteers can sign up to participate in this exciting event and learn about the great work that local organizations are doing, find out ways to get involved, and make a difference. More information and registration here.

Help the Hungry Food Drive:  Support those in need by bringing non perishable food items to the Bethesda North Marriott.  Food collection will be located near the Montgomery County Volunteer Center table.  Donations will go to Manna Food Center.

by Dan Rudt

MoCo Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program Accepting Applications

Interested in upgrading your home to improve comfort, reduce energy costs and even boost long-term home value? Montgomery County, using a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, is offering a one-time program to help you pay for the costs of these improvements. The Montgomery County Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program offers incentives to homeowners for energy efficiency improvements such as insulation, heating and cooling systems, and appliances. Owners of single family properties and condominiums can apply for up to $3,000 of funding per applicant. The minimum rebate size is $500 (typically a $2,000 to $3,000 project). In order to be eligible, each applicant must have an energy audit from an auditor participating in the Maryland Home Performance with ENERGY STAR or a utility (e.g., Pepco, BG&E, Potomac Edison) audit program. Homeowners are encouraged to use these funds in concert with other incentives available from utilities, the Maryland Energy Administration and others. Detailed information on the program, audit requirements, application, as well as links to other sources of funding is located on the website www.mcenergyfunding.com.

U.S. Homes Using Less Power

The Associated Press reported on September 7 that American households are consuming energy at a slower rate now than in the recent past, and the rate is expected to continue falling. The AP attributes the slowdown in consumption to several factors. Among them is the widespread use of energy efficient light bulbs, government programs (e.g., the Montgomery County energy efficiency rebate program in the article directly above), energy efficient new homes and energy conservation brought on by the poor economy. Energy experts, according to the AP article, expect household energy use to continue falling for years to come.

State Board of Education to Hear Appeals to Save Nick’s Organic Farm

The Maryland Board of Education decided on August 30 that 32 Potomac residents who filed complaints against the Montgomery County Board of Education have a right to be heard. The local board, which owns the land that Nick Maravell has farmed organically since 1980, agreed earlier this year to lease the Brickyard Road property to the County, which said it will work with a private recreation provider to turn the organic farm into soccer fields. The state board may take up the matter at their next meeting on October 25.

Maryland Clean Energy Summit Moves to Baltimore

Sorry about that, Bethesda. The 2011 Summit, originally scheduled for the Marriott North Bethesda Conference Center in late August, has been moved to the Hilton Inner Harbor in Baltimore. The new dates are Thursday, October 27 through Saturday, October 29. The program includes a free consumer trade show on Saturday 8/29 from 9:30 am – 2:30 pm. The Summit was postponed and moved because the Bethesda North Conference Center sustained damage caused by the August 23 earthquake.

Upcoming Green Events

Sustainability: Definitions and Implementation, Montgomery County Civic Federation meeting, Monday, September 12, 7:45 pm. County Council Building – 1st Floor Auditorium, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville. Speakers: Jennifer Bitting, Environmental Engineer, Dept. of Homeland Security; Doug Weisburger, Sustainability Programs, Montgomery County Dept. of Environmental Protection, Eric Coffman, Senior Energy Planner, Montgomery County Dept. of Environmental Protection, Councilmember Roger Berliner, Chair, County Council Committee on Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment. More information.

Trans-Atlantic Symposium on Cleantech Innovation and Federal Contracting, Thursday, September 15, 8:00 am – 2:00 pm. Johns Hopkins U., Montgomery County Campus. Networking and information event for renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable transportation firms in the U.S. and Switzerland. The day includes a live video conference with PlanetSolar, the world’s largest boat powered exclusively by high-efficiency solar cells, which is on its first round-the-world voyage.

Bethesda Green Education, Outreach and Marketing (EOM) Group MeetingNewcomers Welcome! Thursday, September 15, 4:00 – 5:30 pm. This team of volunteers meets once every month to discuss Bethesda Green’s marketing and communications needs.

Savor Local Flavor: Four Course Dinner and Discussion with Chef Tony, Monday, September 19, 7:00 – 10:00 pm. Chef Tony’s, 4926 St. Elmo Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814.  This is the third in the series On the Farm; Around the Table, connecting farmers, food and community in three meals. More information here.

Sustainable Office Seminar, Tuesday, September 20, 8:00-11:00 am, at Bethesda Green. Five sustainable office specialists offer concepts and practical tips to help people thrive in their office and make their company a “Best Place to Work.” Register here. For more information contact: sustainable.office.alliance@gmail.com.

U.S. Dep’t. of Energy Solar Decathlon,  Friday, September 23 – Sunday, October 2, West Potomac Park, National Mall, Washington, D.C.  Competing collegiate teams (including University of Maryland) exhibit cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive solar-powered houses designed, built and operated by the students.  This free event includes tours of the solar homes, consumer workshops and award ceremonies for the winning teams.

2011 Bethesda Green Gala, Wednesday, October 5, 6:00 – 10:00 pm, Round House Theatre. The gala recognizes Bethesda Magazine’s Green Award winners for their inspiring work in the environmental community. This promises to be an evening of sharing and connecting as a community where we celebrate our greener future. More information.

Montgomery County Accepting Applications for New Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program

by Dan Rudt

We told you it was coming, and here it is! Montgomery County is making funds available to assist homeowners who make energy improvements to single family homes and condominium units. The program will provide between $1,000 and $3,000 in cash incentives for home owners who make new improvements such as air sealing, insulation, HVAC, and appliances.

For example, consumers can apply for $1,000 for the purchase of an ENERGY STAR qualified air conditioner, or $2,000 for a qualified air conditioner and furnace. Approximately $1.1 million is available and the County expects to serve 300 to 500 participants between now and July 30, 2012.

Incentives will be available on a first come, first served basis. To be eligible, consumers must have obtained an energy audit from an auditor participating in the Maryland Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Program or the Pepco, BGE or Potomac Edison (Allegheny) utility sponsored programs.  The applicant will also need to have a scope of work (or works) from the contractors whom they intend to use for their projects.

Go to the Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate page for program and application information.