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World’s Largest Urban Greenhouse

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

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

To read more, check out this article.

New Bike Lanes

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

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

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

Events

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

Big Green Bus comes to Annapolis

News from Annapolis Green

biggreenbus350Annapolis Green is is bringing Dartmouth College’s Big Green Bus to Annapolis this Friday, June 21, 9:30 – 11:30 am to focus its “vehicle for change” campaign on clean water and the Chesapeake Bay. Members of the Big Green Crew will share their personal stories about how they developed their sustainability philosophies and how they’ve come to make lifestyle changes to adjust to pressing environmental and social issues.

The biodiesel-fueled bus carries a dozen Dartmouth students aboard for the summer as they travel the country — from sea to shining sea — “promoting positivity and enthusiasm for the environmental movement” and celebrating what the environmental community is already achieving.

At the two-hour stop in Annapolis, the Big Green Bus will park near the National Sailing Hall of Fame at City Dock and conduct video-taped interviews of a half-dozen environmental leaders and enthusiasts who will be asked to tell their stories about the importance of clean water and the Bay to their lives.  At the end of the bus tour, in the fall, members of the Bus crew will create a documentary about their experiences.  Think of this as a cross between NPR’s Story Corps and On the Road with Charles Kurault.

The Big Green Bus visit is a part of Annapolis Green’s “Red Right Recycle” initiative promoting Greening of waterside events such as the U.S. Boat Shows in Annapolis. We’ll be recording audio of these stories and any YOU would care to share with us, to air next week on our radio program, Living Green in Annapolis.

Let’s show them a big welcome, share our stories … and check out their very cool bus!

Information about the Big Green Bus: www.thebiggreenbus.org.

by Susanna Parker

Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake Seeks Partners for the Maryland Stream Restoration ChallengeBGnews_logo

Are you a member of a Maryland based congregation? Do you want to plant more trees on your congregation’s property? The Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake is looking to partner with local congregations for the Maryland Stream Restoration Challenge – a challenge to establish 1,000 acres of stream-side forests by 2015. Not only will this challenge help beautify Maryland and local congregation’s properties, but forested streams have better water quality, suffer less from erosion, and help protect the Chesapeake Bay.

Selected congregations will receive teaching on the spiritual foundation of earth stewardship, a workshop on trees, planting, and maintenance, trees for planting, and follow-up maintenance for 1-3 years. If the Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake’s challenge application is accepted, tree plantings will occur in fall 2013 and spring/fall 2014. If you’re interested in learning more, you can contact the organization here.

DC Area Homes Submit for LEED Certification

The U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design Program is 13 years old, and bestows its LEED certification on 1.5 million square feet of building space every day. A building can be certified at the silver, gold, or platinum level; higher levels are achieved by earning more points in the program’s rating system that covers more than 100 environmentally significant parameters, including energy usage and water conservation. Last year, the District of Columbia led the nation in new LEED residential & commercial space per capita, with Virginia and Maryland being top contenders as well. However, LEED certification has been slower to catch on among individual homeowners. There are no grants or tax breaks for individual homeowners that achieve LEED certification, and the documentation required (as well as the price tag) can sway otherwise green homeowners away from the process.

Even without gaining the certification, the LEED checklist can come in handy for homeowners that want to green their homes. The checklist can serve more as a blueprint for renovators, pointing out what they should be considering as they begin their projects. Todd Ray of Studio Twenty Seven Architecture points out that LEED certification isn’t necessary; with the checklist, homeowners can “do green” without being tested.

Some homeowners in the DC area have gone all out, and gotten their homes LEED certified. The Washington Post article in Home & Design discusses LEED certification, and presents images and specs on the LEED-certified homes. For more information on LEED certification, you can visit the U.S. Green Building Council.

Live & Learn Bethesda Introduces Container Gardening Classes! 

Whether you have a big balcony or just a sunny windowsill, container gardening is a great way to make the most of the space you have. Live & Learn Bethesda, a new non-profit community center, has recently introduced a series of classes on container gardening. No back-breaking work, just fun classes to put smiles on people’s faces. The instructor is Mira Jovanovic, a plant consultant at American Plant in Bethesda. To register for classes, visit Live & Learn Bethesda.

Upcoming Bethesda Green Events 

  • Greening Your Home: Bethesda Green’s First Thursday Happy Hour, Thursday, May 2, 5 – 8 pm, Caddies on Cordell, 4922 Cordell Avenue

Join us for casual conversation and social networking at Caddies on Cordell. This month, the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection will discuss ways to make your home more energy efficient, and you can learn more at our upcoming Solar & Green Home Expo on May 11. Caddies will be providing complimentary appetizers, and there will be a raffle for a Caddies’ Gift Card. $5 at the door. For more details and to RSVP, please visit the Bethesda Green Meetup.

  • Bethesda Green’s Fourth Annual Solar & Green Home Expo, Saturday May 11, 10 am – 3 pm, 4825 Cordell Avenue, Suite 200

Join us for our fourth 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 this free community event, visit the event page here.

Upcoming Partner Events 

  • GreenWheaton Paper Shredding at Westfield Wheaton Mall, Saturday May 4, 9 am – 12 noon, Target/Costco parking lot

Bring all of your unwanted paper and documents to be securely shredded at Westfield Wheaton Mall! This event, part of GreenWheaton’s efforts to continue its green programming and projects in Montgomery County, is sponsored by Signal Financial Credit Union; shredding services will be provided by Office Paper Systems. To learn more about the event, visit GreenWheaton.org.

  • Green Drinks Annapolis, Tuesday May 14, 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm, Brian Boru Restaurant & Pub, 489 Ritchie Highway, Severna Park.

Join Annapolis Green for drinks, networking, and an educational program on lighting & energy efficiency, sponsored by Maryland Clean Energy Center. For more details, visit the Annapolis Green Calendar.

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.

Gov. O'Malley and Anthony Millin

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Bethesda Green board member Anthony Millin at the Annapolis Green Business Night, March 13.

by Jennifer Roe

The Maryland state capital was the place for local green organizations to gather Wednesday night, March 13.  The annual Annapolis Green Business Night, a networking event organized and hosted by Del. Tom Hucker, featured a presentation by Gov. Martin O’Malley.  The event was teeming with representatives from numerous green companies, including a few Bethesda Green Business Incubator Companies, such as John Jabara of Savenia Labs, Zack Kline of A.I.R. Lawn Care, and Peter Doo of Doo Consulting.

Bethesda Green board member Anthony Millin spoke on behalf of Bethesda Green and was joined by representatives from Annapolis Green and Silver Spring Green, discussing their mission and current programs. In addition to green business leaders, the event brought other community members such as students who are interested in learning more about Maryland green businesses.

Gov. O’Malley spoke about the importance of green job creation and congratulated the crowd for developing successful green businesses in the state.

Jennifer Roe is a recent graduate of the University of Edinburgh where she received her Master’s in Environment and Development.  She is passionate about building a just and sustainable food system where every individual has the opportunity to lead a successful, healthy life.

by Susanna Parker

MD to study risk of hydrofrackingBGnews_logo

Responding to grassroots efforts across the state of Maryland led by advocacy groups such as the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN), Gov. Martin O’Malley announced that $1.5 million of his state budget will be set aside to study the risks posed by hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. This is a big victory for those concerned about hydrofracking in Maryland and will ensure that the General Assembly has all the facts when the debate over its use begins in earnest.

CCAN urges the General Assembly to pass a fracking moratorium banning all drilling until the studies into the risks of all facets of the fracking process — water contamination threats, climate impacts, air pollution, and others — can be completed. Delegate Heather Mizeur and Senators Bobby Zirkin and Jamie Raskin will be introducing a moratorium bill this week. 

Mercury Emissions Treaty Adopted

On Saturday, after four years of debate and negotiations, more than 140 nations agreed to and adopted a new treaty to reduce harmful emissions of mercury. Mercury has been known to be a poison for centuries, but is still regularly released from burning coal and degrading electronics, and is used as a component in batteries and paints. Because mercury is an element, it cannot be created or destroyed, but its continued use and release into water and air has led to negative effects on human health and the environment.

Mercury is known to bio-accumulate in fish, so it becomes more concentrated as species higher on the food chain (such as humans) ingest it. Because mercury causes nerve damage, pregnant women and young children face the highest risks. The push for this new treaty began more than a decade ago, as Switzerland and Norway urged the international community to create and enforce regulations on mercury emissions. For more information on the treaty, please read the full Huffington Post article here.

Upcoming Events

  • What’s It All About Series: A Year in the Life of an Electric Car Owner, Sunday, Jan. 27, 2:00 – 4:00 pm, Poolesville Town Hall, 19721 Beall Street, Poolesville, MD

Presented by Poolesville Green, this informative session will discuss the nitty gritty of owning an electric car. Local owners of Nissan Leafs and Chevy VOLTs will be there to answer questions about the good, the bad, and the ugly of owning an electric vehicle. Topics will include the differences between hybrid vs. full electric vehicles, specific information on where and how to charge electric vehicles, the impact on your electric bill, and all tax rebates and credits that are awarded to owners of electric vehicles. RSVP requested, visit PoolesvilleGreen.org or email your response to PoolesvilleGreen@gmail.com

  • 19th Annual CCE Legislative Summit, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 4:30 – 6:00 pm, Miller Conference Room, Miller Senate Building, Annapolis, MD

Presented by the Citizen’s Campaign for the Environment, the Maryland Environmental Legislative Summit will include talks from Maryland’s top legislative leaders and environmental advocates about the priorities of the 2013 General Assembly Session. With pressing issues like hydrofracking on the table, 2013 will be a vital year for clean air and water legislation, so please come out to show your support! Together Marylanders can lobby for strong policy and a healthy and safe environment. Please register at www.marylandconservation.org.

  • Green Drinks Annapolis, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 6:30 – 8:30 pm, O’Brien’s Oyster Bar & Restaurant, 113 Main Street, Annapolis, MD

The Maryland Environmental Legislative Summit gets people talking, but there is no need for the conversation to end with the Summit — join environmentalists, scientists, local officials and interested citizens for drinks and conversation at Green Drinks presented by Annapolis Green. Green Drinks provides the environmentally minded the chance to chat, network, and get to know one another in support of an important cause: the health of the Chesapeake Bay. No RSVP required, cash bar. All electric eCruiser vehicles will be on hand to offer free rides from the Miller Building. For more information, visit annapolisgreen.com.

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 Lori Hill

I first heard about Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company (CBRC) just over 3 years ago when I was helping the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) plan their annual Keep Winter Cold Polar Bear Plunge. Since CCAN’s mission is to fight climate change, their event needed to be sustainable and it was my job to make this happen. Everything from food and beverages, cups and napkins and the way we disposed of our waste needed to be earth friendly. When it came to coffee, we wanted fair trade, organic coffee, ideally provided by a local roaster. In my mind, it would have been bad PR if an organization that cared about the environment used a mainstream coffee company that had little concern for sustainability or the health and well-being of its workers! Since that year’s plunge was in Annapolis, I asked Lynne Forsman, co-founder of Annapolis Green Drinks, and now the co-founder of Annapolis Green, for suggestions. She suggested I contact Rick Erber, Food Service Sales Manager and Partner at CBRC. Rick and his team generously provided the most delicious coffee for the Plunge and have continued to do so for 3 more Plunges.  I’ve been a fan of the coffee – and the company – ever since.

A Commitment to Sustainability

Roasting Fair Trade Organic coffee isn’t CBRC’s only sign of its commitment to environmental sustainability. First of all, they use a Sirocco roaster, a natural gas powered hybrid roaster that uses 78% less energy and reduces emissions by 80% over traditional roasters in use today. There are only a few in use throughout the country and CBRC’s is the only one of its kind in the region. Next, once their coffee is roasted, it is packaged in a steel can – the number one sustainable packaging material. The can is 100% recyclable and reusable as opposed to non-recyclable, non-compostable bags, and ensures freshness. On top of all this, CBRC purchases 100% wind power energy offsets.

Giving Back to the Community

But that’s not all. CBRC founded the H2O Initiative which gives 2% of sales to organizations across the Chesapeake Bay Watershed that clean up, protect and preserve clean water — our most precious resource (we all need to protect and preserve our water).  You know, that’s what green companies do:  they operate sustainably, they provide an earth-friendly product AND they give back to protect the environment. Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company is the real deal!

Lori Hill and Rick Erber

Growing, Growing, Growing

Since I met Rick Erber 3 years ago, I’ve seen the company grow by noticing their expanded presence at not only earth friendly grocery stores, but also mainstream food outlets, too. Whenever I’m in a different grocery store from my usual one and I see their familiar cans, I pump my fist and say, “Yeah!” in celebration of a great company that is doing great things. Others are taking notice and hopping on the CBRC bandwagon. The company now serves more than 300 food service clients and can be found in more than 125 grocery and specialty food markets. Some of their many partners include campus dining and healthcare organizations, coffee cafes, restaurants, grocery accounts and dozens of independent retailers.

Recently, CBRC announced that their coffees are now available throughout the entire Whole Foods’ Mid-Atlantic region, including 40 stores across 8 states. In addition to Whole Foods Markets, the coffee can be found in retailers including Safeway, Giant Foods, Wegmans and Fresh Market.

Taste It For Yourself

If you haven’t yet tried coffee from Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company, I encourage you to do so today. Just visit their website to find out where you can purchase their coffee or you can buy it online.

Bethesda Green gratefully acknowledges sponsor CBRC for keeping us well-stocked with coffee.

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