Pepco offers a suite of programs to help you save energy and money. These programs support Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s EmPOWER Maryland initiative to reduce energy consumption in the state 15 percent by 2015. Not only will you save, you’ll be doing your part to make Maryland a cleaner and greener place to live.

For homeowners, the Quick Home Energy Check-up is a great way to get started. An energy professional will complete a high-level assessment of your home and install energy-saving products such as CFLs and low-flow shower heads, making it easy for you to save right away.

Or, receive up to $750 in rebates when you upgrade to more efficient cooling and heating equipment and have your duct system evaluated  to seal any leaks, fix holes or be properly connected, which improves your home’s comfort and indoor air quality. Both services are provided by Pepco’s participating contractors.

If you are thinking about a new appliance, be sure to choose an ENERGY STAR® certified one and get up to $150 in rebates from Pepco.

Or, choose to save automatically with Energy Wise Rewards™. Residential and commercial customers alike can sign up and choose a web-programmable thermostat – a $150 value – or an outdoor switch, both professionally installed at no charge. Then, receive up to $160 off your bill in your first year of participating. For a few hours on Peak Savings Days, Pepco will automatically cycle off and on your central air conditioner or heat pump compressor while your fan continues to circulate already cooled air. You have two opportunities to opt out of a Peak Savings Day each year.

Next summer, look for a phone call, text message or email from Pepco the day before a Peak Savings Day, alerting you to voluntarily reduce your electricity use. With the Peak Energy Savings Credit program you will receive a $1.25 credit off your bill for every kilowatt-hour (kWh) you reduce below your baseline.

Residents of multi-family apartment buildings and condominiums, don’t fret! You can also benefit from rebates for appliance purchases, get a Quick Home Energy Check-up, and participate in the Peak Energy Savings Credit and Energy Wise Rewards programs.

There are even programs for commercial customers, small business and nonprofits through the Commercial and Industrial (C&I) Energy Saving Programs. Participating organizations have saved more than $16 million in energy costs since 2009, which goes straight to your bottom line. Plus, your customers know you’re making a difference in Maryland’s environment.

Learn more about Pepco’s Home Energy Saving Programs and the C&I Energy Saving Programs to start saving energy and money today.

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by Susanna Parker

Financing Clean Energy for Coppin State U.BGnews_logo

The Maryland Clean Energy Center (MCEC), under its new Maryland Clean Energy Capital Financing Program (MCAP),will work with Coppin State University to finance six energy efficiency upgrades on campus. Coppin State University, a member of the University System of Maryland, has entered into a Shared Energy Savings Agreement with MCEC that will make Coppin’s payments contingent upon realized savings.

With the energy efficient upgrades installed and maintained by the Energy Systems Group, this agreement should ensure Coppin a positive cash flow for years to come. MCEC Executive Director Kathy Magruder says that MCAP is a tool that will allow all industrial energy users to reduce their energy and water costs without also reducing their debt capacity. MCEC Board Chair Jeffrey Eckel states that MCAP, “…has real potential to accelerate stalled capital projects, save Maryland institutions money, create jobs and reduce greenhouse emissions, all the goals for which MCEC was created.”

To learn more about the Maryland Clean Energy Center, please visit their website here.

Fracking Commission Issues Recommendations

Last month, we discussed the looming issue of hydrofracking, and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network’s work against the introduction of fracking to Maryland. Last week, the Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Initiative Advisory Commission announced a series of recommendations geared toward protecting both landowners and the state from the risks of fracking. The commission has recommended a Surface Owners Protection Act, which will protect those landowners who do not own the mineral rights to their land from the health and environmental damage that can be caused by hydrofracking.

The commission’s recommendations will be presented to the Maryland General Assembly and could lead to legislation during the 2013 session, which began January 9.

For more information on the recommendations and the proposed drilling, please read the full Gazette article here.

Upcoming Green Events

  • Rock Creek Conservancy’s MLK Day of Service Events, Saturday, January 19, Rock Creek Park.

Join Rock Creek Conservancy and the National Park Service in honoring the MLK Day of Service by cutting back invasive plants and cleaning up Rock Creek. Bring your friends, family, and your willingness to work! Rock Creek Conservancy and National Park Service will provide gloves, tools, and training. There are 5 events occurring across Rock Creek Park on January 19:

  1. Soapstone Valley Site, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm, Invasive English Ivy Removal
  2. Normanstone Site, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm, Invasive English Ivy Removal
  3. Little Forest Site, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm, Invasive Periwinkle Pull (kid-friendly!)
  4. Piney Branch Site, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm, Trash Cleanup
  5. Beret Park Site, 9:00 am – 1:00 pm, Trash Cleanup

Please dress for the weather, wear long pants and sleeves to protect your limbs. Layering is the best option. Feel free to bring your own gardening gloves and clippers. Participants must be 16+ to use tools; younger volunteers are welcome and may pick up trash and pull small vines out by hand. Students can earn SSL hours. Check out Rock Creek Conservancy for more details.

  • $5 Charity Hike, Indian Food, and Bookstore Afternoon, Sunday, January 20, 11 am, beginning at the Grosvenor/Strathmore Metro station, 10300 Rockville Pike, Rockville.

Join fellow nature lovers for a charity hike through Rock Creek Park. The beneficiary of the hike is Earth Sangha, and the proceeds will be used for a tree bank project in the Dominican Republic. Tree banks serve multiple important functions, including erosion control and fighting forest loss. The event will include a hike, an Indian buffet lunch, and a trip to a used bookstore. If you plan to attend, bring $5 or more for the charity, your SmartTrip card, water, and cash for lunch and the bookstore. RSVP at Nature Lovers’ Meetup Group.

  • Secrets of Scandinavian Sustainable City Planning, Wednesday, February 20 8-9:30 am, Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Avenue Bethesda, MD

As part of their Natural Capital educational series, Doo Consulting presents Chris Jakubiak, principal and owner of the town planning consulting firm Jakubiak and Associates, Inc. Jakubiak will present a report on sustainable communities in Malmo, Sweden and Copenhagen, Denmark, as well as current development plans in Scandinavia. The presentation will illustrate the best practices, techniques, and innovations used to transform old industrial areas into modern, sustainable, livable communities.

Tickets to the event are $15, and include breakfast fare. Seating is limited, so be sure to purchase your ticket ASAP!

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.

While most of the inside-the-beltway punditry focused on congressional dysfunction and political brinkmanship over the New Year’s Day fiscal cliff vote regarding federal tax rates, the legislation includes a section — Title IV, Energy Tax Credits — that extends retroactively a number of energy credits from January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2013.

The legislation covers tax credits for homeowners to improve the energy efficiency of their homes (see Section 408) and addresses wind energy, geothermal, biodiesel and more.

To download the legislation go to American Taxpayer Act.

Bethesda Green plans to organize an information forum early this year to review some of the details and current status of federal and state energy tax credits. Stay tuned.

by Susanna Parker
BGnews_logo

The Living Building Challenge Moves D.C. Toward a Sustainable Future

D.C. officials are set to create the city’s first “living building” as part of the Sustainable D.C. Budget Challenge. Living buildings focus on seven aspects: location, water use, energy use, health, materials, social equity, and beauty. Brian Hanlon, director of the District’s Department of General Services, explains that these buildings utilize design as a science, incorporating photovoltaic panels, geothermal energy, and biomass to produce as much energy as the building uses. Hanlon says, “We have to think of them as organisms in the living environment.”

Along with other sustainable District efforts like Canal Park’s storm water management system and the sustainable building plans for the new Ballou High School, the Green Living Challenge will be an important part of Mayor Vincent Gray’s Sustainable D.C. Initiative. The Sustainable D.C. Budget Challenge judged its entries based on cost effectiveness, potential for quick results, and the ability to meet sustainability goals, among other criteria. Mayor Gray says, “The city hopes to take the lead in what it means to be sustainable.” With projects such as the Living Building Challenge, the District will be able “to test the feasibility of major new investments and demonstrate a new way of doing business in the city government.”

For more information on the Living Building & Sustainable D.C. Budget Challenges, please read the full Washington Post article here.

Sister Eden With Ideas For Environmentally Friendly Holiday Gifts

Are you running out of time to complete your holiday gift shopping? Are you tired of buying gifts that might never be used? Lori Hill of Sister Eden has solutions for you.

Lori’s video, Gift Giving Tips for the Holidays, has tons of ideas for environmentally friendly gift giving. Concerned about the travel footprint? Buy local. Worried that your gift will never be used? Treat someone to a manicure or a massage.

With information about the impacts of various holiday gifts, plus plenty of alternative suggestions, Sister Eden’s video comes just in time to be the perfect stress relief for the holiday season. Take a look, and buy gifts guilt-free.

Events

  • Don’t Forget! GreenWheaton’s Alternative Lighting Program, Thursday December 20, 7-8:30 pm, All Eco Center, 2662 University Blvd, Wheaton.

Experts discuss Street Lighting in Wheaton MD.  Learn about the County’s plans for upgrading to more energy efficient lights and Wheaton’s prospects for approving more energy efficient/dark sky friendly decorative light fixtures for downtown Wheaton.  More info available here.

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.

Expo Offers Visitors Latest Info on Solar and Green Home Services

Bethesda Green’s 3rd Annual Solar & Green Home Expo, Saturday, June 9, 10 am – 4 pm, offers visitors an information-packed showcase event featuring many green home expert services and solar providers. The spotlight on solar will include purchasing and investment opportunities, and incentives for home installation. Local area green home businesses will display their services while individual workshops related to greening your home will be conducted throughout the day.

The goal of this event at Bethesda Green —  4825 Cordell Avenue, second floor above the Capital One Bank — is to provide homeowners and other interested parties an opportunity to get the latest information about area services and incentives to green their homes.  This is a free event for the community.

Companies and organizations participating in the Solar & Green Home Expo include: Solar Energy World, Standard Solar, Solar City, ecobeco, Green Savings Coop, Amicus Green Building Center, Clean Currents, Karmalades, Live Green, The Compost Crew, Savenia Labs, Complete Home Solutions, A.I.R. Lawn Care, Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection, STIHL, Kenergy Solar, Astrum Solar, The Cleaning Corps, Bethesda Systems and Garden Gate Landscaping.

Check our website for more info.

by Peter Doo

How do you drive an entire industry to build “green,” sustainable buildings? The US Green Building Council (USGBC), with its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, set the standard for building green. Through LEED, a green building can be rewarded an official certification. This certification incentivizes building owners, designers and contractors to look beyond energy savings to make a building that helps and does not harm its users, site, community and the earth.

Now USGBC is setting a new bar for the industry with LEED 2012.

LEED has often been criticized for not producing the results that it touts. While some of this criticism is justified, the USGBC has consistently responded with new requirements and updates (energy reporting for example) to address many of those criticisms. Meanwhile, the larger and undeniable impact of LEED has been in the transformation of the marketplace of products and services to make true sustainability more accessible to everyone. LEED 2012 promises to keep us all moving in that direction.

Some cities, counties and states have mandated LEED for new buildings in their jurisdictions. Projects pursuing certification under LEED 2012 will definitely find it more challenging to achieve the same ratings they received under the prior systems, LEED v2.2 and LEED 2009. Municipalities will have to determine whether they keep their mandate and escalate their sustainability goals with LEED 2012, or whether they relax or eliminate their mandate altogether.

What are some of the changes in the new LEED 2012? Several of the available credits in the Materials & Resources category, for example, require the disclosure and/or avoidance of chemical toxins in building products and materials. While this is likely to be an area of some controversy if adopted, this is where the next market transformative impact of LEED is likely to be.

On the energy efficiency side, the new referenced standard is ASHRAE 2010. This represents a significant increase in energy efficiency targets that project teams should be aware of.

What other changes are coming? How will it affect the industry as a whole and the Mid-Atlantic region in particular? And how do building owners and professionals navigate this shift? These questions and more will be addressed at a special event on Tuesday, June 12th in Bethesda, Maryland, “Anticipating the Changes and Challenges of LEED 2012,” a Natural Capital Series event. For more information and to register, go to http://naturalcapitalLEED2012.eventbrite.com.

Peter Doo, FAIA, President of Doo Consulting, LLC is a sustainability consultant with over 30 years of experience in building design and construction. Peter is a LEED AP and founder of the USGBC Maryland Chapter. Doo Consulting provides services to guide, coordinate and administrate the LEED certification process for all LEED rating systems. For more information, visit www.dooconsulting.net.

Green Manufacturing of Chemical Products

by Richard M. Goodman

Many lay persons think that all synthetic chemicals are inherently bad.  They also think that natural chemicals are inherently good.  Well, the reality is much more nuanced.  After all, evolution has led to many natural plants, for example, developing toxic substances to ward off their destruction by insects and microbes.  Also, natural products are often complex mixtures of chemical entities so that the interesting chemical species is diluted by many other chemicals, which are at best inert, at worst counter- productive.  Purification from the natural product can be costly and introduce solvents or other species not beneficial.

On the contrary, synthesis can lead to the desired material without toxic or even impurities or diluents.  The secret is what the chemical industry calls “Manufacture by Green Chemistry.”  The concept is based on 12 principles first formulated 14 years ago.  They are:

  1. Prevention
  2. Atom economy
  3. Less hazardous chemical syntheses
  4. Designing safer chemicals
  5. Safer solvents and auxiliaries
  6. Design for energy efficiency
  7. Use of renewable feed-stocks
  8. Reduce derivatives
  9. Catalysis
  10. Design for degradation
  11. Real-time analysis for pollution prevention
  12. Inherently safer chemistry for accident prevention

Some of the terms are obvious, I’ll define the others.

Atom economy means: Synthetic methods should be designed to maximize the incorporation of all materials used in the process into the final product, i.e. not by products or impurities.

Catalysis means:  Catalytic reagents (as selective as possible) are superior to stoichiometric reagents, that is, as in nature the right catalyst can cause the desired reaction without any excess chemical material.

Design for degradation means:  Chemical products should be designed so that at the end of their function they break down into innocuous degradation products and do not persist in the environment.

This primer hopefully shows how the proper use of chemistry principles can lead to a greener environment.

Richard M. Goodman, PhD, is a chemical scientist and consultant focusing on how surface science concepts can solve real world problems.  The periodic column considers aspects of sustainability from a scientific perspective. See Goodman’s profile with Association of Consulting Chemists and Chemical Engineers (ACC&CE) at www.chemconsult.org.