BGnews_logoTurf Management Goes Green

The Kentlands community in Gaithersburg is moving toward organic landscaping, an effort to reduce chemical application options and provide a healthy environment for pets and children.

Kentlands is consulting with Paul Tukey, an organic landscaping expert, who envisions maintaining at least 50 percent of the landscape organically by 2015.

Roger Ford, a member of the Kentlands group that is overseeing the project, said, “If [Tukey] does it right, I think it’s going to be a showcase for Montgomery County and beyond.”

For more details, see article in The Town Courier.

Going Green on your way to College

Go Green without breaking your bank! Here are some tips to go green and save money for the school year.

  • Re-use textbooks — Re-using textbooks is a great way to save paper and it also reduces the amount of junk we have to dispose later on. Some websites such as,, and let you swap books with others.
  • Do your laundry in cold water — In the warm seasons, you can save tons of energy by washing clothes in cold water. By washing clothes in cold water, you decrease your electricity usage which is required to heat the water. This reduces your overall carbon footprint.
  • Recycle your cell phones — Instead of discarding your old phones in favor of a new and updated one, recycle your phones because certain small parts of the phones can be used for other items.
  • Shop at thrift shops — You can find just about any item in a thrift store and they are usually extremely cheap. Also instead of throwing away your clothes, think about donating them to a thrift store so other people can enjoy it for a much cheaper price.
  • Keep indoor plants — Keep a small plant inside your house near a window. It is an efficient way to release more oxygen into the air, therefore purifying it. Perfect for your health and environment.
  • Go to the farmers market — Make sure you go to the farmers market or any local market! It is a great place to get fresh and good quality food. It also promotes local farmers and produce.

To find out about more tips, check out this article.

Debating Metro fare increases

In setting fares for the Metro public transportation system, the Metro board attempts to balance the the goal of providing the best possible service on it trains, buses, and vans for their riders and how to minimize the impact of fare increases on its customers, especially among those who are financially vulnerable and depend on public transportation.

A recent Dr. Gridlock column in the Washington Post helps frame the debate and concludes that it’s not solely the job of the Metro board to reconcile the issue:

“Helping other people get around is the right thing to do, whether it involves aiding a rider on a platform or assisting the needy in covering their transit costs. The benefits bounce back. Ensuring that people can get to their jobs and medical appointments boosts the economy and enhances the general welfare. That’s a task for the entire region — its governments, social service agencies and individuals. The transit authority can’t fine-tune its fares well enough to achieve this goal.”


  • Environmental Film Festival — March 18-30, at numerous DC-area venues. The theme of the 2014 Festival — Our Cities, Our Planet — will examine the challenges posed by Earth’s urban environments and the efforts of the world’s cities to balance environmental and economic needs.
  • Montgomery County Business Recycling Seminar — Thursday, March 27, 9 am – noon, Silver Spring Civic Center. Meet county staff and get all your recycling questions answered.
  • Wheaton Green Drinks — Thursday, March 27, 5-8 pm at Limerick Pub.
  • Rock Creek Extreme Cleanup — Saturday, April 5, 9 am – noon. Join Rock Creek Conservancy for its 6th annual volunteer cleanup event.



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.

by Susanna Parker

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.


  • 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.

by Susanna Parker

Montgomery County & Catalog Choice Work Together to Reduce WasteBGnews_logo

‘Tis the season for masses of unwanted catalogs stuffed into our mailboxes, cluttering our counters, and giving us headaches — but it doesn’t have to be!

Montgomery County has just announced a formal partnership with Catalog Choice, the free online service that has been helping us opt out of catalogs, credit offers, and other unsolicited hard copy since 2007. Working together, Catalog Choice and Montgomery County have created a dedicated website solely for Montgomery County residents and businesses. The website allows you to search for senders by name and request your removal from their database. To do so, you need the Customer Number and Key Code, which are both found on the mailing label. Once you’ve entered that information, you can submit your request to the company, and so long, junk mail! Do yourself and the environment a favor; opt out of unsolicited mailings, prevent that headache, and help reduce waste!

O’Malley to Push For Offshore Wind in 2013

Legislation to fund offshore wind farms has failed to pass the Maryland General Assembly twice, but that has not deterred Governor Martin O’Malley from his continued support of the plan.

According to the Maryland Gazette, in late November O’Malley sent a letter to President Barack Obama encouraging him to look to Maryland as a leader in clean energy options. O’Malley wrote that the state has “chosen to aggressively develop our vast offshore wind resources.” However, O’Malley’s plan may be imperiled by the potential expiration of the federal wind energy tax credits. These credits, set to expire New Year’s Eve, give energy companies 2.2 cents for every kilowatt hour of wind power they produce for the first ten years. This credit helps companies make the changeover to wind power without passing extra costs down to the consumers.

O’Malley supports the extension of these tax credits, but will push the offshore wind legislation regardless of the credit. There are still concerns about the language of the potential bill; State Senator Catherine E. Pugh argues that, since the bill is asking the public to pay for the changeover, there should be inclusiveness in ownership. Pugh is also a proponent of accessing Maryland’s natural gas resources, citing its lower costs and potential for job creation. Takkira Winfield, spokeswoman for the Governor’s office, says that while they’re hoping to introduce something similar to last year’s legislation, the details of the bill are still being worked out.

For more details, please read the full Maryland Gazette article here.

Upcoming Green Events

  • Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary Volunteer Day, Sunday December 16, 9 am – 12 pm, 15200 Mount Nebo Road Poolesville, MD.

Join the Washington Farm Animals Meetup Group for a volunteer day at Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary in Poolesville. Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary non-profit organization whose 400-acre property serves as a refuge for both farm animals and wildlife. The volunteer activities will consist of feeding the refuge’s populations of goats, sheep, pigs, horses, chickens, turkeys, and rabbits, as well as cleaning their stalls and providing the animals with fresh water. RSVP via the Washington Farm Animals Meetup Group.  If this is your first time volunteering with Poplar Spring, please be sure to fill out and bring their volunteer application  and waiver.

  • GreenWheaton’s Alternative Lighting Program, Thursday, Dec. 20, 7 – 8:30 pm, All Eco Center, 2662 University Blvd, Wheaton, MD.

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.

  • Save Rock Creek Park Trees, Friday, December 21, 1 – 3 pm, Rock Creek Park trail head on Albermarle Street, NW.

Join the Rock Creek Conservancy and the National Park Service to save park trees from the chokehold of English ivy, an invasive vine that grows up tree trunks and eventually weakens and kills its host tree. Volunteers will cut ivy from the trunks with hand tools which, along with gloves and training, will be provided onsite. To register, please visit their calendar at

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

Lester Brown and the Crisis of Peak Food 

Peak oil is a term we’re all familiar with, but it is looking as though the most worrying shortage of the 21st century will not be petroleum, but food. Lester Brown, founder of the Worldwatch Institute and the Earth Policy Institute, goes into detail in his new book, Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity. Anca Novacovici of The Huffington Post discussed these potential shortages with Brown, who argued that we’re going from an era of food surplus to food scarcity. Some of the causes include ethanol production competing for a share of the world grain output, aquifers being depleted faster than they can replenish themselves, rice and wheat yields plateauing, and the continuing erosion of topsoil. Brown states that, to combat this scarcity, nations must work on increasing water productivity, improving access to family planning, increasing energy efficiency, and investing in renewable energy. To learn more about food scarcity, visit the The Huffington Post for the full article.

Bethesda’s Navy Exchange Is LEED Gold Certified, and Looks Out For Electric Cars

The Navy Exchange’s new store in Bethesda will serve military families all over the Metro area, has achieved LEED Gold Certification, and will provide four ChargePoint electric vehicle charging stations, the first at a Navy Exchange facility. Located in the two-level parking garage adjacent to the Navy Exchange, these spots are specifically reserved for eco-friendly, low emissions vehicles. Sold and installed by Green Power Technology, these ChargePoint stations are a crucial part of the Navy Exchange’s efforts to be more efficient and environmentally friendly. Pat Romano, President and CEO of ChargePoint, praises the Navy Exchange for this decision, stating that “Offering EV charging services… is an important endorsement for the future of electric vehicles.” For more information about the ChargePoint, Green Power Technology, and the Navy Exchange, please visit Herald Online.

Upcoming Green Events

If Black Friday got you down, and the prospect of visiting the mall in December leaves you cold, check out the 14th Annual Takoma Park Alternative Gift Fair. This yearly fair features 14-18 charities striving to make our world a better place, highlighting their work and providing the community easy opportunities for charitable donations. Last year the fair raised over $25,000 for local, national, and international charities! This year the fair will also feature live music, raffles, kids activities, a bake sale, and refreshments. Come by, get in the holiday spirit, and help your community!

Come join us next Wednesday as a panel of Montgomery County and metro area leaders discuss emergency preparedness in the DC area. Learn what items your family should have stocked in case of a weather or human-caused disaster, the role of local, state, and federal governments during an emergency, what plans the County has in place for situations like Hurricane Sandy or derecho storms, and much more.

Please RSVP to Sharon D’Emidio at if you plan to attend this important and informative event.

Kick off the holiday season with our monthly networking happy hour! This month, we are excited to host this event along with Interfaith Power and Light, whose associated congregations will share their efforts to save energy and go green. Enjoy complimentary appetizers in the restaurant’s beautiful second floor lounge; donation requested at the door.

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

Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Plan faces legal, political challenges

Facing various legal challenges over the issue of nutrient trading, the Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Plan could wind up back on the drawing board, according to an article by Washington Post reporter Darryl Fears. Similar to the cap and trade program in air pollution control, nutrient trading would allow farms and other enterprises that met or surpassed their pollution-control expectations to sell off their remaining allowances to businesses that fail to meet the set limits.

Raising an intramural political fight with other Cleanup Plan supporters, some groups have filed a lawsuit to remove nutrient trading, calling it a “pay to pollute” program to get around the requirements of the Clean Water Act.

U.S. District Judge Sylvia H. Rambo is presiding over the case, and she has set no timetable as to when she will make a decision on the plan’s fate.

For more information, read the full Washington Post article. To learn more about the lawsuit, as well as other initiatives to restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay, please visit the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s website.

DC Seeks Public Input on the April 2012 Sustainability Vision

DC Mayor Vincent Gray’s April 2012 Sustainability Vision is moving steadily toward implementation. On November 7, over 100 DC residents met as part of the public outreach process headed by the Department of Environment and the DC Office of Planning. Over the past summer, working groups were formed to discuss topics such as climate, energy, transportation, and a green economy, among others. The working groups identified more than 1,000 possible implementation action items which were submitted to the DC sustainability task force. While sorting through suggestions, the task force focused on jobs, as well as “big impact things that will move the needle.” The Department of Environment and the DC Office of Planning expect to release the final document before the end of the year, and city-wide implementation activities will be launched soon after.

For more information, visit the April 2012 Sustainability Vision site.

Upcoming Green Events

The holiday season is fast approaching; come and learn some gorgeous and eco-friendly gift wrapping techniques from designer Reena Kazmann. Forget the cheap wrapping paper, it just gets thrown away! Through words and pictures, Reena will demonstrate ways to present your gifts inside beautiful, sustainable materials. Visit here for more details.

Please RSVP to

  • Climate, Energy, and Upper Montgomery County, Friday November 16, 6 – 8:30 pm, Kettler Forlines Brightwell Crossing Model Home, 17919 Elgin Road, Poolesville, MD 20873

As part of the “What Is It All About?” series presented by Poolesville Green, this educational event will feature discussions of energy options, led by County Councilman Roger Berliner, Poolesville Commissioner Eddie Kuhlman, and Dan Savino of the Poolesville Global Ecology Program. Come learn, socialize, and enjoy refreshments provided by Whole Food Kentlands. Visit here for more details. The event is open to all; please email with any questions.

  • Making Black Friday Green: How We Can Promote Sustainable Business Practices, Monday November 19, 6:45 – 8:30 pm, Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Neighborhood Library, 1630 7th Street NW, Washington DC

While the fervor around Black Friday can make some consider abstaining from holiday shopping altogether, a middle ground exists: local businesses with sustainable practices. This panel will teach attendees both how to find already-green businesses, and how to encourage their favorite stores to adopt sustainable practices. The panel will be moderated by Kurt Walters of CarbonFreeDC, and will feature Live Green President Stephanie Sheridan, Megan Barrett of Clean Currents, and Andy Shallal, owner of Busboys and Poets.

For details, please visit CarbonFreeDC’s MeetUp.

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

While coffee may not seem like the typical way to green your daily life, there are several easily available options. Is the coffee organic, is it bird-friendly, rainforest friendly, fairly traded, or water processed? The variety of terms can be overwhelming, but there are a few easy ways to find an environmentally friendly coffee that’s right for you.

So do a little research, grab your reusable mug and fill it with an environmentally friendly coffee.

One common label to find on environmentally friendly coffees is the Fair Trade Certified Mark. This label signifies that the coffee was purchased from growers who have met the social, environmental, and economic standards set by the Fair Trade Certification. Fair Trade USA describes four main standards for farm workers:

  • Economic Development — predetermined community development premiums are placed on every sale, and that money goes to the community to aid its economic development;
  • Empowerment — workers are trained in areas such as health and freedom from discrimination, they are empowered to determine how community development premiums will be used in their community, and they are able to effectively represent themselves and negotiate for better conditions;
  • Social Responsibility — International Labor Conventions are obeyed, child labor is prohibited, and health and safety measures are established to reduce workplace injuries;
  • Environmental Stewardship — farms operate using best practices for sustainability, including practices to reduce soil erosion, proper waste management including limiting waste generated, eliminating the use of highly toxic chemicals, efficient usage of water resources, and the maintenance of buffer zones for protected areas.

USDA Certified Organic is another common label. This signifies that the growers have followed strict regulations set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including eliminating the use of pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides; crop rotation; soil fertility management; and watershed protection.

Another criteria to consider when buying coffee is bird friendliness. Created by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, Bird-Friendly (Shade Grown) coffee comes from plants cultivated amongst and beneath trees and other plant species, rather than on ground cleared specifically for the crop. Created to protect the habitats of migratory birds, the regulations are strict, but benefit the farmer as well as the birds; polyculture (or having more than one species in the same growing area) helps to prevent pests and enrich the soil.

There are a lot of options for environmentally friendly coffee beans, and none are inherently superior to the others. Choose your beans based on what matters to you; just make sure to check for the proper labels!

For more information, visit:

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.