savenia_Hor_w_arrow_TM_NEWA Bethesda Green Business Incubator company, Savenia Labs recently launched its new Home Ratings service.  We spoke to Savenia Founder John Jabara about the new offering.

So tell us a little about this new service your company has come out with.

Sure, Savenia tells home buyers, for the first time, the lifetime value of what’s in a home before they buy it. We’re talking about energy efficient appliances, lighting, water heaters, solar panels. These things saved you money when you lived in the home – what are these savings worth to the new buyer? That hasn’t been calculated before – and that’s what we do.  Home sellers and home buyers want to know how much it costs to run a home, not to mention the environmental impact.  This is what we capture on our Savenia Home Rating Label.

So, it’s a little like a BlueBook report for a car.

Exactly, and people forget that BlueBook is not only good for the buyer – but also the seller – because a seller with a car with premium features can get a premium price. But before BlueBook, you could tell people that the car was valuable because it had extra features, but it was hard to quantify. Same for Savenia. Home owners make efficiency improvements to their home all the time, efficient appliances, LED lighting, but when they go to sell their home, they and their Realtors have found it difficult to quantify and explain this in dollars and cents.  Savenia steps in with a simple way to clarify the lifetime value of what’s in the house.

OK, I think I get it. So how does it work. Where does Savenia get the data.

Savenia is a subscription service for home sellers, they send the data about what’s in the home to Savenia, and we can use our huge proprietary energy efficiency databases to crunch the numbers and tell them what these items are worth, how much energy they use, how much they cost to run, and how all that compares to other homes with the same types of products.

How do you make sure you get accurate data?

Great question.  The short answer is that we verify everything. Savenia uses 3 systems to verify and manage the data that users put in our system. We have 2 verification processes, where first we get subscribers to sign a contract regarding the quality of the data they put into the system, but also we do unannounced checks on homes to make sure the data is accurate. Then, for maximum transparency, we color code and disclose data sources on all our Home Rating Labels for quick reference in words and in color; light green labels are subscriber provider data, and dark green labels are independently verified.

So the Realtor puts the data in, and this results in a rating – how does that work?

Right. The Realtor puts in the data, and the system tells them which home systems qualify for a Savenia Rating, either a Bronze, Silver or Gold. Let’s say we have a home where the appliances qualify for a Silver, but the lighting only qualifies for a Bronze. The Realtor has the opportunity to make some changes, for example swap out the lighting for more efficient bulbs and get them a Bronze, Silver or Gold for the lighting.

Why don’t you just get your system to force a whole home rating – good and bad.

That approach has been tried all over the country, and unless the government mandates it, it is very difficult to get everyone on board in practice. And the reason is simple – people don’t upgrade their entire home at one time. They do it in sections. They remodel a kitchen. They replace an air conditioner. When they go to sell their home, they should be able to highlight the upgrades they made, without having to highlight the things that have not been upgraded. Buyers should use home inspections and auditors to dig deeper on these things. The Savenia system is not meant to replace a professional auditor or home inspector.

So how is your system different from other rating systems out there.

There is nothing out there in the market like the Savenia Home Rating System. If you’re a home seller and you’ve recently remodeled, and probably spent some money on this, there aren’t that many options that are quick and easy to communicate to buyers the cost saving benefits they get when they buy a home. You can always get a home energy audit or an inspection, and we recommend these pre-close, but some people don’t want to spend the money or the time to do this upfront. That’s where Savenia comes in.

Very interesting John. Thanks for that explanation. With so many people doing these efficiency improvements, this seems like a great way for them to explain the benefits and maybe even get some of their money back when they sell the house. How does someone get a Savenia Rating on their home.

Savenia Home is a subscription service for professional home sellers, builders and buyers…but we all reap the rewards. Right now Savenia availability is limited to a select group of professionals in the region, one of the largest custom home builders Sandy Spring Builders and one of the largest Realtors, Jane Fairweather are using the system.  Savenia Home Ratings are also guiding the historic renovation project at The Button Farmhouse in Seneca Creek State Park. And next year we will be able to add a second group of subscribers, again limited, as we plan to expand across the DC metro region. Realtors, builders and renovators should contact us at our website to grab a slot for 2014, and we can lock them in for this next phase.

You can get more information on Savenia Home Ratings at www.saveniahome.com. And you can also get many of the Savenia rated products that go behind this system at Ace Hardware stores across the region.

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BGnews_logoBethesda Downtown 20-Year Plan Launched

A large, overflowing crowd gathered Monday evening, Nov. 4, at the County Regional Services Center, providing opinions to the Montgomery County Planning Board about what works and doesn’t work in downtown Bethesda.

With a focus on listening to residents, the event was the first step in launching a new Sector Plan for Bethesda that will culminate in about a year with a proposal for the approval of the County Council, providing a fresh look at how Bethesda might evolve over the next 20 years.

The new plan will revisit the 1994 Sector Plan’s recommendations, including issues related to walking, biking and environmental quality.  There will be plenty of opportunities for residents to weigh in, including this evening, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 7 -9 pm at Imagination Stage.

Click here for more information.

Advocates Aim to Stop Fracked Natural Gas Shipments in Maryland

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) is sounding the alarm about a proposal to build a liquified natural gas export facility in Cove Point, Maryland, along the Chesapeake Bay, fed from a web of pipelines throughout the state that would deliver fracked natural gas to the facility.

crossroads-tour-logo-emailCCAN Executive Director Mike Tidwell wrote in a recent Washington Post Op-Ed column that if allowed to go forward, the “Cove Point facility would become the biggest cause of global-warming pollution in Maryland.”

CCAN and other organizations are planning a series of town hall meetings across the state for people to learn more about the issue.  Locally, a meeting is scheduled Thursday, Nov. 7, 7:30 – 9 pm at the Silver Spring Civic Center.  Click here for more information.

BG Incubator Companies in the News

Energy Dynamics, one of the Bethesda Green Business Incubator companies, is competing along with a number of other start-ups across the nation to have an opportunity to pitch its product before Silicon Valley and Energy Sector investors.

The company designs and manufactures devices that capture and store wasted energy in the electrical system and then recycles it on demand.  The devices maximize the efficiency of electrical system utilization at commercial, industrial and residential facilities, yielding savings of between 6-12% on energy bills.

Energy Dynamics is asking for a vote of support to pitch its product.  Go here to vote.

Pictured left to right: Robert Dixon, Head of Industry Affairs, Siemens Industry, Inc.; Montgomery County Councilman Roger Berliner; John Jabara, Founder of Savenia Labs; Howard County Executive Ken Ulman; and Eric Coffman, Senior Energy Planner, Montgomery County.

Pictured left to right: Robert Dixon, Head of Industry Affairs, Siemens Industry, Inc.; Montgomery County Councilman Roger Berliner; John Jabara, Founder of Savenia Labs; Howard County Executive Ken Ulman; and Eric Coffman, Senior Energy Planner, Montgomery County.

John Jabara, Founder of Savenia Labs, a startup company in the Bethesda Green Business Incubator, received the Maryland Clean Energy Center Entrepreneur of the Year award at the annual MCEC summit this October.

Since 2009, a team of scientists and researchers working with Savenia Labs perfected its 10-step process of independently testing popular appliances to determine each model’s energy usage. Today, Savenia Labs Energy Rating labels can be found in local stores to aide consumers.

Events

  • First Thursday Happy Hour — Celebrate Autumn, Sustainability and Trees with Bethesda Green and Trees for the Future.  Enjoy casual conversation and social networking, Thursday, Nov. 7, 5-8 pm @ Jaleo, 7271 Woodmont Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814.  RSVP via Meetup.
savenia 2

Bethesda Green is proud to announce that Savenia Labs Founder John Jabara was named Maryland Entrepreneur of the Year by the Maryland Clean Energy Center (MCEC), an award that recognizes an individual that brings new technologies, products or services to the market in Maryland.

 

Founded in 2009 in the Bethesda Green Business Incubator, Savenia Labs has revolutionized shopping with its innovative energy ratings labels that inform consumers about the lifetime energy costs and environmental impacts of various household appliances.

 

“Congratulations to John and the Savenia team for bringing these breakthrough energy and environmental impact ratings to Maryland and beyond,” said Bethesda Green Incubator Manager Robert Snyder.

 

“It is an honor to receive this award, and I would like to thank all the people that have helped get Savenia Labs Energy Ratings into the hands of consumers so quickly across the region,” said Jabara. Participating retailers and enterprise customers can download energy rating labels on site, customized by zip code for energy costs and environmental impacts.

 

The full press release is here.

USG Building IIIby Jon Akpapunam

The Universities at Shady Grove (USG) was among the recipients of the inaugural Bethesda Magazine Green Awards presented at the Bethesda Green Gala in 2010. We’re revisiting previous Green Champions, with a new cohort scheduled to be presented Thursday, Oct. 3, at the 2013 Gala (more info here or purchase tickets through Oct. 2 at this site).

The Camille Kendall Academic Center on the USG campus received LEED Gold certification in 2007.  At the time it was the largest academic building in the state of Maryland to receive such an honor.  This amazing achievement inspired a fresh perspective on environmental stewardship in the Shady Grove community.

“More sustainably and dynamically” seems to be the answer developing each day on campus.  Jessica Nardi, Director of Administration, said that the USG administration began analyzing the way in which all aspects of the university — procurement, planning and housekeeping, for example  — operated on a daily basis.

USG_Plants and FlowersNo matter how large or small the operation — from waste management to the type of salt used during the winter season to melt ice — USG began making decisions by taking environmental impact into consideration.  Some of their current green initiatives include campus wide recycling, energy and water conservation efforts, use of local produce, and environmental education.  Jessica described their effort to serve the USG community as a “living laboratory,” an opportunity to experiment with and implement certain green efforts.

An example of this can be seen in their work with Savenia Labs, an independent testing laboratory and information services company that provides energy and environmental impact ratings on popular appliances and electrical products and one of the Bethesda Green incubator companies.  USG and Savenia Labs partnered to create a display to show members of the community the importance of also procuring small appliances with better energy ratings and sustainable life cycles.

All of this progress, however, would not be possible without the commitment and optimism of the student body. USG administration should be acknowledged for outlining and assembling the vehicle for effective action, but the students are indeed in the driver’s seat.  Jessica characterized USG students as “dedicated and hardworking” individuals.  So, she is never surprised to see their constant contributions (green-focused class gifts, carpooling, green tours, for example) to the sustainability mantra of USG.  Likewise, it is inspiring to those of us outside the USG community to see both the holistic approach and shared responsibility evident on campus.

USG_Building III aUSG is currently in a period of growth with a future that seems even brighter and greener. They have plans to construct a new parking garage in the next two years — a highly energy-efficient structure via a green construction process that’s also equipped with rainwater capture. Plans are also under way to construct a new Platinum LEED-certified 200,000 sq. ft. building in the next four years.

USG has done something that is not always easy — they made a change.  The Camille Kendall Academic Center marked a new standard of academic buildings on campus and ignited the other amazing efforts taking place today.  Conveniently (and remarkably) enough, one action, one project, or one idea is all it takes to ignite change. We see what one building project did for USG.  If we all decide to make that one change, the possibilities for a more sustainable future are endless.

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

By Alison WentzellBGgreennews_logo1

Savenia Labs Gets Ready to Premier WaterSavvy Database

Savenia Labs announced today that they have put together a database that compares the price of water across the United States.  What they have found is that water prices are drastically different across the country.  For example, in Atlanta, GA the average family will pay $2,600 per year for water; whereas in Wilmington, DE families will pay approximately $260 per year.

The wide variation in pricing is due to diverse pricing strategies around the country, and they’re not exactly what you’d expect.  Water companies figure water bills based on either a fixed price or a price based off of a household’s water usage, but there are also administrative fees, sewer rates, block rates, and pricing tiers.  Savenia Labs has found that a majority of what we pay on our water bills isn’t actually for water, but rather sewer and administrative fees.  Most surprisingly, though, is that the pricing logic regions use for water doesn’t always make sense.  They found that water was relatively cheap in the Southwest, despite the arid environment, but in regions that are plentiful with water, it is expensive.  The difference being sewer costs.

Savenia Labs hopes that WaterSavvy-DB will inform residents across the nation about the price of water and will help them to purchase the most water and price efficient appliances for their region.  Catherine Norman of Johns Hopkins University praises the WaterSavvy-DB by saying, “Savenia WaterSavvy-DB empowers buyers to make smart choices that support conservation in their communities and helps raise awareness of local water costs.”  Savenia Labs plans to utilize the database to illuminate the hidden costs and environmental impacts of common appliances.

For more information and a sample of the WaterSavvy-DB, check out their blog.

Startup Maryland

The new organization, Startup Maryland has reached enormous success since its launch from the Startup America Partnership.  Their main concentrations are connection, celebration, coaching, and capital.  With all of these four initiatives they hope to help startup businesses ground themselves in today’s economy.  In addition, Startup MD strives to strengthen Maryland’s economy while fostering an economic climate in which companies can leverage the state’s Unfair Advantage.  Unfair Advantage refers to the fact that Maryland provides resources to entrepreneurs that have fueled startup innovations for decades, which no other state has been able to match.

Earlier this year Startup Maryland received even more validation to their success when they were invited to the White House to highlight how their efforts developed over the past year.  Since their inception they have become one of the top 5 startups per capita, and have worked with over 500 startup businesses.  Their successes boost Maryland’s local economy by providing easily accessible resources for startup businesses that might otherwise not succeed.

For more about Startup Maryland, check out their website.

Events

  • Pitch Across Maryland, September 18, 10 am – 1 pm, Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Ave, Bethesda, MD

Join Bethesda Green as we host the second annual Pitch Across Maryland Bus Tour.  This event is open to all entrepreneurs seeking the opportunity to make pitches, and connect with potential investors.  For more information email Robert Snyder at robertgsnyder@msn.com and register at www.startupmaryland.org/get-on-the-bus-registration.

  • Food and Water Watch’s Perdue Fair Share Campaign Kick-Off Meeting, September 18, 7-9 pm, Heffner Center, 42 Oswego Ave, Takoma Park, MD 20912

Come out and show support for the Poultry Fair Share Act, which would end Big Chicken’s free ride on pollution in the Bay and make them pay to clean it up.  This first meeting will provide further information about the campaign and what you can do to help.

  • Montgomery County Food Council General Council Meeting, September 18, 7-9 pm, Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Ave, Bethesda, MD

Learn 10 Easy Steps to Greening a Restaurant, which can help any business where food is packaged and consumed!

  • PARK(ing) Day, September 20, 10am-2pm, 7900 Norfolk Ave, Bethesda, MD,

PARK(ing) Day is an annual worldwide event where artists convert metered parking sports to temporary parks to raise awareness about the need for more urban open space and to spark conversations about how public space is created and allocated.  To learn more visit www.parkingday.org.

  • DC Green Festival, September 21-22, 10a-5pm, Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

Come out to the showcase green event of the year, and say hello to Bethesda Green!

  • Norwood Park Day, September 21, 1-4 pm, Norwood Park, 4700 Norwood Drive, Chevy Chase, MD

Volunteer from 1 to 3 to help clean up Norwood Park and stay for the Little Falls Ramblers concert.  Make sure to bring clippers, loppers and gloves!  Free Food will be provided!

Alison Wentzell is a senior at American University and an intern with Bethesda Green.  Her interests in sustainability focus on the community, environmental politics, and cultural aspects of the environmental movement.

BG.GreenHome_logoby Jennifer Roe

Are you interested in greening your home?  Do you want to save money and create a healthier environment for your family?  If so, plan now to attend Bethesda Green’s 4th annual Solar & Green Home Expo, Saturday, May 11, 10 am – 3 pm.

The event will be held at the Bethesda Green offices, 4825 Cordell Avenue, 2nd floor above the Capital One Bank. All are invited to attend this FREE community event, explore and participate in workshops, and discuss practical ways to green your home.

Representatives from the Montgomery Department of Environmental Protection Energy and Pepco will answer questions about costs, benefits, tax credits, and other incentives.  Learn about the advantages of going solar in your home!

Local green businesses will showcase products and services that can help homeowners go green.  Participating companies and organizations include: Solar Energy World, Standard Solar, ecobeco, Growing SOUL, Savenia Labs, A.I.R. Lawn Care, Bethesda Systems, Energy Squad.  Click here to see a complete list.

Workshop topics will include:

  • Composting 101: In Your Home or Backyard
  • Deep Green Homes, Living in Harmony with Nature and not the Utility Company
  • Community Solar Power Purchasing: Solar Power for the other 80%
  • County, State and Federal Tax Benefits for Energy Efficiency and Solar Power
  • Efficiency Incentives: Pepco Rebate Programs for 2013

Learn more about the Solar & Green Home Expo and see a detailed program schedule here.

by Susanna Parker

A Busy Week at Bethesda Green

This week is a busy one at Bethesda Green. Join us Wednesday evening for our Emergency Preparedness panel discussion, and be sure meet us Thursday at Parva Restaurant Bar and Lounge for our monthly networking happy hour. Hope to see you there!

Farm to Freezer a Finalist in the TEDxManhattan Challenge!BGnews_logo

Implemented in June 2012, Farm to Freezer works with Bethesda Cares and local farm markets to save leftover produce from being discarded. Farm to Freezer’s many volunteers have helped to turn 5,000 pounds of fresh gleaned produce into frozen vegetables and tomato sauce that will be used to provide Bethesda’s homeless population with nutritious meals year-round. After the resounding success of their first season, Farm to Freezer is ready to expand in a big way. One major step is their inclusion in the TEDxManhattan Challenge; if selected, Farm to Freezer founder Cheryl Kollin will speak at the 2013 New York TEDxManhattan event, and Cheryl’s presentation, “Changing the Way We Eat,” will be broadcast to viewers worldwide. But Farm to Freezer needs your votes! Voting is a simple click, with no personal information or registration required. The deadline is December 15, so please tell your friends and vote today!  To learn more about this challenge and their work, read Farm to Freezer’s full blog post here.

Savenia Labs Premiers Single Serve Coffeemaker Energy Ratings!

Savenia Labs is an independent testing laboratory that provides lab tested energy and environmental impact ratings on popular appliances. Their previous work includes toasters, microwaves, and dehumidifiers, among others, and they have just released their newest ratings: the world’s first ever energy ratings for single serve coffeemakers. The surge in popularity of Keurig brewers and Green Mountain coffee pods has turned these single serve makers into one of the hottest holiday gifts — but how efficient are they? Savenia Labs’ energy ratings allow consumers to make an informed decision, choose the most environmentally friendly makers, and the most efficient machines. Along with the newly released ratings, Savenia Labs’ blog features posts on all aspects of single serve makers, including waste generated, what is actually in those mysterious pods, and cost variations among brands. Be sure to check out their blog, read their press release, and be informed before you buy!

Upcoming Green Events

  •  Drilling Down: A Conference on Fracking Risks and Action in Maryland, Saturday, Dec. 8, 10 am – 4 pm, Langsdale Auditorium, University of Baltimore, West Oliver Street, Baltimore.

Hydrofracking is a hotly debated process that can lead to environmental problems like drinking water contamination and increased air pollution. The natural gas industry is applying for permits to begin the process of hydrofracking in Maryland, and we currently have no laws protecting our communities from the risks that come with it. The Drilling Down conference in Baltimore, presented by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, is a call to action for Marylanders to learn about this process and fight against its implementation in our state. The conference will include speakers such as Maryland State Delegate Heather Mizeur, State Senator Jamie Raskin, author and head of the Environmental Policy Institute Lester Brown, and many more.

Registration is $15 in advance or $20 at the door. Student tickets are available for $10. All tickets include lunch. For more information, and to register for this exciting event, please see Event Details.

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.