BGnews_logoMontgomery Council creates two new offices to tackle environmental issues in county

Montgomery County Council created two new offices Tuesday to oversee efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and promote the use of sustainable energy sources in the county.

The county has a broad portfolio of environmental regulations and goals, many of them established by a 2008 working group created by County Executive Isiah Leggett. They include an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050.

But council members said progress toward the goals needed to be accelerated and the county held more accountable. It voted unanimously to create an Office of Sustainability within the Department of Environmental Protection and an Office of Energy and Sustainability within the county’s Department of General Services.

The estimated annual cost of the new offices is $900,000, mostly for additional staff. The council approved funding as part of the fiscal 2015 budget it passed last month.

See full article published in The Washington Post

Poolesville Goes Solar

Poolesville recently celebrated the opening of its new solar array, expected to save $30,000 in energy costs in the first year of operation. Since the array came online in February, it has created enough energy to power 40 homes for a year and has saved nearly 600,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere.

Poolesville partnered with Standard Solar to build the 4,480-panel array to offset electricity for the wastewater treatment plant.

See full article published in the Gazette.

Solar Mowing Business Grows in Bethesda

In 2009, Lyn DeWitt decided that she had had enough of the fumes and noise associated with gasoline-powered lawn mowers and launched Solar Mowing, a company using battery-powered mowers charged by photovoltaic solar panels affixed to a truck.

She initially invested about $30,000 on the truck, solar panels, mowers and other equipment. Since then, the company has grown to six mowers, eight trimmers, three trucks with solar panels and a dozen employees. A year ago, it was certified by the Montgomery County Green Business Certification Program, signifying its effective environmental stewardship.

See full article published in the Gazette.

Green Events

  • Good Green Fun Happy Hour — Wednesday, June 18, 5-8 pm, Silver Spring Green networking event at La Malinche Spanish Tapas Restaurant, 8622 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, MD.
  • Bethesda EcoDistrict Workshop — Wednesday, June 18, 7-9 pm, Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, 4805 Edgemoor Lane, Bethesda, MD.
  • Rock Creek Community Meeting — Saturday, June 21, 9:30 am – 12:30 pm, Mount Pleasant Library, 3160 16th Street NW, DC , hosted by Rock Creek Conservancy.
  • GreenWheaton Gala — Wednesday, June 25, 6-9 pm, Ballroom at Wheaton Glen, 2400 Arcola Ave., Wheaton, MD.
  • Fishbowl Investor Pitch — Thursday, June 26, 1-5 pm, plus reception at Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Ave., Bethesda, MD, a “shark tank” like-program hosted in partnership with the William James Foundation.

BGnews_logoOcean rapidly warming

The length of the melt season for Arctic sea ice is growing by several days each decade, and an earlier start to the melt season is allowing the Arctic Ocean to absorb enough additional solar radiation in some places to melt as much as four feet of the Arctic ice cap’s thickness, according to a new study by National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and NASA researchers.

Arctic sea ice has been in sharp decline during the last four decades. The sea ice cover is shrinking and thinning, making scientists think an ice-free Arctic Ocean during the summer might be reached this century. The seven lowest September sea ice extents in the satellite record have all occurred in the past seven years.

“The Arctic is warming and this is causing the melt season to last longer,” said Julienne Stroeve, a senior scientist at NSIDC, Boulder and lead author of the new study, which has been accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters. “The lengthening of the melt season is allowing for more of the sun’s energy to get stored in the ocean and increase ice melt during the summer, overall weakening the sea ice cover.”

See NASA News article for full story.

Eat your fruits and vegetables

Eating seven or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day reduces your risk of death at any point in time by 42% compared to eating less than one portion, reports a new University College London (UCL) study.

Researchers used the Health Survey for England to study the eating habits of 65,226 people representative of the English population between 2001 and 2013, and found that the more fruit and vegetables they ate, the less likely they were to die at any age. Eating seven or more portions reduces the specific risks of death by cancer and heart disease by 25% and 31% respectively. The research also showed that vegetables have significantly higher health benefits than fruit.

This is the first study to link fruit and vegetable consumption with all-cause, cancer and heart disease deaths in a nationally-representative population, the first to quantify health benefits per-portion, and the first to identify the types of fruit and vegetable with the most benefit.

See UCL News article for full story.

Events

  • Rock Creek Extreme Cleanup —  Saturday, April 5, 9 am – noon. Join Rock Creek Conservancy at one of more than 50 locations along the 33-mile length of Rock Creek for volunteer trash cleanups.
  • Master-Metered Condo Alliance Meeting — Monday, April 7, 4 – 5:30 pm at Bethesda Green. A representative from WSSC will discuss ways to reduce water consumption and get some control of water and sewer bills.
  • Demystifying Clean Green Energy — Thursday, April 10, 6:30 – 8:30 pm, Silver Spring Civic Center, One Veterans Place, Silver Spring, MD. GreenWheaton, Silver Spring Green, and Bethesda Green present an expert assessment on the current state of the clean energy industry.

 

BGnews_logoMaryland Showcase of Sustainability

Monday, Jan. 27
8 – 11 am
Weston Annapolis

This interactive and engaging event brings together change agents from across the state — including Bethesda Green Executive Director Dave Feldman and the team from Doo Consulting — who have created exciting and innovative programs in their communities, businesses or industries. Their work will be an inspiration to some, a beacon to others, and a call to action to the rest.  Click here for more info.

Montgomery County Sustainability Network

Tonight (Tuesday), Jan. 14
6 pm
Dawson’s Market Rockville

The newly formed Montgomery County Sustainability Network invites everyone to its first meeting this evening (Jan. 14), 6 pm at Dawson’s Market in Rockville.  For more information, click here.

Good Green Fun

Wednesday, Jan. 15
5:30 – 7:30 pm
Urban Butcher, Silver Spring

Silver Spring Green Happy Hour features “Salad Grazing: Healthy Livestock, People, & Planet” with a Tesla S on display.  For more information, click here.

News from GreenWheaton

GreenWheaton’s recent newsletter features 10 Green Tips compiled by Sara H. Brosnan: Use Less Energy When Heating Your Home and Other Winter Tips

BGnews_logoWhat is the future for Solar Energy?

GreenBiz.com recently published a solar industry forecast with a bright future — at least in the short term.  Solar energy has been growing and becoming more popular throughout the last five years but what does the future look like for it? The solar energy industry is moving extremely fast and, according to the GTM Research’s annual solar industry conference, the United States is expecting to install more solar capacity this year than Germany.

Solar energy is becoming popular because it is able to be sold to consumers through numerous channels, including traditional installers, car companies, environmental groups, home improvement stores, and home automation companies.  Solar energy is also becoming a favorite of institutional investors, which allows new companies such as SolarCity and Sungevity to innovate around financing.

Solar energy is the second largest source of new power generation and if it continues to grow, it is estimated that it could contribute nearly 10 percent of electricity generation in 15 years.

The challenge is that solar energy’s continued fast growth is not guaranteed. Future cuts in federal tax credits could slow down sales.

To read all of the details, check out this article.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle — but first Avoid

This article published by Shareable asks: What would a zero waste world look like? One dimension is efficient recycling. But to truly get to zero waste, you’d need to go beyond recycling into reduce and reuse. In South Australia, they’re experimenting with how to take this one step further by adding “avoid” to the top of the waste management hierarchy.

Insects help our food system

Eating bugs certainly is not an accepted part of our cultural appetite.  But that all may be changing.  According to an article published by Worldwatch, insects are an important part of the future for our food. The prices of grains and meats that depend on these grain supplies to feed livestock will definitely rise. Insects, however, offer a great alternative because they are easy to raise, healthy, and much more efficient in processing. The only problem is that bugs are usually not a friendly or attractive topic.

Most people relate disgust to insects so the biggest hurdle would be introducing insects as an appetizing and healthy food. The easiest way to integrate insects in our diet is through processed food, where the texture and taste of the bugs are lost but the healthy and sustainable source of protein is preserved.

Who knows?  It may not be too long before raising bugs is a normal part of the U.S. food consumption economy.

Learn more at this article.

Opportunities in water technology innovations

According to 77 percent of the respondents to the 2013 CDP Global 500 Water Report, business opportunities exist in addressing water-related risks. Many companies identified new products and services as one of the opportunities. The commercialization of innovative water technologies can be challenging though. These reasons include a disconnect between the price and the value of water and a lack of funding for water infrastructure and technologies in the public sector. Despite the challenges, water technology innovation continues.

To find out more, check out this article.

Events

by Susanna Parker

Litter Prevention Contest Deadline Extended!BGgreennews_logo1

The Alice Ferguson Foundation has announced that the deadline for their Litter Prevention Video Contest has been extended to June 15th. If you’re interested in testing your marketing skills and showing your support for clean land, safe water, and healthy lives in your community, don’t delay! Entrants are competing for a chance to win $1,000 and have their video used as a PSA for the Regional Litter Prevention Campaign. For contest and entry details, please visit the Alice Ferguson Foundation.

Invasive Beetle Attacks Ash Trees Across the Northeast

First spotted in Michigan in 2002, the Asian emerald ash borer poses a serious threat to native ash trees and the people that live near them. The invasive insect feeds solely on the inner bark of all 22 species of native ash tree and has destroyed more than 100 million trees in 15 states – including Maryland and Virginia. Urban areas with fewer species diversity are at particular risk; Baltimore, for example, has a tree canopy comprised primarily of ash trees and could see major losses if the emerald borers establish a foothold within the city.

Studies of the insect have shown a correlation between tree death and human mortality rates. A recent study showed an increase of deaths from cardiovascular and lower respiratory illness that coincided with the decreasing population of ash trees. While the study’s authors refrained from any direct cause-and-effect relationships, they did cite previous studies that demonstrated health benefits of trees, including improved air quality and temperature moderation.

Preventive measures against the insects are mostly comprised of targeted pesticide usage. However, some biological control measures, such as introduced parasitic wasps, have been successful. In Michigan, where the wasps have been widely established, emerald ash borer populations have been reduced by one-third. People who spot emerald ash borers are encouraged to report the sighting. In Maryland, call 410-841-5920; in the District, dial 301-313-9327. For more information on the emerald ash borers, please read the full Washington Post article in Urban Jungle.

Upcoming Bethesda Green Events

  • First Thursday Happy Hour at Ri-Ra Irish Pub, Thursday, June 6, 5 – 8 pm, 4931 Elm Street

Join us for casual conversation and social networking. This month’s highlights include a presentation by Mike Hunninghake of MD Smart Energy Communities, a meet-and-greet with members of the Bethesda Green Business Incubator, and information on ways to make a difference in your community. Discount drink prices and complimentary appetizers courtesy of Ri-Ra. For more information, and to RSVP, please visit the Bethesda Green Meetup.

  • 2nd Annual Reel Water Film Festival, Saturday, June 15, 1 – 9 pm, Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club, 7719 Wisconsin Avenue

The Reel Water Film Festival aims to educate the community about local and global water issues through the use of film, expert presentations, and networking with environmental and humanitarian organizations. At least 50% of all proceeds are donated to water projects in developing countries as well as right here at home. This year, we’re excited to present the film Chasing Ice, a breathtaking film that portrays the story of one man’s mission to change the tide of history. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit ReelWaterFilmFest.org 

Upcoming Partner Events

  • Montgomery County Green Business Certification, Wednesday, May 22, 6:30 – 8:30 pm, Crossway Community, 3015 Upton Drive, Kensington

Do you want to certify your business or organization as “green” but don’t know where to start? GreenWheaton and Silver Spring Green are proud to present this FREE Green Business Certification Workshop to help community members learn more. Offices, congregations, faith-based organizations, retail stores, and landscape companies are all eligible for County certification as a green business/organization. Featured speakers will include Doug Weisburger of the Department of Environmental Protection, Dave Taghipour of All Eco Center, Jon Widrick of Acensus Law, and Gary Skulnik of Clean Currents.

Register for FREE at http://greenbuscertification.eventbrite.com/

  • Green Drinks Networking Happy Hour, Thursday, May 23, 5 – 8 pm, Hollywood East Cafe, 11160 Veirs Mill Road

Join GreenWheaton and the other community Greens for Green Drinks with others who want to thrive in environmentally sustainable communities. Eat, drink, and be Green!

  • Congressional Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Expo, Wednesday, June 12, 9:30 am – 4:30 pm, Cannon House Office Building, Independence Ave. & New Jersey Ave., SE

Join the Sustainable Energy Coalition for this expo that will bring together businesses, sustainable energy trade associations, government agencies, and energy policy research organizations to showcase the status and near-term potential of the cross-section of renewable energy. This free event will discuss the role sustainable energy technologies can play in meeting America’s energy needs, as well as issues of national security, high energy costs, and more. To learn more about the event, please visit the Environmental and Energy Study Institute.

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

Bethesda Green Introduces Energy Tool Lending LibraryBGnews_logo

In partnership with the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection, Bethesda Green is proud to present our Energy Tool Lending Library. This program is intended to encourage members of the community to start thinking about energy efficiency in their own homes. These basic energy tools will be made accessible, with a refundable deposit, so county residents can explore the energy needs and waste that occurs in their homes. These tools are not intended to take the place of a full energy audit, but rather to encourage residents to start thinking about areas in their homes where energy losses may occur.

For more details on the program, including tool instructions and deposit fees, please visit BethesdaGreen.org. 

Cicadas Return to DC

They’re back! A population of the 17-year cicadas known as Brood 2 will emerge from the ground shortly, and dominate all conversation from North Carolina to Connecticut. Once the ground temperature reaches 64 degrees, which should happen within the next week, millions of cicadas will burst forth in a harmless, but noisy, invasion of the East Coast. All along the I-95 corridor, the song of cicadas will be heard, reaching sound levels of up to 90 decibels – the same level as many rock concerts. The males will emerge from the ground first; they’ll mature to adulthood within one week, latch onto trees, and begin to sing for mates. Male cicadas have been shown to sing both individually and in chorus, which no doubt contributes to the overwhelming volume of cicada song. Though many consider them an annoyance, scientists are fascinated by these noisy insects. Their timing, specifically, is the cause of much scientific inquiry – no one knows how the cicadas know when to emerge! Though some theorize that cicadas track time via the tree roots the larvae attach themselves to, there is still the question of how they time their movements so accurately – how do they know when 17 years exactly have passed? For those who are bracing for a miserable time, take some solace in the shortness of their presence above ground. They’ll mate, lay their eggs, and disappear for another 17 years, all in less than 2 months. Invest in ear plugs and look forward to July!

For more information on the cicadas, please watch the Washington Post video here.

Bethesda Green Events

  • APPLICATION DEADLINE: Investor Pitch Training Program, Friday May 17

Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to hone your pitch and get expert feedback from our panel of investors. Open to green businesses in DC, Maryland, and Virginia, this educational program is part of Bethesda Green’s efforts to foster the green economy in the DC Metro region. The program is open to tech and non-tech early stage businesses that have both sustainable products/services and a growth-oriented business model. The deadline is this Friday, so don’t delay! For more details and to apply, please visit BethesdaGreen.org.

Upcoming Partner Events

  • Bike to Work Day 2013, Friday May 17, 6:30 am – 8:30 am, corner of Woodmont and Bethesda Avenue.

Biking in to work on Friday? Swing by the Bethesda Pit Stop, located at Woodmont and Bethesda Avenue. Presented by Bethesda Commuter Solutions, the pit stop will feature DJ entertainment, state and local dignitaries, raffle prizes & giveaways, bike maintenance checks, and plenty of food and drink to fuel your bike ride into work! Register at Bike to Work Day 2013!

  • 5th Annual Volunteering for Business Day, Saturday May 18, 8:30 am – 1 pm, Button Farm Living History Center, 16820 Black Rock Road, Germantown

Gather your colleagues, invite your clients, call on your customers, and join us for this incredible morning of networking and service. Come prepared to roll up your sleeves and get to work; you will be instrumental in providing much needed help to this historic venue in Seneca Creek State Park. There is no charge to participate in this great team-building event; a hearty lunch will be served. For details on the planned projects for the day, and to register, please visit the Corporate Volunteer Council.

  • Montgomery County Green Business Certification Program, May 22, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm, Crossway Community, 3015 Upton Drive, Kensington

Do you want to certify your business or organization as “green” but don’t know where to start? GreenWheaton and Silver Spring Green are proud to present this FREE Green Business Certification workshop to learn more. Offices, congregations, faith-based organizations, retail stores, and landscape companies are all eligible for County certification as a green business/organization. Featured speakers will include Doug Weisburger of the Department of Environmental Protection, Dave Taghipour of All Eco Center, Jon Widrick of Ascensus Law, and Gary Skulnik of Clean Currents.

Register for FREE at http://greenbuscertification.eventbrite.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 Susanna Parker

Puerto Rico’s Northeast Ecological Corridor Declared Protected Land BGnews_logo

On Saturday, Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla signed a law to protect a 2,900 acre site that is the top nesting site for the endangered leatherback turtle. The land, known as the Northeast Ecological Corridor is an ecologically diverse area, containing the leatherback nesting site, bioluminescent bays, and more than 861 types of flora and fauna. The variety is due to the unique diversity of the land itself, which features all ecosystems found in Puerto Rico, which range from a subtropical dry forest to the only tropical rain forest in the U.S. Forest system. The area is also host to at least 50 rare or threatened species, included a recently spotted limpkin – a bird that hadn’t been seen since the 1950s.

The law marks the end of a 15-year battle between environmentalists and developers. Several years ago then-governor Anibal Acevedo Vila attempted to create legal protection from the area, but faced opposition from senators. His successor Luis Fortuno went the opposite direction and issued an order allowing for the large-scale development of the land. However, none of the submitted projects gained permits, and the land remains undeveloped. While the law has declared the land protected, the government still needs to complete the purchase of privately held land in the corridor – approximately 35% of the protected area is private. Puerto Rico eventually hopes to protect 16% of its land, up from the 8% that is currently designated for conservation.

To learn more about the Northeast Ecological Corridor, please read the full Huffington Post article here.

EPA Delays Climate Rule for New Power Plants

The Environmental Protection Agency has delayed their implementation of the first-ever greenhouse gas limits on new power plants. The rule, which was to go into effect April 13, is still undergoing revision and review. EPA spokeswoman Alisha Johnson said that the agency is still reviewing over 2 million comments on the proposal. The proposed rule would require any new power plant to emit less than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour of energy produced. The limit would not be a hardship on natural gas power plants, which average emissions of 850 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour. Coal-powered plants, however, emit an average of 1,786 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour; opposition to the rule is likely to come from the coal industry. Insiders say that the delay is partially to make sure that the rule could withstand a legal challenge, as well as to allow the EPA to bolster their legal case for imposing new carbon restrictions.

To learn more, please read the full Washington Post article here.

13 Oil Spills in the Last 30 Days

While the spills in Mayflower, Arkansas and Houston, Texas have been getting all the attention, The Huffington Post points out that there have been 13 total oil spills, on three continents, within the last 30 days. Heather Libby, Managing Editor of Tcktcktck.org, created an infographic on the spills, delineating their location, spill type, and volume. Crude oil and tar sands oil make up over 90% of the oil spilled, with the rest being made up of tailing pond waste fluid, hydraulic fluid, and condensate. In total, oil companies in North and South America released over 1 million barrels of oil and toxic waste over the last 30 days. To learn more about the spills and see the infographic, please visit The Huffington Post.

Upcoming Bethesda Green Events

  • Developing an Investor Package, Bethesda Green Finance Workshop Series for Green Businesses. April 25, 8 am – 10 am, 4825 Cordell Avenue, Suite 200.

In the fifth installment of the Bethesda Green Finance Workshop series, our panel will discuss approaching investors with a solid plan for success. Investors often require documentation of concrete business plans, including documents geared toward each stage of engagement, “teasers”, and detailed descriptions of business and financial models. The panel, featuring Joseph Chirico of Capital One, Barry Michael of Focus Investment Banking, and Cheryl Heusser of Snyder Cohn, will address both how to develop these documents, and how to use them effectively. Admission is $15; please RSVP to rsynder@bethesdagreen.org.

  • Greening the National Capital Region: The Commercial Real Estate Commitment to Building Green, Wednesday April 30, 5:30 pm – 8 pm, 7550 Wisconsin Avenue.

Bethesda Green is currently launching a Green Building and Sustainable Development seminar series to help participants understand green trends impacting the commercial building sector. To kick off the series, Bethesda Green has partnered with NAIOP MD/DC to highlight Bethesda’s newest commercial office building: Akridge’s 7550 Wisconsin Avenue. Come tour the building, see the green infrastructure, and network with those passionate about sustainable development in Bethesda. Admission is $30, and includes light fare, beer & wine. Please RSVP to Sharon D’Emidio at sharon@bethesdagreen.org by Thursday, April 25th.

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

  • Electronic Recycling Event! Sunday April 21, noon – 4pm, Wheaton High School, 12601 Dalewood Drive

Join GreenWheaton and the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection to celebrate Earth Day and recycle your unwanted electronics. You can do some Spring Cleaning, and not worry that your old cell phones or laptops will end up in a landfill! Acceptable items include: computers, printers, CDs, TVs, all plug-in appliances, and more. For the the full list, please visit Montgomery County’s website. If you’re recycling your old Apple or Mac, visit the Mac Recycle Clinic across from Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring.

  • Free Screening of BIDDER 70, Monday April 22, 7pm, Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring, 10309 New Hampshire Avenue.

Did you miss Bidder 70 during the Environmental Film Festival? Well here’s your second chance to watch! Presented by Sister Eden, and co-sponsored by Mark Leisher Productions, Bethesda Green, Silver Spring Green, GreenWheaton, and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring, this event will celebrate Earth Day, honor Tim DeChristopher’s actions, and raise awareness of the environmental activism movement. Tickets are not required, but donations are accepted at the door. For more on the event and the film, visit http://sistereden.com/bidder70/

  • Arbor Day Tree Planting at Bethesda Library, Friday April 26, 11 am

Join Conservation Montgomery and MC Department of General Services in celebrating Arbor Day at the Bethesda Library. In the continued work to preserve urban green spaces, Conservation Montgomery will be planting two native trees on library grounds; a yellowwood and a dogwood, both trees native to this region. Come support local efforts to green and beautify the library, and peruse the special book displays that will be set up for the occasion.

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.