by Sophia Knoll

The Montgomery County Planning Department is considering EcoDistrict concepts — based on three core principles of sustainability: environmental, social and economic — as part of  a 20-year plan for downtown Bethesda.

At a June 18 public meeting, Tina Schneider with the planning team and Otto Condon of ZGF Architects discussed how the Bethesda community can go about changing Bethesda for the better.

First off, they said that we must look at buildings, streets, and communities as a network that can seamlessly work together. According to Condon, everything within an EcoDistrict must be used for either retail, housing, office space, or culture and more importantly must focus on water and energy efficiency to “revitalize cities from neighborhoods up.”

Condon also mentioned that districts are the building blocks of sustainable cities, which has led the Montgomery County Planning team to divide Bethesda into four main districts in designing our own EcoDistrict.

In the second part of the meeting, people worked in groups of eight looking over maps of Bethesda and brainstormed over various goals, deciding which of the eight “Performance Areas” (Community Identity, Health and Well Being, Equitable Development, Habitats and Ecosystems, Materials, Water, Energy, and Access and Mobility) they would like to see associated within each district.

People offered their suggestions and ideas for the planning committee, which will move forward in creating a plan for the Bethesda EcoDistrict and submit it later this year to the County Council for approval.

For anyone who cares about Bethesda, it is important to get involved and become part of the process. Offer your ideas (send an email to bethesdadowntownplan@montgomeryplanning.org) and help ensure Bethesda’s future as an efficient, vibrant, and  environmentally friendly community.

Sophia Knoll is a Bethesda Green intern and a rising high school senior at Georgetown Visitation.

cardboard_box_clip_art_22876by Richard M. Goodman

When purchasing necessities or special gifts, deciding what items to buy based on its sustainable packaging can have a significant impact.

According to the Sustainability Packaging Coalition, the two most relevant sustainable packaging principles to the average consumer include:

  • Sustainable packaging optimizes the use of renewable or recycled source materials.
  • Sustainable packaging is physically designed to optimize materials and energy.

Let’s look at how to implement these two principles.  The recycling industry incurs big expense in their sorting operations to remove undesirable or toxic materials from the recycle stream.  If the packaging industry can create packaging that is easily sorted and not likely to introduce potential contaminants, then it makes the recycling industry’s job easier and ultimately reduces their costs. Proper on-package messaging from the packaging industry can help consumers help recyclers, which in the end helps the packaging industry.  Consumers should insist on greened packaging.

Paper-based packaging such as boxes, containers, cartons, sacks and bags are part of our everyday lives. Unlike other packaging options, paper-based packaging is made from trees – a renewable source that is sustainably grown, managed and harvested specifically for the paper industry – or from recovered fiber, allowing reuse of its products. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, paper-based packaging is recovered more than any other packaging material. Paper and paperboard represent more than 70 percent of all packaging recovered for recycling in the U.S. and, in 2011, 91 percent of old corrugated containers were recovered for recycling.

Another consideration involves the use of compostable materials for packaging. This can best be satisfied if the earth’s biosphere effectively recovers the nutritive value of the basic biological materials and no toxic or dangerous substances are released through any stage of the package’s lifecycle. It should be noted that the conditions for effective biological degradation do not exist in landfills and the release of problematic substances is a further concern. Managed composting and anaerobic digestion with energy recovery are examples of sustainable systems.

In summary, we should observe the following considerations when looking into the packaging of consumer goods:

  • Avoid overly packaged goods.
  • Look for packaging materials that are fully recyclable, including plastics with the recycle labels, aluminum, cardboard and paper.
  • Look for compostable materials and either use them in your own or neighborhood composts or put them into the recycling system.
  • Read the labels to be sure you are removing any potentially toxic materials from the recycling streams.

If we as consumers follow these guidelines we can help promote the use of sustainable packaging and help create a positive reinforcement to manufacturers to increase the use of these materials

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

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.

dress it up dressing

Red Wine Vinaigrette is one of four varieties offered by Dress It Up Dressing

by Susanna Parker

Sophia Maroon has known for years that her mother’s salad dressing recipes were something special. A hit with everyone who tried them, her brother even said they were good enough to sell. Sophia laughed it off as a joke, but the idea stuck with her. After all, so many commercial dressings were bland, replacing quality olive oil with cheap substitutes, and full of unpronounceable ingredients.

Sophia wanted a healthy dressing with familiar ingredients, produced simply, locally, and in a sustainable manner. She wanted her salad dressing to be as healthy as the veggies it adorns. Sophia realized that her mother’s dressing was the solution to all these problems, and decided to test out her brother’s theory.

With advice from friends and family (plus a good helping of serendipity) Sophia got Dress It Up Dressing up and running. In its ninth month, Sophia’s mission is simple — to make a product she’s proud of, and to ensure that every salad is dressed to perfection.

A recent addition to the Bethesda Green Business Incubator, Sophia and Dress It Up Dressing are committed to sustainability. Dress It Up Dressing is inextricably tied to the environment and to the farmers that grow the produce the dressing tops, so there is a concern for the environment in every decision made. The olive oil that makes up the primary ingredient is sourced from Mediterranean farmers — though it travels farther, its environmental impact is actually less than that of olive oil produced in California.

To reduce Dress It Up’s travel footprint in other areas, the production facility is within 150 miles of the initial market areas of Washington, Philadelphia, and New York City. And though Sophia, like any small business owner, is concerned about the efficiency of the production process, she is “more motivated by the green line than the bottom line.”

Sophia is looking forward to making Dress It Up Dressing even more sustainable. The first goal is to transition the dressing to a fully organic product. The next step will be finding a green manufacturing facility, one that is LEED certified and powered by renewable energy. The final goal requires the cooperation of the local food industry — Sophia wants Dress It Up Dressing to be part of a local food hub, an organization that connects farmers with local and regional markets, helping the community to buy local and increase its sustainability. Maryland does not yet have a food hub, but Sophia looks to GrowFood Carolina for inspiration and motivation.

Dress It Up Dressing is available in four vinaigrettes; Apple Cider, Chocolate, Champagne, and Red Wine. If you’re debating which one to try first, keep in mind Sophia’s advice: “There are only four varieties, who says it has to be a choice?” Dress It Up Dressing is available at Whole Foods, MOMs Organic Market, Roots, Stachowski’s Deli, Bethesda Co-Op, The Organic Butcher in McLean, the Central Farm Markets, and online at www.dressitupdressing.com. When asked what has been her biggest accomplishment to date, Sophia says “Honestly, every day I get to work on this project feels like a success.”

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 sharon@bethesdagreen.org

  • 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 poolesvillegreen@gmail.com 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.

View Globally, Act Locally

By Cheryl Kollin, Full Plate Ventures

Why spend your Saturday at Bethesda Green staring at a webcast all day?  “I have a fascination with learning about sustainable food production, healthy living, and nutritious and traditional cooking methods,” offered one registrant who signed up for Changing the Way We Eat 2012, a viewing party January 21 at Bethesda Green. When the topic is the state of our food system and progress toward sustainability, people with various interests come to take a seat at the table. Last year’s event drew 46,000 viewing streams from 11 countries including the 40 attendees at Bethesda Green’s viewing party.

TEDxManhattan 2012, the independently organized TED talk, hosted by the Glynwood Institute has a full lineup of speakers engaged in various aspects of our sustainable food system, including public health officials, community organizers, public policy advocates, farmers, restaurateurs, business entrepreneurs, and writers.

Speakers include: representatives from Johns Hopkins’ Public Health, The Humane Society, The James Beard Foundation, the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, and Food & Water Watch.

Bethesda Green, Full Plate Ventures, and Slow Food DC are co-hosting the second annual viewing party. During the national breaks, local speakers will share their knowledge of our burgeoning sustainable food movement and what’s emerging in Montgomery County. “This is a great way to learn about what’s happening right here in our community,” said Beverly Firme, who writes the Green Around Town column for Bethesda Patch, the community’s hyper-local online newspaper. “It’s also a great way to connect with others.”

“I’m a public policy graduate student interested in food issues; I’m hoping to learn more about organizations and projects and to network.”

We’ve built in morning activities to get to know who’s in the room. Once again we offer our Seasonal Local Pot-Luck Lunch Challenge—the challenge of course is to demonstrate that we can eat locally—even in January.

Seasonal Local Pot-Luck Lunch Challenge, 2011 viewing party

There are many community-based initiatives and entrepreneurial businesses popping up this year that I’m excited to share with attendees at our lunch-time panel:

Growing Legacy On Metro’s Edge — watch a film teaser from this documentary-in -progress about our local food system and the Montgomery Country Agricultural Reserve. Produced by Mark Leisher Productions and Montgomery Countryside Alliance.

Introducing the new Montgomery Food Council — a group of diverse stakeholders, launching in February, will examine how well the local food system is serving its community, then find solutions to take action toward improving it.

Connecting producers with buyers — check out some of the on-line and social media resources to help find and connect local food producers with buyers, both retail and wholesale.

Know your food from farm to fork — How do you know where your local food actually comes from and if it is produced sustainably? Learn about seal of approval programs and how new apps bring the farm to you.

Hunger in Bethesda? Bethesda Cares and partner congregations feed the homeless every day in our affluent community. Learn from those making a difference.

“I work for the Center for Food Safety. I am also very concerned personally about these issues.”

No need to stay for the whole day–drop in as your schedule allows.

Changing the Way We Eat 2012
TEDxManhattan Viewing Party
Saturday, January 21, 2012 9am-5:30pm

Bethesda Green
4825 Cordell Avenue, Suite 200
Bethesda, MD 20814

Viewing Party Schedule and Pot-Luck Lunch Challenge Details

Register to attend — FREE event

TEDxManhattan’s “Changing the Way We Eat” is a one-day event in New York City that will be simulcast at viewing parties all over the world. Visit Invited Speakers to see the TEDx speakers. The full list and schedule will be published closer to the event.

Bethesda Green brings business, government and community together to promote a healthy economy and sustainable living practices in order to reduce our collective impact on the environment.

Cheryl Kollin of Full Plate Ventures, LLC is passionate about building sustainable, regional food systems. She provides business consulting and educational programming to social enterprises to enhance their profitability while serving their social mission.

SlowFood DC is a community that promotes and celebrates local, seasonal, and sustainable food sources; works to preserve the culinary traditions of the region’s ethnically and culturally diverse populations; and supports the right of all people to enjoy good, clean, fair food.

by Dan Rudt                                                                                                               

Bethesda Magazine 2011 Green Champions Honored

Bethesda Green’s 2nd Annual Gala this past Wednesday (10/5) honored this year’s winners of the Bethesda Magazine Green Champion awards. Winners included green energy supplier Clean Currents, non-profit Rock Creek Conservancy, Congressional Bank, Brookside Gardens, the Bullis School, the Young Activists Club at Piney Branch Elementary, and Mike Tidwell of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. Beverly Firme writes about the event for the Bethesda Patch.

Community Meeting about Bus Rapid Transit

The Montgomery County Planning Department will host a community meeting to discuss bus rapid transit (BRT). The plan would include dedicated traffic lanes for buses along as many as 16 traffic corridors covering 150 miles. Come see where the service is proposed and let the planners know how you think Bus Rapid Transit service can best fit into our community. The meeting is on Monday, October 24 from 5:30 – 8:30 pm at Park and Planning headquarters,8787 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring.

Kodak American Greenways Award Goes to Potomac Conservancy

Potomac Conservancy is one of four honorees to receive national recognition for outstanding achievement in greenways and open space preservation at the 22nd annual Kodak American Greenways Awards, presented at the National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C. on Thursday (10/6).

“I am particularly pleased to present the Potomac Conservancy with an award for its outstanding record of leadership and accomplishment in conserving and advancing stewardship of the Potomac River corridor and its tributaries for the benefit of present and future generations,” said The Conservation Fund’s President and CEO, Larry Selzer. “In the face of relentless regional development and population growth, the Potomac Conservancy has been an effective voice for protecting this irreplaceable resource.”

The Kodak American Greenways Awards were established in 1989 by Eastman Kodak Company, National Geographic Society and The Conservation Fund. The other winners this year were U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Mayor Karl Dean of Nashville.

For Teens: Project Green Challenge

Youth-led non-profit Teens Turning Green has organized a Project Green Challenge that seeks to engage high school and college students across the country and inspire them to transition “from conventional to conscious.” The 30-day green lifestyle challenge runs through October. Huffington Post writes about this and other teen-focused green education offerings.

Chesapeake Bay Trust Seeking Award Nominations

The Chesapeake Bay Trust is currently soliciting applications for its 2012 Awards Program. Five awards are available, one for Teacher of the Year, two student scholarships, a Steward of the Year and a project grant. Nominations must be completed online by December 16. Award criteria are available here.

Upcoming Green Events

Bethesda Green Education, Outreach and Marketing (EOM) Group Meeting – Newcomers Welcome! Thursday, October 13, 4:00 – 5:30 pm. This team of volunteers meets monthly to discuss Bethesda Green’s marketing and communications needs.

Conservation Montgomery Four Corners Community Stroll, Saturday, October 15, 10:00 – Noon. Learn about the natural features of the Four Corners community and the threats to open space in the area. Carol Ann Barth, First Vice President of the Montgomery County Civic Federation, will lead the walk and discussion. More information.

Montgomery County Community Service Week, October 16 – 22. The Montgomery County Volunteer Center invites you and your group to participate. More information.

Green America’s Annual Luncheon, Wednesday, October 19, 12:00 – 1:00 pm. Washington Post Conference Center. Green America’s mission is to harness economic power, the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society. Learn about the organization, their campaigns and programs. More information.

Green Home Expo, Saturday October 22, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm at Bethesda Green. Learn easy ways to green your home and save money.  Presentations will cover conservation, efficiency and renewable energy.  In addition to industry vendors, meet representatives from nonprofits and Montgomery County government. More information.

Community Forklift Fundraising Extravaganza, Saturday, October 22, 7:00 – 10:30 pm, 4671 Tanglewood Drive, Edmonston, MD. Entertainment by the DC Lady Arm Wrestlers, Silent auction, Wonky Dog food truck, DJ One HeART Muszik, and adult beverages! Must be 21 or over. Community Forklift is a low-cost building materials warehouse open to the general public and a project of Sustainable Community Initiatives, a 501c3 nonprofit. More information on tickets, sponsorships, or to donate a silent auction item.

Food Day, Monday, October 24, 2011, 7:00 pm, at the Church in Bethesda, 5033 Wilson Lane, Bethesda, MD 20814. You are invited to a local screening of the documentary film “Ingredients” co-sponsored by Church in Bethesda, Bethesda Presbyterian and Graceful Growing Together. The evening will also include short presentations by community members about healthy food, sustainable farms and related topics. Please RSVP if you plan to attend.

Peter Doo LEED EB: O+M Event, Thursday, October 27, 8:00 – 11:00 am, Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Ave., 2nd floor. Building owners, managers, developers and other building professionals are invited to attend a special presentation on LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance. Details here.

Maryland Clean Energy Summit, Thursday, October 27 – Saturday, October 29, Hilton Inner Harbor, Baltimore. Includes a Consumer Trade Show – FREE TO THE PUBLIC – on Saturday 10/29, 9:30 – 2:30. More information.