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.


BRT photoby Kelly Blynn

As we’re all well aware, our area suffers some of the worst congestion in the nation. According to the Census, we waste 20 more minutes every day in traffic, away from family and home, than any other region in the country. Congestion makes our air pollution among the worst in the country; and an ever-increasing threat to the health and well-being of children and the elderly. The major challenge is that our current transportation infrastructure simply cannot handle the current and projected number of cars on the road. In the coming years, Montgomery County will add more than 200,000 new residents, and the same number of jobs.

That’s why Montgomery County has looked to plans for a Rapid Transit System, based on successful bus rapid transit systems from around the nation. The best way to describe the Rapid Transit System is a high quality transit system that operates like Metrorail on rubber tires.

This summer, the Montgomery County Planning Board passed a draft plan for a 79-mile system, entitled the Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan, and this fall that same plan will go to the County Council for consideration. Now is the time to learn more about this plan, and get involved.  Luckily, there’s a new video to get up to speed about the basics of the project:

Clearly, we must do something to find a better way to get to and from home, work, and school. Building new roads is too costly, too harmful to our neighborhoods, and won’t solve the problem. Investing in transit is the best option we have to provide high-quality, affordable transportation options, clean up our air, and improve our quality of life.

To get more involved in this project, sign up to testify at the upcoming public hearings on September 24 and 26, or visit for upcoming educational events.

Kelly Blynn is the Campaign Manager for the Coalition for Smarter Growth’s Next Generation of Transit Campaign. A former international campaigner at the climate change organization, she believes in thinking globally while acting locally, and she is now working hard to organize with communities for sustainable and equitable transportation in the Washington, DC region.

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.

Green News & Events, Week of July 18 – 24, 2011

by Dan Rudt

Solar Installation Completed at Bethesda Synagogue, Adat Shalom – With 180 new, American-made solar panels on its roof, Adat Shalom expects to generate 50,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity every year. A project originated and developed by Kenergy Solar, the array was installed by Baltimore-based S.H. Silverblatt Electric, a Maryland Women-Owned Business Entity (WBE). Altus Power Management owns the solar system and is responsible for financing, operating and maintaining it. The synagogue incurred no construction costs, and will buy the generated power from Altus for the next 20 years for less than it would pay for power from the grid. Federal and state grants helped make the project possible. More information here and here.

Residential Clean Energy Grant Applications Are Growing Steadily – but not evenly. Grant applications filed with the Maryland Energy Administration for residential solar installations far outstrip those for wind installations, which lag behind geothermal as well. It appears local zoning ordinances overwhelmingly approve of rooftop solar. Most Maryland cities, towns and counties, on the other hand, have yet to decide their position on wind turbines; some have banned them from their jurisdictions. Barbara Pash, at, reports on the numbers and trends of the past few years.

Maryland Offshore Wind Farm May Be Half What O’Malley WantedThe (Ocean City) Dispatch reports that a Federal Environmental Assessment recommends reducing the area available for an offshore wind farm off the Maryland coast from around 206 square miles to ninety-four. The proposal to downsize was made after the U.S. Coast Guard expressed concern about the possible danger that the larger size wind farm might pose to coastal ship travel.

Hybrid Vehicle Scorecard Issued by Union of Concerned Scientists – The UCS compared thirty-four hybrid vehicles in two categories: luxury and non-luxury models. The scorecards compare the vehicles on four different measures: fuel efficiency, pollution relative to each car’s comparable non-hybrid model, cost-effectiveness, and the degree to which upgrade features are forced on the buyer as standard equipment. Topping the list of luxury models are the Lexus CT 200h and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. Among non-luxury models, the Toyota Prius stands head and shoulders above the rest. The scorecard is available here. Good information in the press release here.

Upcoming Green Events

Forest and Tree Conservation – Forest Conservation Advisory Committee, Tuesday, July 19, 7:00 – 9:00 pm. This meeting of the Montgomery County Dept. of Environmental Protection is open to the public. See the DEP Calendar of Events for address and contact information.

Conservation Landscaping Training, Saturday, July 23, 1:00 – 3:00 pm. Learn how to select, install and maintain native plants at Croydon Creek Nature Center in Rockville. To register, call the RainScapes Coordinator at 240-314-8877 or e-mail

Activist Workshop Sponsored by Environment America, Saturday, July 23, 1:00 – 4:00 pm. The workshop will cover the best techniques for organizing your neighbors to take action, and the best ways to persuade your local media to cover an issue you care about. Central Arlington Library, 2100 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington, VA 22201. RSVP.

22nd Annual Farm Tour & Harvest Sale, Saturday & Sunday, July 23 & 24, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm. Celebrate Montgomery County’s agricultural heritage at a dozen local farms. Purchase fresh fruit, vegetables, flowers, and plants – and the kids can pet the farm animals. Hooray!

Rain Barrel Information Session, Sunday, July 24, 1:00 – 3:00 pm. This free information session at Twinbrook Community Recreation Center, 12920 Twinbrook Parkway, Rockville, teaches how to select, install and maintain a rain barrel and how this storm water management technique helps protect city watersheds. To register, contact Amanda Matheny at or 240-314-8877.

In late October, Chevrolet’s Volt Unplugged tour stopped outside Redwood in Bethesda Lane. Clean-car fans know the Volt is Chevy’s new electric car, which goes into production soon and will be available in seven markets—including D.C.—in early 2011. The Volt is expected to go between 25 and 50 miles on one battery charge, after which a gasoline engine (with 9-gallon gas tank) will take over.

Bike to Work Day Rally at Freedom Plaza, 2009

Bike to Work Day Rally at Freedom Plaza, 2009

(Guest post by Rob Arner)

Did you know May is National Bike Month?  People will celebrate it with various activities around the nation, including Bike-to-Work Week from May 17-21. Bike-to-Work Day will take place Friday, May 21. (That morning, get breakfast, tune-ups and prizes at the Bethesda pit stop)

Living in Bethesda for over 40 years, I have become an avid cyclist.  There is no better way to get around.  It is quicker and cheaper, has no parking problems and I enjoy the exercise.  Also there are lots of other psychological benefits:  I get to slow down, get a feel of the community and lessen my environmental impact.  As an expert in used oil recycling, I also believe in another type of “re-cycling”; this is why biking is my thing.  Also I have documents showing the numerous water impacts cars have on the Little Falls and other area watersheds.

According to WorldWatch Institute, a short, four-mile round-trip by bicycle keeps about 15 pounds of pollutants out of the air.  Also the Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey found that 25 percent of all trips are made within a mile of the home, 40 percent of all trips are within two miles of the home, and 50 percent of the working population commutes five miles or less to work. Yet more than 82 percent of trips five miles or less are made by personal motor vehicle. Sixty percent of the pollution created by automobile emissions happens in the first few minutes of operation, before pollution control devices can work effectively. Since “cold starts” create high levels of emissions, shorter car trips are more polluting on a per-mile basis than longer trips. (Learn more about why you should ride for the environment.)

Commuting by bike reflects the tenor of the times because of its health benefits and low environmental impact. Biking to work or using a bike to run errands prevents pollution, saves you gas or transit money, and benefits us all by reducing oil and gas use.  Biking also can be less stressful than hanging out in area traffic. Riding a bike can give you fresh air outside the gym and allow you to see more of the outside world. Also you may consider taking a bike to the subway or to the bus stop.

There are many wonderful ways you can explore neighborhoods and get a sense of our beloved Bethesda community pedaling around.  Increase everyone’s quality of life here:  Bicycle as much as you can!

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Cycling Links:

Bike to Work Day, May 21

Washington Area Bicyclist Association

Local Biking Maps

Bike Safety

Dollars and Sense: Calculating Money and Environmental Benefits of Bike Commuting (Sustainablog)

Bike to Work 2

Danielle Milo with Bethesda Transportation Solutions presents the "Most Committed Cyclist Award" to Jim Fulmer -- he's the one wearing a hat.

Commuter Connections, in partnership with the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), hosted its annual Bike To Work Day celebration on Friday, May 15th.  With pit stops all around the DC Metro area, thousands of cyclists took the opportunity to leave their cars at home and bike to the office.  Food, drink and music welcomed the bikers into the downtown Bethesda pit stop, at the corner of Bethesda and Woodmont Avenues, and several raffle prizes were given away throughout the morning.

Hosted by Bethesda Transportation Solutions (BTS), the downtown Bethesda pit stop drew more than 350 bicyclists.  BTS also awarded two commuters with Bicycle Spirit Awards:  Jean-Luc Park, of Calvert, with the “Longest Distance Commuted by Bike” (16 miles!) and Jim Fulmer (pictured), of Fidelis Security Systems, with the “Most Committed Cyclist Award” (7 miles a day, every work day!).  The downtown Bethesda pit stop was also visited by several local government officials.

Thanks to Lauren Lefkowitz with Calvert and a Bethesda Green volunteer for this report and helping with the event registration.