by Dan Rudt

Chesapeake Bay Trust Spring Education Mini Grants Available

The Chesapeake Bay Trust Environmental Education Mini Grant Program awards up to $5,000 to support activities at schools that help promote awareness of and participation in the restoration and protection of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributary rivers and streams. Grants may be requested for relevant field trips, schoolyard habitat projects, watershed outdoor education, professional development workshops for teachers, or education materials, curriculum, and equipment that promote field-based Bay education. Spring projects should start no earlier than March 13, 2012. The deadline to apply is January 13, 2012. The Mini Grant Program is supported by a partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association Bay Watershed Education and Training Program. For more information, click here for a Word document from the Chesapeake Bay Trust Website.

MD Greenhouse Gas Act Gets Good Grades

Maryland’s 2009 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act (GGRA) was designed to cut the state’s greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020. One provision of the Act called for independent studies to ensure that it improves reliability of electric service for consumers and industry, does not cause loss of jobs or significant increase in costs in the manufacturing sector, and will result in new, green jobs in the state.

The University of Maryland Center for Integrative Environmental Research (CIER) announced on November 2 that it has completed a pair of studies and concluded that the 2009 GGRA will not cause problems for manufacturing. In addition, researchers expect it will lead to improved reliability of electric service, as well as new jobs. The Maryland Department of the Environment, charged with submitting a tentative Climate Action Plan (CAP) to Gov. O’Malley by the end of 2011, commissioned the studies. Read more about CIER’s findings here.

Vehicle Cost Calculator

So you just paid a million-seven for your 16 cylinder Bugatti Veyron and you’re wondering how much you should budget for your morning commute? Rest assured, the U.S. Department of Energy has the answer. DOE just added a handy Vehicle Cost Calculator to their Website. The tool allows you to make side-by-side comparisons of emissions and lifetime operating costs of thousands of conventional, hybrid, electric, and alternative fuel vehicles from model year 1996 and newer. The calculator was developed by DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The Bugatti, by the way, will run you about fifty-cents per mile for gas, and add 27,700 pounds of CO2 to the atmosphere. Have fun with the calculator here.

Free Compost Bins

A November 2nd tweet led to this message on the Audubon Society Website: “Our Chevy  Chase location usually has free compost bins for Montgomery Co. residents. Give us a quick call before you come over to pick them up. 301-652-3606. We also have books and free info on composting.” Can’t beat that!  By the way, the same bins — used to compost grass, leaves and yard debris — are also available from Bethesda Green.

And Before You Compost…

It’s getting cold outside; soup weather is here. Consider, before you throw your vegetable scraps in the bin, turning them into home made broth and sauces. “Charis,” writing on the Mom’s Organic Market blog, suggests freezing your veggie scraps, bones, and apple cores, until you have enough of them to fill a soup pot, then boil them up for broth. You can read her suggestions here. And congratulations to Mom’s, who just opened a new market in Herndon.

Upcoming Green Events

EV Learning Luncheon for Real Estate Professionals!, Thursday, November 10, 11:30 am – 1:00 pm, One Bethesda Center, 4800 Hampden Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda (at the Bethesda Metro Station). Presented by SemaConnect, the leader in EV charging stations and software in the Mid-Atlantic. Join others for an hour long educational session on the importance of EV charging stations in office, multi-family & retail commercial real estate. Registration and lunch are FREE. RSVP: naly.yang@semaconnect.com, 410-384-4223.

Bethesda Green Education, Outreach and Marketing (EOM) Group Meeting – Newcomers Welcome! Thursday, November 10, 4:00 – 5:30 pm., 4825 Cordell Ave., corner of Woodmont Ave., Suite 200, above the Chevy Chase Bank, Bethesda. A team of volunteers, EOM supports all of Bethesda Green’s communication efforts. From recycling to energy efficiency, sustainability to green building/design, EOM expresses the organization’s various areas of expertise in a clear and concise manner via various media.  New members are welcome to join. More information here, or contact Bethesda Green Communications Director Dave Heffernan, dvheffernan@bethesdagreen.org.

“Save Our Streams” workshop, Saturday, November 12, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Izaak Walton League National Conservation Center, 707 Conservation Lane off Muddy Branch Road in Gaithersburg. Participants will learn to collect underwater insects and crustaceans – indicators of water quality – with minimal environmental impact. Participants will also learn to test for basic chemical properties, such as the amount of dissolved oxygen available for fish, and how to share results through the Izaak Walton League’s user-friendly website. At the end of the training, participants will learn about sites that need monitoring on Muddy Branch. Extra training will be available for those who want to engage children in learning about stream ecology with fun and simple hands-on activities. A registration fee of $30 includes lunch, snacks and all books and workshop materials. To register, visit http://sosworkshopmd.eventbrite.com. For more information on the workshop contact Leah Miller, Izaak Walton League Clean Water Program Director, at 301-548-0150 x219 or leah@iwla.org.

Montgomery County’s first “Know Your Farmer,” Call-In Webinar, Wednesday, November 16, 8:00 pm. Montgomery Victory Gardens hosts “Challenges and Opportunities Facing Organic Agriculture in the 21st Century,” a discussion with Montgomery County farmers Nick and Sophia Maravell.  Nick is the operator of Nick’s Organic Farm in Potomac and one of only four farmers sitting on the prestigious National Organic Standards Board, while his daughter Sophia, who has studied organic agriculture throughout the world, is one of our nation’s new generation of aspiring farmers. Register here.

Montgomery County Green Business Crash Course Webinar, November 17, 8:00 – 11:00 am. Offered in partnership by Montgomery College and Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce. The course instructor will guide you through the application process to accelerate your certification. More info and registration.

by Dan Rudt                                                                                                              

It’s Pick Your Own Apples Time

Local apples were plentiful at the farmer’s markets the last couple of weekends. That should be the case for at least a couple more to come. If you love apples and like to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty, some orchards in Montgomery County welcome you to pick your own. The wet weather has closed some of the fields to visitors on some days, so be sure to call ahead. You can also find out what varieties are available on any given day. Pick-your-own orchards include Homestead Farm in Poolesville, Lewis Orchards in Dickerson, Rock Hill Orchard in Mt. Airy, and Butler’s Orchard in Germantown. If you know of others, feel free to leave a comment at the end of this news and events post.

University of Maryland “WaterShed” Home on Display at Solar Decathlon

The 2011 Solar Decathlon kicked off this weekend near the Roosevelt Memorial, at the National Mall. Once again, as in 2002, 2005 and 2007, UMCP was one of 20 universities whose students competed successfully for the right to build and display their solar home design on the mall. Their entry, called WaterShed, is a solar powered home that also conserves, filters and reuses water.

If you plan to visit the free exhibits, workshops and events, you can preview WaterShed and read about the students and mentors who made it happen at the UMCP solar team’s Website. For information about all the solar homes and daily workshops, visit the Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon Website. The event runs through Sunday, October  2nd.

Image: Leah Davies

University of Maryland Opens New Energy Research Center

The University of Maryland Energy Research Center (UMERC) that opened Monday, September 26 in College Park will be focused on alternative energy generation and storage. The center’s mission will be to develop energy efficient and environmentally sustainable technologies and practices and also educate the public about energy issues. The mission also includes improving the nation’s energy security by developing local and sustainable energy resources and policies that have a positive environmental impact. The center is part of the university’s A. James Clark School of Engineering and includes faculty from the engineering school and other colleges.

Leggett and Supporters of Nick’s Farm Disagree

Katie Griffith wrote in the Potomac Patch on 9/22 that, “A battalion of community members decked out in green showed up at Wednesday night’s [9/21] town hall meeting with Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) to support Nick’s Organic Farm at the Brickyard Road site.” The article says the farm issue took center stage for at least 20 minutes of the one-hour meeting. Nick’s supporters apparently were unsuccessful in swaying Leggett, who maintained his support for the deal made between Montgomery County Public Schools and the county government to turn the farm into soccer fields.

Upcoming Green Events

U.S. Dep’t. of Energy Solar Decathlon,  Friday, September 23 – Sunday, October 2, West Potomac Park, National Mall, Washington, D.C.  Competing collegiate teams (including University of Maryland) exhibit cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive solar-powered houses designed, built and operated by the students.  This free event includes tours of the solar homes, consumer workshops and award ceremonies for the winning teams.

BG101, Thursday, September 29, 4:00 – 5:30 pm, at Bethesda Green. Join us for an orientation about Bethesda Green, our history, upcoming events and volunteer opportunities.

Taste of Bethesda, Saturday, October 1, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm, at Bethesda’s Woodmont Triangle. More than 55 restaurants and four stages of entertainment and a kid’s corner for face painting and arts & crafts. Information here.

Tour of Solar Homes, Saturday and Sunday, October 1 – 2, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm.  The 21st annual tour includes more than 50 homes in the greater DC area and highlights a variety of design, technology and sustainable living concepts. Tour Guides are available for $5 at My Organic Market (Mom’s) or online.

2011 Bethesda Green Gala, Wednesday, October 5, 6:00 – 10:00 pm, Round House Theatre. Come meet local folks from the businesses, non-profits, community organizations and individuals whose innovations, practices and lifestyles promote environmental sustainability — winners and runner-ups of the 2011 Bethesda Magazine Green Awards, who will be announced and recognized for their inspiring work in the environmental community. This promises to be an evening of sharing and connecting as a community where we celebrate our greener future. 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 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 coming soon.

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.  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 on attending!