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World’s Largest Urban Greenhouse

Giant Food Stores signed a deal with BrightFarms to build the world’s largest urban greenhouse, expected to open this fall.  At 100,000 square feet, the greenhouse aims to deliver 1 million pounds of fresh produce throughout the year to about 30 Giant supermarkets in the Washington, DC,  metro area. Plans also include making the greenhouse available to schools as an educational tool on urban agriculture and sustainability.

In addition to building greenhouses attached to supermarkets, BrightFarms designs rooftop farms and is working on projects in Kansas City, Oklahoma City, St. Louis, and St. Paul.

To read more, check out this article.

New Bike Lanes

As Bethesda proceeds through a new sector plan for future development, interested parties may want to take note of Alexandria’s plan to add new bike lanes. The Alexandria City Council voted unanimously recently to create bike lanes on a span of King Street from Janneys Lane to West Cedar Street, one of Alexandria’s busiest streets.  Many Alexandria residents objected to this plan, however, because it will cause the removal of more than two dozen parking spots and add to congestion. Those in favor of the bike lanes argue that more and more people are using bikes for commuting so creating a safe way for them is key to cities like Alexandria.

Ultimately, the bike lanes proposal was approved with the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians in mind. Bicyclists will share the traffic lanes with motorized vehicles in the areas where parking is still allowed. New crosswalks and electronic speed indicators will also be installed for the safety pedestrians and bicyclists.

To find out more information, check out the Washington Post.

Events

  • Maryland Day, a weekend celebration of all things Maryland, March 21-23, explores historic sites, cultural activities, and natural resources around Annapolis. See the Annapolis Green Growing a Little Greener webpage for more details.
  • H2O SummitMarch 22, 9:30 am – 4 pm, Silver Spring Civic Center, 1 Veterans Plaza, Silver Spring, MD. Topics covered include: What is Stormwater and How Can You Help Prevent Pollution? and Volunteerism & Community Efforts to Improve the Environment. The morning session (9:30 to 1:00 pm) will have speakers and workshops. Attendance is limited, so register in advance. The afternoon session will be a Family H2O Fair hosted by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission and will include kid’s crafts and environmental demos for families. An assortment of water related exhibitors will also be on hand located in the Great Hall. Registration is not required for the afternoon session.

RWFF logoEvent: Reel Water Film Festival

When: Saturday, June 15

Time: Doors Open: 1 PM

Afternoon Splash: 2 PM

Dinner & Movie: 6 PM  (dinner 6 PM, movie 7:15 PM)

Location: Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club, 7719 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814

 

 

Enjoy live music and great food, meet local organizations making a difference, and check out short films from all over the world on Saturday, June 15 at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club in Bethesda, MD.  Among the more than 50 short films submitted to the festival, we have selected the best storytelling and cinematography covering a wide range of water-related topics such as wild weather, storm water management, lack of access to clean water, innovation around clean water, and more!

Scene for Chasing Ice, the evening feature at the June 15 Reel Water Film Festival in Bethesda.

Scene from Chasing Ice, the evening feature at the June 15 Reel Water Film Festival in Bethesda.

You can stop by for an “Afternoon Splash” featuring short films, come for the “Dinner & A Movie” highlighted by the award-winning documentary CHASING ICE, or stay for the entire festival and find out how you can make a difference!

Click here for ticket options and more information.

The Reel Water Film Festival is a non-profit event, with at least 50% of the proceeds donated to water projects in developing countries and right here at home.  Additional funds help support the continuation of the festival for many years to come.

 

Water systemby Jennifer Roe

Susan Bierly, president of IMC Water Coolers, is proud to be associated with Bethesda Green by providing the office with a bottle-less water cooler. Staff and visitors not only enjoy high-quality, refreshing water but appreciate that the water system aligns with Bethesda Green’s values. The IMC Water Cooler eliminates the need for plastic bottles, reducing environmental impact. IMC is a 25-year-old company that, according to Susan, “takes pride in serving the Washington DC market.” They provide a full line of filtered water coolers, home filtration systems (sink, ice, bar, shower, etc.), BRITA Hydration Stations and Mobile Water Refill Stations.

IMC has been providing a bottle-less water cooler system to Bethesda Green ever since Susan met with Executive Director Dave Feldman and rediscovered that they had worked together years ago.  It was then that Susan decided IMC would donate the cooler and the service in support of the Bethesda Green mission to build a more sustainable community.

Headshot Susan

Susan Bierly, president of IMC Water Coolers

Using bottle-less water systems “creates a domino effect,” Susan explains. By reducing the number of water bottles, the fuel, water and wasted resources that go into manufacturing plastic bottles is greatly reduced, allowing consumers who purchase IMC Water Coolers to have a smaller footprint on the planet. In addition, the coolers have a Sleep Mode® where the cooler will reduce the amount of energy it is using by 30% anytime it senses darkness. According to Susan, a study showed that over a 10-year period, 60-70% of energy was saved with an IMC system compared to a traditional water cooler. Therefore, these coolers help protect earth’s natural resources and help save energy.

In the future, Susan would like to see further development of energy efficient products. She hopes that marketing and branding of IMC continues to increase consumer awareness on the high-quality of filtered tap water, encouraging people to reduce consumption of bottled water.  IMC is passionate about educating the public on how drinking filtered tap water can have economic advantages for companies and individuals while protecting the earth. As people continue to reach for plastic water bottles, we are using more oil and natural resources than we can afford, therefore if businesses and homes reduce their consumption of bottled water by switching to filtered tap water systems such as IMC, it would make a big difference, one water cooler at a time.

To learn more about IMC Water Cooler services for your home or office, visit their website at www.imcwater.com.

Jennifer Roe is a recent graduate of the University of Edinburgh where she received her Master’s in Environment and Development.  She is passionate about building a just and sustainable food system where every individual has the opportunity to lead a successful, healthy life.

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.

by Susanna Parker

While coffee may not seem like the typical way to green your daily life, there are several easily available options. Is the coffee organic, is it bird-friendly, rainforest friendly, fairly traded, or water processed? The variety of terms can be overwhelming, but there are a few easy ways to find an environmentally friendly coffee that’s right for you.

So do a little research, grab your reusable mug and fill it with an environmentally friendly coffee.

One common label to find on environmentally friendly coffees is the Fair Trade Certified Mark. This label signifies that the coffee was purchased from growers who have met the social, environmental, and economic standards set by the Fair Trade Certification. Fair Trade USA describes four main standards for farm workers:

  • Economic Development — predetermined community development premiums are placed on every sale, and that money goes to the community to aid its economic development;
  • Empowerment — workers are trained in areas such as health and freedom from discrimination, they are empowered to determine how community development premiums will be used in their community, and they are able to effectively represent themselves and negotiate for better conditions;
  • Social Responsibility — International Labor Conventions are obeyed, child labor is prohibited, and health and safety measures are established to reduce workplace injuries;
  • Environmental Stewardship — farms operate using best practices for sustainability, including practices to reduce soil erosion, proper waste management including limiting waste generated, eliminating the use of highly toxic chemicals, efficient usage of water resources, and the maintenance of buffer zones for protected areas.

USDA Certified Organic is another common label. This signifies that the growers have followed strict regulations set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including eliminating the use of pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides; crop rotation; soil fertility management; and watershed protection.

Another criteria to consider when buying coffee is bird friendliness. Created by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, Bird-Friendly (Shade Grown) coffee comes from plants cultivated amongst and beneath trees and other plant species, rather than on ground cleared specifically for the crop. Created to protect the habitats of migratory birds, the regulations are strict, but benefit the farmer as well as the birds; polyculture (or having more than one species in the same growing area) helps to prevent pests and enrich the soil.

There are a lot of options for environmentally friendly coffee beans, and none are inherently superior to the others. Choose your beans based on what matters to you; just make sure to check for the proper labels!

For more information, visit:

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.

As of Tuesday morning, July 6, WSSC lifted water restrictions that had been in effect for five days in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.

WSSC says the pipe replacement in Potomac is complete and water safety standards have been met.  Customers can return to normal usage.

Work to restore the dig site on Tuckerman Lane will continue for several days.  WSSC wants to thank the residents and motorists in the area for their patience. Visit WSSCwater.com for more info.

Even though the restrictions are gone, you can still conserve water! Check out these resources:

We’ve all had to sacrifice in order to comply with the mandatory water restrictions WSSC has instituted while it replaces part of a water main in Potomac. They want us to cut water use by 30 percent; so far, customers used 5 percent less water on July 2 and 8 percent less water July 3. So there’s a long way to go.

For many people, one big issue is how to keep gardens and plants thriving. Well, WSSC has a huge list of Tips on Keeping Your Plants Happy During Mandatory Restrictions.” The advice includes collecting shower water as you’re waiting for it to heat up, dumping cooking water in the garden (from pasta or veggies), using dehumidifier water, and even mulching your plants. Reusing water in these ways is okay.

Plus, they have a reminder that native plants need less water, so in the future plant them and you won’t have to worry.

WSSC also has this list of year-round Water Conservation Tips; just remember WSSC has banned outdoor water use until they lift the restrictions. [Reusing water as mentioned above is okay.]

These restrictions truly test our ability to conserve water, get by only with what we need, and waste nothing (or very close to it). Now’s the time for all of us to do our part; there’s nothing “greener.”

Remember, by using less water, you’re ensuring that fire departments in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties have an adequate supply to fight fires.

*Note*: For the latest water restriction updates, visit wsscwater.com.

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Do you have more water-saving tips? Share them here!