A Bethesda woman with an innovative idea for excess food and a Chevy Chase man known as “Recyclo” were among the five winners of this year’s Bethesda Magazine Green Awards.
Cheryl Kollin, who started the Farm to Freezer program this year, won the business or nonprofit category. Kollin, 56, organizes volunteers who purchase squash, eggplant, green peppers, zucchini and other vegetables from a Silver Spring farmers market, then partially cook the produce for freeze storage at the Manna food bank.
The idea is to fill in the large gap between excess, wasted produce and the underfed of Montgomery County who desperately need nutritious food options, especially over the winter months.
It was a similar partnership last year with homeless prevention nonprofit Bethesda Cares that got Kollin and her Full Plate Ventures nonprofit started.
Chevy Chase resident Brian Detwiler won the Green Award for “individuals who are actively promoting and living a green lifestyle,” for essentially putting his money where his mouth is. Detwiler is the owner of a Honda Fit EV, an electric car. His home has solar panels and he walks to bikes to work in downtown Bethesda.
That has led to the “Recyclo” nickname.
“There are only a couple of people who call me that,” Detwiler told Bethesda Magazine. “It’s kind of a playful thing, but it gives me hope that my actions may inspire other people to see that recycling is not that much trouble. It takes such a little effort to change your lifestyle.”
Bethesda Magazine hosts the award show and annual gala with nonprofit Bethesda Green.
Other winners include the Founding Farmers restaurant in Potomac, the Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy in Rockville and Abt Associates, which has offices in Bethesda.
John Jabara, founder of Savenia Labs, won the award on Wednesday. His company, started in 2009 in the incubator, provides energy ratings for popular appliances and will introduce a carbon footprint rating based on energy rates in specific places with specific products.
The idea is that shoppers in difference cities might choose completely different products if they knew how energy costs will add up over the lifetime of the appliance. Savenia clients can download comparable energy ratings, customized by zip code for costs and environmental impacts.
The Maryland Clean Energy Center, created in 2008 to help reach the state’s 20 percent renewable energy goal by 2022, presented the award.
Jabara’s first retail client was Stronsiders Hardware. His company now provides energy rating labels for products in Ace Hardware stores in Northern Virginia, D.C. and Baltimore.
He’s since moved to providing data to large companies and universities looking for information on their own electric use.
Savenia Labs, which provides energy ratings for popular appliances, on Wednesday gave a sneak peak of its WaterSavvy-DB product, a database of water pricing by zip code. The idea is for the pricing information to go into energy ratings for dishwashers and washing machines, which can help consumers save money.
Savenia found that more than 60 percent of the average water bill comes from sewer and administrative fees. There are many ways a water bill can be calculated, but an average family of four pays $32 a month for sewer costs, $30 for actual water and $19 for administrative fees.
The most expensive water was in Atlanta, where an average family spends $2,600 a year or $221 a month on water bills. That’s almost 10 times more than people in Wilmington, Del., which was found to have the cheapest water pricing at $23 a month. The average household pays $80 a month and where people pay more or pay less isn’t always obvious.
Savenia found cheap water prices in the Southwest (where water is scarce) and expensive water in areas where water is thought to be plentiful. Sewer costs seem to drive the differences.
Here’s what the water pricing could mean in a practical scenario, from Savenia’s blog:
Using this data, Savenia found that shoppers in different cities would choose completely different appliances to save money depending on local water and electricity prices. Take the example of two families living in different states looking to buy a washing machine. One family, in Hilo, Hawaii, pays some of the country’s highest electricity rates but comparatively low water prices. The other family is in Seattle, WA, with high water prices, but comparatively low electricity rates. They’ve narrowed down their options to these two similarly sized Energy Star washing machines from well-known brands:
- The Whirlpool WTW4880AW, 3.4 cu. ft., retailing for $600 (144 kWh/yr, 7743 gallons/yr)
- The GE GWFH1200DWW, 3.56 cu. ft., retailing for $800 (181 kWh/yr, 5582 gallons/yr)
In Hilo, the family would save about $300 over their washing machine’s lifetime by purchasing the Whirlpool, while the Seattle family would save about $300 by purchasing the GE model. Drastically different decisions based on local utility pricing. If electricity or water prices go up over time they would save even more.
For now, the company is offering its energy ratings to retailers in the D.C. and Baltimore metro areas. The company’s first client was Strosnider’s Hardware in Bethesda and it’s now placing ratings on products in local Ace Hardware stores.
The Green Investor Incentive Program is now accepting applications from investors in businesses that provide green products or technologies. The program was approved in April by the County Council and County Executive Isiah Leggett appropriated $500,000 to fund the program.
The concept comes out of the county’s 2010 Green Economy Task Force, which recommended more incentives for companies in the green sector.
Individuals and investment firms that have invested in qualified green companies from July 24, 2013 until the end of the year are potentially eligible for some of this year’s $500,000 appropriation, which will be allocated disbursed next April. The program will be first come first serve, and investors will have until January 15, 2014 to submit their applications. Qualified investors cannot be pension or retirement funds, and can not have an ownership stake in the company prior to investing.
“The program will help us cultivate a larger group of investors so that green business solutions and products that are conceived here can develop and grow into successful Montgomery County-based companies,” county Economic Director Steve Silverman said.
To qualify as a green business, a company must provide a green product or technology, have its headquarters in Montgomery, have been in business for less than 10 years and employ fewer than 50 people. The company also must be a certified B-Corporation, Montgomery County Certified Green Business, or have earned a similar designation.
Visit the county’s Economic Development site for more information.
Bethesda Green is launching a program to survey and educate Bethesda’s roughly 200 restaurateurs about “greening” moves including installing LED lighting and switching to sustainable packaging for leftovers.
According to a report from the Environmental Protection Agency, about 80 percent of energy use in restaurants goes to waste because of inefficient kitchen appliances, lighting, HVAC systems and bathroom appliances. The environmental nonprofit hopes to connect some Bethesda restaurants with Pepco rebates for switching to LED light bulbs and provide guidance with other tips:
1. Separate and compost all food waste.
2. Recycle all paper, cardboard, plastic, glass and aluminum, and place ins in easily accessed locations.
3. Reduce energy usage through regular equipment maintenance, the reduction of appliance idling time and by switching to LED lighting.
4. Make the switch to sustainable packaging for leftovers and take-out orders.
5. Buy local! There are numerous farms all around the DC area, and fresher produce tastes better on the plate.
6. Reduce your water usage and your bill!
7. Give back, contact food banks and leftovers to those less fortunate.
8. Practice waste reduction across the board — write specials on a chalkboard, buy beverages in bulk, use refillable condiment containers.
9. Convert your used oil to biofuel.
10. Be green and clean — buy multipurpose supplies made with natural materials.
Video via Comcast Newsmakers
John Jabara’s Savenia Labs was one of the first companies in Bethesda Green’s incubator when it started in 2009.
Four years later, the company that provides energy ratings for popular appliances is offering a new service and is on the cusp of going nationwide.
The concept helped Savenia win Best Environmental/Energy Company at the recent Maryland Incubator Company of the Year awards. Jabara and his staff buy a batch of appliances or electronics, test how much electricity those products use at a lab at the University of Maryland and integrate that information with energy costs in different areas.
Savenia will also attach a carbon footprint rating to the appliance by incorporating how different areas produce the electricity being used to power different products.
For example: The company can take a coffee maker, gather market data such as how long people typically leave a pot of coffee on a hot plate, test the electricity output and determine that $25 product may cost a consumer $100 to use in the long run. Savenia then provides that information to retailers in the form of an energy rating label displayed on the store’s shelves.
“Winning the award is a great milestone as we go forward in the process of rating lots of new products,” said Jabara, a Bethesda resident. “We will basically identify the most popular products, buy those products ourselves without any manufacturer influence, come up with a user profile and see how much electricity it will use.”
Jabara’s first retail client was Stronsiders Hardware. His company now provides energy rating labels for products in Ace Hardware stores in Northern Virginia, D.C. and Baltimore.
Today, Savenia launched another service. After requests from large companies and universities looking for information on their own electric use, Jabara’s company will now provide subscription-based access to a datbase with its ratings and cost information on various appliances.
The goal is to one day offer the ratings label service nationwide in big box retailers, though Jabara said the company isn’t quite there yet. Savenia’s office is still in the Bethesda Green Incubator, above the Capitol One Bank on Cordell Avenue.
“Once you hit a certain point, you’re expected to move up and on,” Jabara said. “We’ll be there soon.”
Photo via Bethesda Green
The stories of a rural villager with eight kids and no clean water to provide them, an American approaching retirement who wants to make meaning of his life and a young Zambian well-digger struggling to provide for his family are normal in many ways.
It’s when the stories intersect, as director Derek Watson shows in his short documentary “This Is Normal,” that positive change happens.
In this case, it’s the introduction of a cheap, but effective manual well-drilling method to a Zambian village that before relied on a freshwater lake for a water supply that was slowly killing its residents. The documentary will be featured during Saturday’s 2nd Annual Reel Water Film Festival at the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club.
It will screen during the “Afternoon Splash” session of the event, from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The festival will feature a number of documentaries dealing with water issues and a host of local environmental groups.
“People are blown away by this,” Watson said. “We just completely take clean water for granted. We just turn on the faucet and don’t think about it. We don’t even fathom that most of the world lives without that. Even 100 years ago, that didn’t exist in America but we’re just so far removed it.”
Watson, an Oklahoma-based documentary filmmaker, spent two weeks in an island village on Lake Bangweulu in northern Zambia to chronicle how a lack of clean water is normal there.
Starting Saturday, June 22 and continuing each week through Sunday, Sept. 1, Central Farm Markets and the CompostCrew representatives at its Bethesda and North Bethesda markets will offer treats for each canister of compost a child brings in.
Kids age 5-16 who want to participate will sign up and pick up a canister. Each child will get a card with ten punch-holes and information on what sorts of items to put in the canister each week. Three “punches” will earn participants a free t-shirt. Those who get all 10 punches by Sept. 1 will get a bag of compost for their gardens and a gift card to Staples for school supplies.
The market takes place each Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Mid-Pike Plaza (11806 Rockville Pike) and each Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Bethesda Elementary School (7600 Arlington Rd.)
Bethesda Green is teaming up with a local producer and church for a day of short films, presentations and exhibits dedicated to water issues at the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club.
The 2nd Annual Reel Water Film Festival is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 15 at the Club (7719 Wisconsin Ave.) and will feature a presentation of “Chasing Ice,” an award-winning documentary about National Geographic photographer James Balog’s efforts to capture time-lapse photos of the world’s melting glaciers.
Bethesda Green, the environmental nonprofit, Mark Leisher Productions and Journey’s Crossing Church in Gaithersburg are hosting the event.
It will include other green nonprofits, an afternoon screening of short films about topics including stormwater management, lack of access to clean water and wild weather and a dinner buffet.
For more information on the event and to buy tickets, visit the event website. Tickets range from $10 to $55.
Video via WeAreExposure
A $2.5 million, 1.3-acre stormwater pond that will collect polluted runoff from downtown Bethesda is now complete.
The Stoney Creek Stormwater Management Pond is a six-acre site just south of NIH on the west side of Woodmont Avenue that Montgomery County regards as a key location for capturing runoff from 204 acres of the Bethesda Central Business District and NIH campus. The project also includes a small fountain-like devise to enhance water circulation and other measures for discouraging mosquitoes or other pests.
The pond includes two underground trash collection chambers and new plantings in a forest retention area.
Environmental planners say the project, which began in October 2010, will treat stormwater from parking lots and developed areas that would have otherwise ended up in a tributary of Rock Creek.
As part of its annual Recycling Awareness Week activities, Montgomery County on Wednesday honored a number of area residents and businesses for pushing more recycling in their communities and organizations.
The Park Avenue Condominium Association in Chevy Chase recycled more than 70 percent of its waste stream in 2012. The Grosvenor Park II Condominium near Strathmore, Highland House Apartments and Highland House West Apartments in Chevy Chase, The Riviera of Chevy Chase, The Sterling Home Owner’s Association in North Bethesda, The Whitney at Bethesda Theatre and The Wisconsin Condominium in North Bethesda all received recognition for outstanding efforts in recycling.
The Whitney increased its recycling percentage from 35 percent in 2011 to 56 percent last year by recycling rechargeable batteries and carpeting and donating books and clothing.
Austin Creel, from Maplewood Park Place in Bethesda, was recognized individually for efforts to get others in the community to recycle.
Crawford Tire (7015 Arlington Rd.), The German School Washington DC (8617 Cheateau Dr., Potomac), Lockheed Martin Center for Leadership Excellence (6777 Rockledge Dr.) and Ridgewells Catering (5525 Dorsey Lane) all received the Excellence in Recycling award for business, meaning the companies recycled at least 70 percent of their waste stream last year.
Crawford Tire included mandatory and voluntary recycling of batteries, antifreeze and motor oil in its program to recycle 84 percent of its waste stream. Lockheed Martin included food waste composting and pallet recycling to hit 96 percent, the county said.
Bethesda Green, Brookfield Office Properties, the Landow Building Limited Partnership, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish and School, Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart and Potomac Place Shopping Center all received recognition for Outstanding Achievement in Recycling.
Montgomery County has the highest recycling rate in Maryland, at 57 percent, according to 2011 numbers from the state.
Flickr photo by Carla Bob Nora Russell
Bethesda Green, the environmental sustainability nonprofit and business incubator, will hold its first Investor Pitch Training Program in June and choose about six entrepreneurs to pitch investors on their businesses.
The program, funded by the Montgomery County Department of Economic Development and the U.S. Small Business Administration, is open to tech and non-tech early stage green businesses in the D.C. area.
Bethesda Green’s business incubator has produced notable green businesses such as Rockville-native Zack Kline’s green landscaping company. Last year, Kline and other incubator businesses made their pitches as part of the Startup Maryland competition.
Applications for the new program are due May 17. Robert Snyder, Bethesda Green’s incubator manager, said its the culmination of the group’s six-month finance workshop series.
Entrepreneurs who apply should have sustainable products or services and a plan to grow. Those who have the most feasible ideas and best business models will be selected to pitch to a panel of four active investors for feedback.
For more information, visit the program website.
The building features a green roof with several layers of plantings to absorb stormwater runoff, a rain screen facade, natural lighting angles that allow less use of electrical lighting, occupancy sensors and dual flush toilets.
The school (8617 Cheateau Dr.) has been around for 50 years and teaches students from preschool through high school.
The U.S. Green Building Council has been designating LEED buildings since 1993 in an effort to promote more sustainable and environmentally friendly construction. The school will celebrate the designation with a ceremony at 6:30 p.m. on May 8.
The project was designed by Alexandria-based Geier Brown Renfrow Architects.
Photo via German School Washington
Two weeks ago, Zack Kline quit his full-time job at a Rockville payroll company to take the plunge into business for himself, an eco-friendly landscaping company he hopes to one day grow into a national franchising model.
For now, Kline, 24, rides from house to house, taking soil samples of prospective clients, answering emails and trying to put his A.I.R. Lawn Care company on the map. It’s an ambitious if risky idea, inspired by hot, humid summers toting around gas-powered lawn equipment and $5,000 in start-up money from a college business competition.
“There’s a lot of excitement for it and yeah, it’s a little nerve-wracking because you don’t have that consistent cash flow,” Kline said. “You have to figure out how you can be as resourceful as possible.”
Kline is one of many young Bethesda entrepreneurs trying to make it on their own in a time when the unemployment rate among 20- to 24-year olds is nearly double the national average, more and more young adults age 20-34 are living in their parents’ homes and some college graduates can’t find jobs.
A pair of Walt Whitman High School grads recently started a website that refers drivers to car repair shops. Two North Bethesda residents started a late night shuttle service between bars in Bethesda and D.C. last year and recently expanded it to Washington Nationals games for summer weekends.
“Unfortunately, a majority of people in our generation get labeled as lazy, not really driven and a lot of other negative connotations,” Kline said. “It gets older people, I think, kind of excited to see someone that maybe reminds them of themselves when they were younger, but also just to see that there is potential and hope for the up-and-coming generation.”
The Council’s Transportation & Environment Committee, chaired by Councilman Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Potomac), will discuss whether Montgomery should consider changes to the bag tax that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2012.
In 2012, the county collected $2.3 million from the bag tax with more than 57.6 million bags taxed the 5-cent fee. By December 2012, 1,011 retailers had registered to collect the tax. Retailers keep one cent of the tax for administrative expenses.
The tax’s intended purpose was to cut down plastic bag pollution by encouraging shoppers to use re-useable bags at supermarkets and stores. The tax also includes paper bags. The revenues go to the county’s Water Quality Protection Charge fund.
Just the $2.1 million revenue from the tax through Dec. 1, 2012 was double what the county projected. Environmentalists said anecdotal evidence pointed to reduced plastic bag pollution in watersheds.
It appears the tax did not slow the rate with which shoppers used plastic bags throughout the year. In the first seven months of 2012, between January and the end of July, customers paid $1.25 million in taxes for 31.3 million bags. The final totals are almost double that.
Starting at 2 p.m., the Committee will discuss the possible exclusion of the tax at clothing stores and other non-grocery stores, a change Berliner first brought up last fall.
The bigger change would be a plastic bag ban, potentially mimicking legislation in San Francisco and keeping in step with a number of similar proposed measures around the country.
Flickr photo by Mr. T in DC