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.
FBI Arrests Two For Cartier Store Smash and Grab — Federal investigators nabbed two men they say stole 13 watches valued at $131,000 on April 30 from the Cartier store in Chevy Chase. Court records say Walter Andrew Douglas, 33, of Washington, D.C. and Floyd Davis, 43, of Washington, D.C., were connected to the Cartier robbery and several others at similar luxury stores in Northern Virginia. [The Gazette]
Local Food Truck Gets Some BBQ Love — Curley’s Q BBQ, a Montgomery County food truck that makes frequent stops in Bethesda, made a list of the best barbecue joints in Washington. [DCist]
Little Falls Cleanup This Weekend — The Little Falls Watershed Alliance is hosting two events Saturday, both starting at 10 a.m. and running until noon. A group of volunteers will meet at the west end of Norwood Park (4700 Norwood Dr.) to remove weeds and invasive vines from the Little Falls Stream Valley Park. Another group will meet at the gravel parking lot at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Little Falls Parkway to clean up Little Falls Parkway and the adjacent creek. Both events are pre-approved for MCPS SSL hours. [Little Falls Watershed Alliance]
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.
The Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection on Saturday will host a tour of its completed restoration project of the Lower Booze Creek, a four-square mile watershed near the Bannockburn neighborhood.
From 9:30 a.m. to noon at the project entrance along Helmsdale Road and Selkirk Drive, DEP officials will take residents and others on a tour of various stream restoration techniques.
The project included the construction of 35 habitat improvement structures along 4,000 feet of stream, the realignment of eight exposed WSSC sewer lines, the removal of invasive vines and the reforestation of 3.5 acres of stream buffer.
DEP coordinated with WSSC to realign the sewer lines and protect manholes and an eight-inch water line. WSSC officials will be on hand with representatives from the Friends of Cabin John Creek to walk residents through the project and learn more about a similar project planned for the Bannockburn Branch east of Wilson Lane.
Those who want to walk along the stream with project staff should wear appropriate footwear. Much of the land is uneven, wet and rocky.
For more information and photos, visit the Department of Environmental Protection’s project page.
Flickr photos from Dept. of Environmental Proection MoCo, MD
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
MoCo Offers Green Landscaper Certification Program — For $100 or $250, landscaping companies can get an official “green” designation from Montgomery County under an expanded green certification program. [The Gazette]
Speed Camera Tickets Down, But Many Remain Unpaid — Montgomery County issued almost 40,000 fewer speed camera tickets from July of last year to March of this year than last fiscal year. Only about 64 percent of speed camera or red light camera tickets have been paid. Also, the county is considering about 75 requests for new speed and red light cameras. [Washington Examiner]
Town of Chevy Chase Candidate Forum Televised — If you missed the debate last week, it will be broadcast on Montgomery Municipal Cable channel 16 today at 7:30 p.m., tomorrow at 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 6 p.m. and Monday, May 6 at 7:30 p.m. The election is May 7.
Gansler Opposes Gas Tax Hike, Straw Poll Has Frosh and Frick No. 1, No. 2 In AG Race — Attorney General and Bethesda resident Doug Gansler came out in the Washington Post against the state’s recently passed gas tax increase for transportation funding. Gansler is widely expected to run for governor in next year’s Democratic Primary. Two men vying to replace Gansler in the attorney general’s office are District 16 State Sen. Brian Frosh and Del. Bill Frick, both of whom fared well in a recent straw poll of Democratic candidates. [Maryland Juice]
O’Malley Talks 2016 On Overseas Trade Visit — During an eight-day economic development tour in the Middle East, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) said he’ll spend the latter half of this year deciding if he’ll run for President in 2016. [Washington Examiner]
WSSC Forms Safety Committee On Large Water Mains — The water and sewage utility previously wanted all development near large water mains to be set back 80 feet from pipes, an idea County officials opposed. Now, WSSC has formed an ad hoc committee to discuss safety measures developers should take. [The Gazette]
Imagination Stage’s 2013-2014 Season Includes Two World Premieres — “Lulu and the Brontosaurus” and “Cinderella: the Remix,” will debut at the Bethesda children’s theater (4908 Auburn Ave.). Also in the 2013-2014 season, announced this week, is “Lyle the Crocodile” and “Rumpelstilltskin.”
County Invites Residents To Celebrate Restoration Of Lower Booze Creek — The County recently finished a restoration project of the Lower Booze Creek in the Bannockburn neighborhood and is asking residents to attend an event from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 18. Participants at the event can learn about the design and construction of the project and take a tour of stream restoration techniques. The project entrance is along Helmsdale Road and Selkirk Drive. [Montgomery County]
Flickr photo by Juan Esandi
County Councilmember Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Potomac) says he’s worried a bag tax that many see as overbearing could breed resentment toward the 5-cent fee’s intended goal of reducing plastic bag use.
That’s why Berliner is joining Councilmembers Craig Rice (D-Upcounty) and Nancy Floreen (D-At large) in introducing a measure that would limit the bag tax to food stores, just more than a year after he was one of the leading proponents for the fee.
“I have always been concerned that if you overreach in trying to achieve a noble end, you turn a law of good intentions into a law that breeds resentment. The shift in consciousness that you achieve is not one that promotes protecting the environment, but rather one that diminishes support for doing so,” Berliner said in a press release on Tuesday. “We can not afford to squander good will on marginal outcomes. There is no doubt in my mind that government will need to play a strong role – and in many cases a leading role — if we are to continue making strides toward protecting our planet. I want to save our political chits for the tough fights ahead – and when we get there, I want to have earned the community’s trust that we will not squander their progressive capital.”
Berliner, who said he has struggled with the issue, said he doesn’t think bringing reuseable bags into retail or hardware stores is natural behavior. In 2012, the bag tax netted Montgomery County more than twice the revenue it expected.
The county’s Department of Environmental Protection is expected to fight the proposed change to the law, which Director Bob Hoyt called one of the most successful county programs he has seen. Berliner also said focusing the fee on food stores will increase the likelihood the state legislature passes a statewide bill.
Berliner also discussed another environmentally-themed bill he’ll introduce today, one that would help fund commercial property owners who qualify to make clean energy improvements.
A decision on controversial legislation that would force homeowners to pay for tree canopy lost in new home or home addition projects won’t come until the summer.
Councilmember Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Potomac) said at a meeting of the Transportation & Environment Committee this morning that final recommendations from the Committee to the full Council won’t come until after work on the FY 14 budget is finished.
Certain aspects of the Tree Canopy Protection bill, as proposed by County Executive Isiah Leggett (D), were made more clear in a memo used at this morning’s worksession.
Leggett and officials from the county’s Department of Environmental Protection proposed the measure as a counter to new home building on existing residential lots they say has meant the loss of much tree canopy in many of Bethesda’s older neighborhoods. In an earlier presentation, they showed satellite imagery of a neighborhood along Fairfax Road from 2002 and 2012 with noticeably less tree cover because of take-down home construction projects.
The bill would require property owners who get rid of tree canopy in any building process that requires a sediment control plan to pay into a county fund. That fund would work to replace that tree canopy nearby using a sliding scale of fees based on the amount of tree canopy lost.
The building industry quickly came out against the proposed fees and council members still want to see how the legislation compares with other jurisdictions.
“I’m pleased that we’ve closed the gaps with our various stakeholders and I think know we are within range of making this happen for our community,” Berliner said. “I’m hoping we are coming to the end.”
The Committee did agree to exempt Park and Planning property from the legislation, which the Department of Environmental Protection did not object.
Also on the table is a credit that would lower the cost of removing tree canopy if a property owner protected 25 percent of the tree canopy on-site or made “unusual” efforts to save trees. Builders opposed to the bill have argued that existing stormwater management laws make it difficult to protect trees even if the builder and property owner would prefer to.
Photos via Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection
On Saturday, April 6 from 9 a.m. to noon, the Rock Creek Conservancy’s Extreme Cleanup will task volunteers with cleaning the streams, tributaries and parks connected to Rock Creek and the neighborhoods near Rock Creek where trash originates. More than 50 locations, included a few in Chevy Chase, Kensington and Garrett Park, are available.
The fifth annual cleanup effort will happen along the entire length of the 33-mile stream, which stretches from Laytonsville all the way down to the Potomac near Georgetown.
On Saturday, April 13 from 9 a.m. to noon, the Montgomery County Road Runners Club will do a Rock Creek Trail Cleanup that includes the Matthew Henson Trail and feeder paths as well as dry feeder streams, roadways and playgrounds.
On Saturday, April 20 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Montgomery Parks wants volunteers for its Cabin John Trail Workday. Work typically includes repairing eroded tread surfaces, fixing drainage issues and building new trails and bridges. For more information, call 301-495-2504.
For more Earth Day events, visit Montgomery County’s Earth Day 2013 page.
Photo via Montgomery Parks
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
Our piece last week on the Tree Canopy Conservation bill before the County Council got strong reaction from one member of the building industry.
Robert Kaufman, director of government affairs for the Maryland-National Capital Building Industry, said the proposal wouldn’t actually protect tree canopy and would act as an unfair tax against property owners who disturb ground underneath a tree, even if that tree remains.
Many builders, including some who help Bethesda homeowners add additions or build bigger homes on infill lots, are against the proposal. County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) has pushed the bill with the main selling point that new development patterns — supersized homes on infill lots in older neighborhoods — require new tree legislation.
Kaufman said builders do support “setting reasonable canopy goals for home sites and allowing builders to meet these goals by saving or planting trees on-site.”
He pointed to similar measures from the government of Athens-Clarke County, Ga., as an example of a tree bill builders would support.
“We can agree that canopy is a reasonable quality of life issue and that we can find a way to replace or add canopy when we make improvements,” Kaufman wrote in an email. “If you look at the Athens/Clarke County tree bill in Georgia, they set reasonable canopy goals and publish a chart that lists the types of trees to plant and how many trees to plant in order to meet the long term canopy goals on each lot. Since we know that homebuyers like trees, builders are supportive of the idea that we can save or plant trees ON-SITE to meet reasonable goals. While making improvements, we also remove dangerous, unsightly and invasive trees and replace them with healthy, young trees appropriate for urban living.”
County Councilman Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Potomac) chairs the Transportation & Environment Committee charged with working on the bill. In the last worksession on the issue on Feb. 25, Berliner asked Montgomery County Department of Environment staff to provide detailed comparisons to the tree legislation in Clarke County and neighboring Fairfax County.
Meanwhile, conservationists are promoting a petition in support of both the Tree Canopy Protection bill and a companion piece of legislation that would give the county control of regulating tree removal in right-of-ways. The petition has almost 950 supporters.
The Committee’s third worksession on the bill is scheduled for April 1.