Two years of the Residential Energy Program!

Two years of the Residential Energy Program!
Energy Infographic - 2 Year of the County Residential Energy Program  

Watt’s Up with Montgomery County’s Residential Energy Program?

In 2016, the Residential Energy Program launched. After 2 years, it is well on its way to energy and greenhouse gas emission reductions!
  • 14,237 residents engaged
  • 229 events, including:
    • 25+ congregations
    • 21 libraries
    • 16 senior centers
    • 4 regional service centers
    • 10+ schools
    • 10 MANNA food distribution sites
  • 4,583 CFL + incandescent light bulbs collected + recycled = >$16,557 in energy savings for County residents
  • Quick Home Energy Checkups are energy audits offered through your utility. They are at no additional cost to you!
    • 472 County referrals for QHECs led to 135,700 kilowatt hours saved which equals the CO2 emissions of 10.9 homes for 1 year!
With more to come!

Joining the B Corp movement

Joining the B Corp movement
Are you looking for a community partner to help you start an environmentally sustainable business? Bethesda Green has solutions for you! The Be Impact initiative and workshops are designed to give your business the tools to benchmark, express, and improve your triple bottom line impact – a framework with three parts: people, planet, profit.

At Bethesda Green, we have partnered with B Lab – a nonprofit collaborating with for-profit business leaders to drive the global movement of environmental sustainability. Receiving this certification proves your business is meeting the finest level of verified impact performance. It not only illustrates where your company excels now but also commits your organization to consider long-term impacts and build best practices into your company’s structure.

Business as a force for good

How We Get You There

It all starts with your triple bottom line impact. Using B Lab’s assessments and our workshops, we walk you through benchmarking current impacts, and how to improve and sustain it. The first assessment you will complete is the B Lab Quick Impact Assessment, which directs you through a series of questions that detail what it takes to build a better business for your community, workers, and the environment.

Sample question:“Which is the broadest community with whom your environmental reviews/audits are formally shared?”

Answers: A) Owners, executives, and board B) The broader community outside company C) Employees D) N/A

Then you pick the answer that best corresponds to your business. After completing this assessment, we compare your answers to thousands of other businesses and see how your organization compares against your industry peers. Once we get a clear idea about where your business’ impact compares, we assist in creating a customized improvement plan. By utilizing our best practice guides and interactive workshop series, you will have the tools to implement the practices in your office setting.

Following the completion of a workshop series, you will complete our B Impact Assessment (BIA), which is the final step to becoming B Corp Certified. This evaluation assesses the impact of both your company’s day-to-day operations and your long-term business model. After completing the BIA, your company will undergo a multi-step verification process to determine if it meets the 80-point bar for certification. To finalize certification, a B Corp Declaration of Interdependence will be signed, and your annual certification fees will be collected. (Note: the fee is established based on your company’s annual sales, with a minimum fee of $500).

Graphic of business people connecting

Building Better Businesses

Companies like Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia, and Etsy obtained their B Corp Certification. A participant of 2018 Be Impact Initiative, DGrid Energy – a manufacturing company that generates off-grid solar-powered, expandable walk-in refrigeration systems – felt good about their experience with the B Impact Initiative. CEO Eugene Faison said, “Not until we became part of the Bethesda Green Hub did we really understand how important and strategic B Impact is. We aspire to acquire our certification immediately and become a part of the B ecosystem.” The process of participating in the B impact initiative has been a positive experience for many businesses.

The “B” Stands for Beneficial

Once you pass the BIA, you become B Course Certified, meaning that your business is one of the 2,805 companies & industries in the world to have completed this rigorous and engaging program and now stands out amongst industry peers. Being a certified business not only benefits the environment, but your business too, by standing out against your industry peers. When sustainable practices are carefully integrated into business operations, they will:

  • Help improve brand recognition. The Natural Marketing Institute surveyed more than 53,000 U.S. customers and discovered that 58 percent of customers consider a company’s impact on the environment when vacillating between where to purchase goods and services. This can bring in new business and revenue for you!
  • Reduce costs. While gaining money on a business front, you can also save and reduce costs internally. Most cost reduction comes from energy conservation strategies, such as turning off lights, insulating walls to improve energy efficiency, and installing geothermal heating and cooling systems.
  • Increase business compliance with government regulations. It’s not all about the money. You also get the added benefit of meeting or, possibly exceeding, state and federal government regulations.
  • Attract well-qualified employees. Regarding employment, the younger generations are concerned about environmental protection. They are familiar with concepts of sustainability and conservation, and they will be attracted to companies that set environmental priorities.

Attendees at a B Impact Event

Attendees at a B Impact Event

Ready to get started?

Getting started is the easiest part! Just register online for the upcoming Be Impact initiative winter workshop series at bethesdagreen.org. If you are hoping to get involved in our community sooner, please join us at an upcoming event: Bethesda Green 10th Anniversary Gala – October 18, 2018, from 5:30pm-9: 30 pm. Details and tickets are available online. We hope to see you there!

Written by Lucille Filyaw   References:
  1. Mark Leibowitz, M.L. (2018). “About B Impact”. Accessed September 18, 2018, from bcorporation.net/about-b-la
  2. (2018). The B Impact Assessment, “Measure What Matters Most”. Accessed September 18, 2018, from bimpactassessment.net
  3. (2018). B Impact, August 15, 201. Bethesda Green. Accessed September 18, 2018, from bethesdagreen.org
  4. (2018). DTS, Administrator. “Sixteenth Annual U.S. Report”. New state of sustainability in America. Accessed September 18, 2018, from www.nmisoultions.com
  5.  Eugene Faison, E.F. (2018). About Us. Our mission at DGrid Energy. Accessed September 18, 2018, from dgridenergy.com

Celebrate Community Food Rescue Week!

Celebrate Community Food Rescue Week!
Join Manna Food Center’s Community Food Rescue Network for the first-ever Montgomery County Community Food Rescue Week, October 13-20. Fun and informational events throughout the week will educate the public about what we can all do to tackle food waste and hunger in the county.

There are many ways to get involved to help amplify our message and inspire more people to be part of feeding more and wasting less in Montgomery County. Here are some easy things you can do:
  1. Celebrate Community Food Rescue Week. Learn about composting, volunteer to glean apples or cook with rescued food, come to a trivia night or happy hour. Check out the full list of events at mocofoodrescueweek.org or register on Eventbrite here.
  2. Be sure to mark your calendar for October 20, when teams of professional and amateur chefs face off in the No Waste, Big Taste Cooking Competition at the FRESHFARM Downtown Silver Spring Market. Teams will create a two-course meal from mystery recovered food items, which will be judged by a panel of local celebrities and members of the Community Food Rescue network.
  3. Volunteer! We welcome your help in making this week a success. A full list of volunteer opportunities is available here. Let us know if you can help!

Donated fresh food

Spread the word!

Promote Community Food Rescue Week on social media. Follow and share our posts throughout the week on Twitter (@mocofoodrescue) and Facebook (@communityfoodrescue)

Community Food Rescue Week is an opportunity to celebrate the power of community in eliminating hunger in Montgomery County. We look forward to engaging with our community to bring an end to hunger and food waste, during this week and beyond.

Join the Community Food Rescue network! Sign up to donate food (food businesses), deliver food (volunteer food runners) or feed neighbors in need (service organizations). Join us in thanking businesses and organizations that are already part of our network!

Register for the fall rain garden + conservation landscaping class!

Register for the fall rain garden + conservation landscaping class!
The RainScapes program offers low-cost trainings to residents of Montgomery County, MD who are interested in using their property to improve water quality and provide habitat for wildlife.  These are extremely popular, so don’t miss out!


Stormwater Solutions: Conservation Landscapes and Rain Gardens Workshop

Workshop Dates and Times:
How to Sign Up: Register at activemontgomery.org.
Where: Brookside Gardens, Visitors Center Adult Classroom
Fee: $13 for Friends of Brookside Gardens or $15 for non-members

About this Workshop: It is possible to have a landscape that not only absorbs stormwater and uses native plants, but is also beautiful! The Department of Environmental Protection staff will show you how to evaluate your site, design and implement a conservation or rain garden landscape, and qualify to receive a RainScapes Reward rebate.

  Image of people at a RainScapes workshop Planting with friends

What is the RainScapes Program?

RainScapes is a program of Montgomery County, MD Department of Environmental Protection.

RainScapes promotes and implements projects which reduce stormwater runoff and improve water quality on properties within Montgomery County, MD. The County offers technical and financial assistance (in the form of RainScapes Rewards Rebates) to encourage property owners to implement eligible RainScapes techniques on their property.

Graphic of the RainScapes Logo

What Financial Incentives are Available?

The RainScapes Rewards Rebate Program offers rebates to property owners who install RainScapes techniques, such as those taught in these classes. This program is open to properties in Montgomery County outside the municipalities of Rockville, Gaithersburg, and Takoma Park. The RainScapes Program is funded by the County’s Water Quality Protection Charge.

Lands Green, Waters Clean: Butterfly and Bay Friendly Garden Tour

Lands Green, Waters Clean: Butterfly and Bay Friendly Garden Tour
This free self-guided tour is open to anyone interested in seeing what butterfly and Bay-friendly gardening looks like. The tour features the Woodland Hills Home Owners Association, The City of Gaithersburg Constitution Park, a private home, Epworth Church, and Pleasant View Historic Site. Each of these sites adds something unique to the tour and each will have a representative on site during the tour hours to answer questions about the gardens and how they were installed.

  • When:​ 9 AM – Noon, Saturday, October 6th, 2018
  • Where:​ Opening remarks will occur at 9 AM at Constitution Park, 112 Brookes Ave, Gaithersburg, MD 20877 followed by additional tour stops around the City of Gaithersburg.

Representatives from the City of Gaithersburg will be on hand at Constitution Park to provide information about rebate programs that are available for community members interested in adding stormwater management practices to their properties.

Constitution Park is the first stop on the tour although the order in which you visit the locations does not matter. Maps and site information will be provided at Constitution Park and available for download from the Muddy Branch Alliance website by October 5th and will be available following the event for those interested in taking the tour at another time.

The tour is centered in and around Gaithersburg and is intended to show the range of project types that support more butterflies and birds, beautify the landscape, and help to restore the watershed by managing stormwater runoff.

Native plants attract local wildlife Photo by MAEOE“We want to showcase these gardens across our community, so people can see what their neighbors are doing to help keep our local waters and the Chesapeake Bay clean, while making their backyards and public areas beautiful areas to live and play. Our goal is to see these conservation gardens in every neighborhood, which will make a real difference in the quality of the water we drink and play in.” says Tracy Rouleau, President of the Muddy Branch Alliance.

This tour is funded by the Chesapeake Bay Trust with support from the City of Gaithersburg and the Muddy Branch Alliance.

For more information email: info@muddybranch.org or call Project Manager, Lauren Hubbard at 631-764-6226.

MCPS Students: Develop your P.O.W.E.R. to make a difference!

MCPS Students: Develop your P.O.W.E.R. to make a difference!
If you’re a high school student in  Montgomery County Public Schools, you’re eligible to participate in the P.O.W.E.R. Program!

Through this program. you’ll learn how to share valuable information with Montgomery County residents about energy conservation, efficiency, and renewable energy opportunities available to them.

Why become a P.O.W.E.R. student?

  • Earn SSL Hours
  • Use this program for your CAPSTONE project
  • Gain valuable experience in public speaking
  • Make a positive difference in your community!

The P.O.W.E.R. Program:

After completing your training, you’ll be able to volunteer for outreach events that for will be held throughout the year at Montgomery County libraries and schools.

Required training sessions will be held Sundays from 3:00 – 5:00pm on:

  • October 28;
  • November 11;
  • December 16; and
  • January 21 (MLK Day) from 1:00 – 3:00 pm.
All training sessions will be held at the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) offices in downtown Rockville.  The hours training are included in your SSL hour total.

MCPS student volunteering at energy event

MCPS student volunteering at energy event


You’re invited to attend our informational meeting SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, from 3-5pm in Rockville to learn more and enroll.

Register at www.anshome.org/power

MCPS student interning with Energy Program

Meet a local green farmer: Chocolates and Tomatoes and Red Wiggler

Meet a local green farmer: Chocolates and Tomatoes and Red Wiggler
The Montgomery County Green Business Certification program recently expanded to include sustainable farms.  Currently, there are 11 farms certified, including a flower farm, a nursery, and a hydroponic microgreen operation.  Below are the stories of 2 of the certified farms.

Green Business Certification Program Logo

Plastic Bags: Do’s and Don’ts

Plastic Bags: Do’s and Don’ts
Single use plastic bags can impact streams, rivers, lakes, oceans, and forests and the wildlife that inhabit them. To reduce the impacts of plastic bags, follow the three R’s:

Reduce the Use of Plastic Bags

To reduce plastic bag consumption – always remember to bring your reusable bag when shopping. As an added benefit, you can save $.05 per bag in Montgomery County every time you shop.

However, if you choose to purchase a plastic bag when shopping, those funds are provided to the Department of Environmental Protection for programs that help improve and protect the water quality of the streams and rivers in the County. For more information on these programs, visit Water Quality Protection Charge and Watershed Restoration.

  Bring your reusable bag


Reuse Plastic Bags

If you have plastic bags, please use and reuse them to the maximum extent possible.


Bin to recycle plastic bagsRecycle plastic bags, films, and wraps

Recycle plastic bags and other types of plastic film at local grocery and retail stores throughout the County. Look for collection bins near store entrances. Find bag and film recycling drop-offs near you using the locator on plasticfilmrecycling.org.

Common plastic bag recycling questions:

What plastic bags, films and wraps are accepted in store recycling programs? Refer to this list of generally accepted plastic from plasticfilmrecycling.org for more details.

Can plastic bags, film, and wrap go in my curbside recycling bin?  No, plastic bags are not acceptable in your weekly County-provided curbside recycling collection, so please do not put any plastic bags into your recycling bin.

Saving energy and taxpayer dollars through continuous improvement of County operations

Saving energy and taxpayer dollars through continuous improvement of County operations
Montgomery County’s Department of General Services (DGS) often works behind the scenes to ensure that the County is operating efficiently, both in terms of cost and utilities, through innovative programs and processes.

Improving performance through continuous improvement

In 2018, DGS launched their Continuous Energy Improvement Program. This Program is exactly what it sounds like – an ongoing system of monitoring and adjusting County facilities to improve energy efficiency.

The program works by a combination of detailed review of energy and water data, and in-person walk throughs of the facilities. Energy data is collected every 15 minutes electronically, then processed using powerful analytical tools available through EnergyCAP utility bill management software. The in-person site visits known as “Energy Sweeps” collect more detailed information on savings from HVAC equipment, lighting, and operations. In each facility, the Energy Sweeps process includes:

  1. Inventory existing HVAC equipment, lighting fixtures and bulbs, and water fixtures to understand where energy and water are being used.
  2. Speak with Facilities Management staff and building occupants to fully understand the building’s day-to-day operations and any outstanding issues.
  3. Make general observations that can lead to energy-saving opportunities, such as unnecessary lighting during daytime hours or malfunctioning equipment.
  4. Use the information gathered to determine appropriate energy and water conservation measures to implement.
  5. Repeating the Energy Sweeps process at the same facility at regular intervals (e.g., once every year) or more frequently if the building is performing poorly.

Evaluating Energy Data

DGS staff evaluating building energy data


Ambitious Energy Sweeps already seeing savings

The continuous energy improvement program is an ongoing system of identifying ways to save on energy usage throughout Montgomery County’s 430 facilities. Odohi Ettah, Energy Engineer in DGS’ Office of Energy and Sustainability, explains that “County staff conduct detailed audits of the highest-priority facilities and make recommendations for no-cost, low-cost, and capital-intensive energy and water saving opportunities that can yield $12,000-$50,000 in annual savings per facility, while also helping the County meet its greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. Projects are currently being scheduled for implementation.”
Silver Spring Civic Building

Silver Spring Civic Building

As of March 2018, program staff have completed Energy Sweeps audits at nine facilities. The County expects to conduct Energy Sweeps audits on 20 facilities in 2018, identifying potential annual savings of as much as $1 million. Cost-savings realized from many of these projects can be reinvested in additional energy saving improvements, multiplying the benefits to the community.

There is such a wide variety of buildings under inspection, ranging from libraries to recreation centers that it’s hard to know where what to look for in each case. A large emphasis of the program is on no- or low-cost opportunities to save energy to get the largest return on investment. For example, after doing a building inspection of a library, DGS discovered that an escalator was running unnecessarily outside of library operating hours. After making the adjustment to running only when the library is open, the escalator helps save on energy use thus energy costs, while extending the lifetime of the escalator due to less use.

Additionally, the older and less efficient buildings usually have a higher priority than the newer, LEED certified facilities. DGS is focusing their attention on underperforming facilities that can realize big energy savings – with 12% of Montgomery County’s 430 facilities accounting for 80% of the County’s total utility costs, there are big opportunities for the Energy Sweeps program.

“The first project reduced water and energy use, though simple faucet aerators and fixture replacement, by $15,000 annually in the Executive Office Building. The County plans to finish similar projects at two other large facilities in about two months,” says Odohi Ettah. It is estimated that the two other facilities along with the first project will save a combined 1.4 million gallons annually, which equates to $26,000 saved.

The National Association of Counties recently recognized DGS’ Continuous Energy Improvement Program with a 2018 NACo Award for its innovation.

Furthering sustainability through green action

In addition to the operation of County facilities, behavior of the people in the building is equally as important. The County is launching a pilot “Green Team” program with Departments to engage building tenants to drive further reductions in energy and resource use through employee engagement. This pilot is in partnership with the County’s Live Well employee wellness program.

Leah Miller, former Sustainability Program Manager in DGS’ Office of Energy and Sustainability, notes that “Green Teams will enable employees to adopt environmentally friendly behaviors at work while learning about actions that can benefit them in their daily lives. DGS and DEP have pilot teams in place, and expects to roll the program out Countywide in the future.”

WorkGreen Logo

The County’s WorkGreen Logo

Some examples of environmentally friendly behaviors at work include packing a waste-free lunch, turning the lights off in rooms that are not being used, using public transit to get to work, and bringing in a compost bin for people to compost their organic waste.

It’s clear to see that sustainability is a concept that can be applied to almost everything in our daily lives – from our homes to our offices, and into our communities. DGS’ Energy Sweeps is one piece of the County’s efforts to reduce energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and save taxpayer dollars. Paired with the Green Teams, these processes for County operations will help our buildings and the occupants in them deliver services to residents in a more sustainable way.

Article by Jon Shay, Intern, Montgomery County DEP