2010 MD General Assembly Wrapup

Posted on April 15, 2010. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

The 427th MD General Assembly has wrapped for the year.  Several important renewable energy bills were heard (and voted on) this year.

Clean Currents would like to thank those elected officials who remained committed to green issues.  We would also like to offer a “spanks” to those officials who continued to deny the urgency of pressing for greater renewable goals.

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Thanks and Spanks for the 2010 Maryland General Assembly Session

The Maryland General Assembly has wrapped up for the year and now the politicians are about to enter full campaign mode. Who was good for clean energy, and deserves a “thanks” from us and who was bad and deserves a “spanks” from us? The number one priority of Clean Currents and the environmental plus solar business community was Governor Martin O’Malley’s solar RPS improvement. Thanks to the hard work of Governor O’Malley and his people at the Maryland Energy Administration, plus our staff here at Clean Currents and hundreds of likeminded supporters, the bill passed. This is a huge accomplishment in an election year session. Big Thanks to Governor O’Malley! The bill increases the value of Solar Renewable Energy Credits and requires more solar installations in the state. This means more money for homeowners and businesses that want to go green with solar panels.

In all, Clean Currents supported nine bills and opposed one as our top priorities for the session. Our record on these bills was pretty good. Of the nine we supported, four passed and will be signed into law, one passed the House but died in the Senate on Sine Die, and four were killed. The one bill we opposed was killed.

The bills that passed include the above-mentioned solar RPS bill (SB 277), as well as a bill to force the utilities to pay consumers for excess green power they generate via net metering (SB 355) and a bill to make it easier to install solar on master metered properties (SB 538).

BIG THANKS These are our big champions for the 2010 session:
Governor O’Malley, Senator Rob Garagiola (Potomac), Delegate Sue Hecht (Frederick)

THANKS These folks were consistent supporters of Clean Currents legislation, rock solid on solar and green energy.
Del. McHale came up with the amendment that saved the Governor’s solar RPS bill in House Economic Matters. Sen. Catherine Pugh (Baltimore) Sen. Kathy Klausemeier (Baltimore) Del. Herman Taylor (Silver Spring) Del. Roger Manno (Silver Spring) Del. Brian McHale (Baltimore)

BIG SPANKS There’s really one “superstar” of the anti-solar, anti-green energy side of the equation: Sen. EJ Pipkin (Eastern Shore)

SPANKS These folks voted against the Solar RPS bill and/or were not supportive of green electricity bills:
Sen. Delores Kelley (Baltimore) Sen. Alan Kittleman (Howard) Sen. Norman Stone (Baltimore County)Sen. Roy Dyson (Southern Md)Del. D Stifler

Finally, I want to give a big thanks to all who wrote letters, emailed, or called about the vital pieces of legislation we supported for a cleaner, greener future.

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Feel Good Last Minute Gift Ideas

Posted on December 21, 2009. Filed under: Recommendations | Tags: , , |

This weekend’s snowstorm was pretty to watch, fun to play in and definitely added to the seasons merriment! And while I enjoyed the excuse to be a homebody on Saturday, I felt a little panicked when I lost 2 prime holiday shopping days and still had no gifts in mind for most people on my list…

So I started thinking creatively on what I could do without leaving the house (and avoid pay for express shipping).

Here are some of the ideas I came up with:

1) Kiva Gift Certificate– I gave these to all my friends last year, and they were a big hit! Kiva is a micro-lending website where entrepreneurs with projects all around the world post requests for funding and people lend small sums of money to make the projects possible. You can print the gift certificates right from your computer, so its quick and super easy and your friends can choose which project they want to support.

2.) Union of Concerned Scientists Membership: Support the work of one of the leading environmental and  advocacy groups that works on issues like climate change, clean energy, food safety, and nuclear safety. And by giving a membership now, your donation will be matched by an anonymous donor, helping UCS do even more great work!

3.) Make something- Sometimes a scary thought, but great for a snowy day. Of course cookies and candy are an obvious choice, but there are plenty of other creative ideas like herbal teas from Food and Wine and soup in a jar from Food Network.

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Eco-Naughty or Nice? ForestEthics ranks companies on their paper choices

Posted on December 18, 2009. Filed under: Recommendations | Tags: , |

Treehugger reports on the release of ForestEthics 4th annual Naughty or Nice list companies based on their paper usage for direct mail catalogs.

Who’s Nice? Timberland (no more paper catalogs); REI (Forest Stewardship Council Certified Paper Only); Patagonia (High recycled content).
Who’s Naughty? Citi and Chase are the naughtiest of all for using paper sourced from endangered forests in Canada and the Southern United States. Thats definitely coal worthy!

The motivation for the ForestEthics Ranking?

100 million trees are fodder for the paper that creates the mostly junk mail that floods your mailbox everyday. Thats 100 million trees that could be storing carbon and reducing the effect of climate change. And, 44% of that mail goes directly into the trashcan.

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Why Do You Support Clean Energy?

Posted on November 17, 2009. Filed under: Recommendations | Tags: , , , |

Check out the Alliance for Climate Protection’s Wall of videos, pictures and messages from supporters of clean energy. Among the mix are students, celebrities (Fran Drescher, Bill Nye the Science Guy), NGOs, companies and clean energy supporters from numerous fields from all across the country.

You can add your picture, video and message too! Its an inspiring break for a Tuesday afternoon!

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Clean Currents is Making News!

Posted on October 28, 2009. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , , |

Yesterday was a big news day here at Clean Currents!

In the afternoon, we posted a press release about 5 of our school customers making the EPA’s Green Power Partnership Top 20 Green Power Purchasing list. Clean Currents supplies the Bullis School, the top individual school on the list with 100% clean power as well as the Norwood School, the Green Acres School, the Sheridan School, and the Evergreen School which also made the top 20 list. Clean Currents has made an effort to reach out to local schools in order to help them promote sustainable living and education to teach kids from an early age about environmental issues and climate change. Another cool fact: by buying green power, the 5 area schools are effectively taking 600 cars off the road!

Also, Kristi Neidhart, our residential program coordinator was interviewed on NPR about our Green Neighborhood Effect Program. The interview featured, Matt Berres, a Greenbelt resident who switched to Clean Currents to save money and support wind power.  The interview aired this morning on WAMU 88.5 All Things Considered and if you missed it, you can listen to it online.

 

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Green Neighborhood Effect Delivers its First Check to Greenbelt Community Foundation

Posted on October 21, 2009. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , |

Sylvia

From left: Co-Chairs of the Greenbelt Community Foundation Advisory Board: Sylvia Lewis & Emmett V. Jordan; Manager, Maintenance Operations, Greenbelt Homes Inc: Matt Barres and Clean Current's Residential Green Power Manager Kristi Neidhardt

Clean Currents Green Neighborhood Effect has swept over Greenbelt! Yesterday, the program awarded the Greenbelt Community Foundation, a pilot neighborhood in the program with a check for $1200. The Green Neighborhood Effect works by giving back a $10 donation for any residential windpower sign-up with a registered community in 45 day window. A community can be a neighborhood, school, place of worship, workplace, etc and can register for the program here.  The community has 45 days to get as many people as possible to sign up and the donated funds must be put toward a green community project to be completed by Earth Day, 2010.

Gary Skulnik, President of Clean Currents described the program in yesterday’s press release

“We believe this program is an opportunity for a triple win situation for residential power users…not only will customers save money by switching to wind energy, they play a part in solving the problem of pollution and global warming by making the switch to wind power while gaining funds to green their community”

Gretchen Overduff, General Manager at Greenbelt Homes Inc, which runs the Greenbelt Community Foundation, echoed Gary’s comments,

“When we learned about the ‘Green Neighborhood Effect’ program, it was an obvious way to switch homes in our community to green energy.  We reduced the carbon footprint of the neighborhood, helped individual energy users save money AND raised money for the Greenbelt Community Foundation.”

Although Greenbelt hasn’t decided what to do with the funds, they are considering a number of green projects to improve their community. For other communities joining the Green Neighborhood Effect, Clean Currents can help plan and execute a project and support the sign-up effort by speaking at community meetings and providing printed information to hand out in the community or blurbs for neighborhood list-serves. And of course, we’ll profile cool community projects on our blog and in the newsletter so your community will get some green press !

 Get started with your community today!

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Surburban Towns Taking the Lead to Promote Green Living

Posted on October 14, 2009. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , |

The New York Times had an interesting article last week about creative measures taken in small towns around the City to promote green living.

Pesticide Free Field and Energy Efficiency Improvements (Image from the New York Times)

Pesticide Free Field and Energy Efficiency Improvements (Image from the New York Times)

In Babylon, New York residents that pay to have an energy efficiency audit for their home can recieve financing from the town for any recommended improvements that will cost them less than the savings on their monthly power bills from the efficiency improvements.

Other towns mentioned in the article are promoting hybrids with free parking perks, reducing or prohibiting fertilizers and chemicals in public fields, increasing energy effeiciency standards in building codes, and changing ordinances to allow for the construction of residential windmills.

By forcing new buildings and homes to be built with energy efficiency in mind, towns like Southampton, NY are changing the rules of the game. Southampton is a wealthy resort town and requires the largest houses to be the most energy efficient. According to Neal Lewis, Sustainability Institute at Molloy College on Long Island:

“The premise is that if you can afford a house that’s 10,000 square feet, you can also make sure it’s highly energy efficient”

For the most part, suburbanites are supportive of the environmentally conscious policies, as many have moved from the city in search of cleaner air and greener spaces. However, there are certainly obstacles to suburban greening as well including concerns over maintaining the historical character of a town. Also, low-income towns are not as equipped to finance or prioritize greening programs as their wealthier counterparts.

Steve Bellone of Babylon sees the town’s committment to green as an important part of the town’s future vision,

“This is a program that helps the environment, helps homeowners save money, creates local jobs, reduces our reliance on fossil fuels and it’s at no cost to taxpayers”

And locally, the trend is certainly taking off with green initiatives in Bethesda, Takoma Park, and Edmonston, to name a few.

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Pictures from GreenFest!

Posted on October 12, 2009. Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , , , |

Lots of cool stuff this weekend at this year’s GreenFest! We were pretty busy at the Clean Currents booth so only got to wander around briefly and snap a few pictures so here they are:

Do you have your own Greenfest pictures? What was the coolest thing you saw when you were there. Tell us about it in in the comments section of this post, or send us a note to gogreen@cleancurrents.com.

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DC Area’s First Carbon Neutral Home: Luxury, Style and Eco-Consiousness in McLean

Posted on October 8, 2009. Filed under: Recommendations | Tags: , , , , |

CharityWorks GreenHouseToday’s  Washington Post has a great article (and slideshow) on the impressive CharityWorks GreenHouse, the area’s first carbon neutral home, that will be open to the public starting this Saturday.

18 local firms worked to design this house beyond LEED Platinum certification with details such as dual flush toilets that save 6,000 gallons of water per year and reused/reclaimed materials for countertops and furnishings.

The 4,000 square foot home also features two green roofs, a geothermal heating and cooling system and a “smart home” monitor that tracks the home’s energy usage and sends updates to the owners I-Phone.

And if the house’s 4 bedrooms, five bathrooms, spa and lap-pool aren’t luxurious enough, maybe the virtual high definition golf room, simulating the experience of playing on famous golf courses while avoiding the carbon emissions related to actual golf.

These additions are part of the home’s message, according to Barry Dixon, the chair of the house design committee:

“The main message of this show house is you don’t have to sacrifice comfort or luxury to live a carbon-neutral existence”

According to Bethesda designer Skip Sroka, a green project costs 10-15%, but this home is using 80% less energy compared to similar family homes. Sroka thinks the cost premium will decrease as people put more value on environmental considerations:

“Remember when we just used to say about a room, ‘Isn’t it beautiful?’ Now we can say, ‘Isn’t it biodegradable, recyclable, sustainable — and beautiful?'”

Another cool aspect of the project is that it is not only a showcase for sustainable design in this area, but also raised funds for CharityWorks which distributed them to Friendship Public Charter School, Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, Injured Marine Sempre Fi Fund and the McLean Project for the Arts.

If you want to explore the CharityWorks GreenHouse, check out the website for details on visiting.

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Take a Ride in an Electric Car!

Posted on October 7, 2009. Filed under: Recommendations | Tags: , , |

Or just rock out to this catchy song by They Might be Giants:

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