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Green building practices are the growing trend

for sale sign outside houseGreen building practices have been the new home trend for over a decade. Housing experts have touted the benefits of green building as environmentally friendly and saving. Health experts have also proclaimed the benefits of green home designs. However, a revealing exposé in Remodeling Magazine discusses the health dangers of living in a green design and/or energy efficient home.

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Gaithersburg signs on to Climate Action Letters

  • Published in Local

GAITHERSBURG — Mayor Jud Ashman has signed onto two open letters affirming commitment by local governments across the country to remain committed to the carbon-reduction goals stipulated by the Paris Climate Accords, despite President Donald J. Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the agreement three weeks ago.

Ashman signed an open letter to the international community from the World Wildlife Fund titled “We Are Still In.”  The letter states in part, "In the U.S., it is local and state governments, along with businesses, that are primarily responsible for the dramatic decrease in greenhouse gas emissions in recent years. Actions by each group will multiply and accelerate in the years ahead, no matter what policies Washington may adopt.

"In the absence of leadership from Washington, states, cities, colleges and universities, businesses and investors, representing a sizable percentage of the U.S. economy will pursue ambitious climate goals, working together to take forceful action and to ensure that the U.S. remains a global leader in reducing emissions.”

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"We Are Still In"

  • Published in Local

County defies the President and vows to adhere to Paris Climate Accords

 

ROCKVILLE - “We are still in” the Paris Climate Accord despite the president’s decision to withdraw, declared County Executive Leggett, along with more than 1,000 local, state-level and business leaders around the country this week.

The officials and business leaders released the statement June 5 after President Donald J. Trump announced that the United States would leave the greenhouse gas reduction effort four days earlier.

Leggett cited the county’s Fiscal Year 2016 sustainability report, showing that it is well ahead of its own goals for “reducing greenhouse gas emissions from government operations” and installing solar energy atop government buildings. The county recently bought more electric vehicles for its fleets and has seed-funded a new Green Bank helping to finance energy-efficient retrofits in private buildings.

Area businesses and consumers appeared to remain on track for planned energy improvements. Joe Inglisa, who heads sales for Bowie-based SemaConnect, a manufacturer and seller of electric vehicle charging stations, said Trump’s announcement had “no impact” and that the “Trump announcement might even motivate buyers to do their own thing.”

Charging stations are usually installed in office and apartment buildings and parking lots.

Inglisa said, “Our momentum is picking up for several reasons. Many states and cities have their own environmental standards, and there is no sign they are changing anything. Maryland still has strong incentives, and I do not see this changing.”

In fact, unless tax laws are changed, there remain substantial federal tax benefits for both electric vehicles and solar installations.

Inglisa added that electric vehicles’ reputation among consumers “is getting stronger as time goes on, and prices are coming down.” Inglisa’s market area includes Maryland, D.C., Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Ohio.

“Consumers, especially in our area of higher-educated people, are motivated to do their part in contributing to a cleaner environment,” he noted.

Amelia Chasse, deputy communications director in Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) office, noted that Hogan “signed the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act into law in 2016, adopting some of the most aggressive air quality goals in the country — significantly more aggressive than those in the Paris accord.”

Hogan’s 2017 legislative program included programs to “encourage the use of EVs [and added] incentives for renewable energy,” Chasse said. He “remains committed to preserving Maryland’s natural resources for future generations, and Maryland will continue to lead by example,” she added.

Kaymie Owen, communications manager for the Maryland Energy Administration, said that statewide in 2016, the solar industry employed 5,429. As of the end of May, the state had 9,300 electric vehicles, or EVs.

Maryland has 1,260 energy and sustainability businesses, she said. It ranked seventh among the states last year in the square footage per capita of LEED-certified commercial and institutional green buildings. LEED certification is the nation’s primary designation for energy-efficient buildings.

Mark Bryan, communications director for D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council, the main advocate for LEED standards, told the Sentinel, “We do not expect that the Trump administration's decision to withdraw from the Paris Accords will have any immediate effect on LEED or green construction in the D.C. metro area, as local standards and regulations are strongly supportive of building and operating sustainably. Building owners and developers in Montgomery County and other partners in Maryland have been working with local lawmakers to ensure that new construction meets or exceeds some of the strongest standards in the country, and investors are increasingly demanding green building practices before they commit to financing. None of the administration's recent decisions are going to change that.”

One potential cause of a future slowdown in the building efficiency realm, Bryan said, would be action taken by the Trump administration to have the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency cease developing new standards, benchmarking and research. Bryan concluded: “While we're all disappointed by the administration's decisions, the momentum toward building sustainably is unlikely to slow for one simple reason: It's good for business.”

Maryland ranked near the top among states in a scorecard compiled last year by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy for “combined heat and power policy,” Owen added. The scorecard includes requirements that electric companies give solar consumers credit for power they put back into the electric power “grid.”

Practically all the Maryland delegation in Congress responded to Trump’s June 1 decision immediately after his announcement. The response was along party lines, with the lone Republican, Rep. Andy Harris (R-1), saying that former President Barack Obama “made a bad deal” for the U.S. in the Paris accords. He said any new agreement should be run through the Senate as a formal treaty.

@vtime492

 

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Protesters Swarm D.C.

  • Published in Local

Hundreds of thousands protest against Trump and for climate, jobs and justice

Peoples March 3Protesters show up in the District for the second time in as many weeks for the Climate March. PHOTO BY NICKOLAI SUKHAREV

WASHINGTON – Thousands of marchers descended on the nation's capital Saturday chanting, "This is what democracy looks like" in protest of the current Trump administration's policies on the environment, economy and civil rights.

"I am here fighting for environmental justice because families and communities like mine carry the burden of climate change, yet their voices are erased from the broader fight," said Johana Vicente, 24, an organizer with the Maryland League of Conservation Voters from Silver Spring and one of the speakers at the event.

"For me it is personal. It is personal because my mom was diagnosed with asthma after a few years of being in this country," she added. "I am in this fight for because I want an environment where our communities can go outside and not worry about where they will be able to breathe or not."

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State’s Congressmen and Senators meet with Bay advocates

  • Published in State

CAPITOL HILL – An annual gathering of clean water advocates took on more urgency this year in the wake of President Donald Trump’s budget, which proposes deep cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and eliminates entirely federal funding for Chesapeake Bay restoration.

The Choose Clean Water Coalition held a reception April 5 to bring together representatives from its 225 member organizations and elected representatives in Congress to discuss the negative impacts of Trump’s proposal to eliminate $73 million in funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program, which funds local restoration efforts in Maryland, D.C., Virginia and Pennsylvania. In addition to a reception, the group facilitated 36 individual meetings between water groups and members of Congress.

“This gathering could not happen at a more important critical moment given the budget that came down,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) “This is an hour, a moment of great need for this coalition and with your help, we will continue to make progress (on improving the Bay).”

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Local bee population continues to decline as problems with mites mount

  • Published in Local

inside-the-bee-hive

During April, the Bee Informed Partnership, of which the University of Maryland is a major participant, conducts a national survey on the state of the bee population and the number of bee colonies lost during the prior year.

In the 2014-2015 survey, about 44 percent of bee colonies were lost, and once again the data showed that the bees died in the summer as well as the winter. While it’s normal to lose bees in the colder months, it should not be happening during the summer, said University of Maryland Assistant Professor Dennis van Engelsdorp.

Results of the current survey are expected to be released mid-May.

“Locally, here in Montgomery County and the D.C. area, bee hive losses are pretty high, 40 to 50 percent,” said Jim Frazier, owner of the Maryland Honey Company in Gaithersburg.

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Progressives gather to continue Bernie support

  • Published in Local

More than 150 self-described political progressives crammed into a Rockville library meeting room designed to seat less than half that number Sunday afternoon to see how they could keep fighting for the causes they believed in even while Donald Trump is president.

“I’m a huge Bernie (Sanders) supporter. I’m really concerned about seeing the momentum continued,” said Debbie Spielberg of Silver Spring. “The question is now, given everything that happened, how do we move on?”

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Local company plans massive Ivory Coast farm

  • Published in Local

ROCKVILLE – Local company Agri Smart Inc. announced plans for the largest joint public-private partnership in Africa, a 1.2 million acre farm in the Ivory Coast.

Agri Smart, located on Research Boulevard, is leasing the land from the Ivorian government and providing mechanized farming equipment in return for being able to farm in the soil rich West African nation.

The mechanized farming equipment could be a huge boon to the developing African nation which largely farms its crops by hand.

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Local residents clean up Sligo Creek

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SweepSligoCreek3MarkPoetkerLocal volunteers clean up litter along Sligo Creek. PHOTO BY MARK POETKER

TAKOMA PARK – Dozens of volunteers cleaned up litter at 14 sites along and near Sligo Creek during a “Sweep the Creek” event hosted by Friends of Sligo Creek last weekend.

It rained nearly the entire two-hour period Saturday morning.

Resident Barbara Underwood said this was her family’s first time participating in the two-day event.

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Glen Echo Aquarium opens

  • Published in Local

GLEN ECHO – For decades, Glen Echo Park has provided entertainment for individuals and families, as well as an opportunity for history buffs to learn about the life and times of Red Cross founder Clara Barton, whose house is on the premises.

Now, the park offers visitors a chance to see and learn about various species of marine life in the Chesapeake Bay.

The Glen Echo Park Aquarium, which opened in September, is a labor of love for its director, Andrew Wilson.

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