Three years ago today, Mark Mebus and Ryan Moylan opened Blackbird Pizzeria, a (that’s right you guessed it) 100% vegan restaurant specializing in pizza that dabbles in sandwiches, salads, and wings (okay, maybe you did not guess the vegan part). More than just a niche market endeavor, Mark and Ryan set out to create an extension of themselves as individuals.
Blackbird Pizzeria began to manifest itself about 15 years ago when Mark made the decision to become vegan. He also attended the Natural Gourmet School in New York and has worked in two vegan restaurants over the last decade. His partner, Ryan Moylan, a graphic designer educated at the School of Visual Arts in New York is also vegan–so there was really no question in their mind that their restaurant would be vegan.
There was also no question of whether or not Blackbird would run on clean, renewable energy. With a commitment to sustainability, and a little peer pressure from their circle of friends, Mark and Ryan now run Blackbird on 100% wind power. In addition, the restaurant sources from local farms, uses compostable packaging, turns used fry oil into biodiesel, and recycles and composts when possible. “We feel as though everyone should be considering the environment”, Mark explains. (more…)
The Alpert Family Aleph Bet Jewish Day School has some really fantastic sustainability initiatives on campus! Head of School Nan Jarashow spoke with us, familiarizing us with this impressive new member of the Clean Currents family.
Aleph Bet is a tight-knit community, educating fewer than 40 elementary students. In 2011, they moved into a new facility, and sustainability started taking precedence. They immediately strove for Maryland Green School certification, which they achieved in 2012. This program assesses factors such as facility construction and operations, curriculum, and school practices.
Aleph Bet dove head first into involving the young student body, getting them excited for clean practices and sustainability. The school focuses on waste, educating students to separate everything between trash, recycling, and compost. Nan told us of a particularly feisty first grade girl who is now “the recycling police” and heartily reprimands anyone who even considers incorrectly disposing of something! (more…)
Customer Choice in a Deregulated Electricity Market
Nineteen states – including Maryland, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania – have deregulated electricity markets. Deregulation segments the three main components of electricity service (Generation, Transmission, and Distribution) and allows competitive suppliers like Clean Currents to take part in the process. The competition that results from deregulation benefits customers by offering new electricity products (like wind power) and various price options. Customers still have the option of remaining on their utility’s Standard Offer Service (SOS), but as more people realize they have a choice when it comes to their electric supplier, more are taking the initiative to make the switch.
The pioneering spirit runs strong in the Wool family. Mitch Wool owns The Bean Bag Deli & Catering in Rockville. Although the deli moved locations several times, the Wool family has been in business for 36 years! When his parents started the company in the late 1970′s, there were only three coffee shops in the entire DC area, making them, in Mitch’s words, “true pioneers”. This entrepreneurial spirit clearly passed to the next generation; not only is Mitch a pioneer of clean energy as a customer of Clean Currents, he continually drives his family’s business in diverse new directions.
Although loyal lunch customers visit the deli itself, catering has become the business’ most dynamic and exciting aspect. The Bean Bag fills virtually any request, from mobile espresso bars to tantalizing sandwich menus to specialty donut stations. Often, Mitch even accommodates customers’ requests for uncommon, off-the-menu items. This includes teaching himself how to prepare crab and purchasing the necessary equipment for an omelet bar! (more…)
Clean Currents notes four major rationales for supporting renewable energy:
Energy Security & Independence:
Supplies of fossil fuels that power our automobiles and electric generators come from increasingly unstable parts of the world. Although most coal power that is used to generate electricity in the United States comes from domestic sources, a large percentage of the oil, diesel, and natural gas that is used to supply our electric generators comes from abroad. Abundant and free wind and sun grace our country and we should harness it in order to secure a more stable energy future.
Tucked away on Columbia Road behind the bustling main drag of Adams Morgan’s 18th Street sits Bedrock Billiards. This neighborhood favorite is constantly bustling with patrons venturing in to enjoy the craft beers on tap, shuffle board table, large TVs playing whatever sports are in season, and of course the billiards tables.
Keeping this show running is no easy task. It requires a lot of energy both in the form of General Manager Ben Fiske’s attention, and in the kind that keeps the lights on and the beer cold.
At Clean Currents, we monitor our customers’ energy use patterns to help identify large changes. We noticed a large drop over a 2-year period in Bedrock Billiards’ energy use and decided to investigate.
Turns out Bedrock Billiards was tired of wasting money on high energy bills and chose to do something about it. Through a mix of big and small changes, they were able to bring down their electricity bill by about $200 a month. (more…)
When speaking with Anthony V. Wojnar D.D., RMT, founder and Senior Teacher & Practitioner at Life Holistic Center, the tranquility of the man is immediately apparent. He is deliberate and insightful, revealing layers of meaning throughout our conversation.
Anthony is a reiki master. Reiki is a spiritual practice that connects the human consciousness with the energy of the universe by drawing it through the crown chakra and channeling through the palms. Reiki can promote healing on many levels: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual, while also helping with relaxation, stress and pain relief.
In our conversation with Anthony, there was plenty of cause for reflection. He described his journey to self healing when conventional medicine was ineffective against his chronic fatigue. Anthony now runs his practice from his newly constructed Violet Studio- which is attached to his residence- not only working to heal individuals, but also taking on students with whom he shares the teachings of reiki. (more…)
A staple of the Silver Spring community will soon celebrate its tenth anniversary. Adega Wine Cellars & Café opened its doors in August 2003, and has been satisfying customers’ cravings for tasty food and spectacularly curated wines and beers ever since. In honor of this exciting milestone, we spoke with manager Jarrod Jabre.
Immediately upon entering the café, I could tell that this was different than any other place I have been. The atmosphere is open and spacious, yet quaint. Their extensive selection of wine and beer is displayed throughout the dining area, resulting in a very cool, laid-back vibe. The chalk-written menu indicates fresh food made with care, and many of the wines represent local Maryland vineyards.
Jarrod is the face of the company. With the support of owner Walter Rhee, he is a driving force behind much of Adega’s efforts. Not only did he spearhead the process of converting both his home and Adega to Clean Currents wind energy, but he also oversaw the café’s switch to entirely biodegradable to-go materials. (more…)
Entrepreneur Bob London embodies the link between sustainability in business and in personal life. Bob has a stellar, forward-thinking disposition. As a senior marketing executive for several large companies over the years, Bob recognized small and medium businesses’ need for marketing expertise and leadership, despite lacking the funds to hire a full-time executive. From this, London, Ink was born.
Through his business-to-business consulting firm, companies have access to Bob’s marketing expertise without the expense and risk of hiring a full-time senior marketing executive. Bob calls his role “Virtual VP of Marketing,” –sometimes referred to as “Outsourced Chief Marketing Officer” or CMO–allowing him to serve companies on an interim basis and explore these clients in order to determine the best marketing approach for them. The increased flexibility of having a portfolio rather than a single employer allows Bob to work out of his home.
He found the inspiration to make the switch to wind power from his children. Bob’s two sons are increasingly conscious of sustainability issues, from food ethics to pollution. Bob cites his children’s engagement as motivation; he wants to live a life that makes his kids proud. (more…)
When Clean Currents opened in Philadelphia, we wanted to learn more about the challenges facing our new city’s neighborhoods.
The answer: Vacant Lots
About the Project
Lots of Power brings high-school-age youth together with creative professionals – including architects and designers – to develop innovative ways to use vacant lots for the benefit of the Kensington community. Over six weeks, teams will examine sustainable uses for vacant lots that will improve the community.
Two winning concepts will be chosen through a jury process and public voting this fall. Two teams will recieve grants to implement their projects – giving them the power to be the change in their community.
A REC stands for a Renewable Energy Certificate. RECs were created by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as tools to track the environmental benefits associated with renewable energy. One REC is equivalent to 1000 kWh of renewable energy produced – which is roughly the amount of energy that an average single-family home in the Mid-Atlantic consumes in one month. When a renewable energy generator such as a wind farm produces electricity, it places that electricity onto the electric grid. The electric grid collects electricity from all power generators (coal, oil, natural gas, wind farms, nuclear reactors, hydro dams, solar panel fields, etc). This aggregated electricity is then transmitted through wires to homes and businesses.
Clean Currents staff with Ben’s Chili Bowl’s Nizam Ali
It’s summer in DC and that means two things: It’s really, really hot and there’s a smorgasbord of delicious local food. That’s why we can’t wait for Eat Local First Week July 22-28th. Eat Local First Week is part of Think Local First DC’s campaign promoting a sustainable AND local economy. The event is a week-long celebration of local food and restaurants.
This year’s theme is “Crops, Commerce and Community: How Local Food Grows a City”, and the week is packed with events. Tours of edible gardens, “Femivore Talks”, and brewery tasting all topped off with the Farm-to-Street Party at the end of the week.
Since we love all things local, Clean Currents is donating $30 to Think Local First for each household that switches to wind power before July 31st. By switching to wind power with Clean Currents, you’re not only keeping our air cleaner but also supporting the local economy.
By now you’ve probably realized I’m a pretty odd guy. I’m always out at community events, shopping at the farmer’s market on East Passyunk, getting into some harebrained scheme to make my life more sustainable–but have you ever actually seen me?
If you have, you should probably get that noggin of yours checked out because this here Philly dude does not *actually* exist. Not in the way you do. You see, I am the child–the brainchild, if you will–of a loving company: Clean Currents.
The folks at Clean Currents took one look at our fair city of Philadelphia and said, that there’s an awesome city, and we’re gonna offer it some green wind power. But, it’s not just about green energy — there are many ways to get your green on. So how does a company make green living easier? How does a badass group of people with a badass product and more integrity than my carbon fiber bike frame get Philadelphians to live green and have a little fun at the same time?
Clean Currents offers wind power sourced from both local and national sources and is the ONLY energy company in the Mid-Atlantic region to exclusively offer products that are Green-e Energy certified.
Established and administered by the non-profit Center for Resource Solutions, Green-e Energy is a certification standard that ensures that a renewable energy product meets strict environmental and consumer protection standards. When you choose Clean Currents wind power you can be assured that:
You are supporting new renewable resources: The windmill, that produced your renewable energy was built since 1997
There has been no double selling: You are the only one that can claim the benefits of the wind power you purchased; these benefits include the fact that renewable energy produces little or no greenhouse gas emissions
Your purchase goes beyond business as usual: You are buying renewable energy beyond what is required by law or claimed within a state mandate, and are helping expand the production of domestic renewable energy
For more information on Green-e Energy certification, call 1-888-63-GREEN or visit www.green-e.org.
A new wave of clean energy production is coming to Maryland, from just off the state’s shores. In accordance with the Offshore Wind Energy Act of this April, 40 new wind turbines will be constructed off the coast of Ocean City, Maryland. The project is projected to be completed by 2018, and is a big step in meeting the state’s green energy goals.
A Green State on the Rise
According to a recent Clean Edge study, Maryland is currently 25th in the nation for supporting clean energy development. As a home state to many of Clean Currents’ 10,000 individual and 3,000 commercial customers and with the Offshore Wind Act in place, it’s clear that Maryland is fighting to rise in those rankings. The new turbines will certainly be putting wind in the sails of Maryland’s fight against climate change. This installation alone could reduce annual carbon emissions by 378,000 tons.
Clean Currents’ own Claire Douglass testifying to protect customer rights
Clean Currents testifed at the DC Public Service Commission (DC PSC) hearing on deceptive marketing and sales practices by alternative energy suppliers.
Complaints about deceptive marketing practices by alternative energy suppliers have skyrocketed over the past few years, prompting a hearing. Many of our customers have faced issues with other alternative energy suppliers, ranging from being enrolled without consent to being unable to cancel their contract. We find these practices unacceptable and are calling on the Public Service Commission to do something about it.
We are asking the DC Public Service Commission to institute higher standards for transparency and accountability to ensure consumer protection among alternative energy suppliers operating in the District of Columbia.
Wind powered Conscious Corner is a family of stores and a restaurant that are dedicated to healthy living. The cornerstone of the shopping experience is Roots Market (2 locations) which offers a wide selection of natural food products. Conscious Corner also includes, Boulder (1 location), Nest (1 location), Great Sage, and Bark (5 locations).
We sat down with Kathryn Hamilton who handles marketing for Conscious Corner to learn more about the values that drive this unique shopping opportunity.
CC: Why did you think it was important to support clean, renewable wind energy?
KH: Conscious Corner firmly believes in living and consuming consciously. As our mission statement says, we are passionate about the planet we share and strive to adopt policies and programs that align with our mission, such as wind power.
Are you like Carrie Underwood and need to have your chocolate fix? Now you can feel a little less guilty as you partake in all the wonders of chocolate. The artisan factory of SPAGnVOLA Chocolatier is wind powered by Clean Currents!
Sustainability is key, from the actual growing of the cacao beans to the roasting and finally, the beautiful chocolate creations. SPAGnVOLA grows the cacao beans at their estate in Hato Mayor Del Rey, Dominican Republic and their Gaithersburg factory is where all the magic happens.
We sat down with Laura Brooks to learn more about SPAGnVOLA and why the environment is important.
CC: Why did you think it was important to support clean, renewable wind energy?
LB: Clean energy is important because it follows SPAGnVOLA’s philosophy of clean and sustainable practices.
Bikers rest after a morning of touring Baltimore’s parks
True love blossomed between wind powered businesses at the Tour Dem Parks, Hon annual bike ride. Clean Currents came out to feed weary athletes pedaling their way through Baltimore’s parks.
Riders young and old got to enjoy a taste of Michele’s Granola and B’more Organic’s drinkable yogurt. B’more Organic operates around their core values of generosity and sustainability – they donate 10% of all profits to the charity Jodi’s Climb for Hope. Michele’s Granola, – named after founder Michele Thornett- sells wholesome, mind-blowingly delicious granola, which happen to make excellent energy-boosting snacks in the middle of a long bike ride. (more…)
Christie Johnson is the summer Customer Engagement Intern at Clean Currents. She is a rising junior in the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service with a concentration in Environment & Energy studies.
I was skeptical. Entering the briefing “State Clean Energy Initiatives and the Value of Federal-State Partnerships”, I had no preexisting knowledge of state sustainability efforts. As excited as I was to attend, I was prepared to be wholly underwhelmed. My expectations were completely surpassed.
Representatives from across the U.S.- literally from Alaska to Massachusetts- spoke about clean energy ventures in their states. From impressive solar statistics in California, Massachusetts and Connecticut to the prospect of offshore wind in Maryland and a long-time-coming hydroelectric dam in Alaska, it became clear to me that states are pursuing far more clean energy initiatives than I was aware.
The United States has some of the best wind resources of anywhere on earth. In fact, the country’s wind power potential exceeds 30 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity, or nearly 10 times the country’s existing power needs (NREL Wind Resource Potential, 2010).
Clean Currents buys renewable wind energy from a number of domestic sources which vary depending upon which Clean Currents wind power product you chose (National Wind or Neighborhood Wind™).
Clean Currents sources its Neighborhood WindTM from Pennsylvania
The Highland North Wind Farm is located within the PJM electric grid, covering Maryland, DC, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia. Electricity produced by the wind turbines at Highland North feeds directly onto the same grid that our homes, businesses, shops, and schools pull power from. By choosing Clean Currents Neighborhood Wind™, you are helping to increase the share of renewable energy right here in our region.
Certified B Corporations are companies that take into consideration social and environmental factors when making business decisions. They pay attention to the triple bottom line: people, planet, and profit. To formalize this committment, they undergo a third-party audit of their operations to ensure that they:
Meet comprehensive and transparent social and environmental performance standards.
Who doesn’t love to travel light? Less of a load is always a welcome change. Reduce the load on your mind by traveling “light” and green! Here at Clean Currents, we came up with some great ways to minimize your impact on the planet while you enjoy your summer vacation.
1. Choose a local destination. Never been to that museum in the city? Or how about the beach only a train ride away? There are tons of local vacation destinations all over the U.S. and sure to be plenty in your state. Better yet, have a “staycation” and explore your own town! It’s a perfect chance to relax and enjoy the tourist sights in your area.
2. Travel Green. Avoid the stress and chaos of the airport AND cut your carbon emissions. Carpool or take public transportation to your vacation destination and once you get there! By finding a destination with public transportation, you can save money and emissions by avoiding renting a car. If there is no public transportation, rent a bike. It’s a great way to explore a new city and no need to find a parking spot!
For almost 4 years, I’ve been part of the Clean Currents team as we’ve worked hard to transform the relationship customers have with their electricity supplier. We want our customers to love their energy company. Based on some of our recent surveys, we’re doing pretty well on this front with both our business and individual customers. Getting positive comments from customers through emails, social media, and at events has been one of the most rewarding parts of my job.
Now that I’m getting ready to say goodbye to head back to school, I wanted to share some of the reasons why I LOVE Clean Currents.
1) We care.
The people that work for this company have a tremendous amount of passion. As a group, we care about climate change, the environment, our community and – of course – our customers. Our kitchen conversations are often about local volunteer opportunities, our awesome new CSA, the Stop Keystone rally over the weekend, or an interesting Grist article about sustainability or environmentalism. In terms of caring about customers, my coworkers will stay late to figure out the answer to a tricky customer question or work evenings and weeknights to attend an event for one of our business customers — and always with a smile.
There are thousands of mentoring programs in the country serving three million youths. Dozens of states and cities have launched mentoring programs, and many corporations have their own initiatives. If there is one thing that Americans seem to agree on, it is that millions of children need guidance from positive adult role models.
That’s why it was so easy to create Lots of Power, our new mentoring program in Philadelphia that addresses one of the city’s biggest problems–vacant lots. Our project will pair high-school age students with professional designers and architects to research and develop innovative concepts for specific vacant lots in Kensington.
During the six-week program, teen participants will work in teams with professional mentor to gain real-world experience using design thinking to discover and exhibit creative potential, communicate their ideas and take positive action in their communities.