Swimming pools are one of the most sought after additions to a home, but can they actually be eco-friendly? If the summer is getting to you, making everyone in your household hot and uncomfortable, it’s hard to resist the urge to install your own pool. But it’s not hard to imagine how a swimming pool in every backyard would quickly become a catastrophe for the environment.
That cooling, calming water that so delicately washes away stress and boredom comes with some nasty secrets. The typical swimming is kept clean using chlorine. This is meant to keep swimmers safe by killing germs and preventing a buildup of other hazardous denizens from forming in the water.
Chlorine is not only an irritant to human skin and eyes, but it can be harmful to respiratory function. Kids who regularly go in swimming pools that are treated with chlorine, have a higher chance of developing asthma or allergies. In adults, being exposed to chlorine can possibly lead to rectal cancer, bladder cancer, and perhaps even a higher chance of heart disease.
Vandals seem to be drawn to a building site like bees to honey, but they are much more destructive. If there is no security fencing, they can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage and may injure themselves into the bargain. While the building company usually uses some kind of secure fencing, if the site is going to be fenced eventually, why not do it right away?
A large site has plenty of room for all the equipment that is needed, so they shouldn’t need all four sides of the property for access. Commercial fencing can be erected all around three sides and the fourth left for later. This will save time in getting it completed once the building crew has finished.
If you’ve never been through a major flood or a devastating storm you would be one of the lucky minority. Most experienced electricians would tell you that there are specific safety procedures that should be undertaken, especially during a flood that will help to keep you safe and thus, healthy.
Anyone can be at risk in a flood or a storm, especially when it is really severe and if the flood water actually comes into the house. Thankfully, there is usually enough warning of floods that people have time to prepare so they can stay safe and healthy throughout their ordeal. Here are some tips to help you prepare and avoid unnecessary risks during a flood or storm.
If you are upgrading your home with a new roof you may want to consider choosing a roofing material that is environmentally friendly. There are several options for roofs, but some don’t fall into the sustainability sector for one reason or another. What is needed is to choose a roof that has eco-friendly properties while still being affordable. Here are some options to consider.
Tiles – tiles are made from clay, cement or slate. These materials are plentiful, so using them will not degrade the earth’s resources too much. They also have long lasting properties, many lasting for 50 years or more. The only trouble is that they are quite heavy and require much more framing to support them than steel roofing and this uses more timber. Since each tile must be fixed individually and only covers a small area, putting them on takes quite some time and this will cost more in labour.
If you are thinking of rainwater harvesting, tiles absorb a certain amount of rain before providing run-off. Because they absorb moisture, mould is likely to develop and once it does, it is very difficult to get rid of, since the roots penetrate deep into the tile and sprout again even after the surface has been cleaned.
Steel – steel sheeting such as Colorbond or Zincalume is light and each sheet covers a large area, so the roof is easy and quick to erect while requiring minimal framing, thus saving on timber usage. Steel has an advantage in bushfire prone areas that it provides fewer niches than tiles for dangerous embers to become trapped in. It does not absorb any moisture, so you get rainwater run-off even with the lightest showers and there is no likelihood of mould growing on it.
Georgetown is a beautiful, historic DC neighborhood that isn’t generally considered the leader of the pack on green initiatives. But, we found that there’s more going on than meets the eye. Restaurants, real estate agencies, churches, clothing shops, and nonprofits are all working to reduce their impact on the environment. Here are just a few of the neighborhood’s burgeoning environmental initiatives.
Restaurants, Real Estate & Design Firms Lead the Way
Many Georgetown businesses are reducing their environmental footprint by switching to wind power. Along with some other pretty cool initiatives, they’re leading the way for green businesses in the area.
If trying new food is your thing, go for lunch to Sweetgreen. The first location of the franchise, Sweetgreen in Georgetown has mind-blowingly delicious salads with locally sourced ingredients. They’re annual music and food festival, sweetlife, is coming up in May. For the seafood lover, check out Blacksalt Fish Market & Restaurant: they both sell and serve up fresh, sustainable seafood and often grace the various “Best of DC” restaurant lists.
2013 was a landmark year in the movement for building better business. From passing B Corporation legislation in new states to adding almost 300 new Certified B Corporations to the community, the B Corporation movement is growing and thriving in the US and abroad. With the launch of the B the Change campaign, it’s a perfect time to remember what being a B Corp is all about.
What is a B Corp?
Certified B Corporations are a new type of corporation which uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. B Corp certification is to sustainable business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or USDA Organic certification is to milk. Certified B Corporations are leading a global movement to redefine success in business.
By voluntarily meeting higher standards of transparency, accountability, and performance, Certified B Corps are distinguishing themselves in a cluttered marketplace by offering a positive vision of a better way to do business.
In honor of Rev. Martin Luther King Day, let’s recognize a few wind powered nonprofits that help better the community each day. Be it through planting trees, teaching math, coaching soccer, or providing housing, these organizations embody MLK’s call for service to others and to the community.
Environmental Conservation: Trees, Parks, & Water
DC’s Casey Trees works to protect the local tree canopy through planting programs, education, advocacy on the policy level, and community engagement. You can plant with them beginning in March.
Washington Parks & People initiates city-wide green initiatives, including public health programs, green job training, park safety, and community cultivation. They have an EPA grant for Urban Gardens.
Maryland State Game and Fish Protective Association promotes natural resource conservation and good sportsmanship among hunters and fishers through advocacy efforts and various community events.
Are you looking for a way to make an impact in 2014? Here’s your chance: help your friends reduce their carbon footprint by nearly 40 percent and earn a $25 gift card to help you to stick to your New Year’s Resolutions!
We think 2014 can be a great year, and so we’re helping you and your friends reach your goals. In 2013, energy related carbon emissions rose. Help your friends leave dirty power behind and switch to clean energy. Together, we can increase demand for renewable resources and build a cleaner future.
We know helping the environment is all the incentive you and your friends need, but we’re hooking both you and your friends up with $25 to one of these awesome wind powered businesses when they switch to Clean Currents! Grab $25 to Sweetgreen, Hudson Trail Outfitters, or Bambeco to kick start your personal 2014 resolutions. Oh, and for each additional friend that joins Clean Currents by the end of February, we will enter you for a chance to win an additional $250 gift card to that business. Yeah, we’re just awesome like that.
We are writing to inform you, with deep regret, that the recent extreme weather, which sent the wholesale electricity market into unchartered territories, has fatally compromised our ability to continue to serve customers.
We are extremely saddened to share this news with you.
What does this mean for you?
All Clean Currents customers will be returned to their utility service, effective immediately. You should see this change in service on your next bill, or the bill after that, dependent on your meter read cycle. If you so choose, you are able to switch to another third party electricity supplier, effective immediately. Clean Currents waives any advanced notice requirement or early termination fee provisions in our contracts. (more…)
Skip the lines and crowds this Black Friday and instead join the Small Business Saturday movement. Started in 2010 by American Express, Small Business Saturday encourages consumers to visit brick and mortar small businesses for their holiday shopping rather than big box stores.
Small Business Saturday shifts your purchasing power to small mom and pop stores and in the process builds a stronger local community. According to American Express, consumers spent an estimated $5.5 billion as part of last year’s day.
Why is Small Business Saturday important? According to Think Local First DC, out of every $100 spent at a locally owned and operated business, about $68 stays in the local economy. As compared to $43 of every $100 spent at a nationally owned retailer. Building a strong local business community is critical to both job growth and the overall economic health of the areas in which we live and play. Learn more about supporting local businesses throughout the year at Think Local First DC. (more…)
This fall, Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) and Clean Currents are urging the D.C. City Council to clean up the District’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and to promote the cleanest sources of energy — wind and solar.
Thirty states in the US have Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). The RPS mandates that utilities purchase a certain percentage of renewable energy, generally ranging from 1% – 20% of their fuel mix. These standards help bring more clean energy online and establish a more secure market for clean energy development.
Currently, the DC RPS classifies old, high-emission black liquor and inefficient wood waste under their Tier 1 renewable energy standard. Therefore, these old, dirty sources of power are attributed to the RPS. Several Mid-Atlantic States, including Delaware and New Jersey, already get over 70% of their renewable energy portfolios from wind and solar power. However, the opposite is true for DC. For the past seven years, black liquor and wood waste made up 68% of DC’s RPS. Only 12% came from wind and solar power. (more…)
Energize communities for a clean energy future by enabling individuals and businesses to make responsible choices that protect their bottom line while reducing their environmental impact.
Our Core Principles:
Provide Exceptional Customer Service
Engage at the Community Level –
We are deeply involved with our customers, working in neighborhoods and in other local groups where we do business to promote a more sustainable lifestyle and build strong green-minded communities. We want to be an energy supplier that offers not only green energy but also a customer experience unmatched by other companies.
Profit but with a Purpose of Selling Exclusively Green –
Unlike other companies that make most of their money by selling polluting power, we only focus on green power. (more…)
In Annapolis you’ll find a bed & breakfast that combines 100 years of history with modern sustainability; and owner and proprietor Cory Bonney wouldn’t have it any other way. As a life long nature lover and photographer, Cory wanted the inn he purchased in 2000 to reflect his values as well.
Before its official opening as a B&B in 2002, there were a number of updates, upgrades, and expansions to make on the property. The building was previously a corner grocery store and home based business built at the turn of the 20th century. At the turn of the 21st century Cory began updating it for another type of home based business.
As part of the upgrades, Cory installed highly insulated windows and repurposed concrete siding and side boards to reduce the need for excessive heating or cooling of the house. The aluminum roof was coated with 20-year paint, a more durable, long term option. Cory took advantage of the strides forward in energy efficient household appliances, including replacing all the old inefficient incandescent light bulbs, using 5 zoned programmable thermostats for the air conditioning, and modern high efficiency washer and dryer units. (more…)
Over the past several months, Clean Currents has hosted Lots of Power — an initiative bringing together students and professional designers and architects to develop innovative concepts for specific vacant lots in Kensington. Two winning projects were recently chosen and profiled in the Philadelphia Inquirer. This fall, they will come to life — transforming two lots from vacant to vibrant.
Below Gary Skulnik, Clean Currents President, reflects on Kensington and the Lots of Power program.
First the factories closed down, and the families of those workers moved out along with the jobs. Kensington is no longer the thriving Philadelphia neighborhood it once was. However, like the first shoots of a new tree sprouting in a forest devastated by wildfire, hope is returning slowly, but strong and determined. Clean Currents’ Lots of Power program is a small contribution to the momentum of a community set in motion. We hope it will add sparks to a new wave of life and positive change in this community while preserving the character and the nature of the place its current residents call home. (more…)
A few weeks ago, I interviewed Ben Fiske, the General Manager for Bedrock Billiards in Adams Morgan, to write a blog post about their impressive reduction in energy usage. After hearing about their upgrades and some of the rebate programs they used, I did some research on the DC Sustainable Energy Utility website. After finding the links I needed about their commercial rebates, I found myself poking around the “residential” section.
At the time, I was about to move into a new house so I was curious what I could do to improve my new place’s energy efficiency and lower my electric bill. Although as a renter I’m not likely to make a large purchase for my house like a new refrigerator or washing machine, I did pass on the information to my landlord so that if he was thinking of upgrading anything soon, he’d be able to save money (and hopefully keep my rent low).
The one place I could immediately make an impact was by replacing the lighting in the house. Lighting accounts for about 20% of electricity use for the year. I wanted to get LED bulbs because of their great light, instant-on feature, low energy use, and long life, but since they are a relatively new technology, I was worried they would be very expensive. (more…)
This month we feature Clean Currents solar thermal customers the Baremore family of Silver Spring, MD. They decided to install a solar thermal system on their home about a year ago. Now they share their experience with us.
What is something, beyond being a Clean Currents solar thermal customer, that you do in an effort to live a greener life?
We’re always looking for ways to reduce our environmental impact. Some of the things we do include:
Ride bikes, walk or take mass transit instead of driving
Drive a hybrid car and carpool whenever possible
Sign up for Clean Currents wind power!
Turn the thermostat up a couple of degrees in the summer to reduce cooling and down a couple of degrees in the winter to reduce heating
Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of visiting a wind farm with colleagues from Clean Currents. We visited Highland North Wind Farm in Cambria County, PA and boy was it cool! At Clean Currents, we sell two products. National Wind and Neighborhood Wind. All of our Neighborhood Wind comes from Highland North Wind Farm.
Our visit started at the farm’s headquarters where Brad, the site manager, gave us a rundown of his day-to-day overseeing the turbines and keeping things running smoothly. He’s armed with high-tech software that lets him adjust the turbines in real time and a team of engineers ready for dispatch at a moment’s notice. He even has an app on his phone that lets him shut off a turbine on the fly.
After we got a peek into a day in the life of Brad, we hopped in our cars and drove into the heart of the farm. Highland North has 30 wind turbines (not wind mills, as Brad pointed out — those grind flour) and these 30 turbines have blades that are over 300 feet in diameter (almost as long a football field). Together, these 30 turbines produce enough electricity to power approximately 18,000 homes each year.
As we all know, the government is currently shutdown. But, once those 700,000 federal employees are back to their regular grind, things will pick up right where they left off (well, we hope). So, we’re digging into the EPA’s proposed carbon pollution standards for new power plants.
On September 20th, 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed carbon-pollution standards for future coal and natural gas power plants. This was the EPA’s first step in moving forward on President Obama’s Climate Action Plan announced this past June. Currently, about one third of all greenhouse gas pollution in the U.S. comes from electricity generation at power plants.
When presenting the EPA’s proposal, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy commented “Climate Change is one of the most significant public health challenges of our time. By taking commonsense action to limit carbon pollution from new power plants, we can slow the effects of climate change and fulfill our obligation to ensure a safe and healthy environment for our children.” (more…)
McCabe’s Restaurant in Hampden is taking on sustainable dining one dish at a time. After reading a review on Yelp which described McCabe’s as having “…soul of a West Village gastropub”, we had to learn more. We sat down with Cora Flynn, General Manager to discover all the different ways this Hampden gem is embracing sustainable dining.
CC: Why did you think it was important to support clean, renewable wind energy?
CF: We feel it is important to support clean, renewable wind energy because we are invested in the future for our children and would like them to live in an environment that is healthy and viable. Choosing a sustainable resource is just one way in which we feel we are reducing our impact globally and locally.
CC: Why did you pick Clean Currents?
CF: We chose Clean Currents because it is community oriented, an environmentally responsible choice and it was surprisingly affordable. (more…)
Teams made up of teens and design professionals from throughout the Philadelphia region
Two winners have been chosen in “Lots of Power,” an initiative sponsored by wind power company Clean Currents focused on one of Philadelphia’s greatest problems, vacant lots. Over a six-week period, five teams of high-school age students and professional designers and architects have developed innovative concepts for specific vacant lots in Kensington. The two winning concepts–one chosen by a panel of jurors, and another by the public, via social media–will receive a grant provided by Clean Currents to be implemented.
“Lots of Power came directly from conversations that we had with Philadelphia residents, many of whom named vacant land as one of the largest problems in their communities,” said Gary Skulnik, President of Clean Currents. “We had five outstanding concepts submitted, and we are confident that the winning concepts will help transform their neighborhoods in a way that benefits everyone.”
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…)