Waking up to Green

Today, I woke up in Howard County, Maryland, and as I was picking up my newspaper, I noticed my grass was greener this year. So was the county. Before breakfast, I read a story about how the County Executive is working to limit development of farmland to support agricultural preservation and environmental sustainability (1). For a quick breakfast, I had blackberries picked from my backyard garden, where I used a new environmentally friendly slow release plant food (2). My wife was getting ready to pick up a fresh turkey at a local farm that had installed solar panels to reduce energy consumption (3). She asked if I needed anything at the county’s farmers market, where she was going to buy local organic vegetables for tomorrow night’s dinner (4).

While on my new computer, I was at a website joining an energy co-op to reduce my energy bills (5), when my youngest daughter called to tell me about a stormwater management seminar to be held at the local nature center (6). Before leaving for work, I packed up my old computer to have the hard drive destroyed and all of the parts recycled (7). Driving through my neighborhood, I noticed solar panels being installed on the roof of one house (8), before passing a bank of solar panels providing electricity to an old fashion general store (9). Arriving at the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship, I noticed county electric vehicles being unplugged from the building, ready for the day’s trips (10). In the office, my colleague told me he had undergone a home energy audit to identify ways to reduce his carbon footprint and save on energy bills (11).

After my morning meetings, as I drove to my lunch appointment, I passed a LEED Gold Certified Building (12), one of many LEED buildings eligible for county tax credits. Later, I passed a farm that practices soil conservation, and where streams are also protected from the environmental impacts of farm animals (13). At lunch, a fresh organic salad at a local restaurant hit the spot (14). My lunch guest, a passionate environmental volunteer at a local law firm (15), told me about a windmill being installed in the western part of the county to reduce energy bills (16). I mentioned that I heard about an automated wireless system that can control and reduce energy consumption from remote locations (17). After lunch we went next door to check out the earth-friendly clothing and gift store (18). Back in the car, I passed by a local high school where a Howard County company and student volunteers installed a rain garden to naturally filter runoff water before it enters the water table and ultimately the bay (19). On my way back to work, I visited the recycling center to pick up two free yard trimmings bags (20) and passed the adjacent landfill, where methane gas generated at the site will soon be converted to electricity to power operations (21). While there, my oldest daughter called my cell phone to tell me she was getting a free energy assessment of her home, before deciding on a new energy efficient heating and cooling system (22).

Back at work I picked up a local business journal that uses recycled paper, eco-friendly ink and online publishing to reach 75,000 readers (23), and read that an environmental landscaping company will be installing bioretention soils to reduce nutrient leaching at a new housing complex in Ellicott City (24). There was also a story about a non-profit organization receiving a grant to study ways to  reduce the environmental impact on the Tiber Hudson tributary of the Patapsco River (25). Leaving work I passed a county hybrid transit bus, producing lower emissions (26), before picking up a printing project at an eco-friendly printing company, powered by wind energy (27). Later, I networked at the Green Business Council’s bi-monthly educational program dinner (28) and learned some new things about global warming. On my way home I passed a location where a local environmental company had transformed a 25 year old building into a LEED showcase (29). Parking next to my wife’s car, which earlier had been serviced at a shop with a unique automotive oil recovery system (30), I glanced at my lawn and couldn’t help thinking… the grass isn’t greener anywhere more than it is in Howard County.

The message is three-fold. First, being green isn’t one thing or one activity, there are many ways to be green, support green and buy green. Second, these are only 30 of the many ways green is making a difference in the county. Third, today I was waking up to green… tomorrow, you can too.

Wayne E. Swann, CEO of NutriGrown LLC, is a Board Member of the Howard County Green Business Council - established in 2009 by County Executive Ken Ulman.

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Story Key: Waking up to Green

  1. Howard County Executive Ken Ulman – www.howardcountymd.gov

  2. NutriGrown, LLC – www.nutrigrown.com

  3. Maple Lawn Farms – www.maplelawn.com

  4. Howard County EDA – www.hceda.org/farms-agriculture.aspx

  5. CQI Associates Energy Co-Op – www.cqiassociates.com

  6. Robinson Nature Center – www.howardcountymd.gov/RobinsonNatureCenter.htm

  7. E-structures –www.us.simsrecycling.com/Locations/Washington-DC

  8. groSolar – www.grosolar.com

  9. Solar Energy World – www.solareworld.com

  10. Howard County Thomas Dorsey Building – www.howardcountymd.gov

  11. Efficient Home, LLC – www.efficienthomellc.com

  12. The Arc of Howard County – www.archoward.org

  13. Clark’s Elioak Farm – www.clarklandfarm.com

  14. Great Sage – www.great-sage.com

  15. Davis, Agnor, Rapaport and Skalny LLC – www.darslaw.com

  16. Banner Home Solutions – www.bannerhomesolutions.com

  17. Autani Corporation –  www.autani.com

  18. Nest – www.nestnaturalhome.com

  19. Green Building Institute – www.greenbuildingnetwork.groupsite.com

  20. Howard County Recycling Center – www.howardcountymd.gov/recycling.htm

  21. Howard County Landfill – www.howardcountymd.gov/ARL.htm

  22. Environmental Systems Services –  www.esaheatac.com

  23. The Business Monthly – www.bizmonthly.com

  24. E-Landscape – www.e-landscapellc.com

  25. Center for Watershed Protection – www.cwp.org

  26. Howard Transit – www.howardcountymd.gov/DisplayPrimary.aspx?id=6442460766

  27. Indigo Ink Digital Printing – www.indigoinkprint.com

  28. Green Business Council – www.hocogreenbiz.org

  29. Straughan Environmental Services – www.straughanenvironmental.com

  30. British American Auto Care – www.britishamericanauto.com