Green Neighborhood Makeover

This post was written by Going Green DC contributing writer Alison Drucker

7029648The The Extreme Green Neighborhood Makeover, an environmentally friendly home improvement project, will show DC residents in all neighborhoods and income brackets that energy-efficient, healthy homes can have economic as well as environmental benefits.

Thanks to a $20,000 National Geographic grant awarded to local grassroots organization CarbonfreeDC, 20 low-income families in the Deanwood and Shaw neighborhoods will receive green home improvements to trim their energy and water bills. Improvements could include compact fluorescent lights, programmable thermostats, weather-stripping, low-flow showerheads and faucets, power strips, and Energy Star appliances.

Ten homes will be randomly selected from qualifying applications in each neighborhood, and after an introductory orientation session for the families, they’ll receive environmental audits to identify how to get the biggest bang for the $1,000-per-home buck.

Deanwood, at the furthest-east end of Washington, is home to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, and is the former home of Marvin Gaye and civil rights activist Nannie Helen Burroughs. Right now the neighborhood is being invigorated by several developments around the Minnesota Avenue metro station, as well as by green initiatives like Groundwork Anacostia River DC, which brings environmental education and restoration projects to the communities along the river.

Part of the U street corridor, Shaw was the center of African-American culture in DC through the 1960s. The 1968 riots destroyed much of Shaw and it was neglected for decades afterwards. Since the mid-1990s Shaw has been experiencing a renewal thanks to vibrant community organizations and a new influx of businesses and residents.

CarbonfreeDC hopes that the Extreme Green Neighborhood Makeover will have a lasting impact on these neighborhoods, and on the rest of the city. Workshops and community events will educate residents about smart energy and water conservation strategies and 30 more homes in each neighborhood will receive free environmental assessments.

Want to help? The Extreme Green Gala on Friday, October 9, will feature speakers, organic food, drinks, music, and an art sale. If you’d rather roll up your sleeves and get involved in the makeovers, CarbonfreeDC is looking for consultants, electricians, plumbers, and assistance with marketing and outreach. Email Rhys Gerholdt for more information at rhys006 [at]

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Bees Thrive at The Fairmont

Bees and beekeepers at The FairmontHigh above the hustle and bustle of DC, 105,000 Italian honey bees are living it up on the rooftop of The Fairmont.

The bees, which were brought in as a response to the nation’s honey bee shortage, will enhance the hotel’s culinary program, which already features herbs such as chocolate mint, coriander and sage that are grown in the hotel’s courtyard garden.

Executive Sous Chef Ian Bens and Executive Pastry Chef Aron Weber will share the responsibility of Chief Bee Keeper.  They expect to retrieve 300 pounds of honey within the first year, and plan to use it in soups, salad dressings, pastries, and ice cream at the hotel’s restaurant, Juniper.

The Fairmont Bees came from Larry and David Reece in Germantown, Maryland. The Reece family has been keeping bees for over 150 years, and are widely respected among local beekeepers. Each of the Fairmont’s beehives house one queen bee and about 33,000 worker bees.

“Many pollinating bees have disappeared due to habitat loss and pollution.  Creating these new hives helps keep the bee population healthy and helps to ensure that plants are pollinated, which is also essential for insects, birds and animals to survive,” says Bens.  “Eventually, The Fairmont hopes to use the honeycomb to create candles, soaps and even lip balm,” he adds.

Although honey from the Fairmont’s bees won’t be harvested until the fall, you can try a “Beetini,” a Basil and Honey Daquiri, and other honey-infused cocktails in the hotel’s lobby lounge.

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