Washington Marriott Celebrates Award with Green Tea Time

Many hotels are trying to be more environmentally friendly, but The Washington Marriott at Metro Center has gone the extra mile. The hotel was recently honored for its efforts with the  Mayor’s 2010 Environmental Excellence Award for “Outstanding Achievement by a Hotel.”

The hotel is one of nine District businesses and non profit organizations recognized for their environmental stewardship, innovative best practices, pollution prevention, and resource conservation.

The hotel saved 745,685 kWh in electricity in 2009 from the previous  year with the implementation of energy efficient lighting with programmable and dimmable automation as well as utilization of the Energy Management System controlling the heating/cooling and lighting of its banquet space. It also will save an estimated 600,000 gallons of water a year by converting all restroom urinals to water-free. Other accomplishments include:

  • Recycled wood flooring and linen-less dining tables in the Fire & Sage restaurant.
  • Energy-efficient bulbs used for all lighting.
  • Low-flow showerheads and toilets in guest bathrooms.
  • A water/energy saving linen program that  includes both bedding and towels.
  • Guestroom keys made from 50% recycled materials.

To celebrate the award, Washington Marriott at Metro Center will host a complimentary “Green Tea Time,” complete with iced green tea and Executive Chef Aaron Tootill’s freshly baked organic cookies and snacks, in its lobby every afternoon throughout the month of August.

“Saving Seeds” Bridges the Gap Between Generations of Gardener

Guest post by Carolyn Szczepanski

The demand for fresh, local food has put a premium on community garden space in all corners of the District.

Young people are reconnecting with their food sources, urban planners are preaching the gospel of green space and families are eager to prepare dinner with organic produce they’ve nurtured from seed.

But it takes more than dirt and desire to make a garden grow.

Cultivating that perfect heirloom tomato or harvesting a bumper crop of crisp greens requires one key ingredient: knowledge. In 2008, the Neighborhood Farm Initiative sprouted to fill that void for DC growers.

“While there’s plenty of great gardening books and online resources, NFI was started as a hands-on, educational center to really walk total newbie gardeners step-by-step through their first growing season,” says Liz Whitehurst, NFI’s volunteer coordinator.

And NFI is wise beyond its years. The community garden movement isn’t a new phenomenon, Whitehurst points out. The current trend is just the latest page in a much longer history — one that started with Victory Gardens after World War II.

“While recent initiatives have brought more media attention to people growing their own food in Washington DC right now, several dozen community gardens have existed here since the mid-1970s,” Whitehurst says. “We work alongside several community gardeners who have been cultivating their plots since before we were born, and we recognize that people in our generation didn’t invent the idea of eating homegrown food.”

So it’s fitting that NFI’s fundraiser next week bridges the gap between generations.

On Thursday, NFI hosts Saving Seeds: A Night of Food, Film and Conversation on Urban Gardening Through the Generations. The $25 ticket price — which benefits the nonprofit — includes local, seasonal hors d’oeuvres, an open wine bar, and a cinematic double-header.

The first film screening, Corner Plot, is an intimate and heart-warming window into the life of 89-year-old Charlie Koiner, who’s been gardening his one-acre plot inside the Beltway for decades. The second movie short follows Teen Green, a summer program NFI launched in 2010 to educate local youth about urban farming, from seed to sale.

“When we first saw Corner Plot, we were struck by the difference between Charlie Koiner’s way of life and the lifestyles of the teens we work with every day,” Whitehurst says. “But as we thought more about it, we began to see some powerful connections, and we wanted to give others the opportunity to make their own.”

Those organic connections will be fleshed out after the films, during a Q&A including Corner Plot filmmaker Ian Cook, Koiner’s daughter and several teens from NFI’s summer program.

“Education is at the core of our mission,” Whitehurst says. “We want to teach people to grow vegetables in the city, and we want to connect people to serve as resources to each other.”

Happy Hour Encourages Women to Bike and Be Greener

photo courtesy Revolution Cycles

Guest post by Carolyn Szczepanski

Bicycling is a boys’ club.

There’s no women’s bracket of the Tour de France and it’s a rare sports fan that can name a single female racer.

Here in the U.S., men are twice as likely to ride a bike than their female counterparts and, in DC, barely a third of cycling commuters are ladies. So it’s not surprising that bicycle shops ooze testosterone.

That’s why Revolution Cycles, a local retailer, is using a laid-back happy hour to make biking more welcoming to women.

Katie Knight isn’t just the general manager at Revolution Cycles’ Georgetown location, she’s also an evangelist for its upcoming “Ladies Night” events. At her store, plenty of women work the floor and run the business, but Knight still feels the boys’ club stigma. “Women in particular tend to be a little intimidated,” she says of the bike shop.

That doesn’t mean they’re not interested in cycling. Riding a bike is one of the best ways to both reduce your carbon footprint (33 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2008 came from transportation) and shrink your waistline (more than 22 percent of DC residents are classified as obese). The reason many women don’t commute or recreate on two wheels is simple: They don’t feel comfortable on a bicycle.

Ladies Night aims to change that with a relaxed atmosphere, women-led discussion and, yes, a few glasses of wine. The female-focused event will be hosted at each of the retailers’ five locations, starting Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in Rockville and wrapping up August 12 at the Georgetown location.

At each Ladies Night, women get the basics about buying a bike that caters to female-specific anatomy and tips about what to wear, where to ride, and how to stay safe. But the evening isn’t meant to be a one-way street. Ladies Night is only successful, Knight says, when the lecture is simply a short prelude to mixing, mingling, and meeting other bicycle-curious women.

“The point is really informing women, and connecting them to each other as a community of riders,” Knight says.

And, listen up guys, because research shows that everybody benefits when women start pedaling. “There’s this correlation that when women get on bikes, the community becomes more cycling friendly and cycling aware,” Knight adds. “It’s better for the bike community overall when women get on bikes.”

Event: Pepco’s Appliance Swap

Fridge on the fritz? Air conditioner gone AWOL? Maybe it’s time for an upgrade. Bring your old, inefficient, energy-sucking appliance to Pepco’s 2010 D.C. Appliance Swap on Saturday 7/24 from 10 am to 2 pm at The Home Depot at 901 Rhode Island Avenue in Northeast DC.

At the event, you can drop off appliances for recycling at no charge and pick up applications for rebates on certain ENERGY STAR qualified appliances.

During the event, Pepco will also announce the winners of its $5,000 ENERGY STAR Appliance Rebate Sweepstakes. Five D.C. customers will receive $1,000 gift cards to The Home Depot to be put towards the purchase of new, more efficient appliances.

The event will also feature live entertainment, refreshments, interactive displays on energy conservation, and family-friendly activities. Several D.C. government agencies, including the D.C. Department of the Environment, the District Public Service Commission, and the D.C. Office of People’s Counsel also will be on-hand.

The Eco-Forum Comes to DC

Tired of “Green Networking Events” that are more about socializing and job hunting than truly connecting with other eco leaders? So were the folks over at Go Green Expo, so they have started organizing regional networking groups that focus on bringing together executives from the sustainability world in a more intimate setting.

With a focus on building relationships and education, the eco-forum is an opportunity for innovative thought leaders, business entrepreneurs, and senior executives from all disciplines in the green space to mingle and learn from each other.

The first DC event takes place at Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar on Tuesday July 27th at 6 pm.

Keynote speakers include Christophe Tulou, Director of the District Department of the Environment and Jeff Blankman, Sustainable Manufacturing Manager for McCormick & Company.

Complimentary gourmet and organic passed hors d’oeuvres will be served for all three hours, along with organic signature cocktails courtesy of Philadelphia Distiller and Parducci organic wine.


Apply to attend today (please put “grassfed media” in the “how did you hear about us field”). Cost is $75 and admission is based on corporate affiliation and is only granted to director and C-Level executives, business owners, CSR executives, sustainability executives, and non-profit leaders.

Eco-Forum Regional Founding Members:

Keith Anderson, Head of the D.C. Energy Office
Christopher O’Brien, Director of the Office of Sustainability for George Washington University
Megan Chapple-Brown, Director of the Office of Sustainability for American University
Christophe Tulou, Director of the District Department of the Environment
Charles Dean Connor, President & CEO, American Lung Association
Sacha Cohen, Principal & Founder, grassfed media llc
Eli Hengst, Sonoma Restaurant & Wine Bar
Jeff Blankman, Sustainable Manufacturing Manager for McCormick & Company
Jared Rager, Sonoma Restaurant & Wine Bar