Sunday, November 11, 2012

Loudoun Transition Initiative Forum

What is the Loudoun Transition Initiative?

Sustainable Loudoun and George Washington University are hosting a public forum at the Loudoun GWU campus on the evening of Nov 30th to discuss the Loudoun Transition Initiative. What is a transition initiative and why should we attend?
Many citizens are concerned about the growing impact of global warming, the long term viability of the local economy, and/or the over-reliance on oil, wanting to understand the options available to address these issues with like-minded individuals and organizations as a community. 
The Transition Movement is comprised of over 600 vibrant, grassroots community initiatives around the world that seek to build community resilience in the face of such challenges as peak oil, climate change and the economic crisis. Transition Initiatives collaborate (not compete) with other sustainability and environmental groups, seeking to mitigate these converging global crises by engaging their communities in home-grown, citizen-led education, action, and multi-stakeholder planning to increase local self-reliance and resilience.

Transition Fun

We are living in an age of unprecedented change, with a number of crises converging. Climate change, global economic instability, erosion of community, declining biodiversity, and resource wars, have all stemmed from the availability of cheap, non-renewable fossil fuels. Global oil production is predicted to irreversibly decline in the next years, and severe climate changes are already taking effect around the world. The coming shocks are likely to impose serious trials on our communities and families, so transition initiatives work to mitigate these risks in a positive manner.


Confirmed speakers include:
  • Andrea McGimsey, Climate Reality Project
    • "Climate Reality: Why Should We Care?"
  • Capt. (Navy, ret.) Leo Goff, CNA Military Advisory Board
    • "Energy Resources: A Matter of National Security"
  • Stewart Schwartz Executive Director, Coalition for Smarter Growth
    • Sustainable Land Use and Transportation Potential in Loudoun
  • Will Stewart President, Sustainable Loudoun
    • The Transition Initiative: What it is and Where We are Going…

Doors open Friday, Nov 30th at 6pm.
We will have refreshments and some local vendors in attendance.
Presentations begin at 7pm.

George Washington University, Loudoun Campus
20101 Academic Way, Ashburn VA
Sponsors: GW University, REHAU, Harris-Teeter, Corcoran Vineyards

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Ashburn Green Expo Oct 14 2012!

October 14, 2012
12:00 – 4:00
21400 Windmill Drive
Ashburn, VA 20147

Come by Ashburn Farm Community Center and participate in the FREE family friendly event featuring topics on conservation, sustainability and the environment. Meet with local companies and organizations offering products and services to help you save money and live healthier while also helping the environment. Presentations will be given on interesting, timely and relevant topics including:

    • 10 Myths About Solar Power
    • What Really Happens to My Curb Side Recycling?
    • Eco friendly Landscaping that Costs Less and is Easy to Maintain
    • Easy Conservation Techniques that Save Real Money
    • Tap vs. Bottled Water
    • This just in…On Climate Change
    • Electric Vehicles – Charging into the Future
    • Why, How and Where to Buy Local Foods

Sponsored by :

Organized by: Ashburn Farm Open Space Committee
More details on exhibitors and speakers at:

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Verizon Sponsored recycling Rally May 24th - Ashburn VA

Verizon to Hold Third Annual Recycling Rally May 24 in Ashburn, Va.; Urges Area Residents, Employees to Go Green

All Are Welcome to Drop Off Unwanted Electronics, Other Materials – Including TVs, Computer Terminals – at Verizon’s Ashburn Campus From 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m

ASHBURN, Va. – Verizon employees will gather in the parking lot of the company’s Ashburn campus on May 24 to collect unwanted electronics and other material for recycling.  This Recycling Rally, which is free and open to the public, is part of Verizon’s commitment to protect and preserve the environment by enabling the public to be green at work and at home.  The supplier disposing of the discarded items will adhere to Verizon’s zero-landfill objective, meaning the materials will be reused or recycled so that they do not end up in a landfill.

Recycled items can include glass, plastics and aluminum cans; laptop and desktop computers; CRT (cathode ray tube) and LCD (liquid crystal display) monitors and televisions; computer cables, mice and keyboards; gaming consoles; telephones and answering machines; stereo and audio equipment; paper shredders; alarm clocks; printers; cameras; conferencing equipment; remote controls; earphones; small electronic appliances (such as coffee makers, toasters, toaster ovens and can openers); microwave ovens; vacuum cleaners; and electronic toys without batteries.  Hard drives will not be wiped, and all batteries should be removed prior to turning in any items.

Items that will not be accepted include hazardous waste (such as batteries, inks/toners, mercury bulbs); units containing fluid (such as motors and pumps containing fluid); refrigerators and freezers; medical waste, and radioactive material such as X-ray equipment.

Participants will be randomly selected for Energy/Water-Go Green Kits that include energy-saving items such as a reduced-flow shower head, compact fluorescent light bulb, kitchen aerators and an energy-saving tip wheel.

WHEN:                                                 Thursday, May 24, 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

WHERE:                                               Verizon’s Ashburn Campus, 22001 Loudoun County Pkwy. 
                                                                (Visitor parking lot on right at Loudoun County Parkway entrance)

Verizon will mark the unofficial arrival of summer with a May 24 recycling rally at its Ashburn campus on Loudoun County Parkway.  Details are included in the advisory below.  One key change this year: They are accepting CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors and televisions this year for the first time.  So you finally can get rid of that half-ton Sony Trinitron you’ve been keeping in the basement… 

Verizon’s Chief Sustainability Officer Jim Gowen will be at the Ashburn event and would be happy to talk with you about the rally and Verizon’s commitment to improving its carbon/sustainability footprint.

Last year’s Ashburn rally was quite successful; they collected more than 15,000 pounds (7.5 tons) of personal recyclable material from several hundred participants.

Our May 24 Ashburn recycling rally is one of many similar events Verizon is holding across the country as part of Verizon’s comprehensive sustainability program, which also includes energy conservation, adding alternative-fueled vehicles to our fleet and reducing the use of paper. 

A few factoids on Verizon’s efforts in sustainability may be of interest:
·         Saving a forest of 436,000 trees annually with two initiatives to cut pulp use.  Paper-free billing to both wireline and wireless customers, and waivers in nine states to cease automatic delivery of residential white page directories.  (This move away from automatic residential White Pages directory delivery alone will save an approximate 1,640 tons of waste from Virginia’s waste system each year.
·         Business cards made from recycled paper that is 100 percent post-consumer waste. This will save the equivalent of 2,000 trees.
·         Verizon recycled 71.2 million pounds of paper and cardboard in 2011.
·         The goal for its 38,000-vehicle service fleet is to have 15 percent of vehicles running on alternative fuel by 2015.  They added 667 such vehicles in 2011,roughly halfway to that goal.
Also of note: For the past three years, Verizon has been included in the Dow Jones Sustainability North America Index, which lists North America's leading companies as measured by governance, social and environmental performance.  For more information on Verizon's environmental initiatives, visit
.  Customers interested in signing up for paper free billing can visit

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sustainability Awards Ceremony - April 25th

 Sustainability in Loudoun

“Energy and Environmental Sustainability” Award Ceremony

Presented by
Sustainable Loudoun (LCCSS)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012
5:00 - 7:00 pm
Doors open at 4:45

1503 Edwards Ferry Road, NE
Leesburg, VA
First building on the right, fourth floor

Evening Program



Mike Maher, REHAU
Tony Noerpel, Sustainable Loudoun/LCCSS


• The Role of Materials in Energy Efficient Building Design –
Professor Stephen Hsu, George Washington University

• Questions and Answers
Awards Ceremonies
Introduction – Dr. Edgar B. Hatrick, III
Superintendent, Loudoun County Public Schools

Energy and Environmental Sustainability Awards
Presentation of Awards: Tony Noerpel, Mike Maher

• 1st Place $500:
Ehsan Jafree, Stone Bridge High School
Academy of Science
“The Relationship Between Impervious Surface Percent Cover and
Stream Health in Loudoun County, VA”

• 2nd Place $300:
Nial Hasan, Briar Woods High School
Academy of Science
”Investigating the Effects Surface Area of Electrodes Has on
Output of Microbial Fuel Cells”

• 3rd Place $200:
Saieh Bijani, Dominion High School
“Enhancing Frustule Development in Diatoms to Remediate
Aquatic Carbon Dioxide”

• Honorable Mention:
Shubham Patil, Stone Bridge High School
“The Effect of Solar Cell Curvature on Voltage Output”


Monday, March 19, 2012

Movie night Wednesday, March 21st

This month's Greenflik movie, at Tally Ho this Wed night is Mother Nature's Child.

The event starts at 6:30 pm with refreshments and conversation and the film begins at 7:30 pm. 

Solar Game Changers

A San Jose, CA based company called Twin Creeks Technologies recently announced what could be a game changer in the solar photovoltaic industry. They have developed a technology which can produce solar cells using only 1/10th of the silicon of a conventional cell. The company claims that this capability will reduce the cost of solar cells to 40 cents per watt which is less than half the current cost. The new ultra thin silicon wafers are in so thin that they are flexible. The company claims that this characteristic will enable solar panels to be produced using encapsulation materials other than glass which means they could be significantly lighter. You can check out a video of their new Hyperion 3 machine on their website. This machine exists today and they are ready to sell it. They have a commercial demonstration plant in Mississippi.

Even more recently, another company called Ampulse has announced a new method to produce solar cells for < $.50 per watt, again using much thinner silicon wafers. They are currently prototyping this process at the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, CO.

Solar PV is currently around $1.30 per watt, reducing that to $0.50 means a savings of $0.80 per watt. That's a $4,000 savings on a 5 KW system, based on panel prices alone. If the panels can be made lighter, that could also help lower installation costs.

The 'grid parity' moment for solar is already here in some places, getting closer in others.

For the record, I don't have any stake in either of these companies, nor do I know the owners. I just think this is a good thing for the world.

Meeting Thursday, March 22 @ Rust

The next Sustainable Loudoun general meeting is Thursday, March 22 @ 7pm at Rust Library in Leesburg.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Life in Post-Lightbulb efficiency standard America

Today for the first time in 2012, I bought a new light bulb. Now, this may not seem significant, but it is the first time I had to select a bulb without the option of the standard 100W incandescent, which are no longer sold because they don't meet the minimum efficiency standards of the 2007 light bulb law. There has been some political posturing about this law and government interference in the free market. There have been some dubious 'facts' and scare tactics in the media as well (see: Right-Wing Media Continue To Mislead On Nonexistent Light Bulb "Ban") so I thought I would relate how it affected my life as a light bulb consumer today.

In this particular case, I was looking for a bulb for my laundry room, which has been lit by two 100W incandescent bulbs in simple 'bare bulb' fixtures on the ceiling. They are controlled by a motion sensor which I installed a few years ago, and which is only compatible with incandescent style bulbs. This limits the 'on time' to only when someone is in the room, and provides hands-free operation which is nice when you are carrying baskets full of clothes. Because of this, CFL bulbs were not an option. I also don't recommend them for applications where they are on only briefly, due to warm up time issues. Basically, you are finished with the laundry task by the time the bulb fully warms up. CFL lifetime is also known to be shortened by repeated on-off cycles. CFL's also contain a tiny bit of mercury which bothers some people, as it can be released if the bulb breaks. It also means you have to recycle CFL bulbs, which means taking them to Home Depot or other retailers that support recycling.

This left LED or halogen. LED bulbs are wonderful devices, I highly recommend them for uses such as recessed lighting in areas like kitchens which are used a lot. However in this case the 'on time' is so brief that an LED would probably take longer than my expected life time to pay back its cost. Also Giant doesn't stock a lot of LED bulbs yet. So I chose a 72W halogen bulb by Sylvania. These are also "Made in USA" according to the package, which appeals to me. Halogens have no mercury or special disposal requirements.

I replaced both bulbs with the 72W bulbs and can't tell any difference in the lighting, although according to the package they produce slightly less light (1490 vs 1690 lumens). The halogen bulbs do cost more than the old style bulbs, $2.50 each vs. $0.50 for the old bulbs. But since they use 28W less power, will they pay back that up front cost? Here are the calculations for total lifetime bulb cost for my laundry room:

First up, incandescent.
Incandescent:  $0.50 cost per bulb with a 750 hr lifetime.
So for 1000 hrs of on-time I need to buy (1000/750)*2 = 2.66 bulbs
Bulb cost: 2.66 * $0.50 = $1.33
Electricity cost: My power costs roughly $0.12 per KWh
Power used over 1000 hr lifetime: 100W * 1000hrs * 2 bulbs = 200,000 watt/hrs = 200KWh
Lifetime power cost: 200 * $0.12 = $24

Total lifetime costs for incandescent bulbs: $1.33 + $24 = $25.33

Now let's see how well the 'more expensive' halogen bulbs do:
Halogen: $2.50 cost per bulb with a 1000 lifetime
So for 1000 hrs of on-time I need to buy (1000/1000)*2 = 2 bulbs
Bulb cost: 2 * $2.50 = $5.00 (uh oh, looks higher)
Electricity cost: As previously stated, $0.12 per KWh
Power used over 1000 hr lifetime: 72W * 1000hrs * 2 bulbs = 144,000 watt/hrs = 144KWh
Lifetime power cost: 144 * $0.12 = $17.28

Total lifetime costs for halogen bulbs: $5.00 + $17.28 = $22.28

So, halogen comes out slightly less ($3.05) in total lifetime costs! Okay, so this is not going to change my life in any appreciable way, but that is kind of the idea behind the law. I get the same light for less money. The real value is considering things like if we replaced all incandescent bulbs the country could save $18 billion per year and reduce power usage by the equivalent of 80 coal plants. I fully expect that by the time these halogen bulbs burn out LED bulbs will be cheap enough to make sense as a replacement.

So don't fret but embrace your new choices in lighting options, and enjoy all the money you'll be saving!