Quiet Waters Lecture Series Kicks Off
A new environmental lecture series held twice a month highlights issues affecting Greater Annapolis and Maryland.
A new environmental lecture series at Quiet Waters Park got under way March 3 with a look at green-building aspects from various angles.
The talk featured experts in green planning and green building, as well as students from the University of Maryland who are participating in the 2011 Solar Decathlon.
At least 25 people attended the first in the planned 10-part series.
“This lecture series provides a politically neutral setting for community members to come together and engage professionals in a conversation about the environmental concerns affecting our state and the most effective solutions for addressing these problems,” said Natalie Nucifora, Volunteer Maryland environmental coordinator for Quiet Waters and the event’s organizer.
What garnered the most interest and discussion were three students from the University of Maryland—Allison Wilson, Lynn Khuu and Scott Tjaden—who are currently working to build a fully sustainable house as part of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011.
It’s a competition that takes place every two years in Washington, DC, and attracts teams from universities around the world looking to build the most innovative home powered by solar energy and that is fully sustainable.
The students offered a room-by-room description of the home, detailing such things as the water system that recycles all gray water—dishwater or shower water—leaving the house.
“All of the resources leaving the site are cleaner than when they entered the site,” Wilson said.
She said the work among the students is basically the opposite of how a normal home is built with individual contractors each focused on their own piece of the puzzle. Instead, each section—the engineering, the solar power, the architecture and the living systems—are all tackled together and integrated, she said.
To follow along with the students’ progress and to check out their designs, visit http://2011.solarteam.org or follow them at Facebook.com/umdwatershed.
Jacob Day, a town planning manager with the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, offered a quick history of town and city planning, from early settlements where people gathered for protection, to modern cities and, more importantly, the modern neighborhood.
“We live in major cities when we want to go see a pro sports team,” Day said. “Or, we live in major cities when we want to use the airport or the port. But what we all live in is a neighborhood. It’s the scale at which all our needs can be met and it is the scale at which we should always be planning.”
He also spoke about Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for neighborhood development, which was launched in 2009. He said it does not replace comprehensive zoning, rather it can be incorporated into current zoning codes similar to how LEED is used in building codes.
For example, the LEED for neighborhoods discusses the relationship a building has with the street. It says the building should be closer to the street and built closer together; that parking should be on the street, or better yet, behind the building.
“The idea is to make it a more human-friendly environment,” Day said.
Sean McGuire, director of sustainability policies for the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR), told attendees about several new tools the department has to help residents build and create a sustainable green home.
“I don’t want to say it’s hitting the mainstream, but you can find this stuff everywhere now compared to 10 years ago,” he said.
He pointed to the DNR’s Baystat that lays out various incentive programs and financial rewards for using alternative building materials, such as cork flooring or recycled newspaper for insulation. It also includes a native-plant guide, he said.
The next event is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. March 17 in the Blue Heron Center. The topic will be “Tomorrow’s Energy.” The panel will discuss energy production and the environment, including the potential benefits and drawbacks of both wind and nuclear energy.
The panel includes Norman Meadow, vice president of the Maryland Conservation Council, who will talk about nuclear energy; Gerald Winegrad, former Maryland senator and adjunct professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy, who will speak about wind energy; Tom Carlson, Maryland campaign director for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, who will speak about the state’s role in the offshore wind industry.
The schedule is:
March 17 — The Debate on Wind Energy: Wind Turbines in Maryland.
April 7 — Climate Change and Maryland’s Shores.
April 21 — The Problem of Coal Ash.
May 19 — The Inconvenient Truth About Chesapeake Bay Restoration.
June 2 — Where Does the Trash Go? Revisiting the Plastic Problem.
June 16 — The Benefits to Eating Green.
July 7 — Chesapeake Bay Series I.
July 21 — Chesapeake Bay Series II.
Aug. 4 — Maryland’s Endangered Wildlife.
Space is limited. To reserve a seat, register at: www.aacounty.org/RecParks/parks/quietwaters/lectures.cfm or contact Natalie Nucifora at 410-222-1777, ext. 206 or firstname.lastname@example.org.