At an event in Garrett Park today, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett recognized the first seven businesses to be certified under the County’s new Green Landscape Business Certification Program (GLBCP). The GLBCP is a collaboration between the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce (MCCC) and Montgomery College. The program expands eligibility for the Green Business Certification Program beyond businesses with office-based operations to the landscaping sector. It emphasizes actions landscape companies can take for their clients to enhance County environmental goals, including reducing or eliminating pesticides and fertilizers; planting native canopy trees; installing rain gardens to capture and filter stormwater; creating conservation landscapes; reducing mowing areas to cut emissions; and conserving water.
“The Green Landscape Business Certification Program is another tool Montgomery County is using that engages every resident and business in promoting environmental quality -- one yard and one property at a time,” said Leggett. “Using green landscaping practices not only helps the County achieve our stormwater management requirements, which are among the most stringent in the country, but also helps improve air quality, reduce the use of chemicals in the environment, decrease use of gas and oil, and enhance water quality. Adopting just a few green landscaping practices allows individuals to truly make a difference as environmental stewards.”
Landscape businesses, such as garden centers, or those offering design, installation or maintenance services are eligible for the program. To be certified, a landscape business must meet requirements from a checklist of over 130 actions in four broad areas:
♦ Air quality, energy efficiency, waste management and procurement;
♦ Integrated pest management and plants;
♦ Water and soil; and
♦ Organizational commitment and office operations.
DEP staff visits an applicant’s office and two to three of its worksites to confirm they are meeting sustainable practice guidelines.
“The new landscape certification program leverages two of the Department’s most effective initiatives, the RainScapes Rewards Rebate Program and the Green Business Certification Program, and enables us to engage the business community, academia and our homeowners to help us all achieve our shared goal of having clean water in all of our County streams” said DEP Director Bob Hoyt.
The GLBCP application was developed by staff from DEP and Montgomery College’s Landscape Technology Program, with input and testing by landscape business representatives. Although certain checklist actions are required within each category, the certification process is very flexible, allowing businesses to choose from a broad range of actions. Or, businesses can develop their own innovative actions that are consistent with the program’s principles.
All of the Rainscapes rebate-eligible actions qualify under the landscape certification guidelines. The County’s Rainscapes program offers $2,500 rebates to residents and $10,000 rebates to businesses for eligible projects that reduce stormwater pollution.
“I am delighted that landscapers can now receive Montgomery County Green Business Certification,” said Gigi Godwin, president and CEO of the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce. “The expansion of the program will allow more business leaders to adapt to the green economy and build their supply chain in a sustainable way. The Chamber is thrilled to partner with DEP and Montgomery College on a program like this that makes an impact.”
Three years ago, DEP, MCCC and Montgomery College established the Green Business Certification program, which now has certified 50 businesses. The partners also recently established the Green Business Forum, a quarterly discussion focusing on the benefits and opportunities associated with greening business operations.
Landscape businesses seeking to enhance their understanding of sustainable practices can take classes at Montgomery College through its Landscape Technology Program.
“We are pleased to offer landscape professionals the opportunity to learn from courses that enhance their understanding of sustainable best practices,” said Dr. DeRionne P. Pollard, president of Montgomery College. “Montgomery College believes in training businesses to thrive and lead during the transition to a new green economy.”
The seven certified landscape businesses are:
♦ The Abundant Backyard, Silver Spring, helps homeowners and community groups protect watersheds and increase pollination of our local food chain -- one garden at a time. Providing educational resources, a network of sustainable local suppliers and design skills to clients, The Abundant Backyard provides gardeners with easy-to-obtain plants and the knowledge to develop successful and abundant sustainable gardens. Since its inception in 2011, the company has used only eco-friendly practices as it educates clients on options to grow and maintain their yards in cost-effective, eco-friendly ways.
♦ A.I.R. Lawn Care, Rockville, is an eco-friendly lawn care company that uses electric-powered equipment that is charged with solar panels mounted on a truck and trailer. The company’s mission to improve and renew the air through business, education and service is reflected in its acronym, A.I.R., which stands for Atmosphere, Improvement and Renewal. It is meeting this goal by providing clean, quiet and quality mowing as well as organic fertilization services. Its ideal customer is an environmentally conscious homeowner who is concerned about their kids’ and/or pets’ health, the long lasting health of their lawn or making a small contribution to the earth.
♦ Backyard Bounty, Silver Spring, is dedicated to improving the environment by re-imagining the American garden. It believes that gardens should be good for people and good for the earth. Its gardens eschew the use of dangerous pesticides and fertilizers; reduce the amount of polluted water residential properties send to the Chesapeake Bay; limit fossil fuel use by creating space for clients to grow vegetables, herbs and fruit onsite; eliminate invasive plants where possible; and use plants that increase the diversity of flora and fauna.
♦ The Brickman Group, Ltd., Clarksburg, as a long standing steward of the environment, has become increasingly focused on reducing emissions, water use and nutrient application. The company’s account and senior managers have hybrid vehicles; it recycles and composts 100 percent of its green waste; it uses low-emission grounds maintenance alternatives, such as propane and electric equipment; and offers site assessment services to help property owners reduce their environmental impact, resulting in improved water quality, air quality, and soil and vegetation health.
♦ Gracefully Green, LLC, Rockville, offers landscape consulting and design services, specializing in sustainability. It recognizes the functionality and beauty of landscapes and strives to achieve these qualities in harmony with nature and the needs of the people. Its specialty is conducting a site assessment, or landscape audit, to guide property owners in selecting sustainability best practices that make the most sense for their landscapes and achieve better water and soils management, better biodiversity, better ecology and better gardens.
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♦ Green Scene Landscaping, Inc., Silver Spring, since its inception, has focused on the environmental impact of its operations. Internally, the company stresses reducing the use of paper, energy and water. It also has a comprehensive recycling program and always purchases “green products,” including 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper. Green Scene also encourages sound environmental practices when designing and caring for its customers’ properties. This includes minimizing areas that need mowing; reducing water use; developing responsible pest management and chemical application strategies; and designing effective water runoff management systems.
♦ Kit Gage – Gardener’s Advisers, Silver Spring, specializes in environmental education with a particular emphasis on reducing stormwater pollution through techniques that promote water infiltration into yards. The company also recommends ways to reduce water use, pesticides, fertilizers and turf and promotes the use of native perennials, shrubs and trees.
The cost to become a certified landscape business is $100 for small businesses with fewer than 25 full time staff and $250 for large businesses. Recertification is required every three years.
The event was held at a private residence that received a Rainscapes rebate to defray part of the cost of its landscaping project, which was installed by one of the newly certified businesses, Backyard Bounty. The project includes:
· A front yard rain garden that captures and filters stormwater, reducing runoff into storm drains;
· Conservation landscaping in the back yard that attracts pollinators and also manages stormwater;
· A small grassy area of “Eco Lawn,” which is deeply rooted, drought tolerant and requires only once-a-month mowing, saving water and resources;
· A permeable driveway that allows stormwater to percolate and recharge ground water and stabilize stream flow;
· No use of pesticides or fertilizers; and
· Use of native plants in over half the yard.
Beginning April 29, Montgomery County will promote the program using ads on 25 Ride On buses. The ad reads: “Make Sure the Grass is Greener on Your Side of the Fence. Use a Montgomery County Certified Green Landscape Business,” and features a photo of conservation landscaping.
To view the Landscape Business Certification application and other information about the program, go to: http://mcgreenbiz.org/.
Or, learn more about the Rainscapes Rewards Rebate Program on DEP’s website.