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New Wegmans Hiring More Than 500 Employees for Anne Arundel Store

Foodies might be reveling in the sushi and endless array of cheeses at the Wegmans Food Market's latest Maryland store in Columbia. 

But soon, the Rochester, N.Y., chain will open its sixth store in Anne Arundel County and is hiring 520 full- and part-time employees to staff the Gambrills store. Currently under construction, the store is scheduled to open Oct. 28.

Of the 520 employees, the store is hiring 160 full-time and 470 part-time, Store Manager Gerry Troisi says. Applications are available online at the Wegmans' Web site.

The new 125,000-square foot store will open at new shopping plaza Waugh Chapel Towne Centre, off Route 3. It includes a Target, Dick's Sporting Goods, Coal Fire Pizza and Panera Bread. It is adjacent to the Village at Waught Chapel South. Troisi says the site was chosen about five years ago because of its proximity to Annapolis, which has one of the highest income-populations in the region.

Wegmans currently operates 79 stores. The one-story Gambrills' Wegmans will have the latest developments in the chain, including fresh cut fish, an extensive cheese selection and a prepared food Market Cafe with seating for more than 200 indoors and 100 outdoors on a patio. Triosi says the store will have "fresh cut" fruit and vegetable stations where produce bought in the store can be sliced, diced and chopped to customers' specifications.

Source: Gerry Troisi, Wegmans Food Market
Writer: Barbara Pash; innovationnews@bmoremedia.com

Chesapeake Bay Trust Gets Green Jobs Grant

For the second year in a row, the Chesapeake Bay Trust and the state of Maryland received federal grants to further green jobs training and environmental projects such as stormwater management.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns initiative awarded $375,000, with more than $100,000 going to projects in Baltimore City.

Last year, the EPA initiative awarded $211,000 to the Chesapeake Bay Trust and the state. The initiative is long-term and ongoing but applicants must apply each year for grants.

The award is open to local governments and nonprofit organizations in urban and suburban watersheds of the Chesapeake Bay region of Maryland, Washington, D.C., Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia for infrastructure projects.

For this year's grants, there were 31 applicants, of which 10 were awarded grants, says Dr. Jana Davis, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Trust, which administers the grants. The grant applications must have a "green," aka environmental, component and to specify training in green jobs. 

Davis says the initiative benefits the Chesapeake Bay for stormwater management, the communities for improvements and companies by providing a supply of employees with green jobs skills and experience. Davis does not have a figure for the number of jobs the 2012 grants will create. It depends on how the projects are handled, she says.

The 2012 Green Streets-Green Jobs-Green Towns grants went to the following projects:
Baltimore City, Belair-Edison Neighborhoods Inc., $34,900 for a green sidewalk infrastructure;
Baltimore City, Southeast Community Development Corp., $67,100 for bioretention areas in Patterson Park and Ellwood Park;
Cecil County, Housing Initiaitve Partnership, $35,000, for stormwater management in North East;
Wicomico County, Town of Delmar, $18,900 for stormwater management;
Prince George's County, Town of Forest Heights, $55,000 for techniques homeowners can use;
Maryland, Water Environment Federation, $10,000 for educational outreach;
Virginia, Town of Ashland, $25,000 for green improvements to municipal buildings;
Virginia, Matthews County, $85,000 for stormwater managment;
West Virginia, City of Romney, $25,000 for stormwater management; and,
Pennsylvania, American Rivers, $20,000 for educational outreach.

Source: Dr. Jana Davis, Chesapeake Bay Trust
Writer: Barbara Pash; innovationnews@bmoremedia.com 

UMBC Incubator Welcomes Nine New Tenants

The incubator at University of Maryland Baltimore County is seeing an uptick of new tenants. In the three-month period from March to June, bwtech@UMBC Research & Technology Park welcomed nine new companies, an increase from previous similar periods but a typical number for the past year to 18 months.

It has also reached a major milestone by welcoming a total of 100 companies to the incubator, of which 85 have leased space.

Of the nine new companies, five are in cybersecurity and the rest are in IT, says Ellen Hemmerly, executive director of bwtech@UMBC.Hemmerly attributes the interest in cybersecurity to the proximity of the U.S. Army and Department of Defense agencies at Fort Meade and the academic talent at the university. She has also seen a surge in life science startups.

Last year, bwtech@UMBC welcomed a total of 25 new tenants and IT consulting firm RWD Technologies was acquired. Hemmerly says the incubator is currently recruiting early stage to larger companies to fill that now-vacant space as well as space in a newly opened incubator facility.

Here's a rundown of the nine new tenants:

• Assured Information Security Inc., a cyberspace government contractor. The company has 40-plus  employees at its headquarters in Rome, N.Y. Since becoming a tenant, it has hired a dozen people and is looking to hire more, Hemmerly says. It chose UMBC because of its R&D interaction with the intelligence community at Fort Meade.

• Clovis Group, an accounting and finance IT and workforce management company that staffs government services.

• Communication Scientific International, a Glen Burnie-based, minority-owned communications systems and technical provider of defense and commercial communications.

• TechEdge Group, an Italian IT company that is based in Italy that also has an office in Chicago.

• Alpha Omega Technologies, a company that specializes  in secure delivery of data and information.

• NETWAR Defenses, computer systems consultants and designers who specialize in national security and intelligence.

• LightGrid, a telecommunications and delivery solutions federal contractor.

• Companion Data Services, offering data-hosting services and health IT services. 

Source: Ellen Hemmerly, bwtech@UMBC Research & Technology Park
Writer: Barbara Pash; innovationnews@bmoremedia.com 

Tech Campus Betamore To Open For Entrepreneurs, Incubators

By the end of the summer, entrepreneurs in the Baltimore metro area will have another place to call home. Betamore, “technology campus,” in the words of co-founder Mike Brenner, should be open by then. 

Brenner co-founded the privately-financed facility with Greg Cangialosi. They are in the midst of renovating an 8,000-square-foot shell at 1111 Light St., a new building in Federal Hill, into part incubator, part classroom and part co-working space. The facility will serve its members and the community at large. Membership applications will be available online next month.

Brenner says Betamore is the first incubator in the region, as far as he knows, that will also act as a classroom. In addition, the two founders bring a sizeable mentoring network that they have acquired by working in the city.

Both are well known in the Baltimore tech scene. Cangialosi's Blue Sky Factory, an email marketing and service provider, was bought in 2011, and he now serves as managing director of Baltimore Angel's and CEO of Nucleus Ventures, an investment vehicle. 

Brenner closed out his other ventures to focus on Betamore. These included Sunrise Design, a web consulting and design studio, and Startup Baltimore, a blog that was acquired in March of 2012 by a company in Philadelphia that plans to transform it into Technically Baltimore, an online publication covering technology. The company also puts out Technically Philly.

Brenner declined to discuss financing for the facility except to say that while it was private, the founders are actively looking for public support as well. He says they are not ready to announce the fees that will be charged for memberships at the incubator and community space. 

The facility will have two classrooms. It will offer classes on entrepreneurship and technology for people in the community at large who are interested in the topic. It will also offer six- to eight-week-long courses for people who are career-oriented and want more in-depth study. Brenner says fees for both classes and courses will be charged, the amounts still to be decided.  
In the dedicated incubator space, desks can be rented by the month. Brenner says that renters will have access to Betamore's mentor network, events and weekly happy hours. From early indications, he expects renters to be two- to eight-person teams, and to have 50 teams and “really early stage” companies in that space at any given time. He also expects many renters to be programmers.
Betamore will not take an equity stake in its renter-companies. Moreover, it will put a time limit, as yet undetermined, on how long they can rent, "to get a fire under their feet," he says.
The third space is a community space that, like a typical co-working space, is a social environment. It will be available for people who want to drop by the facility on an occasional basis, whether once a week or once a month. There will be a fee for the community space. 

"So far, we've gotten a lot of interest. Everyone wants to know when the doors open," says Brenner. "I'm hesitant to reveal too many details. We want to do a proper rollout when we're ready to open."

Source: Michael Brenner, Betamore
Writer: Barbara Pash

Web Ad.vantage Adds New Clients, New Staff

Web Ad.vantage is growing, adding new clients and new staff. The digital marketing and online advertising agency also saw the return of a former client.
New clients are Oriel Stat A Matrix, a New Jersey-based global leader in consulting and training for performance improvement and regulatory compliance; HR Acuity, a New Jersey-based human resources, employee relations and workplace investigation solutions firm; and Marianna Goldenberg, a certified divorce and financial analyst in Pennsylvania who specializes in divorce settlements. The returning client was Connecticut Plastics, a precision plastics fabricator.
Hollis Thomases, president and CEO, says Web Ad.vantage also recently filled positions at the 13-person firm. Founded in 1998, the privately-held, women-owned, Minority Business Enterprise-certified firm is located in Havre de Grace.
Thomases says the market for strategic digital services is growing because the business space for web and social media is so complex, companies don’t know how or where to begin.
Web Ad.vantage starts with a strategic approach, and then uses anything connected -- search, email, social media, mobile and video – to provide practical services, personalized for each client.
“We really help [clients] life-cycle through this process of analysis and planning, so companies can make better decisions how to use their money,” says Thomases, who was recently named to the board of directors of tech industry group GBTC.
Source: Hollis Thomases, Web Ad.vantage
Writer: Barbara Pash

Program Takes Aim At Unemployment In Park Heights

A new program aims to address the soaring unemployment in the Park Heights area of Baltimore City. The New Park Heights Community Development Corp. Inc. is partnering with Sojourner-Douglass College to offer a workforce training program in the fall.
Workforce training will help the transitional neighborhood progress. The area has seen a number of new services and  investments in new buildings and a new affordable housing program

Will J. Hanna II, president and CEO of the nonprofit, says a fundraising campaign is underway to raise $1.9 million over the three-year period of the agreement with the Baltimore college to train a total of 835 people in the Park Heights community.
That financial figure breaks down to $635,000 per year of the agreement. To date, Hanna has raised $95,000 through private donors and grants for 2012. But he says that more grants are coming online soon and that he expects to meet that goal. He also expects to make a "major announcement" in August and for the program to kick off as scheduled in October. Some details of the program have yet to be decided.
Hanna says that a nonprofit-commissioned study found that while the national unemployment rate averages 8.2 percent, unemployment in Park Heights is close to 30 percent. Residents were undereducated and/or underskilled, or the skills they had didn’t fit today’s marketplace.
The program is geared toward practical skills like construction, electrical, EMT technician, EKG technician and patient care, among others. There will also be classes for people to obtain a high school equivalency certificate, or GED. Entrepreneurship training will be offered as well, with the possibility of opening an incubator to encourage commercialization of products.
Hanna says Sojourner-Douglass College was chosen because it has a training program in those fields and it has worked in Park Heights before.
“We felt it was important to reach out to an African-American college [for the program]. It was a natural fit for what we wanted to do,” Hanna says. "The idea is, once people complete the training, they can be gainfully employed."
Source: Will J. Hanna, The New Park Heights Community Development Corp.
Writer: Barbara Pash

Goldseker Foundation Report Offers Strategy For Attracting City Residents

A report from the Goldseker Foundation takes an optimistic view of Baltimore City’s potential for job and neighborhood growth.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s goal of increasing the city population by 10,000 over the next 10 years is doable, according to report, “Great Neighborhoods, Great Cities, Strategies for the 2010’s.”  Released last month, it details how to improve the city to attract and retain residents.

Among them:
• Focus on retaining and attracting middle-income residents;
• Build from market strength wherever it’s found rather than concentrating all resources on the most distressed neighborhoods; 
• Market properties and neighborhood amenities to potential buyers; and,
• Give city-based employers incentives for workers to live nearby.
Timothy Armbruster, foundation president and CEO, says the report was intended to gather and analyze the demographic and economic data that has become available since the previous report in 2010. The foundation has put the report on its Web site and also sent it by email to public policy and nonprofit groups in order to reach the “opinion leaders,” says Armbruster.
The project started out as a small-scale look at the neighborhoods the foundation traditionally supports, and expanded to the entire city. The mayor’s goal gave the project a sense of urgency.
The report found that Baltimore’s population dropped 4.6 percent from 2000 to 2010. By contrast, Baltimore metro’s population rose by 6.2 percent and Washington metro by 16.4 percent during the same period. It concluded that people were not leaving Baltimore for job relocation.
Armbruster says the Goldseker Foundation’s works with community groups, businesses and nonprofits to focus its expertise and funding. 

“There is widespread interest and enthusiasm about the mayor’s goal,” he says. But it is not a city-project only. The institutions, businesses and public need to participate, too.

To that end, Armbruster has met privately with members of the institutional, real estate and nonprofit communities. He is considering holding forums with these groups as well.
“The response has been positive,” he says.
Source: Timothy Armbruster, Goldseker Foundation
Writer: Barbara Pash

Mindgrub Adding Second Catonsville Office

Mindgrub Technologies  is adding new clients, hiring more staff and adding a second office to handle the growth.

The company is in the midst of renovating a second office across the street from its new office in the historic First National Bank building in Catonsville. The 45-person firm will relocate the management team there, Mindgrub CEO Todd Marks says. The firm expects to move into the renovated 1,400-square-foot office next month.

Mindgrub is hiring 10 -- programmers, game designers, web and gaming developers, iPhone and android developers, information architects and technical production managers. It is particularly seeking people with expertise in Drupal, an open source web development platform. 

One of the new clients is the B&O Railroad Museum, a popular Baltimore City destination for tourists and student groups, for which Mindgrub is developing an "augmented reality"  tour. Mindgrub CEO Todd Marks describes augmented reality as taking digital content and superimposing it over the real physical world.

The tour will spotlight the historic railroad engines in the museum’s roundhouse. If you hold up an iPhone in front of an engine, Marks says, an animated cartoon character will pop up and talk about its history.
Marks says that besides the B&O Railroad Museum, other new clients it has added this year are Yamaha Motors, for which Mindgrub is developing a downloadable app with service information, and the University of Las Vegas, with an app for its alumni with deals and discounts in Las Vegas hotels and restaurants.
Marks founded the company in 2002 and was its sole employee until 2007. Mindgrub provides mobile and web application development and creative services. It has founded a spinoff product company called viaPlace.  
Source: Todd Marks, Mindgrub
Writer: Barbara Pash

Weinberg Foundation Grants Total $8M in April and May

Legal services for the poor and jobs training program were among the recipients of The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation grants in April and May, which totaled $8 million. The grants present a snapshot of the Baltimore-headquartered foundation’s grants of approximately $100 million per year.
The Legal Aid Bureau got $850,000 over two years, for free legal services and educational material for low-income adults. Job Opportunities Task Force got $750,000 over three years to support the Task Force’s and Baltimore CASH campaign’s financial literacy programs.
Other Baltimore recipients are:
International Rescue Committee, $150,000 over two years;
Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training, $150,000;
Dayspring Programs, $100,000 over two years;
The League for People with Disabilities, $128,000;
House of Ruth Maryland, $250,000 over two years;
Family League of Baltimore, two grants totaling $175,000;
YMCA of Central Maryland, $120,000 over two years;
Art with a Heart, $40,000 over two years;
Resident Services, $80,000 over two years;
Wide Angle Youth Media, $50,000 over two years;
Institute for Christian & Jewish Studies, $50,000 over two years;
Community Law Center, $70,000 over two years; and
South Baltimore Learning Center, $25,000 over two years.

The foundation recently changed its award announcement format. Rather than issuing a grant list every two months, the foundation is issuing its grant approvals on a weekly basis via social media, primarily Facebook and Twitter. 
Craig Demchak, director of community affairs, says the Weinberg Foundation “is excited to share information on its grant making, reflecting the fine work of our many grantees who serve the poor and vulnerable. We are pleased to extend this vital, ongoing communication to a new audience through social media.”
The grants are earmarked for specific purposes. Two Baltimore organizations received six-figure grants.
Source: Craig Demchak, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation
Writer: Barbara Pash; innovationnews@bmoremedia.com 

Audacious Inquiry Doing More IT Work For the Feds

Audacious Inquiry has landed a new client, conducting market research on behalf of the federal government.

The Baltimore technology services company will perform research on special topics, then report to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology with the results. The company cannot go into details about the topics, which are considered sensitive, according to Barbara Koch, analyst at Audacious Inquiry.   

Based on a federal act, the Office of National Coordinator seeks to improve America's health care delivery system and patient care through information technology. It runs several different programs that assist and support providers, coordinate within and among states, connect to public health resource, and train and equip workers.

Christopher Brandt, managing director of Audacious Inquiry, says the office identified the company for its market tracking and advisory services and sought it out for the $247,000 contract.

Audacious Inquiry deals primarily in health care and government, providing systems integration support, software development and technical project management. The company worked behind-the-scenes on the CRISP initiative that resulted in Maryland being the first state in the country to connect all of its 46 acute care hospitals and two specialty hospitals to the Maryland Health Information Exchange.

Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown made the official announcement last February. CRISP (Chesapeake Regional Information System For Our Patients is a partnership of Erickson Retirement Communities, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, University of Maryland Medical System and MedStar Health.

Brandt called the project "a major milestone for us." Audacious Inquiry is a contractor to CRISP, and the project allows approved doctors' offices, hospitals and other health organizations to instantly and securely share clinical health data. The state has invested $10 million along with $10.9 million in federal funds in the Health Information Exchange. 
Audacious Inquiry was founded in 2004. In 2010, the 30-employee company relocated from the Howard County NeoTech Incubator to the BW Tech @UMBC, the research park at University of Maryland Baltimore County. In 2012, it won the Howard County Technology Council award for life sciences company of the year.
Source: Christopher Brandt and Barbara Koch, Audacious Inquiry
Writer: Barbara Pash

Maryland Film Festival, WYPR, Kick Off Film Series

A packed audience greeted the arrival of Baltimore’s latest cultural attraction, a new film series that doesn't yet have an official title or regular schedule. 

The Maryland Film Festival  and National Public Radio affiliate WYPR 88.1 FM are partnering in the series, which kicked off earlier this month. 
Organizers plan to hold the second filming in the series in September. After that, the film will be screened between one to three months apart. The site and ticket arrangement are still in the works, says Jed Dietz, director of the Maryland Film Festival.
The series’ first screening, “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” a Sundance favorite, was held June 5 at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Attendance was by word-of-mouth. On July 13, an interview with Lucy Alibar, the film’s screenwriter, will air on WYPR.
Dietz says that each screening will include an interview with someone involved in the film, whether screenwriter, director or actor. The interview will be recorded and then broadcast as part of the station’s “Maryland Morning” program, airing every weekday from 9 to 10 a.m.
Katherine Gorman, producer of WYPR’s “Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast,” says the series will focus on contemporary themes, hopefully with a Maryland connection, but availability of films is dependent on distributors.
The film series format follows that of the “Maryland Morning” show, which had interviews with filmmakers with a connection to the state, either filming here or from Maryland.
“We like that connection to Maryland. We’re trying to branch out, to have a national reach,” she says. 

Sources: Jed Dietz, Maryland Film Festival; Katherine Gorman, WYPR-88.1 FM
Writer: Barbara Pash

GBTC Appoints New Board Members

GBTC, Baltimore's main networking group for the tech community has unveiled its new board, to be officially installed later in the month. It's the latest of changes at the group in recent months, starting with Jason Hardebeck's appointment as executive director late last year. 

Of the 30-member board, half are new while the other half are holdovers from the previous board.

Known as a community for innovators, entrepreneurs and startups, GBTC is in the midst of other changes as well. Among them are the introduction of a weekly video show talking about events for that week and a regular newsletter, to be published every other week.

The show airs on GBTC's blog every Monday at 3 p.m. It can be viewed and download from the blog and/or linked to Twitter. "We're hoping it will become the central place people go to find out what is going on," says Sharon Paley, a GBTC staffer.

Hardebeck says the new board reflects gb.tc's expanded vision for the innovation community to represent a broader mix of members. While the new board is a mix of new and continuing members, the real difference is that the GBTC board will be more active, Hardebeck says.  

The moves comes just months after the appointment of Hardebeck last December as executive director of the nonprofit amid criticism about declining membership and declining revenue from dues.

"This is not a place where you come to a meeting every couple of months to catch up on what has been going on," Hardebeck says. "Our board will be engaged and active with all facets of gb.tc's mission, including cultivation of shareholders and participation in events and programming. There is way too much to do and too many opportunities for gb.tc to make a difference for just the GBTC team. Our board will be an extension of our efforts." 

Gb.tc eliminated its physical office and changed its membership model. Instead of charging membership fees, anyone who wants to be involved in GBTC can.

Paley says the membership group focuses on metro Baltimore, and anyone involved in the “innovation industry,” including software, hardware, the internet, gamers, developers and designers, as well as those affiliated with the industry like accountants, attorneys and marketers.
Since doing away with its physical office, Paley says the four-person staff will be doing more outreach, visiting places where tech companies work and getting an idea of the kinds of programs they want to attend and that sponsors are willing to support.
Sources: Jason Hardebeck and Sharon Paley, GBTC
Writer: Barbara Pash

App Developer Woofound Gets $1.2M in Angel Funding

Baltimore tech startup Woofound has launched a new mobile app for the iPhone and received $1.2 million in angel funding.

The startup is also anticipating another round of financing, adding a new outlet and hiring more staff.
Woofound’s app is a visual personality game called “Me or Not Me.” It is sold in the app store but by the end of summer, Daniel Sines, co-founder and co-CEO with Josh Spears, expects to place the app on the Android Marketplace, recently renamed Google Play.
Soon, the startup will seek another round of financing, perhaps $3 million to $5 million. “We are going more institutional,” he says. It will seek venture capital financing, rather than angel investors, Sines says.
The amount will be based on the results of its launch next month of a commission-based fee from businesses for the app. The app is currently free but businesses will be charged on sales, of which Woofound gets a cut.
The app connects businesses to likely new customers by identifying users’ personality types and then recommends targeted places, activities and restaurants to their types. A Baltimore psychoanalyst and psychotherapist developed the personality test.
“We are offering an extremely personalized solution. We are highly targeted. We have more than 10,000 businesses and experiences on the platform,” says Sines. “The focus on the personal element differentiates us and makes us stand out.”
Sines and Spears founded Woofound in 2011. It is based on their previous company, Social Media Solutions Business, which helped companies manage Twitter, Facebook and other social media in their search for customers. They closed out projects for that company and focused their efforts into Woofound.
Woofound is located in an office in Baltimore County's Middle River area with a staff of 15 and five interns. Sines says it is looking to hire at least two programmers now and more staff over the summer.
Source: Daniel Sines, Woofound
Writer: Barbara Pash


Juxtopia To Receive $2.6M in Federal Grants

Baltimore biomedical company Juxtopia expects to receive $2.6 million in federal grants by the end of the year and plans to use that money toward improving its flagship product, high-tech goggles.

Federal agencies the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Defense will award the grants. It has received $330,000 in federal grants, and expects to receive another $2.35 million before year's end. 

Jayfus Doswell, Juxtopia's CEO and Founder, says the money is going toward improving the software and hardware of its goggles, which have a variety of applications. Doswell envisions that they can be used by combat medics assisting a fallen soldier or by doctors performing surgery. 
Johns Hopkins Medicine’s department of surgery is using the goggles in pre-clinical trials to determine their medical applications, says Doswell.
Doswell listed the grants as:
* From the National Science Foundation, $230,000 in 2012 and another $2 million for a three-year period expected within the next six months;
* From the Department of Defense, $100,000 in 2011 and another $100,000 expected in 2012; and
* From the National Institutes of Health, two grants totaling $250,000 expected in 2012.
Juxtopia was founded a decade ago as a biomedical technology company, spun out of Morgan State University. In 2010, it graduated from the ETC Emerging Technology Center @ Johns Hopkins Eastern.
It returned to the incubator this year under a special program in which it will strive to increase the number of minority-owned tech companies in Baltimore. Called the Juxtopia Urban Innovation and Cooperative Entrepreneurship, Doswell says there are currently three companies in the program.  
“We try to guide minority-owned companies through the process,” Doswell says.
This summer, Juxtopia is offering five paid internships, thanks to a National Science Foundation grant, for high school and college students. The internships, in different engineering fields, are still open.
With a staff of 10 engineers and four mangers, Doswell says Juxtopia is “always looking” for new employees.
Source: Jayson Doswell, Juxtopia
Writer: Barbara Pash

City Schools Save Money On Electricity Bills

Three Baltimore City public schools saved more than $1,500 on electricity in two months in February and March as the result of a program of the city Office of Sustainability and the U.S. Green Building Council Maryland Chapter.

The chapter received a $24,750 grant from the office to demonstrate to students and school personnel how simple, no-cost conservation measures can reduce the schools’ electricity bills, says Geoff Stack, of Stack Coordination, an independent sustainability consultant and co-chair of the chapter’s Green Schools Committee.

The measures include turning off lights and air conditioners when not in use, shutting down computers and being aware of so-called “vampire” devices that still pull electricity even when they are “off.”

The sustainability office chose three sites for the program:  Curtis Bay Elementary/Middle; Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, a middle school housed in a building on Franklin Street; and W. E. B. DuBois High School and Reginald F. Lewis High School, both of which are housed in the former Northern High School building.

The program will continue through June. Stack worked with volunteers to teach students energy-saving tips and held a workshop for teachers and administrators on doing an energy audit. He says the chapter hopes the lessons learned in the schools will be used at home, too.

Stack says that in a preliminary evaluation, overall energy usage decreased 3.5 percent in all three buildings for the months of February and March. Put another way, that represented a saving of $1,535 on their electricity bills.

According to Chris Parts, the Maryland Chapter board’s secretary and the board liaison to schools, the program is a partnership between the the U.S. Green Building Council and the Alliance to Save Energy, with the former using the Alliance's process, tools and curriculum. The chapter has been demonstrating the model to multiple school districts since 2008 and to the Baltimore City school system since 2010.

Parts, an architect who is a LEED-certified professional, says the chapter's goal is to develop a program that can be used across school systems in the state.

Sources: Geoff Stark, Chris Parts, U.S. Green Building Council Maryland Chapter
Writer: Barbara Pash
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