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Green Living

Local community colleges boast new buildings so smart they’ve earned top honors

New buildings at both Anne Arundel Community College and the College of Southern Maryland are working just like good students do to achieve perfection.     Anne Arundel’s renovated Andrew G. Truxal Library has already graduated LEED (short for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) with top honors. It’s only the eighth building in Anne Arundel County to achieve those honors.

Master Watershed Stewards may not have super powers, but they are cleaning up their communities

Going down John Dawson’s street in Severna Park, you can’t miss the rain garden he’s planted in his front yard — and that’s exactly how he wants it.

Garden in the evening cool

Gardening in the heat of the day is unhealthy. It’s one of those stresses those of us with gray or white hair in particular are told repeatedly to avoid during these hot muggy days when orange alert air pollution levels are anticipated.     But did you know that gardening in the heat of the day also promotes the germination of weed seeds and the growth of weeds?

If you’ve ever wanted your own fresh eggs, Michele Allman can help you decide if keeping hens is for you

I am not alone in imagining chickens in my back yard. Backyard flocks are on the upswing in suburban and urban America, Chesapeake Country included. Why, the state’s capital allows city-dwellers to raise them.     I’d appreciate their weeding skills to keep the violets, dandelions, and chickweed in check and to work compost into the soil where I’d like to install new garden beds. Most of all, I’d like just-laid eggs, firm with bright orange yolks.

Unity Gardens wants to help green your community

From Glen Burnie to Severn Heights to Presidents Hill to Shady Side to Fairhaven, Anne Arundel gardeners seeking to green their communities turn for funding to Unity Gardens (www.unitygardens.org), which twice a year awards grants up to $1,000 to local groups creating neighborhood green spaces.     In a decade, Unity Gardens has sowed over $200,000 in gardens planned and planted by 180 community groups. Unity’s seed money comes from foundation grants, corporate and individual donations and local government support.

Who today knows what an undisturbed forest looks like? How many of us get to breathe the healing air in such places?

England has Stonehenge. France has cave paintings. We have national parks.         The parks were a cutting-edge idea when they were born in 1872, with the founding of Yellowstone. With some 2.7 million visitors a year, our 59 national parks are still a big deal.     But how many of us get to visit them? How many of us get to be inspired by the trees that form a green mantle over many of their lands?

Hard Bargain Farm going light years ahead of just green

A living building sounds like something out of a futuristic, sci-fi movie, but it’s closer than you think — 2015 to be exact. The Alice Ferguson Foundation just broke ground for a living building at Hard Bargain Farm in Accokeek.     The Foundation is the first in the region to build a living building and will be fourth in the world to earn the title.     What does it take to create a living building?
Dear EarthTalk: I’m getting my roof redone and have heard about solar shingles. Are they available — and are they practical for the Northeast?     –John Denson, Glastonbury, CT

In vernal pools, renewal is under way

This time of year, marbled salamander tadpoles are already swimming through the shallow waters of vernal pools. Vernal pools are temporary wetland habitats in our forests. They hold water long enough during spring to attract special animals that you aren’t likely to see anywhere else. Then the pools dry up, so fish and other large predators can’t live there.     What is that? visitors want to know of the oddities they see when exploring a vernal pool at Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary.

By the glass, water’s cheap. Not so when you have to drill 260 feet for it

Water is pretty cheap in the United States: 61 cents a day supplies each of us with our daily ration of 123 gallons of water. Cheap enough that we take it for granted, until the well runs dry. That’s the day dreaded by every well owner, and there are lots of us.     Public water is a blessing of urban and suburban communities. Rural communities still use wells. In Calvert County, where I live, approximately 15,400 out of roughly 34,150 households draw their water from wells.