MD-AEP Experts Provide Sustainable Planning Expertise to China Urban Planning Delegation

Anhui Leaders with MDE Secretary Bob Summers and MD-AEP Team

The Maryland-Asia Environmental Partnership and the Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) welcomed a 21-member delegation of planning and construction officials from China’s Anhui Province, Maryland’s Sister State. to Baltimore at the Maryland Dept. of Environment on Thursday November 17.  The delegation was visiting the region as part of the University of Maryland training program through the Institute for Global Chinese Affairs. During the two weeks of training, the group met with municipal, county and regional planning authorities to be better understand best practices for urban planning.  They also met with the University of Maryland’s Center for Smart Growth. They were keen to learn more about our experience with sustainable development in the urban setting.  Currently only about 40% of China’s population lives in cities and it is estimated that another 350 million Chinese will become urban by 2025, raising China’s urban numbers to one billion people.  China’s urban planners are busy working out schemes to accommodate all these people.  They are building megacities at a phenomenal pace, on a scale the world has never seen before.

MD-AEP’s President and Founder Peter Gourlay and Dr. Robert Summers Secretary of MDE welcomed the delegation and provided some background on Maryland’s engagement of China on environmental issues.  MD-AEP assembled a team of presenters to provide the delegation with insights on sustainable development and showcased the importance of integrating rural village planning to those efforts within the urban centers ensuring integration of natural resource management plans with the overall urban policies and planning. John Spears, president of the Sustainable Design Group and President and CEO of the International Center for Sustainable Development highlighted case studies where he has worked in China to demonstrate how rural problems directly affect urban living.  He emphasized the importance of China’s rural communities to China’s urban growth.  Because China’s cities are growing outward as well as upward, urbanization has also consumed some 45,000 square miles of productive farmland over the last 30 years.

Spears noted that China’s food production needs led to his work in villages throughout China on how to develop sustainable villages to improve quality of life and encourage food production. He discussed the importance of transferring the principles of sustainable village planning to ensure scalable plans which include better integrated systems to perform effectively as a village.  He stressed that many of the current planning systems in China are not connected as conventional technology pollutes the land for growing, affects public health and extracts wealth from communities. “A key principle is to maximize resources like sun, water, biomass, land and the people in each village,” said Spears. He noted the importance of retaining a village’s natural resources and not exporting its resources which translates into exporting wealth from the community. One example he noted was a village named Guang Han where he helped to increase the economic welfare of the village by identifying the best return on investment for crops in that climate while also establishing a bioenergy plant to harvest resources from pig waste using biogas digesters. Biogas was used as generator for community’s electricity needs while the excess waste product was composted as organic fertilizer to grow crops. “We’ve proven the results of this process in Guang Han, and other villages in China, which multiplied the positive economic development three-fold over current systems,” he said.

David Feldman, Executive Director of Bethesda Green, a non-profit sustainability group in Maryland, provided an overview their community based education initiatives in Bethesda to the general population, business, and government as a possible model for China.  Bethesda Green worked with the local Department of Environmental Protection and high schools to scale up effort in collecting E-Waste, resulting in more than 180,000 pounds of used electronic equipment, a 15-fold improvement on previous results. Bethesda Green’s outreach programs work with communities to set up recycling bins, they work with restaurants to collect grease and convert it to biodiesel fuel.  They’ve mobilized thousands of residents, whether in recycling bottles and computers or educating others, is an important step toward creating a more sustainable community.  Feldman also talked about the importance of its Green Business Incubator which helps seed the next generation of green entrepreneurs.”  He noted that the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) invited Bethesda Green to their recent APEC meeting in Indonesia to provide insights on best practices in this area.

Tom Sprehe, Senior Vice President and David Locke Senior Associate and Practice Leader from KCI Technologies provided insights on how they have worked with the City of Baltimore and noted the comparison with China’s City of Tianjin and opportunities for sharing lessons learned.  Both Tianjin and Baltimore share a common regional experience of being located closely to their nations’ capitals of Beijing and Washington D.C.  They are both industrial port cities. In Baltimore’s case, Sprehe emphasized that the city is experiencing aging infrastructure strains while losing its population to the suburbs impacting the ability of the city to pay for upgrading its infrastructure.  Sprehe highlighted KCI’s work with the city to help them manage their water infrastructure and discussed the impact of increasingly frequent water main breaks which can be disastrous for the city’s economy.  KCI’s role has been to help the city to avoid such catastrophes, but managing water and sewers systems which may have been designed over 75 yrs ago will continue to be a challenge. KCI is playing a leading role in providing cutting edge technological approaches to cleaning up Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and showcasing innovative approaches for sustainable development in area watersheds impacting the Chesapeake Bay, a key economic driver for Maryland’s economy.

MD-AEP will continue to engage the Anhui delegation to share best practices, scalable sustainability approaches and develop partnerships in the region.

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Maryland DBED’s Bradley Gillenwater to Receive MD-AEP Award at Dec 6 Banquet

Bradley Gillenwater

The Maryland-Asia Environmental Partnership is pleased to award Bradley Gillenwater, Regional Asia Manager for the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, with MD-AEP’s 2011 Sustainable Economic Development Leader Award.  This award recognizes an individual working in economic development that has shown great ingenuity, tact and determination in pursuing business opportunities to benefit Maryland in the energy and environmental marketplace.  Brad will receive the award during MD-AEP’s 3rd Annual Energy and Environmental Leadership Awards Banquet on December 6 at the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology.

“Brad has been a key supporter and enthusiastic promoter of Maryland businesses of every size during his tenure at Maryland’s Department of Economic Development, working to connect public resources, private sector capabilities and interests and the membership associations that form the network of Maryland’s international business community,” said Mike Violette, President of Washington Laboratories.  “Brad knows Asia and knows Maryland. He is unmatched resource in our home state, a considered and faithful friend and well-deserves the MDAEP Sustainable Economic Development Leadership Award,” he said.

Over the last four years at DBED, Brad has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to helping Maryland attract Asian businesses to our state and helped Maryland firms penetrate the Asian marketplace.  Having lived in Taiwan, Brad has a great understanding of Asia culture and his Mandarin language skills has further aided in his success in leading DBED’s foreign direct investment attraction efforts in Asia. He has targeted some of China, Korea and Taiwan’s leading alternative energy and environmental firms, including one of China’s two largest new energy associations, its largest electric vehicle manufacturer, one of its ten largest solar panel developers, and a major Korean LED light fixtures provider.

Brad has shown great ingenuity through constant nurturing with China’s embassy in Washington as well as government and business contacts in China, as he has leveraged the University of Maryland-China Research Park relationship with China with DBED’s burgeoning foreign direct investment efforts and its already strong China market program.

Brad managed Governor O’Malley’s successful June 2011 investment and trade mission to Asia which resulted in agreements totaling $85 million in direct foreign investment and numerous collaborative business deals during the mission.  One such result of the mission was the announcement by DaSol, a mid-sized Chinese solar panel developer, to expand its U.S. research and development and business development office within the Maryland International Incubator (MI2) at College Park. Brad and his DBED and University of Maryland colleagues had originally recruited the firm to the State in 2010.

MD-AEP To Award Dr. Donald Boesch with its 2011 Energy and Environmental Leadership Award

Dr. Donald Boesch

The Maryland-Asia Environmental Partnership (MD-AEP) is pleased to announce MD-AEP’s 2011 Energy and Environmental Leadership Award recipient, Dr. Donald F. Boesch, President of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.  Dr. Boesch will be honored on Dec 6 at MD-AEP’s 3rd Annual Banquet at Baltimore’s Institute for Marine and Environmental Technology.  This award recognizes a Maryland leader who has provided both state and national leadership on energy and environment issues.  Previous award winners were Dr. Rita Colwell in 2010, Distinguished Professor at UMD and JHU and Dr. Michael Galiazzo, President of the Regional Manufacturing Institute in 2009.

As one of the preeminent estuarine scientist in the world, Dr. Boesch also has an uncanny ability to translate science in ways that are useful not only to his fellow Marylanders, but all around the world.  He has conducted research on coastal and continental shelf ecosystems through the United States and in China and Australia and spent much of his career conducting or leading research related to the restoration of two great American coastal ecosystems, the Chesapeake Bay, and the Mississippi Delta.

Dr. Boesch is the Chair of the National Research Council’s Ocean Studies Board and served as a member of the National Academies’ Committee on America’s Climate Choices.  He is the only scientist to serve as an official advisor to both the Pew Oceans Commission and the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy.  In 2010, President Obama chose Dr. Boesch as one of seven members to serve on the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill to investigate the root causes of the blowout at the Macondo Prospect in the Gulf of Mexico.

Dr. Boesch also serves as Vice Chancellor for Environmental Sustainability for the University System of Maryland (USM).  “Don’s experience and insight has been invaluable as we coordinate a system-wide effort to institute sustainable practices that reduce our impact on the environment and work to strengthen our educational and research activities on the challenges of climate change,” said Dr. William E. Kirwan, Chancellor of USM.

Dr. Boesch will be honored at our annual Banquet on Dec 6 at the Institute of Marine and Environmental Science in Baltimore.
See more about the Banquet here

MD-AEP Makes Splash in Singapore

I’m writing to you from the Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) event in Singapore and want to share some insights from our visit here.  We are representing a delegation comprised of leading water technologies and expertise at the world’s top business water show and it is very gratifying to hear their overwhelmingly good feedback from those who joined our delegation.  I participated in the opening press conference and highlighted Maryland and it scientific and research leadership while also emphasizing the value of coming to SIWW, where we’ve participated since it’s inception in 2008.  We held a joint outreach forum with the Singapore Water Association and showcased Chesapeake Bay and significant technologies like those from Bluewing, SolarBee and Everpure.  The Everpure wastewater recovery technology, which recovers up to 97% wastewater discharge,  has received a lot of attention and we understand the Singapore water authority has already indicated an interest to do a pilot study to test the technology.  We are meeting with top ministers throughout the session including the water ministers from India, Jamaica and Malaysia.  I had good discussions with the President and CEO of Sembcorp, one of the largest companies in Singapore, who also happens to be the head of the Singapore Water Association.   I even had a chance to shake hands the Singapore Prime Minister yesterday.  Where else can you have such high level access to the world’s water leaders in a relaxed business setting?  We are making significant contacts and creating some great awareness for Maryland as a business partner and location for doing business.  We look forward to the signing ceremony on Thursday to formalize our partnership with Singapore’s Public Utilities Board.

Maryland on the Global Stage

Stepping up to the plate

After months of recruiting top speakers, signing on cooperating organizations and getting the word out, last Wednesday we hosted MD-AEP’s Clean Water Summit.  As I opened the program it was so gratifying to look from the podium and see the diversity of organizations represented in the seats and to have the conversation evolve the way it did. By not having PowerPoints allowed on our panels, we opened up the dialogue and truly got some great insights about addressing our water systems more holistically. The exchange was really good.  It was a treat to hear state and national leaders from government, business in academia from the climate, health, energy and water disciplines freely engage one another on integrated water solutions.  That doesn’t occur very often, but it is critical if we are going to get ahead of some of the world’s most pressing issues in each of those areas.  I was encouraged from the many “aha” moments that took place during the forum as I heard people say, “wow” that was really great that you had Jhpiego’s Leslie Mancuso speak to open the forum and remind us all of what happens to the most vulnerable among us when you don’t have clean water.  And, “I really didn’t fully appreciate the interconnectedness of the water-energy issue until I heard it so well articulated by Jim Connaughton from Constellation Energy.” I was also really happy with the great engagement that took place between our state and national government officials as Ann Swanson from the Chesapeake Bay Commission told us that the Chesapeake Bay region was perhaps the number one leader in the United States on embracing advanced sewage treatment  and that we have the results prove it.  Meanwhile, Chesapeake Bay continues to emerge as an environmental testing ground for some of the most innovative technology solutions to help with nutrient reduction.  So now the next challenge is assembling our silos of expertise and connecting them as bring our technologies and sense of can do to Singapore International Water Week this July 4-8 where we aim to showcase Maryland’s green leadership and build water partnerships top address problems where we may have some very relevant solutions to the region’s water woes.

Assembling Maryland Leaders to Meet with Khoo Teng Chye in Washington D.C.

In preparation for hosting our Clean Water Summit on April 13 in Baltimore and the follow on trade mission to Singapore International Water Week , July 4-8, last week I had the privilege of hosting a gathering of Maryland’s government, science and industry technology leaders for a lunch at the National Press Club to welcome Khoo Teng Chye, Chief Executive of Singapore’s national water agency, PUB.   Mr. Khoo was in the U.S. for a visit and was kind enough to take the time to visit with us and hear from our unique MD-AEP Public-Private network.  PUB has led Singapore’s remarkable water sustainability efforts which have turned the country’s water vulnerability into a strategic asset for the country.  I was proud to look around the table and see the great expertise embodied in those that came to meet with Mr. Khoo, including Dr. Rita Colwell, Distinguished Professor at the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University and Winner of the Stockholm Water Prize;  Acting Secretary of Maryland’s Department of Environment Bob Summers; Tom Sprehe, Senior Vice President from KCI Technologies, who is spearheading the firm’s environmental practice which includes, nutrient trading schemes, poultry conversion technologies and variety of innovative water management applications being tested in Chesapeake Bay and other waterways; Ron McIlwain, President of FilterSure, Inc whose firm just completed a cutting edge water fracking demonstration project that has proved the efficacy of treated wastewater treatment process at West Virginia University under a U.S. Department of Energy grant; Vance Hum, President and CEO of I.M. Systems Group, the top NOAA contractor, which is called upon by Asian government leaders to help with forecasting counter measures for extreme weather events and protecting their marine ecosystems among other needs.  We recruited a good team from the lunch that will join our delegation to SIWW in July where we will have an impressive Maryland pavilion showcasing our 360 water solutions capability.

Maryland and World Water Day

As we take note of World Water Day here in Maryland we are thankful that, unlike many parts of the world today, we have abundant water supplies for our drinking, industrial and agricultural needs.  And while not as clean as we want it to be, we are also thankful to have the gift of Chesapeake Bay which supplies not only water resources, but a huge source of jobs, leisure and revenue for our state.  We need to talk more about the “valuation of clean water” to make sure we get stakeholders to appreciate that this is a resource that needs to be preserved.  If we want a vibrant tourism industry, a vibrant fishing industry and for our property to appreciate on the shores of Chesapeake Bay, we must work together to protect this economic resource.  Join business and government to discuss this and more at our April 13 Clean Water Summit at the Center Club in Baltimore, Maryland.  For more information see http://www.regonline.com/builder/site/Default.aspx?EventID=937643