Viewfinder: Vienna Green Expo

We are always on the prowl in our communities for great photos and local stories. This week, residents celebrated sustainability and got tips on how to be more green at the Vienna Green Expo.

When you look around town, what do you see?

Every week, we'll highlight people, places and events around Vienna in this spot.

This week:

More than 30 vendors, from food suppliers to remodelers, advocacy clubs and biking groups, set up for this year's Vienna Green Expo, an event where residents can learn more about green choices and celebrate sustainability efforts.

In its third year, the expo also featured something new: a Green Business Recognition, given by the Town Business Liaison Committee to a local business that adopts green practices. This year's recipient was Maple Ave Restaurant.

The Town of Vienna already encourages local businesses to adopt programs or add technology that conserves energy, reduces greenhouse gas emissions or waste and improves water quality, among other green efforts, said TBLC member Greg Bernhard.

But it does not currently have a separate green program. So the TBLC decided to look at other state and national standards -- like  Virginia's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Green Program, which "works to reduce the environmental impacts of Virginia's Tourism Industry" -- for guidance on how to recognize local businesses, said TBLC member Peter Connor. Maple Ave Restaurant, the only business in town certified as green by the DEQ, is the first recipient of the town's green business recognition, he said.

Joey Hernandez, who , said incorporating green practices into their business has always been a part of their dream. It can be an expensive investment, but "we'd much rather take an extra step to stick to our priorities and our values," she said.

The restaurant grows several different types of produce, such as arugula, beets, cilantro and tomatoes, that it uses in the restaurant or on its food truck, Maple Avenue Express (MAX), which travels the area during the lunch hour. Much of its produce, along with some meat, comes from local grocer . They source their food locally and have a company pick up their cooking oil so it can be reprocessed and reused. They also recycle -- something Hernandez says wasn't done by the previous tenant.

"When we got here, there were no recycling bins. Today, our recycling pile is as big as our trash pile," she said. "We're a true modern mom and pop restaurant, so we're trying to show that if we can do it, big chains can do it, too."

Members of the Watt Watchers program, including councilwoman Edythe Kelleher, were also on hand to share the results of their energy-tracking challenge. Kelleher says she, her husband and three sons learned some interesting things as they tracked their utility usage for about a month. For one, it cost about a cent an hour when computers are left on, something that she says her sons frequently do. Over a year, that cost can amount to about $96, she said -- and that's just one computer.

"My son said 'Oh, mom, that's not expensive, it's not a big deal,'" Kelleher said. "But it really adds up."

She also found it cost two to two and a half cents to make a pot of coffee, including grinding the beans. What surprised her the most, however, was the most efficient and cost-effective way to run the dryer: a medium heat and a shorter drying time. Drying clothes at a lower heat, but for a longer period of time, costs more in the end, she said.

Click through our photo gallery to catch a glimpse of the event.


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