‘A Step Beyond Sustainable’

‘A Step Beyond Sustainable’

By SUSAN KIM, For BizMonthly Published 08/6/2012keith-223x223

While geothermal systems and other eco-friendly energy sources might help us cause less damage to the Earth, fewer entrepreneurs are focused on restoring nature to its original pristine state, or launching businesses that actually feed energy back to the grid.

Dave Feldman, executive director of Bethesda Green, keeps his eye on new trends among green entrepreneurs. Bethesda Green is a nonprofit in Montgomery County that brings business, government and community organizations together through programs and services to promote a healthy economy and sustainable living practices.

Feldman, from his observations of entrepreneurs, said he has seen only a slight increase in entrepreneurs focusing on restoration and on businesses that produce energy rather than simply focusing on using less energy.

“Restoration, which is a step beyond sustainable, starts from the premise that we have significantly damaged the earth and need to create solutions that reverse this trend,” he said. “Farmers, ecologists and committed environmentalists understand the stakes and are changing practices, processes and approaches to how they do their work,” he added.

Keith Underwood is one entrepreneur who has built a business out of restoring wetlands and streams back to their original state. His company, Underwood & Associates, is committed to combining the needs of a developing society with an adjusting environment. Underwood and his colleagues restore the native interconnected hydrologic cycles through sand seepage wetland and stream restoration. Their projects work to reconnect the water cycle from the highlands to the flood plain, designing drainage systems that reestablish natural microbial habitats and ecosystems imperative to nutrient reduction and sediment control.

There is a “fresh urgency,” when it comes to making up for historic losses within wetlands, said Underwood. “Current science documents that impairment to the health of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem is [a result of] the compromised drainage network.”

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