Saving money with energy from the sun

David_solarDavid Eckert and Annette Mills had a 3.85 KW solar array installed on their home in November 2014. By April 2015, their solar generation was exceeding the amount of energy used in the home – by 3 times on most days! That’s a huge savings in energy and money. And after rebates and tax credits over four years, they ended up spending just under $2,000 for the unit and installation.

This is only one of the many stories Corvallis residents are telling as part of Take Charge Corvallis…
What is Take Charge Corvallis?
It’s a challenge to reduce the amount of electricity and natural gas used in our homes and municipal buildings. Corvallis is among 50 cities competing to win $5 million from Georgetown University. Take Charge Corvallis is a joint initiative of the Corvallis Environmental Center, Energize Corvallis and the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition.

That’s it?
The larger goal is to find innovative and replicable ways to motivate all community members to reduce their residential and municipal electricity and gas use, so Corvallis can serve as a model to other cities.

When will this be happening?
It’s already started! In 2013-14 we took a baseline measure of the amount of gas and electricity used in Corvallis. During 2015-16 we’ll work to reduce the amount of energy used. If we’re among the top 10 cities in reducing energy use, we’ll submit a final report on how we did it. If we’re chosen, based on our report, we’ll win $5 million!

What will the $5 million be used for?
The money will be used for investments in programs and infrastructure that further help our community save energy for a healthier, more secure future.

OK. Sounds great! How can I help?
Visit energizecorvallis.org/takecharge to find ways you can reduce energy used in your home. Actions range from the easy and cheap (or free!) to more complex, with more investment. You can also help spread the word. Tell your family, friends, coworkers – everyone! You can also become an Energizer. More on that below.

Are there local programs to help us in our energy-saving efforts?
Yes, there are a number of programs that can help you get started or take your energy saving to the next level. For example, through Energy Trust of Oregon, you can access financial incentives for weatherization, heating systems and other home upgrades. Visit energizecorvallis.org/takecharge for a list of programs and offerings.

What will give us the edge to win the finals?
Demonstrating diversification, innovation, and replication will set us apart. We need to reach all kinds of people – home owners, renters, college students, schools, employees of local businesses, etc., to get as many people involved as possible. We need to find innovative ways for all of these people to participate. And we need to show that our efforts can be replicated in other cities, so our good work can help communities across the nation.

OK, I’m saving energy at home and telling all my friends. This is great! What else can I do?
You can become an Energizer and share information with your friends or with groups in the community, such as church groups, sports teams, service clubs, book clubs – any group! Tools are available to help you spread the word. Find out more by contacting the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition at info@sustainablecorvallis.org. You can also make a donation to the Corvallis Environmental Center to help fund a program director for the Take Charge Corvallis efforts. To donate, go to corvallisenvironmentalcenter.org.

What happens at the end of the Take Charge Corvallis energy saving challenge?
Energy saving actions in 2015 and 2016 will continue to save energy well into the future through our new energy saving habits, efficient equipment, and renewable energy projects. We expect to impact long-term energy use as the people of Corvallis learn more ways to save natural gas and electricity.

It’s a Win-Win: Whether we win the money or not, Corvallis still comes out a winner!

Show & Tell: Getting around car-free

Bike_parade_parkGetting around Corvallis and beyond without a car will be the topic of a workshop on Wednesday, May 13, from 6:30 to 8:00 pm at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library, 645 NW Monroe Avenue.Show & Tell: How to Transport Yourself and Your Stuff around Corvallis without a Car” is the title of this free event that is open to the public. This workshop will be of special interest to those who are looking for ways to cut down on their carbon emissions.

Community member panelists will discuss ways to get to work, school, shopping, and fun without a car. Topics include benefits, weather, hauling stuff, best bike routes, community resources, and more. Featured presenters are Christine Dashiell, Vivek Jeevan, Judy McNeece, Dave Rabinowitz, and Lisa Scherf. There will be plenty of time for questions and discussion.

This event is sponsored by the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition, Corvallis-Benton County Public Library, and the City of Corvallis Transportation Options Program. It is one of several special events that are part of the “Get There Corvallis” campaign (www.CorvallisOregon.gov/GetThere).

For further information, contact info@sustainablecorvallis.org.

Investing for the World We Want

An event on the new Oregon law that allows all Oregonians to invest locally will be held this Thursday, May 7, from 6:00 to 9:00 pm at Dennis Hall, First Presbyterian Church (corner of Ninth and Monroe). Investing for the World We Want” is the title of the featured presentation by Marco Vangelisti, who has been a keynoter at the national Slow Money conference.

This past January, a new law went into effect that enables all Oregonians to invest in Oregon businesses. This is a huge step forward in the effort to create sustainable communities, since it gives non-accredited investors a chance to support local businesses and create strong local economies.

Thursday’s event is one of a series of events being held throughout the state to promote this new investing opportunity to the people of Oregon. Hatch Oregon has launched a year-long effort to strengthen Oregon’s economies. Their 2015 Community Capital Initiative includes a major statewide summit, workshops, trainings, regional tours, and panels.

The Corvallis event, which is open to the public free of charge, is sponsored by Willamette Innovators Network, OSU Advantage Accelerator, and the Economic Vitality Action Team of the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition. The event will include refreshments and plenty of time for networking.

For more information, contact Anna Walsh at Anna.Walsh@oregonstate.edu or 541-368-5206.

Quarterly Gathering April 27th

Event to feature diverse local sustainability efforts

An impressive mix of sustainability efforts will be highlighted at the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition’s next Quarterly Gathering on Monday, April 27, from 12 noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library. The gathering will feature brief presentations by two Coalition partners and two Coalition action teams. The public is invited.

Gian Mercurio, Organics Manager for Greenwillow Grains, will share what her business has been doing to help develop a secure local food system. Lee Lazaro of Benton County Rural and Special Transportation will share how that program is supporting the creation of a sustainable community – environmentally, socially, and economically. There will also be a presentation by the Coalition’s Water Action Team, including three students who are analyzing OSU’s stormwater system. In addition, attendees will learn about Take Charge Corvallis! – the initiative being led by the Coalition’s  Energy Action Team and Energize Corvallis as our community competes for a $5 million energy prize.

The gathering will include an opportunity for networking and information sharing by attendees. Refreshments will include delicious baked goods provided by Wild Yeast Community Supported Bakery. The April gathering is sponsored by Coalition partner Republic Services.

The Corvallis Sustainability Coalition is a network of 325 organizations and hundreds of volunteers. Partner organizations include businesses, non-profit organizations, faith communities, educational institutions and government entities. The mission of the group is to promote an ecologically, socially, and economically healthy city and county.  The Coalition is working on a wide variety of projects in 12 topic areas to move toward goals outlined in Community Sustainability: A Framework for Action.

For more information, call 541-230-1237, e-mail info@sustainablecorvallis.org, or visit www.sustainablecorvallis.org.