End of year wrap-up on Strategic Energy Management at the Co-op
Hi there. I hope this finds you well. It’s me, Nina Friedman, Strategic Energy Management (SEM) intern for the Ashland Food Co-op. The global and local crises have only devolved into further chaos since we last spoke. As we sit with the reality of coworkers, neighbors, and friends who’ve lost their homes and businesses to the recent fires, and thousands more across the nation losing their loved ones to COVID-19, I imagine many are feeling frozen and powerless to help those that are suffering. And even less so to try and mitigate climate change and the inevitable limits to our economic and population growth. While we all wrestle with what’s important during these incredibly stressful times—and knowing how impossible things seem—I’d like to share some promising news.
Like with most things in life, there was a learning curve for our first year in the SEM program. As we fumbled to find our footing, we still managed to achieve a 2.6% natural gas savings in 2019. Most importantly, we formed our energy team, and in doing so started to create a more explicit energy savings consciousness throughout the Co-op. We drafted the Co-op’s first energy policy and defined the actions necessary to reach our goals. In essence, we laid the foundation for future successes and savings.
It always feels good to reach your goals. Even better when you smash them. With a goal of 3% natural gas savings in 2020, imagine our elation to see our savings at 6% when all things were said and done. That’s 1,371 therms (over 137 million BTUs) of natural gas that can stay in the ground. This was the year of standardizing procedure. Standard operating procedures (SOPs) were created around the two most important contributors to natural gas consumption at the Co-op, heating the store and heating the water.
How do you reduce natural gas use for heating the store? Put simply, turn down the thermostat. In actuality, we accomplished something a lot more complex than that. We established a thermostat management team and a comprehensive procedure outlining ideal energy-saving temperatures, programming instructions, and reporting for changes made to prescribed schedules. In addition to thermostat management, routine maintenance of our Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) units ensures peak performance for our systems and reduces inefficiencies.
To minimize natural gas use for heating the water, routine maintenance is just as necessary. With large amounts of heat being generated, hot water systems are prone to mineral/scale buildup, especially tankless ones, like ours. If the filters aren't changed regularly, this buildup will greatly reduce the efficiency of the heaters, essentially wasting all the heat that's being generated. Armed with this knowledge, we set out to define and document the proper procedure for changing the store’s hot water filter and create a digital schedule that sets reminders for this and other essential recurring routine maintenance.
These are small successes during a time when we need big change. The Co-op’s energy management won’t reverse our global energy crisis, and energy savings won’t ease our collective distress. This is tangible, though. Real people, at your local food cooperative, taking real steps to lessen its environmental impact. This is something we can feel good about.
More Co-op News
Since 2005, Rogue Valley Mentoring (formerly the Rose Circle Mentoring Network) has trained over 500 adults who have mentored over 2,000 youth in our valley; letting young people know that they are not alone. A caring and compassionate ear shows them that they matter, and they they are experts of their own experience.
As coronavirus cases increase in Jackson County, the Co-op is taking extra precautions to protect shoppers and employees.
To ensure social distancing in the store, the number of persons allowed in the store at once has been reduced to 50% capacity. Understandably, this may lead to a short wait outside of the store, but please be assured the line moves quickly.
In order to keep the wait as short as possible, here are a few steps you can take to help out:
By Allan Weisbard L.C.S.W.
Since 1963, autumn has been a difficult time for me. Two months shy of my 13th birthday I lost my younger brother to cancer, then shortly afterwards, President Kennedy was assassinated.
To protect the health of Co-op staff and shoppers, all shoppers and other visitors on Ashland Food Co-op property must wear face coverings over mouth and nose except when dining in an approved area. As of November 11, 2020, face shields will not be permitted unless worn with a mask.
By Annie Hoy, Board Secretary and Chair of Owner Engagement Committee
Food Co-ops around the nation proudly display signage saying EVERYONE WELCOME. Or they use the slogan, “Anyone can shop. Anyone can join.” But are food co-ops, and other cooperative businesses, walking the walk?
It’s probably already cliche to say “it’s been one heck of a year.” There have been challenges a-plenty for all of us, whether we’re working or shopping at the Co-op - but I’m so proud of how all of us have persevered.
Use your SNAP EBT benefits for all Co-op Kitchen items through November 20th, 2020!
Recognizing the difficulties in food preparation for families who lost their homes in the local wildfires, the State of Oregon has expanded SNAP benefits to be used for hot foods, like made-to-order and hot bar meals from the Co-op Kitchen, through November 20.
And starting on November 16, you can get an early taste of Thanksgiving as the Co-op Kitchen hot bar rolls out the full Thanksgiving spread.
We acknowledge that the Ashland Food Co-op has not had a culture where all employees and community members felt safe sharing their experiences of discrimination in our store. We apologize for this. We are on a learning journey. We have reached out for help, and are listening to our Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) employees and owners who want to be part of the positive change we seek.
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From day one of the Almeda Fires, the Co-op team wanted to help the community. They reached out to vendors across the region and country to ask for their help with products, supplies and food to get to the fire victims.
And that help came through in big ways, getting nutritious food to displaced families, home supplies in high demand, and wellness and food for first responders and firefighters. Thank you for supporting these businesses as thanks for their help in our community's relief efforts.
October is typically Co-op month, to highlight how differently cooperatives do business. But instead of talking about the 7 Cooperative Principles, or the ownership benefits of being part of the Co-op, we only need to look at the past four weeks to see what being a cooperative really means.
As part of the co-op family, you've helped the entire community immensely.
Lisa Shelton, BioIndividual Nutrition Practitioner & Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, put together this recording to discuss nutrition for autism and related conditions including, ADHD, anxiety, and learning disorders as well as strategies for picky eating.
Click here to watch the lecture at your convenience.
The Ashland Food Co-op is dedicated to helping our community and our staff rebuild after the Almeda Fires in early September.
For immediate support, the Co-op gave $1,000 to staff who lost their homes in the fires, as well as $250 for food and other household needs for anyone displaced due to a level 3 evacuation order.
We are thankful for the connection that so many of you have to our staff - you depend on us for recommendations, special requests, and quality customer service; and we depend on you for smiles, kindness, and interactions that brighten our day.
There are some straight-forward and helpful ways to look out for your health when smoke is in the Rogue Valley. Here are a few suggestions:
Ashland is a paradise for the outdoors - but sometimes Mother Nature has different plans for us.
When smoke from wildfires becomes an issue, there are still plenty of great activities to enjoy around our wonderful town. Check out this list for some inspiration!
For the month of September, Ashland Food Co-op shoppers can round up at the register to support Southern Oregon Land Conservancy. Since 1973, SOLC has been working on multiple fronts to improve land quality and conservation for humans and nature alike. Check out some of the projects below that SOLC has been working on recently. And mark your calendar for Saturday, October 24, as SOLC hosts an Open Lands Day hike and tour on the Rogue River Preserve.