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

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A Visit with Magnolia Farms




Visit Magnolia Farms and learn more about owner Elissa Thau, who the Ashland Food Co-op is so honored to partner with for more than twenty years.

A Visit with Emerald Hills

Visit the Emerald Hills Ranch and learn more about this fourth generation ranching family that the Ashland Food Co-op is so proud to partner with for more than twenty years.

A Conversation with Katie Falkenberg, Photographer and Filmmaker

Katie Falkenberg's photography and filmmaking has taken her all over the world, and lucky for us - she's been calling the Rogue Valley home for a couple years now. Exquisitely and harmoniously capturing the world around her, she is documenting not only through the lens but also through her peaceful and loving spirit. Katie reached out to us in hopes of collaborating after falling in love with the co-op soon after moving here.

January Change for Good Recipient: Rogue Valley Mentoring

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.

Rogue Valley Mentoring Circle

Coronavirus Preparedness at the Co-op

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The Ashland Food Co-op acknowledges and shares our community’s concerns about protecting against the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). The safety and health of staff and customers is a top priority for the Co-op.

Shopping Safely & Efficiently


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:

10 Ways to Shine Your Light in Dark Times

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.

Masks Required for All In-Store Shoppers

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. 

From the Board: Co-ops Look in the Mirror

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? 

November/December GM Update: Overcoming Challenges

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.