An update on Strategic Energy Management at the Co-op

By Nina Friedman, Strategic Energy Management intern

“Sometimes there is no time to wait for the storm to calm down! If you have to reach your target, let your voyage start and let the storm be your path!” -- Mehmet Murat İldan

There’s a deadly virus raging, and the world is falling apart - y'know, in case you hadn’t heard. It is indeed a precarious time, but as the Turkish playwright suggests, there is no time to wait: so the Co-op remains steadfast in providing food to the community, prioritizing the health of shoppers and employees, and to our sustainability commitments. Even though some sustainability initiatives are paused during this time of increased precaution, the Co-op charges on through the storm, controlling what we can - like focusing on strategic energy management.

Happy Spring, Co-op owners. My name is Nina Friedman and I’d like to introduce myself as the Co-op’s Sustainability Intern. I joined the team in June of last year as part of the Co-op’s enrollment in the Energy Trust of Oregon’s Strategic Energy Management (SEM) program. My sustainability focus is very specific, as I concentrate on lowering our impact through greater energy efficiency and reducing our reliance on natural gas and other finite resources.

The Co-op began its enrollment in the SEM program at the start of last year; we saved 596 therms, achieving a 2.6% natural gas energy savings compared to our baseline annual energy consumption. Not bad for our first year! Last year’s successes also include establishing the Co-op’s first comprehensive energy policy and annual energy plan. January 2020 marked the beginning of our second year of participation in the Energy Trust of Oregon’s SEM program, and we’re optimistic that our savings will be even higher than last year’s. This year we hope to draw a more complete picture of the Co-op’s energy consumption by expanding our metrics to include electricity data.

To do this work means managing the minutiae, it means investing wholeheartedly in the concept of small actions creating small savings, which create big savings down the line. Small actions, like standardizing thermostat settings, insulating exposed hot water pipes, re-caulking windows, optimizing plug loads, and encouraging staff to flip the switch when lights aren’t in use. These are the wobbly baby steps towards carbon neutrality.

If you’re wondering how to implement some of these energy efficiency practices at home, consider ordering one of Energy Trust of Oregon’s free Energy Savers Kits (only available for Pacific Power or Avista customers). They’ll provide you with products and resources to help reduce your utility bills and your overall impact on the planet. The City of Ashland also provides incentives for a variety of energy efficiency projects around the house; more information can be found on their website. If, like many, you are stuck at home during this sweeping crisis, this may be the best time ever to invest in your home’s energy efficiency.

More Co-op News

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. 

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.

SNAP in the Co-op Kitchen and Thanksgiving

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. 

Black Lives Matter

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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Vendors & businesses donating to relief efforts

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 news at the Co-op

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. 

Support Co-op staff to rebuild

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. 

Smoke Safety

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:

Smoke Safety Tips

10 Things to Do in Ashland (When It's Smoky)

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!

Change for Good in September: Southern Oregon Land Conservancy

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.

Chatting about community giving with JPR's "Jefferson Exchange"

Recently, Julie O'Dwyer, Ashland Food Co-op board vice-president, joined a panel of guests on Jefferson Public Radio's "Jefferson Exchange" to discuss how the pandemic has led to an even greater need for community giving and support of local non-profits.

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