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

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.

JPR logo

Coronavirus Preparedness at the Co-op

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. We are taking proactive steps throughout our store to maintain a clean atmosphere to work and shop.

We have consolidated store changes below.

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.

Those who are unable or choose not to wear a mask are welcome to use our recently launched eGrocery online shopping and curbside pickup service as an alternative to shopping in-store.

Get to know Ashland Emergency Food Bank

The sixth cooperative principle, "Concern for Community," has become even more important since the pandemic began and economies, locally and globally, started to constrict. To address this, the Board of Directors agreed in April to release 100% of patronage dividends and designate Ashland Emergency Food Bank as a donation option for those dividends - resulting in over $20,000 in donations. And with the early launch of Change for Good register round-up, AEFB was a natural choice to receive round-up donations. 

2020 Co-op Election Results

2020 Co-op Election Results

Ashland Food Co-op owners voted for three open seats on the Board of Directors, and for ten non-profit organizations for the Change for Good register round-up program.

Click a name below to read more about that Co-op Board member.

Co-op Owners Step-Up to Support the Ashland Emergency Food Bank!

AFC and AEFB Press Release - Local Strength!

Release Date: 5-26-2020

In April, the Ashland Food Co-op Board of Directors announced to the community that the Co-op would be returning 100% of the 2019 Patronage Dividend to its owners. The 100% Patronage Dividend return to Co-op owners converted to over $628,000.

The Co-op Board felt in this time of great need it was not the right time for the Co-op to put away funds for the future, but rather to support owners fully so they may have more strength to weather these stormy times.

Free Monday Night Lectures - virtual and recorded

Thanks to the many agile and adaptable experts in the Rogue Valley, the much-loved Free Monday Night Lectures live on - even if everything is moving online.

While we miss seeing community members with a joy of learning showing up at the Co-op Classroom, we hope these recordings teach and inspire you. 


Open letter from AFC Board on Coronavirus Policies

The Ashland Food Co-op has played a critical role supporting our community for nearly 50 years by providing healthy food and a safe place to shop. With the recent COVID-19 shutdown, this support has been even more important and has stretched our organization in ways that we could not have anticipated. We have endeavored to address the needs of both our staff and our customers, hopefully in the most cooperative manner.

Owner Voting on 2020 Co-op Board & more

As an owner of the Ashland Food Co-op, you are an important decision-maker in the leadership of the Co-op! A vital part of your ownership is voting for the Board of Directors.

On the ballot: Vote for Board Candidates and Change for Good Organizations

Vote for Board Candidates
This year, four candidates are nominated for three Board positions: each elected Board director will serve a three-year term. The candidates are Ed Claassen, Mark Gibbs, Carolina Livi and Julie O'Dywer.

A dozen local favorites to explore this summer

The Co-op has always had a focus on supporting the strong local scene of growers and producers - and in these times, it's even more important. Here is just a small selection of some of our favorites from the area.  Help support local businesses next time you stop by the Co-op by picking one of these products.

Unwavering Spirit in a Time of Change

By Emile Amarotico, General Manager

It’s been two months since my last update on our Co-op community, but it could just as well have been two years ago, or from an alternate reality! Needless to say, life at the Co-op has changed, and it hasn’t been easy for employees or shoppers. But despite the challenges, it has been an inspiring and reaffirming time that reminds us why we love the cooperative enterprise.