Monday, November 5, 2007

Green Building Project Proposal for People's Co-op

Solar-Electric Power and People’s Food Cooperative

   As the natural food industry becomes a global commodity, the disproportionate imbalance of calories consumed to create calories of food energy continues to grow exponentially. Rebuilding sustainable local food systems offers a viable solution to reducing the farm to plate miles, and the associated energy consumption / carbon footprint. In order to further offset this phenomenon, the final mile (retail distribution) must actively seek to reduce the energy consumption required to stock and sell its products. Increasing energy efficiency and reducing dependence on conventional energy sources can be realistically achieved without sacrifice to profitability.

The average produce travels 1,500 miles from farm to plate. Buying closer to home reduces the distance, transportation costs and the environmental impact.” – corporate website

One of the principles of modern grass farming is that to the greatest extent possible farmers should rely on the contemporary energy of the sun, as captured every day by photosynthesis, instead of the fossilized sun energy contained in petroleum.”-The Omnivore’s Dilemma, pg. 188

   Natural food stores and cooperatives in the Portland area are actively seeking to reduce their carbon footprint not only through local sourcing, but through innovative energy and waste reduction programs. People’s Food Coop is already the leader in incorporating green building principles into their current location. Neither Alberta Food Coop nor Food Front has shown as strong a commitment as People’s. This project is about exploring how People’s could take that commitment further by pursuing solar power in one form or another at their current location. This course of action would be in pursuit of deeper commitment and devotion to the seventh cooperative principle of concern for community. By becoming more responsible and sustainable in its energy consumption through solar power, People’s would be taking a leading role in reducing its carbon footprint and ending our nation’s reliance on non-renewable sources of energy. We believe that this possible course of action could go hand in hand with other plans that People’s has for the future to reduce its impact on the environment, such as its planned use of roof-runoff water to supply its low-flow toilets.

   We will gain insight in to People’s current energy usage by having the Energy Trust of Oregon conduct an energy/green audit, and compare People’s current energy usage to 2003 remodel for a baseline. From there we will talk to commercial solar installation companies in the area such as Mr. Sun Solar to have them do a feasibility study of the site, and give us information on what the costs and benefits would be if People’s followed through with a solar electric system. We will also compile information from the Energy trust of Oregon that lays out what incentives People’s can take advantage of to recoup some of their expenses for installing a solar electric system.

   We expect to find at the end of our research that it is financially feasible for People’s to purchase and install a solar electric system at their location, and that a staged implementation plan will put the least financial strain on the cooperative.

   At the end of this project, we plan on delivering a PowerPoint presentation accompanied by a short packet that will lay out the results of the energy audit and the feasibility study of solar-electric at the site. The final project we will have accomplished at the end of the term is a detailed and comprehensive plan of action that People’s could implement to install a solar-electric system. This plan of action would cover how they would find a contractor, what they could expect their options to be and the associated costs, the different governmental and private incentives available to People’s, and what benefits People’s could expect to realize from the solar-electric system.

Key Dates

Nov. 5th: Project proposal

Nov. 9th: Energy Trust site visit

Nov. 13th: Attend class on solar-electric energy

Nov. 16th: Have completed all site visits by Energy Trust & by solar-electric contractors

Nov. 21st: Hand in executive summary

Dec. 3rd: Final presentation


The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan. Penguin Press, New York City, NY. 2006. Page 188.

1 comment:

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