Through the Renewable Northwest Project, a number of businesses and organizations in the Willamette Valley are choosing to support the use and development of sustainable energy sources by meeting the Renewable Northwest Project’s Clean Energy Challenge. In fact, Salem’s own Kettle Foods is going above and beyond the challenge by purchasing 100 percent of its electricity needs from renewable energy sources. Kettle Foods offsets its electricity use by purchasing 8,750,000-kilowatt hours (kWh) of wind renewable energy credits (REC) annually in partnership with Renewable Choice Energy. Kettle Foods also uses other renewable energy sources, including generating 130,000 kWh of solar power annually at its headquarters in Salem and recycling its used cooking oil into biodiesel. Other businesses in the area who meet the Clean Energy Challenge include American Dream Pizza in Corvallis, City of Corvallis, Corvallis Chamber of Commerce and David Evans & Associates in Salem.

Temple Beth Sholom falls to the green side

As a member of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL), Temple Beth Sholom is working toward sustainability. They are participating in a nationwide effort to replace existing light bulbs with CFL lights. With eager “green” advocates as congregants encouraging the temple to become more sustainable, including a Sunday school class known as “Green Class,” the Temple’s 22,000-square-foot building in South Salem is well on its way to setting an example for other organizations. Beyond changing light bulbs, one of the Temple congregants wrote a grant to Marion County for the funds to purchase ClearStream® units for recycling. Distributing the units in four different areas throughout the temple encourages recycling and the units’ bags are biodegradable and clear, so it’s easier for people to see what goes where.

“We are working hard in every way possible to make our members aware of and instill in them principles of sustainability,” says Temple Administrator Judith Havas.

Since Temple Beth is affiliated with the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, which is dedicated to tikkum olam, a Hebrew phrase that means “repairing the world,” going green is not a new idea or goal for them. They’ve been recycling paper and using recycled plastic for a number of years.

When they made the move to their new location in South Salem over a year ago, they organized a “Torah trek,” where they walked the Temple’s Torah to its new sacred home while picking up trash and cleaning the streets along the way.  

Storm water practices make rainy weather an eco-nightmare

In December, the Oregon Environmental Council released a first-of-its-kind report, “Stormwater Solutions: Turning Oregon’s Rain Back into a Resource,” which examines how Oregon’s urban environment turns rain into a problem — and how this can be corrected.

In urban areas, the hard, solid surfaces created by buildings and pavement cause rainwater and snowmelt to flow quickly, rather than soaking into the soil or being absorbed by plants. This changes stream flows, increases flooding, endangers private and public infrastructure, erodes stream banks and channels, and destroys fish habitat. Runoff also carries pollutants such as oil, heavy metals, bacteria, sediment, pesticides, and fertilizers into streams and groundwater. In addition, the way most urban areas currently manage storm water increases the risk of downstream flooding, damages urban streams, and causes water pollution. While new, cost-effective technologies are available to address these problems, they are uncommon outside of Oregon’s largest cities.

To solve this problem, the Oregon Environmental Council and a team of 18 experts from around the state worked for over a year to develop a wide range of strategies for developers, builders, designers, state and local governments, and others to overcome existing barriers to successful storm water management. To seek input on potential solutions, the team conducted a nonscientific survey of over 150 storm water professionals from across Oregon. Those surveyed helped identify the pollution sources most in need of additional attention, including oil and fluid leaks from vehicles, erosion from construction, dumping waste into storm drains, and urban use of fertilizers and pesticides.

The report is available online at oeconline.org.