The program encourages local citizens to take action in their homes and businesses to boost energy efficiency, control energy costs, and build a cleaner future with renewable energy.

“We’re ready to take on the challenge to see how much we can accomplish as a community, working together to make Corvallis a cleaner, greener city,” said Annette Mills, co-chair, Corvallis Sustainability Coalition.

The foundation of the Corvallis Energy Challenge involves energy reviews of homes in the Corvallis community. The reviews will identify measures homeowners can take to save energy and includes installation of up to 10 free CFL bulbs, water-saving showerheads, and faucet aerators. Energy Trust and the Sustainability Coalition aim to conduct 1,000 home energy reviews over the year-long campaign. So far, they’ve conducted 317 with nine months to go. Businesses can also receive a free energy walk-through assessment conducted by an expert from the Corvallis Environmental Center’s (CEC) Resource Efficiency Program.  

For the Sustainability Coalition, the Challenge is an opportunity to further its mission to “promote an ecologically, economically, and socially healthy city and county.”

For Energy Trust of Oregon, the outcome of the Challenge will determine whether a Community Energy Program is an effective way to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy in Oregon. It will also demonstrate to what degree an engaged community can control its energy usage and benefit through savings and increased sustainability.

The Corvallis Sustainability Coalition, a 90-member grassroots organization, was formed in January 2007, following a gathering of interested parties all of whom agreed that they could be more effective at accelerating the sustainability in the community effectively if they worked together. With participation from members as diverse as Allied Waste, Corvallis Independent Business Alliance, OSU, and numerous churches, Sustainability Coalition was the natural choice to implement the Corvallis Energy Challenge.  

“For a community-based effort to succeed, it must grow organically from the community itself and not be led by outsiders,” said Jan Schaeffer, Communications and Marketing Director for Energy Trust of Oregon. “We chose to work with the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition because coalition members so enthusiastically embraced their role as champions for the project.”

In addition to spearheading the Corvallis Energy Challenge, the Sustainability Coalition also has launched the Corvallis Sustainability Action Initiative, a series of town hall meetings to give citizens the opportunity to share their ideas for creating a sustainable community. On March 31, more than 600 residents including businesspeople, community organizers, scientists, teachers, and students gathered at a town hall meeting to begin the process of developing a Community Sustainability Action Plan. Two other town hall meetings are planned before the end of the year (June 25 and October 7) to create an action plan that will direct city planning, projects and community activism. City leaders have invested $30,000 in the town hall meetings and have promised to use the plan to develop city policy.  
“This is the most difficult, most important thing our community will embark upon in coming years,” Mayor Charlie Tomlinson told the crowd at the meeting on March 31.

In addition to the town hall meetings, the Sustainability Initiative process includes activities such as tours, education, workshops, and practical demonstrations that will further inform and encourage the development of the Sustainability Plan. For example, the Coalition created “A Sustainability Guide for the Corvallis Community,” helped install a 1,500 gallon rainwater collection system at First Alternative Co-op South, and is working to improve the stretch of Dixon Creek at Porter Park.  

For more information about the Corvallis Energy Challenge or the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition, visit www.corvallisenergychallenge.org or www.sustainablecorvallis.org.