Electrifying your Life is Climate Action

Over the last year, the LOSN “Electrify LO” campaign has promoted the importance of moving away from fossil fuels toward electrification of vehicles and homes as among the most important ways we can reduce our carbon footprint and address the climate crisis. Now we can dive into when and how to electrify with information on financial incentives for home electrification and electric vehicles, how to choose a contractor for heat pumps for space conditioning, and how to try out an induction cooktop.

What Incentives Are Available Now? What Other Incentives Are Coming?

On January 1, 2023, new tax credits became available for many home electrification and energy efficiency projects including weatherization, heat pump water heaters, heat pumps for space heating and cooling, electrical panel upgrades, rooftop solar and home battery storage systems.

Later this year (or early 2024) additional upfront discounts (also called rebates) will become available for these improvements for lower-income and some middle-income families. The discounts, which can be combined with the tax credits, can be additionally used for induction and electric stoves, new wiring, and heat pump clothes dryers.

One more discount, available at all income levels, is called a whole home energy reduction rebate and it rewards homeowners for overall energy use reductions.

READ MORE ….

Electrify LO home

Backyard Habitat Certification Story

Testimonial from Monica Delzeit

Rachel Carson saw it coming 60 years ago. As a medical professional, I see our number one public health concern as the climate crisis. No other public health concern will affect us all. After retiring, I felt that I could add to my love of gardening and include all the portions of the Backyard Habitat Certification Program. Despite my orthopedic issues, I’ve been able to introduce and maintain all 5 pillars of this program, without much outside help:

monica's yard
  1. Native plants and trees house and feed the native insects, birds and mammals that co-evolved with them over geologic time. Co-evolving means just the right color, sugar composition, height, etc. attracts hundreds of species instead of just a handful with non-native plants and trees.
  2. Noxious weeds have no native predators to keep their growth and spread controlled. In this way, they reduce biodiversity of native plants and, in turn, the native insects, birds, and mammals that rely on native plants for housing and forage. I want to see more of our charismatic fauna, not less.
  3. Pesticides/Herbicides/Fertilizers are primarily made in a lab and get into the ground water and bodies of water, adversely affecting native water life and us. Native plants and trees don’t require these chemicals. Our natural environment is all they need.
  4. Stormwater washing over our roofs, driveways, sidewalks and roadways picks up pollutants like your neighbors pesticides/herbicides, motor oil and gasoline, metals and other chemicals. These drain into our beautiful rivers and streams, endangering water quality and wildlife. The program encourages nine possible management actions.
  5. The newest piece to me is wildlife stewardship. This can include keeping cats indoors; keeping a water feature clean for birds, insects and amphibians; nurturing mason bees; putting in a pollinator meadow (if you have a large enough property); leaving leaves, snags and nurse logs; reducing outdoor lighting during bird migration; to name a few.

I so enjoyed the sense of community and common sensibilities this program created that I became a certification volunteer in 2021. I’m heartened by the commitment of so many new friends to stewarding out beautiful temperate rain forest in Lake Oswego, and beyond. It gives me hope.

Good news! The program has recently caught up on enrolling interested new participants in Lake Oswego.

leave the leaves sign

The Humble Habitat Re-Wilding Project

Testimonial from Mark & Leah Puhlman

We’ve always loved a project.  When we moved to the Portland Metro area, our housing search brought us to a bank-owned rancher style home on half an acre in Lake Oswego. As you can see from the pictures, we had our work cut out for us.

We quickly learned transforming a neglected, blackberry and ivy infested half acre is a marathon, not a sprint. We started slow and are still working toward our vision 11 years after we purchased the home. 

When we purchased the property there were some rhododendrons and azaleas, a couple of Douglas fir trees, and we were thrilled to find a flourishing Madrone. And lawn. So much lawn. Most of the three sides of the property were lined with six foot high, 12 foot wide hedges of Himalayan blackberry. 

 

Together, we set out to transform the property into something that was sustainable, friendly to both insect and animal life, and beautiful. Our goals included:

  1. Low maintenance
  2. Areas for outdoor relaxation
  3. A vegetable garden
  4. Plants and features that supported pollinators and birds
  5. Decreased lawn.

Our first task was to rid the property of invasive plant life. The most prevalent species was the Himalayan blackberry but there was also ample English ivy and Creeping buttercup to remove as well. As you can see from the pictures, sometimes the blackberry won and sometimes we won.

Battling Blackberries

To remove most of the blackberries took three years. However, the removal of invasives is never a one and done assignment. After eleven years, we are still pulling blackberry and ivy found under bushes and in the planting areas. 

When we retired Leah became a Master Gardener and Mark joined the Lake Oswego Sustainability Network and the Lake Oswego Sustainability Advisory Board. Many of the plants we chose in the first few years were just what was available at local nurseries and big box stores.  When we started going for Backyard Habitat certification, we learned so much and found great resources for native plants.  We are still removing our unfortunate choices and replacing them with keystone native plants whenever possible. 

Trees are a central element of the garden. Collaborative decision making regarding the tree selection was vital to matrimonial harmony as well as ecologically appropriate decisions. We have removed an invasive Norway Maple that we planted early on and have replaced a dying, non-native birch tree with a Big Leaf Maple – a keystone plant that supports a vast array of pollinators. Up next is removing a Bradford Pear, another invasive species, with native Bitter Cherry, Prunus emarginata, another keystone tree. 

We continually learn more and as we do, we change our decisions and behaviors. The lawn has shrunk to a fraction of its previous size and provides a pathway through the garden and a racecourse for the dogs.  We have added a large water feature,  routed two downspouts into bioswales, and we have a rain garden in the back yard.  As we fill in the bare spots with easy care, drought tolerant natives, the landscape is becoming less work, uses less water, and provides pleasant habitat for humans and creatures alike. 

We have gold certification in the EcoHome LO program for Lake Oswego. We have a Silver certification from the Backyard Habitat program and should receive platinum status upon recertification.  We are a National Wildlife Federation certified habitat garden, and we are registered in The Home-Grown National Park movement as described in the Douglas Tallamy book “Nature’s Best Hope.” Leah used this book as a guide for her recent Garden Wilding webinar for the Master Gardener program. Every plant purchased these days gets weighed on the scale of the wildlife it will support.

Our “Humble Habitat” garden is a work in progress.  We are learning that each yard can be a powerful tool to protect biodiversity for our rapidly dwindling wildlife. There is no better feeling than to walk out in a yard that is teeming with life, brings joy to the observer, and restores a natural balance to our small piece of the world.

Students on Sustainability

Why Did You Take the Sustainability Class?

LOSN recently asked students from the Sustainability elective class at Lakeridge High School why they chose this elective. Here are their responses.

I took sustainability because I think the strategies used to establish sustainable solutions should be accessible to the younger generations, because we are the ones saddled with the impacts of climate change the most. – Lindsey G.

I took sustainability because I wanted to understand more about the Earth and how we can help reverse climate change. I also wanted to be able to use the sustainable practices that I have learned in class in my life. –  Zoe B.

I took sustainability because I wanted to learn more about how to be sustainable in my own everyday life. – Marcella S.

I took sustainability because I wanted to educate myself more on the subject and be able to teach others how to be sustainable.
Kayley O.

Based on Bob Doppelt, "The Power of Sustainable Thinking", Peter Senge et. Al., "The Necessary Revolution"

For more on Sustainability and the Triple-Bottom-Line click here.

I took sustainability because I think we need to look after our planet. I have a lot of anxiety about the future of our planet and find myself feeling very guilty about my own habits. I wanted to do more than give up but the constant torturing of myself for my decision did not seem healthy. – anon

I took Sustainability because I enjoy the environment and I feel that what we learn in this class should be taught to all 🦧

The reason I joined Sustainability is because I’ve always been interested in the environment and nature, additionally I have learned more in this class than any other and I use what I’m taught in sustainability more often in my day-to-day life. –  Nabil B.

I took sustainability because I wanted to learn more about the concept and what is actually going on in the world. I also wanted to learn about what we can do and how we can help our environment. – Emma C.

I took sustainability because I was curious about the impact we have kn the environment – Tai K.

I took sustainability because I think it’s important to have knowledge of the world around us and how to problem solve to cultivate a better future for everyone on the planet. Even if someone is not interested is a sustainability career I still think this class is important for anyone to take just to be better connected with the world around us. –Anna J.

I took sustainability because of the people that are involved, there are many bright people who took this class and to hear people’s ideas about how to help better our planet is awesome to hear. – Sean S. 🦧

I took sustainability because I have always been very concerned about the environment. I have been interested in the topic and researching it for a while and I took this class to hopefully learn more about it which luckily happened! – Kelsey “Big K, Big k” Brown

I took sustainability because it was a subject that has never been taught before and I was interested in learning more. When it comes to sustainability there is always more to learn! – Kate K.

I took Sustainability because I wanted to be more aware of the things going on in the environment. In doing so, I am able to feel more involved with my community. – Luna H.

I took sustainability because it is very important as well as interesting! Sustainable practices are very important to know in both daily life, as well as the future of the entire planet going forward. – Kian C.

I chose to take Sustainability because I have always been interested in my environment, and I wanted to better my school community with sustainable class practices. – Julianna C.

Sustainability flipped my worldview on ecology on its head and got me to really get to know my classmates. For that reason, I think this should be a required class worldwide. – Michael M.

I took sustainability because when I read the course description, I was interested in the class and learning more about the environment. Learning about nature and how to live in it without harming it, is one of the most important things. This class has brought to my attention many impacts we have had on the planet, but also solutions to some of them and ways to move forward in the future. Sustainability is part of our future and is crucial to learn about because it will be needed for the following generations. – Margaux M.

I took sustainability because I love nature! Educating ourselves and others on how we can protect our ecosystems is a crucial step towards healing the planet. – Kat H.

I took sustainability due to the issues that are happening in the world. In this class we learn issues and problems that are going on in the world and how to overcome them. In my mind a lot of what we learn should be implied to the everyday lives of everyone. I like the idea of sustainability because it’s going to be the future of the world and needs to be in place to keep the world going. I also like the teacher who teaches the class Mr. Fox, with his teaching methods and attitudes towards the subject. His role modeling changes and makes me think of my daily decisions. – Ty Cowie

I took sustainability because I’ve always been very concerned with how to reduce my carbon footprint and how to make the world a better place for my kids and grandkids. I think it’s important to know the ways my life will impact the earth. – Mark P.

For more from this class, check out the Public Service Annoucements that students created.

LOSD Sustainability Update

LAKE OSWEGO SCHOOL DISTRICT STRATEGIC PLAN – SUSTAINABILITY PRIORITY

Information from Larry Zurcher, LOSD Sustainability TOSA

LOSD adopted a new Strategic Plan in 2021 after a three year development process composed of four pillars. The pillars are 1) Create a Culture of Belonging, 2) Achieve Equitable Academic Outcomes, 3) Promote Health and Resiliency, & 4) Teach and Practice Sustainability. 

Priority: Teach and Practice Sustainability 

Outcome: Preserve and sustain our shared resources while accelerating our students’ ability to combat climate change

Evidence of Success: Create stewards of our shared resources

Strategies:

  1. Establish organizational structure accountable to sustainability (Behave)
  2. Promote sustainability curriculum, activities and practices (Teach)
  3. Prioritize sustainable building practices and facility operations (Build)
Pruning a hedge

Teach

Students and teachers from the district advocated for a climate education bill (Senate Bill 854) in Salem. See: A climate education bill, spearheaded by students and teachers, gets a spotlight in SalemThe bill, which requires every Oregon school district to address climate change K-12, is at the forefront. LOSD students traveled to Salem to meet with legislators to advocate for the bill. The article also addresses how LOSD is working on climate change beyond the science classrooms.

“From my own experience as a storyteller, I don’t know if science always speaks to every student,” reflected Stephanie Leben, LOHS English teacher. “Sometimes stories are what gets to people. That’s why it was important to me to find texts that were about climate change, so that stories could [reach] students that might not understand or connect in the science classroom.” One emphasis for the district is to explore authentic access points for students to engage with climate education.

Sustainability electives and Farm to School Internship are offered at both high schools. Ecology classes and Green Teams have are partnering with Oswego Lake Watershed Council on a variety of campus improvements. A variety of STEM electives are available at the middle schools that relate to environmental research and building resilience. Leadership classes also ran food waste audits this winter.

Behave

LOHS Green Team presented to the Sustainability School Board Advisory
Committee. They expressed a variety of needs for the district.

  • We need a designated sustainability framework with a clear purpose and structure because it will keep us accountable and promote district wide sustainability.
  • We want a structured plan that will help us use our resources (people, time, money, information, equipment, etc.) effectively to work towards our environmental goals.
  • We want a leadership structure at the district and secondary levels.
  • We see a need for more sustainability positions across the district.

The LOHS Sustainable Sewing Club held a clothing swap in the fall. They collected clothes and then shared them with the student body during lunch. It was hugely successful. The club also held work parties where they designed, repaired, and improved designs.

LHS Sustainability Elective students researched, recorded, and produced public service announcements of a variety of topics. Teams shared them with their peers and had them on display at the LO Sustainability Resource Fair. Check out the videos here.

LOSD is working towards compliance of METRO Food Scraps Separation Policy # 20-5067. By May of 2024, all school district kitchens will need to be separating food scraps from landfill waste when preparing student meals. We are 91% of the way to having all of our schools up and running. This was made possible through the collaboration with Clackamas County’s Waste Reduction Education Coordinator Laurel Bates, LOSD food services, and LOSD facilities team.

This spring we are piloting a reusable serving container system from Bold Reuse at Lakeridge Middle School. Dorothy Atwood and Mary Ratcliff introduced LOSD to Bold Reuse last winter which led to discussing exploring a partnership. Bold Reuse supplies reusable food containers for serving lunches, students deposit them after eating, and the containers are collected to be sterilized. The pilot will run for six weeks and our goal is to eliminate 8,000+ single use serving paper boats from ending up in the landfill.

Read the LOSD-Bold Reuse press release.

Elementary students have taken action to improve their campuses this year. A variety of opportunities from popup debris pickups to grade level service work have given students a chance to show how much they care for their schools. School staff and parents lent a hand in what will hopefully become annual events.

Build

Both high school Outdoor Classroom, Greenhouse, & Agricultural CTE Spaces are rapidly being built this spring. We project for the 23-24 school year that 13 different classes will have a direct connection to the outdoor learning environments. This equates to approximately 750/1300 [58%] of our students having access to learn and explore in our new spaces.

Projected, but not limited to be used by:
Science Classes: Ecology, Geoscience, AP Environmental Science & AP Biology
Culinary Career & Technical Education Pathway: Culinary Arts 1-3 & School to Farm Internships

Lake Oswego High School

Lakeridge High School

Rivergrove Elementary School

River Grove Elementary is being built for resilience. Sustainable systems that lead to the path of Net Zero were at the forefront of the design process. Here are some examples of how resiliency systems will positively impact our newest school upon completion.

  • Electrification – All systems included in the design are electric, no fuel fired systems.
  • Existing Building Comparison – 70% energy use reduction compared to an average, existing elementary school in Portland’s climate.
  • Beyond Energy Code – 30% energy reduction compared to a code minimum, new-construction elementary school.
  • Solar PV Array – 32% of energy consumption covered by PV Array annually.
  • Microgrid – 250 kW battery will reduce peak electricity demand by an annual average of 18%; system will charge when the grid is cleaner and discharge when grid carbon emissions are high reducing overall building carbon emissions.
  • High Performance Windows – Double pane with thermal spaces reduce heat transfer, saving energy
    Insulation – The roof is R30 equivalent and walls are R24 equivalent.

Lakeridge Middle School

Lakeridge Middle School solar array was installed in the fall of 2022. They are located on gymnasium and commons roof. It’s predicted they will generate 213,000 kWh annually. At a cost of $360,000, it’s predicted to break even in less than 13 years. LMS Science teachers met with the Daniel Camacho from the Bond Team and Peter Greenberg of Energy Wise Services to learn more about the PV system. One of our goals is for the actual building to become a learning tool as they explore sustainability systems.

Checkout the System Performance page.