Climate and Energy Resources for State, Local and Tribal Governments

Energize Corvallis

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Energize Corvallis: Community Engagement for Greenhouse Gas Reductions

Corvallis, Oregon

Federal Funding: $491,762
Project Timeline: May 2011 – May 2014

Project Summary

Under the aegis of Energize Corvallis, the City of Corvallis implemented four complementary pilot programs (Communities Take Charge, Energizers, Green Shares, and Neighborhood Sustainability Stewards) across the City, all designed to promote the city's energy independence and climate change mitigation work while increasing community involvement in the process. The City of Corvallis integrated these four pilot programs with the implementation of City-wide reduction measures. Under this project, the City of Corvallis has:

  • implemented the City Council's Community Energy Strategy and elements of the Community Sustainability Action Plan,
  • expanded the Corvallis Environmental Center's energy efficiency programs including the Communities Take Charge and the Energizers program,
  • established Oregon State University's Benton County Extension Service program, and
  • established the Resource Innovation Group's Green Share program, which works with customers to reduce their energy consumption.

The Green Share program aimed to increase energy efficiency in the area by connecting contractors with leads for efficiency work and focused on increasing the efficiency of rental properties and increasing sales of both ductless heat pumps and heat pump water heaters for residential energy savings. The Communities Take Charge program focused on encouraging behavior that reduced energy usage, developed new outreach materials, trained Public Outreach Interns, and initiated the Campuses Take Charge program at Oregon State University in partnership with OSU’s Student Sustainability Initiative. The Energizers program’s mission was to raise community awareness through a network of liaisons about climate change and energy conservation. The program reached out to groups such as religious groups, sports teams, performance groups, and farmers’ markets to distribute information, including an Energizers newsletter. The Energizers program also teamed with community organizations to develop the Corvallis Climate Summit—a collaborative event for residents to discuss climate change prevention efforts. Finally, the Neighborhood Sustainability Stewards program offered trainings, staffed information booths, worked with youth in the community, developed outreach material, and worked on collaborative community projects.

By integrating these new programs with efforts to implement ongoing plans, Energize Corvallis has provided opportunities for involvement across a broad demographic and spectrum of individual interest. Energize Corvallis emphasizes community involvement and volunteerism to accomplish energy reduction goals.

The suite of programs offers multiple commitment levels to maximize community members' willingness and ability to participate. With the lowest level of required engagement, the Kilowatt Crunchers program worked with neighborhood associations to establish goals for outreach, program recruitment, and low- or no-cost energy reduction measures. Requiring a higher level of involvement, the Energizers program trains residents to serve as liaisons to specific groups in the community. Each volunteer creates personalized Energize Corvallis outreach materials and messaging for their groups. Also at this level of engagement, the Green Share program offers targeted workshops to employees in the residential energy and water use fields to encourage efficient behaviors from their customers. Finally, the highest level of engagement, the Neighborhood Sustainability Stewards program, is an initiative where participants go through 11-week training classes and learn from local experts on how to implement residential emission reduction activities. The Neighborhood Sustainability Stewards program is run through the OSU Extension, and the City of Corvallis supported the training of 60 to 75 Neighborhood Sustainability Stewards.

Community residents benefit from energy cost savings. The projects also increase communication among neighbors, improve the City's resilience to energy price shocks, and increase overall civic engagement in Corvallis.

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Community Characteristics 

Population:                                 54,890

Area:                                         13 square miles

Government Type:                       City

Community Type:                        Small Urban

Median household income:           $35,350

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Final Results

Projected Cumulative Results  

Annual GHG Reductions

5,179.0 mt CO2e

4,469 mt CO2e

Annual Electricity Reductions

198 MWh

3,800 MWh

Annual Natural Gas Savings

4,232 therms

406,000 therms

Communities Take Charge participants






Neighborhood Sustainability Stewards



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Lessons Learned

  • Multi-year programs allow for more recognition in the community, leading to higher levels of participation in the second through fourth year than in the first year.
  • Similarly, flexible program designs are best at meeting the changing needs of the community.
  • There were already many organizations working on climate change in the community. It is important to maximize collaboration between groups to streamline and integrate messages to community members.
  • In-person interactions are a critical component of outreach strategies.
  • Try to use or modify existing online calculators instead of starting from scratch.
  • Energize Corvallis partnered with Oregon State University to recruit student volunteers and to engage professors across departments.
  • For programs with a high level of commitment like Neighborhood Sustainability Stewards, it was difficult to recruit and retain volunteers.
  • The Green Shares program found that phone calls were the most effective way of attracting participants to workshops.

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  • Graduate students at Oregon State University analyzed the Communities Take Charge program and developed recommendations for replication. That information, as well as other resources for replication, is available here.
  • Oregon State University has been valuable in spreading the message of the Energize Corvallis program and will continue to play a role in the sustainability of the program. One professor has integrated the Communities Take Charge program into his curriculum, which reaches about 600 students each year. The Student Sustainability Initiative has also adopted Communities Take Charge.
  • The Corvallis Climate Network and the Climate Flash Alerts developed by the Energizers program will continue beyond the grant period.
  • The Green Shares project increased awareness about energy efficiency issues in the community and also increased the capacity of contractors, landlords, and property managers to increase the efficiency of properties.

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Project Websites

Energize Corvallis Exit

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Energize Corvallis training steward volunteersTraining was conducted for the new Neighborhood Sustainability Steward volunteers.
Neighborhood Sustainability Steward volunteersTraining was conducted for the new Neighborhood Sustainability Steward volunteers.

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