Steve Albert

Climate change and sustainability issues are getting more attention now than ever. This is for good reason, as scientists believe that the recent increase in forest fires, draught, and extreme weather, as well as the current pandemic, are related to climate change. The MJCC has been focused on enhanced sustainability for a number of years, and we want the community to know about our efforts to reduce our carbon footprint.

The Past
Some of our first significant efforts to make our campus “greener” were tied to the Roots and Rafters campaign – our last capital campaign. Several of the projects funded by that campaign enhanced campus sustainability, such as the upgrades to the HVAC system that reduced energy use. Thanks to special incentives from the Energy Trust, we have replaced most of our MJCC lighting with LED bulbs (and all of our PJA lighting is now LED). In recent years, we’ve also made it a priority to purchase “Energy Star” appliances. All of these efforts reduce our energy use.

The Present
We are entering our second year as a participant in the Energy Trust’s Strategic Energy Management program. In the first year, this program provided a series of workshops with energy experts to help us identify opportunities for campus energy savings. We conducted an energy audit of the campus, established baseline energy use from historical data and records, and created a list of action steps to reduce our energy use. We also established an energy team, wrote an energy policy, and, at the end of the year, drafted an impact report. This year, we look forward to implementing additional action steps, encouraging behavioral changes to save energy (e.g. turning off lights and computers), and engaging PJA students and community members in our educational efforts.

The Future
We are excited about our future plans to make our campus greener, and I want to mention three prospective projects. First, in collaboration with the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership, we have applied for a grant from the City of Portland to build a stormwater planter to manage the run-off from 14,000 square feet of paved surface. If funded, this will reduce the amount of rainwater on our campus that flows into storm drains, beautify the area at the bottom of the warm pool driveway, and provide opportunities for community volunteers to participate.

Second, we have done considerable research on the possibility of providing electric vehicle chargers on our campus. Though expensive to install, these units would enable members and guests to charge plug-in vehicles while parked in our parking lot. We are optimistic that we’ll be able to offer this service in the future.

Finally, although it has been delayed by the pandemic, we plan to move ahead with the creation of a new, comprehensive campus plan, beginning in late 2021 or early 2022. As we explore opportunities to expand, renovate, and re-purpose our indoor and outdoor spaces to better serve the community, we will be looking at opportunities to include rooftop and ground-based solar panels to reduce the demand that our campus places on the power grid. We know that it’s important to ensure that our campus is “green,” and enhanced sustainability remains a goal as we continue to maintain and upgrade our campus. We appreciate your support of these efforts and hope you’ll take the opportunity volunteer when opportunities arise.