Imagine finding out that implementing a few simple actions could reduce your carbon footprint by seven tons peryear—the equivalent of planting 196 trees. And better yet, what if those same actions could also save you several thousand dollars annually on energy bills and provide a significant credit from PG&E for reducing consumption? A Sustainability Assessment with energy efficiency recommendations can do both, allowing facilities such as Cope Family Center to have a positive impact on issues related to climate change while also seeing a positive impact on their bottom line.
The Cope Sustainability Assessment, conducted by SNC and The Energy Alliance Association (TEAA) through SNC's Napa County Energy Watch partnership with PG&E, identified areas where improvements or physical changes would increase the overall performance of the Cope facility.
After an exhaustive assessment of both the building — a converted Victorian house on Fourth Street in Napa — and an assessment of the staff’s practices by NewLevel Group, SNC made recommendations on property improvements and behavioral habits that Cope could implement. SNC estimated that approximately half of the energy savings Cope would see would come from building efficiencies; the other half would be a direct result of behavior and simple changes to the way people operated in the building.
As a result of the audit, the Cope board of directors adopted a “Green Policy” to guide the agency to incorporate energy conservation and sustainability efforts in future projects and programming. Additionally, they made a number of building improvements to increase energy efficiency, lower Cope’s carbon footprint, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But they didn’t stop there.
The Cope Garden Project replaced the organization’s thirsty lawn and plants with native, drought-resistant plants, an educational vegetable garden, and spaces for staff, volunteers and clients to enjoy the outdoors. A committee of dedicated volunteers oversaw the Garden Project from design to completion and maintenance. Water Wise Women's Mary Hudson and Cheryl Toivola created the garden’s design, with input from the committee. Master Gardeners, Eagle Scout candidate Zephr Barnes, volunteers from Napa CanDO, and community members donated time to build the raised beds, install the irrigation system, and plant the garden.
“I’m so proud of the work our volunteers and staff have done to make Cope’s garden available to the community,” said Cope Associate Director Michele Grupe. “SNC not only helped us reduce our carbon footprint, but helped us create a space that makes us appreciate the outdoors while recognizing the importance of conservation ”
Founded in 1972, Cope Family Center is a nonprofit organization devoted to empowering families to create happy, healthy lives for children through child abuse prevention, parent education, family well-being, and support services. Housed in a beautifully renovated Victorian, the Center is the first stop for families in Napa. It offers a space for parents and children to interact, connect with other families, learn important parenting and life skills, and access community services.
For the last two years, Cope has been planting both a fall and a spring/summer crop. Summer crops include tomatoes, pole beans, basil, squash, cucumbers, peppers, and onions. Winter crops have included radishes, carrots, lettuces, onions, broccoli, eggplant, and celery. Cope regularly hosts “Garden Days” with the Water Wise Women on hand to provide instruction to volunteers who come to help and learn from the expert Master Gardeners. They have provided workshops on a range of topics from how to prune roses to how to plant a container garden. The produce from the garden is made available to the families Cope works with, and this summer, Cope hosted a “Cooking with Kids Workshop” series, utlilizing the produce from the garden in the coursework.
“Our experience with the Sustainable Napa County program has been phenomenal,” said Cope Executive Director Joelle Gallagher. “Not only are we showing that we can be good stewards of our organization’s funds by reducing our operating expenses and redirecting financial resources from utility bills to clients and services, but we are acting as good stewards of our environment and our community. This program teaches energy efficiency in a way that shows our clients that they can do the same to conserve natural and financial resources.”