Posts Tagged ‘Environment’

August 7, 2015 · by pcriadmin · Featured, PCRI

On July 1, 2015, PCRI unveiled a new solar power system atop the Maggie Gibson Plaza building in Portland’s Alberta Arts neighborhood. In its first month, the new system generated 1.48 MWh, approximately enough energy to power two typical single-family homes for a month.

IMG_5327The solar system provides power for the building’s common residential and commercial spaces and exterior lighting and is expected to save PCRI over $2,000 per year in energy costs. In addition to generating clean, renewable energy, future cost savings from the system will help PCRI sustain Maggie Gibson Plaza’s affordable rental housing and community-serving commercial retail space, a rarity on desirable NE Alberta Street.

“Low income families are disproportionately impacted by the poor environmental conditions and high utility bills,” said Travis Phillips, PCRI’s Housing Development Manager. “Reducing Maggie Gibson Plaza’s energy costs helps PCRI maintain affordable housing for the residents who live here, but just as importantly, we are proud to improve the environment for current and future residents by generating clean, renewable energy.”

Maggie Gibson Plaza (cropped)The solar photovoltaic system, installed by Portland firm Synchro Solar, was made possible by a $48,450 funding award from customers of Pacific Power’s Blue SkySM renewable energy program and approximately $10,500 in cash incentives from Energy Trust of Oregon. The project is one of over 75 renewable energy projects made possible with funding support from Pacific Power’s Blue Sky customers in the Northwest. Those curious about the installation can view energy production information on the system’s public site.

Additional energy-saving improvements will also be performed in the residential units at Maggie Gibson Plaza. Residents will benefit from lower utility costs through the installation of new energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, highly-efficient water heaters, appliances and lighting, among other improvements. Completion of improvements inside the residential units is anticipated in fall 2015.

BLUE SKY: The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has ranked Blue Sky fifth or better in the nation for the 11th consecutive year in the number of customers buying renewable power. The Blue Sky Block, Usage and Habitat products are Green-e Energy certified. About 55,000 Pacific Power customers currently participate in the Blue Sky program across Oregon, Washington and California. For more information, visit www.pacificpower.net/bluesky.

PACIFIC POWER: Pacific Power provides electric service to more than 730,000 customers in Oregon, Washington and California. Our goal is to provide our customers with value for their energy dollar, and safe, reliable electricity. Pacific Power is part of PacifiCorp, one of the lowest-cost electricity producers in the United States, with almost 1.8 million customers in six western states. For more information, visit www.pacificpower.net.

ENERGY TRUST: Energy Trust of Oregon is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping utility customers benefit from saving energy and generating renewable power. Our services, cash incentives and energy solutions have helped participating customers of Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, NW Natural and Cascade Natural Gas save nearly $1.7 billion on energy bills. Our work helps keep energy costs as low as possible, creates jobs and builds a sustainable energy future. Learn more at www.energytrust.org or call 1-866-368-7878.

October 13, 2010 · by pcriadmin · PCRI

Mold.  A dirty word?  Sure, it is a four-letter-word, but it doesn’t have to be a bad one.

Molds are part of the natural environment.  Outdoors, molds play a useful role in nature by breaking down dead organic matter such as fallen leaves and dead trees.  And beneficial molds–like penicillin–have been used ever since ancient Greeks discovered they could help cure infection.  Indoors, however, mold’s role in breaking down material can be destructive instead of helpful.  Fortunately, you can help minimize or eliminate most of the causes of mold growth inside your home.

Although molds have many beneficial uses, they can also be a source of less-positive reactions.  In particular, molds produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions).  While not everyone is sensitive to the allergens that different molds contain, mold can be an irritant to some people.  Remember the last time your doctor prescribed antibiotics and asked if you’re allergic?  Same thing.  If mold is not controlled, it can have destructive consequences for your home too.

Molds reproduce by means of tiny spores.  Although the individual spores are invisible to the naked eye, they are naturally present in the air.  While there are many types of mold, none of them will grow without water or moisture–and that’s the first key about how to defeat mold.  Here are a number of ways you can help keep mold, its allergens and other potential harms out of your house:

The simplest way to prevent mold is to make sure there is adequate ventilation in the bathrooms and kitchens.  Even if you don’t see steam, bathing, cooking and cleaning create moisture in the air that needs to be ventilated outside.  Especially when showering or cooking, if you have an exhaust fan, use it!  Make sure to run the fan for about 20 minutes after you are finished.  Most fans use about the same energy as a light bulb, so leaving it on for a little extra time won’t affect utility costs.  If you don’t have a fan, leave a nearby window open for a similar amount of time.

But mold isn’t only caused by steam from cooking or showering.  All types of moisture can be breeding grounds for mold, so it’s important to keep an eye out for other wet spots:

Check around the bathroom after showering or bathing.  If there is water outside of the shower or tub, mop it up–then put the mop or rag somewhere that it can dry out.  The same goes for sink areas: use a towel to wipe up extra moisture around the bathroom or kitchen sink, then hang up the towel so it can dry too.

If water outside the shower or tub is a consistent problem, take a look to see how the water is escaping.  Try adjusting the showerhead so water is not spraying towards the shower door or look into different options for shower curtains.  If a quick fix doesn’t work, PCRI Residents should report the issue to our maintenance department so we can look into more long-term solutions.

Leaky pipes–especially inside–are even more important to fix quickly.  The same goes for toilets.  Wasted water means higher bills, not to mention the damage caused by moisture.  PCRI Residents who spot a leaky pipe or toilet should let our maintenance crew know so we can take care of the problem.

Spills should be treated the same as leaks.  Wipe ’em up, then hang up the cleaning rag so it can dry out too.

Your home’s heating (and cooling system, if it has one) is also a good tool to combat mold.  The air circulation created by running your heating system can go a long way toward minimizing unwanted moisture.  Running the system for 10 minutes a day shouldn’t make a big difference in utility bills, but will help control mold.

Another great (and low cost!) way to improve your home’s air circulation is to open your home’s windows–even for a few minutes at a time.  Leaving them open all day long isn’t necessary–or even always a good idea as the weather cools down and gets wet, but opening windows and doors for just 10 minutes every couple days will keep moisture at bay.  It is also a great way to air out the chemicals from cleaning and other products.

Speaking of cleaning products, did you know that vinegar helps to kill mold?  There are many great ways to keep your home clean and mold-free that don’t involve buying expensive and toxic cleaners from the store.  Metro is a great resource for how to make your own more-healthy and less-expensive cleaners.

Oh, and tempting as it might be, don’t paint or caulk over moldy surfaces.   Not only will it not get rid of the mold (Surprise! It’s still there!), but paint and caulk applied over moldy surfaces is likely to peel.  If you’re a PCRI resident and do want to paint, we can help or provide tips to ensure the mold is properly cleaned first.  And don’t forget that little technicality in your lease: be sure get PCRI approval before you paint!

Finally,  with Portland’s rainy season coming up soon, make sure your gutters are cleaned and don’t leak.  Just as important, ensure your downspouts drain into storm sewers or away from the house.  If the “splash blocks” at the base of the gutter don’t work to route water away from your house, we can help with other solutions to keep water draining away from your home.

More information about mold can be found in the EPA’s Guide to Mold.

July 26, 2010 · by pcriadmin · PCRI

There’s no shortage of stories these days about “banning the bag” and the three R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle.  The City of Portland and State of Oregon are even stepping up their positions on the subject by looking at eliminating plastic bags and levying a nickel fee for other bags at large grocery and other stores.

Changes can often be a challenge to adjust to, but PCRI is working hard to practice what we preach.  In fact, this past spring, PCRI received a grant from the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) to implement a reuse and recycling initiative at our office and community centers.

While we’re always working to do a better job at recycling at our office, our primary use for the BPS Paper and Plastic Challenge grant is to purchase new dishes and utensils for our main office as well as our community centers (Did you see? Our community center info is now on our website!).

Our goal with the new dishes is to significantly reduce our use of disposable paper and plastic plates, utensils and cups.  The paper plates and cups are easy, but giving them up is not only good for the earth and keeps junk out of the landfill, it’s also good for our budget since we’ll no longer need to purchase these items over and over (check out our post with other money-saving reuse ideas).

Today, we kick off our reuse challenge with a goal of eliminating our use of all paper cups and plates.  Here are a few facts about paper that might help you kick off a challenge of your own:

Each time paper is recycled, the fiber length decreases–which impacts its strength.  It’s estimated that paper has approximately seven generations (meaning it can be recycled up to seven times).

57.4% of the paper consumed in the US was recovered for recycling in 2008.  This means nearly half of our paper waste ends up in the landfill (boo!).

But … every ton of paper recycled saves more than 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space (hey, it’s got to go somewhere!).

In the coming weeks, we’ll be highlighting some of the other ways we’re working to reduce our waste (and save money!).  Stop back and check it out … or keep up with us on our Facebook page for other tips!

July 26, 2010 · by pcriadmin · PCRI

There’s no shortage of stories these days about “banning the bag” and the three R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle.  The City of Portland and State of Oregon are even stepping up their positions on the subject by looking at eliminating plastic bags and levying a nickel fee for other bags at large grocery and other stores.

Changes can often be a challenge to adjust to, but PCRI is working hard to practice what we preach.  In fact, this past spring, PCRI received a grant from the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) to implement a reuse and recycling initiative at our office and community centers.

While we’re always working to do a better job at recycling at our office, our primary use for the BPS Paper and Plastic Challenge grant is to purchase new dishes and utensils for our main office as well as our community centers (Did you see? Our community center info is now on our website!).

Our goal with the new dishes is to significantly reduce our use of disposable paper and plastic plates, utensils and cups.  The paper plates and cups are easy, but giving them up is not only good for the earth and keeps junk out of the landfill, it’s also good for our budget since we’ll no longer need to purchase these items over and over (check out our post with other money-saving reuse ideas).

Today, we kick off our reuse challenge with a goal of eliminating our use of all paper cups and plates.  Here are a few facts about paper that might help you kick off a challenge of your own:

Each time paper is recycled, the fiber length decreases–which impacts its strength.  It’s estimated that paper has approximately seven generations (meaning it can be recycled up to seven times).

57.4% of the paper consumed in the US was recovered for recycling in 2008.  This means nearly half of our paper waste ends up in the landfill (boo!).

But … every ton of paper recycled saves more than 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space (hey, it’s got to go somewhere!).

In the coming weeks, we’ll be highlighting some of the other ways we’re working to reduce our waste (and save money!).  Stop back and check it out … or keep up with us on our Facebook page for other tips!

June 17, 2010 · by pcriadmin · PCRI

Yahoo! Green posted an article yesterday titled “Stop throwing money away.”  Author Lori Bongiorno proposed that thinking twice about using disposable products and making some simple changes to avoid them will not only help reduce the volume of trash going to the landfill, but can also help save money, and maybe even time.  She points out:

While it might be quicker to throw something in the trash when you’re done using it than washing it and putting it away, you do have to have to spend time going to the store and buying the same products all over again. The costs for buying products again and again can really add up.

In the article, she has several suggestions for simple changes that can make a difference.  Though she points out that in many cases, the up-front cost might be a little extra, the long term savings can be especially worthwhile. Here are a few of her ideas:

For cleaning, use rags instead of paper towels (make your own by cutting up old sheets, T-shirts, towels, etc.) and for cleaning glass, use old newspapers (try it–they actually leave fewer streaks than rags or paper towels–and read on for ideas for cleaners …).  If you’re able to cut back by one roll of paper towels each week, you can save around $83 a year.

Instead of single-use bottled water or soda, rinse and reuse drink bottles (or invest in a spiffy stainless one).  It’s possible to save about $2,187 if each member of your family consumes one bottled beverage a day.

And here’s one of my favorites: rechargeable batteries.  They’re actually easy to get used to, plus most stores now sell rechargeable AA batteries and chargers.  But here’s the best part: you don’t have to run to the store when your remote runs out of juice.  Just recharge the batteries and you’re good to go (or keep an extra set on hand).  If you use around 25 AA batteries a year, you’ll save around $28 a year, you’ll also keep batteries’ chemicals out of the landfill.

There are other easy ways to save money on household items.  Many of the most simple ones are stored in the cleaning cabinet.  Metro Portland has several suggestions for inexpensive, less-toxic and easy household cleaners.  Here are just a few:

For home-made glass cleaner, combine 1 quart warm water with 1/4 cup white vinegar or 2 tablespoons lemon juice (use both vinegar and lemon if you want the cleaning abilities of vinegar with the scent of lemons).  Refill a used-up glass cleaner bottle with the solution … and wipe clean with old those old newspapers!

Need to clean up the kids’ crayon marks?  Forget store-bought chemicals, to remove crayon marks from walls, floors, counters, cabinets and furniture, rub area with toothpaste and a damp cloth.  As with other cleaners, test it in an inconspicuous area first.  Oh, and don’t use it on wallpaper!

Have some ideas of your own?  Share ’em in the comments!