Quick Guide: Sustainability Programs You Can Tap Into
Step 1: Determine Your Goals and Identify Potential Projects
- What are your natural resource goals?
- Do you want to save energy, conserve water, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve erosion control, or investigate a combination of these? And how do your business goals relate to these goals?
- Several online tools can help determine your goals and select specific projects based on your goals.
- The Climate Friendly Nurseries Project (climatefriendlynurseries.org) contains a Best Management Practices Guide, descriptions of a variety of projects that other growers have completed, and a list of tools from around the country to help address your operation and identify specific project types.
- Virtual Grower is a decision support tool for greenhouse growers where you 'build' a greenhouse with a variety of materials and schedule temperature points: ars.usda.gov/Research/docs.htm?docid=11449
- The NRCS has tools for conservation and energy planning: nrcs.usda.gov/technical or ruralenergy.wisc.edu
- Talk to other growers. OAN members have a wealth of information and have implemented many sustainable practices.
- Talk to a professional:
- ETO, NRCS, SWCD and OSU have many ongoing programs which offer project ideas and expertise.
- Contact Whitney Rideout at the OAN (503.682.5089 / email@example.com) for ideas and opportunities.
- Consult the OAN Nursery Guide Services section for a list of professionals who can assist you.
- Conduct an energy audit: An audit can help you identify the best starting point and plan of action. OSU has an audit team (eec.engr.oregonstate.edu/ag.htm), and ETO and many utilities have trade ally contractors listed on their website.
Step 2: Identify Technical Assistance and Funding Opportunities
There are many organizations which offer project assistance, financial rebates and incentives, and technical expertise. See the Excel Spreadsheet for this information, visit the Climate Friendly Nurseries Project website (climatefriendlynurseries.org), or for a list of state incentives for renewables and energy efficiency visit dsireusa.org.
Step 3: Formulate and Implement Your Plan
- Map out a schedule of all the steps, working backwards from the time you would like to complete the project. Many incentive programs require you to apply in advance.
- Identify the resources for the project. Who will be the project lead? When should you implement the project based on production schedules? How will you track project success? Who will provide the technical assistance?