Greening the Grove

Photo by Gerald Santana

Cottage Grove’s Sustainability and Resiliency Challenge website can help community members save money and create a cleaner, safer, and healthier future.

March 03 - In 2022, the City of Cottage Grove launched the Sustainability and Resiliency Challenge, a website to help the community save energy and reduce the impact on the environment. Created by Community Climate Solutions (CCS), the program is designed to help cities learn more about their ecological footprint and help community members save on energy costs.

With the assistance of CCS, each city and town can design a unique website for their community. Whether reducing energy on heating, cooling, or driving, the website provides ideas to save money and help the planet.

"Greening the Grove is a fun and easy way to learn the impact our actions have on the environment. This tool provides education and examples of changes, large and small, that can save you money while protecting our resources." Shauna Neigh, Cottage Grove Project Coordinator

According to Yale research, over two-thirds of Americans are concerned about climate change and want to take action, but do not know what to do. The Challenge provides the tools and information to help people decrease greenhouse gas emissions and save money at the same time.

40-60% of community emissions come from basic household activities. For example, greenhouse gases are produced by burning gasoline when driving, heating homes, or using electricity generated from coal, natural gas, and oil.

The site not only helps people track their usage, but shows how to lower emissions from transportation, electricity, and water usage, all of which saves on costs for residents.

Cottage Grove’s Other Green Efforts

Along with the Sustainability and Resiliency Challenge, the city is engaged in several projects to help impact the ecological footprint of Cottage Grove, from lowering energy costs to saving water to increasing the urban tree canopy. The following programs are just a few of the city’s efforts to eliminate waste and conserve energy.

  • Cottage Grove has implemented LED lighting upgrades to city facilities such as the Armory, City Hall, the Community Center/Library, the Water Treatment Plant, the Wastewater Treatment Plant, Coiner Park, Bohemia Park, and Row River Trail.
  • A million-gallon storage pond and expanded irrigation for re-use of water has been built for the Treated Effluent Pond and Irrigation project. This saves the energy needed to cool the runoff water before it is piped into the river.
  • To support community members and visitors who drive electric cars, two electric charging stations have been installed to accommodate up to four vehicles at a time
  • A proposed future Wastewater Treatment project is in the works that will dry the bio solids with a composter style energy-efficient dryer. This will reduce the energy necessary to run the treatment plant. It will also eliminate biosolids being hauled to Roseburg, cutting down the impact of truck miles traveled. Dried biosolids will reduce the need to purchase manufactured fertilizer at the golf course, on City parks, and facilities.

Raising Awareness

A local group, Climate Action Cottage Grove (CACG), first brought the idea of the Challenge to the city’s attention and connected them with CCS. CACG is now spearheading an education campaign to get the word out about the Challenge by speaking to community groups, churches, and schools. They give an overview of the program and a tutorial on how to create an account.

One of the organizers for CACG, Rob Dickinson, encourages residents to join the Challenge.

“There are ideas on how to weatherize your home and save money while being more comfortable. It has ways to cut your electric bills with energy-efficient lighting and ways to green your commute to save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And it allows us to come together as a community to make real change.” Dickson said.

The First Presbyterian Church has volunteered space to CACG for conducting future presentations and sign-up assistance. To learn more about this effort, CACG can be contacted at [email protected]

Building Community

On the website’s home page, there is a tab that asks, “Why Join?”  Clicking on this takes you to a page with a statement from former Mayor Jeff Gowing.

In the opening paragraph Gowing states, “Now more than ever, we all have a role to play in creating a healthy community for us and future generations. The good news is there are actions everyone can take that will make a difference. Even better, most of these actions are easy, will save you money, and can improve your health and comfort.”

The Cottage Grove Sustainability and Resiliency Challenge provides residents with resources and tips to reduce their personal energy costs and lower the community’s overall ecological footprint.

People who enroll in the Challenge can track their progress as well as form teams and join groups for friendly competition and community-building to see who can lower their scores the most. Groups and teams can be made up of neighborhoods, churches, service organizations, or friends and family, all working together toward a common goal.

In his closing statement, Mr. Gowing writes, “Ultimately, the choices we make today as individuals and as a community will determine the world that our children will inherit. Fortunately, we have the ability to create a positive legacy through both local leadership and collective action.”

The Sustainability and Resiliency Challenge is available to all residents who live within the boundaries of the South Lane School District.

To enroll in the program, go to