Lowering Our Carbon Emissions!

Jan 2009 Greenhouse Action Plan Progress Report

In 2008, the GAP helped bring about many changes around camp here on the American River, and we are happy to report a significant reduction in total carbon emissions per guest (people who stayed but did not participate in our whitewater rafting, ropes course or other outdoor education programs were not counted). In 2007, we measured the three major causes of our carbon emissions–gas and diesel, electricity, and propane consumption–at 44.8 tons for 5713 people, or 15.68 lbs per person. In 2008, we reduced that total to 32.1 tons for 5869 people, or 10.94 lbs per person, which is over 30% less emissions, surpassing our first stated goal of a 20% reduction by 2012.

How We Did It

The overall reduction in emissions was accomplished in a variety of ways. In our first article introducing the GAP, we presented a mitigation strategy addressing specific ways we could reduce our carbon impact. Here, we’ll look at that list again and check out which of those strategies we adopted, and those we did not.

Electrical Use
*Adjusted electrical thermostats in office (2007.)
*Turned off lights and appliances more conscientiously when not in use (2007).
*Changed procedures to reduce use (2008–work in small room in the office in winter, so it’s easier to heat.)
*Replaced as many lights as possible with compact fluorescent bulbs (2008)
*Replaced appliances with energy efficient ones. (2008—bought new Energy Star rated refrigerator for house, high efficiency space heater in office)
*Install solar panels. (2008—Solar Energy Exploratorium had off-the-grid photovoltaic/battery system installed. Plans to install more PV power in 2009 and beyond with goal of being a net generator of electricity.)

Place timers on shower lights (not yet implemented)
Install solar/ gravity battery system based around climbing wall (not yet implemented)
1= 2006, 15.53 tons CO2 emissions
2= 2007, 12.68 tons CO2 emissions
3= 2008, 9.31 tons CO2 emissions

Propane Use
*Turned down hot water heaters (2007)
*Augmented water heater with solar heating (2008—built and installed 28,500 BTU in-line solar thermal hot water heater for main kitchen.)
*Adjusted thermostat in house (2007)
*Used cooking devices more conscientiously (2007)

Place timers on showers (not yet implemented)
Install even lower flow shower heads (not yet implemented)
Transition to flash heaters and have no heated water storage (rejected in favor of solar thermal systems)
Restrict shower use to overnight guests (rejected as a less than customer friendly policy)
Eliminate mobile home (rejected for now)
Convert mobile home to new form of heat (not yet implemented)
1= 2006, 6.05 tons CO2 emissions
2= 2007, 8.64 tons CO2 emissions
3= 2008, 3.5 tons CO2 emissions

Gasoline Consumed By Us
*Bought more fuel efficient vehicle for errands (purchased post season in 2008— 100% Waste Vegetable Oil powered 1996 VW Passat tdi station wagon. Minimal impact on diesel use so far, however, the mileage is 40-50 mpg versus 16-20 mpg for Toyota truck and minivan. Use of WVO will reduce carbon emissions to 70% less than using a Prius!)
*Replaced gasoline vehicles with waste vegetable oil vehicles (2008— 100% WVO powered Ecobus purchased and brought on line; 2005 Dodge truck converted to 100% WVO system). Note: The amount of WVO use in 2008 was limited by technical issues with the Dodge’s WVO system as well as WVO supply limitations. Expect dramatic improvements next year. We were unable to find an appropriate “people mover” minibus.

Reduce the number of small rafting trips by consolidating (customers not cooperating so far)
Reduce shopping trips by using vendors who deliver (this is more difficult to implement if we want organic, locally grown food which vendors don’t handle)

1= Gas Bus 2= Dodge Truck 3=Toyota Truck 4= Vans 5= Flatbed Truck
Total Gas/Diesel Used: 2228.5 gallons
Total Gas/Diesel CO2 Emissons: 23.5 tons
1= Ecobus 2= Dodge Truck 3=Toyota Truck 4= Vans
Total Gas/Diesel Used: 2042.5 gallons
Total Gas/Diesel CO2 Emissions: 19.3 tons

Gasoline Consumed By Customers
Encourage carpooling and hybrid vehicles by incentive parking (not yet implemented)
Sell or give away T-shirts to encourage carpooling (not yet implemented)
Reward hybrid owners by letting them eat first (rejected as a poor idea)
Provide electrical hookups for plug-in hybrids (not yet implemented)
Facilitate bus and or ECO- Bus transportation for groups (not yet implemented)
Shuttle groups from public transportation terminals with ECO-Bus (not yet implemented)

Food Program
*Served more vegetables, less meat (2008)
*Produced fruit and vegetables organically on site (2008)
*Wasted less food (2008)
*Conscientiously bought food with less paper and plastic packaging (2008)
*Enlarged garden (2008)

Property Maintenance
Replace gasoline water pump with solar electric pump (more practical to use grid connected solar to produce electricity for existing well pump- pending)

Recycling/Waste Control Program

*Created system to increase compliance and decrease labor/risks of recycling employees (completed post season 2008 and will see more impact in 2009)

Create System and/or conscientiously use less paper (not yet imp
Go paperless on reservations and in every way possible (progress has occurred but not yet fully implemented)

Political Action
Another less measurable, but perhaps the most important way in which we are combating human induced climate change is by raising the awareness of our guests and encouraging those who are interested to actively participate in the political process with us. Part of this strategy is letter writing, a long standing and extremely effective Malode tradition. This year we sent off around 500 letters written our guests in support of the solar investment tax credit bill, which was successfully passed later in the year! Another strategy we use is to educate our guests about this issue in a fun and stimulating way. Our new sustainable practices programs include hands on activities that explore solar power, alternative fuels, organic gardening, recycling, and other means of conservation.

Beyond the GAP:
As stated at the outset of the GAP, we realize that it is not enough to address human induced climate change alone. There are other urgent environmental challenges that also need our attention. The most dramatic of these is rainforest destruction. Sustainable Practices Program will begin to address these in 2009.

Picture of Penny


Without Penny, none of the magic of the Mother Lode whitewater rafting experience and outdoor education could happen. Her helpfulness and sweetness on the phone lead many customers to come looking for her when they arrive at Mother Lode.
Activites at Mother Lode

On The American River

At The Adventure Center

Team Building & River Skills

50th Anniversary Ropes Rafting

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