While COVID-19 event restrictions wiped out some plans altogether, many local businesses and organizations chose to adapt and take advantage of what could be viewed as a unique opportunity to "go virtual."
"Of course, with COVID happening, we had to make some changes," explained Diane Hodiak, executive director of 305Deschutes, a nonprofit organization geared toward building awareness, educating and organizing further action around climate stability. For the past three years, Hodiak has headed the Go Clean Energy Conference, a seminar-style event meant to educate attendees on the importance of environmental consciousness and sustainable living. For the first time since it was founded, the conference will take place online—and the virtual event is free to all registered participants.
"While we've had to make adjustments, we realized that by going virtual we can bring in nationally known speakers along with local speakers," Hodiak said. "We need local people to connect with members of the Bend community, but then we have speakers like The Rocky Mountain Institute and Doctor CB; they're known all over the world. It's wonderful to be able to bring fresh ideas to the mix, we're happy to do that."
The event will host 30 experts over the course of 12 webinars, all speaking on how to help individuals, businesses and local government officials transition to an eco-friendlier way of life. Numerous topics will be covered in detail, including procuring renewable energy, green transportation options, micro grids and electric bikes and cars. Hodiak noted that she is personally no stranger to such discussions. "We have solar panels on the roof of our house," she said. "We also drive an electric car. Our energy bill with Pacific Power is only $15, which is the bare minimum. We'll be transitioning to electric heating as soon as we need a new furnace."
One of the main topics of conversation is net-zero energy building—an important part of climate protection that Hodiak noted not many people know about in depth. "Basically, zero-net energy building means that you produce the same amount of energy that you use. This refers to homes that are efficient and have solar on the roof."
Multiple speakers will also discuss the Oregon Climate Plan. "The Oregon Climate plan is the outcome of Governor Kate Brown's executive order 20-04, in which she instructed all state agencies to cap and reduce carbon," Hodiak explained. "As a result, all state agencies will now do their work through a 'Climate and Equity' lens. The two most important agencies involved are DEQ [Oregon Department of Environmental Quality] and ODOT [Oregon Department of Transportation]. The former will be responsible for regulating pollution and the latter will transition from building roads to encouraging and incentivizing cleaner road building practices, and evaluating the environmental impacts on climate vulnerable populations from every ODOT project. Vulnerable communities often live near major roads, and suffer more from asthma and respiratory disease due to poor air quality. On our Transportation Day, Tuesday, Sept. 29, participants will learn how to get incentives for carpooling and how electric bikes are filling an important role in equity and expanded uses in business and commuting. ODOT will provide an overview of its new climate and equity role in transportation."
People can sign up for the conference at the Go Clean Energy Conference website.
Go Clean Energy Conference
Sept. 28-Oct. 2
10am, noon and 3pm daily
Free – Register in Advance!