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German model wows sustainability event
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German model wows sustainability event

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“We live in an amazing place,” said James Reismiller. “Corvallis is way ahead of the curve, but there is a lot more we can do. Let’s go for it.”

That’s how Reismiller closed a keynote speech he and Cassandra Roberton gave that stirred an audience of more than 500 people at the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition’s Fair and Town Hall on Thursday night at the CH2M Hill Alumni Center.

The subject was the model of energy and sustainability that Reismiller and Robertson found on a 2015 trip to Germany, which has one-fourth the population of the United States yet produces nearly twice as much solar power.

Focusing mainly on the towns of Freiburg and Wildpodsried the speakers cataloged, via speech and slide show, some breathtaking advances in alternative energy use.

Freiburg, a university town of 220,000, offered car-free neighborhoods, great public transportation, solar requirements in the building code, passivhaus insulating standards that use 90 percent less energy, solar panels on seemingly every roof, solar parking garages and green tourism.

“We’re talking net zero here,” said Reismiller about energy use goals. “They’re doing net positive.”

Wildpodsried was even more remarkable, given that it has a population of 2,500. Despite its size the town produces 500 percent of its energy use with renewables — and sells the excess. Thirty-seven percent of roofs have solar panels, 300 residents participate in a cooperative wind farm and biogas from dairy farms also is in the mix.

Robertson, who along with Reismiller owns Abundant Solar, exhibited dozens of slides of German solar installations that were shot from moving trains.

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“We must have looked like the most nerdy toursists … taking pictures of solar panels from trains,” Robertson said.

The evening opened with the fair portion, which included 50 exhibitors in the lobby and conference rooms of the Alumni Center.

Mary’s Peak Alliance volunteer Judy Juntunen was showing off a relief map of the Mary’s Peak region, focusing on identifying the dozens of creeks that Cascade down its slopes.

Among those creeks are Rock and Griffith, which supply about one third of the city’s drinking water.

“We’re trying to bring more attention to the value of it,” said Juntunen, who noted that only 20 percent of Cheldelin in Middle School students who took a field trip to the region had been to Marys Peak before.

April Hall of Wild Yeast was displaying breads and flour mixes made from local grain, and kids and adults could try their hands at grinding their own

Kendall Dunlop and Rachel Tholl of OSU’S Student Sustainability Initiative explained their group’s goals and the challenge of recruiting busy college students for sustainability efforts.

The fair also included a kids activity room for art projects that wound up awash in bubbles, plus “local “6 food and music

The town hall that followed in the ballroom featured table discussions on how to produce systemic change in environmental health, social and economic health and energy and the annual community scrapbook, a slide show that featured accomplishments by coalition action teams and its partner organizations.

Contact reporter James Day at or 541-758-9542. Follow at or


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