Oregon Department of Corrections Keeps Oregon Safe — and Green

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SALEM — Oregonians have a reputation for their commitment to sustainability—and staff at the Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) are no exception. Across the state, DOC’s correctional facilities work hard to decrease their carbon footprint.

Even with increased restrictions to state recycling guidelines, DOC has found a variety of ways to improve its environmental efforts. In 2018 alone, the Oregon Department of Corrections recycled 3.4 million pounds of materials.

A shade structure utilizes repurposed denim for a native plant project at Warner Creek Correctional Facility in Lakeview, Oregon

Since 2014, DOC’s Recycle Center has diverted 486,186 pounds of fabrics from Oregon institutions. Denim worn by Oregon adults in custody is sent to the Blue Jeans Go Green program, which upcycles the fabric into wall insulation—diverting it from landfills and insulating houses built by Habitat for Humanity.

DOC has four sites with 50001 Ready Certification, meaning they are using essential features of an energy management system to improve energy performance and save taxpayer dollars. DOC is the only correctional system, and the first non-industrial business, to receive this certification.

“This is a huge accomplishment,” says DOC Sustainability Programs Manager Chad Naugle, who hopes to certify at least four more of Oregon’s institutions this year.

Coffee Creek Correctional Facility (CCCF), the only women’s correctional facility in the state, and Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution (EOCI) are among the facilities that have already received their certification.

Using incentives from the Energy Trust of Oregon, CCCF recently made the switch to LED lighting for their roadways, patrol routes, parking lot, and other outdoor areas. The facility worked with Acuity Brands Lighting to identify options that would provide excellent visibility without negatively impacting the surrounding Wilsonville community.

EOCI has 500,000 square feet of building space in Pendleton—much of the space between 30 and 106 years old. EOCI overhauled their perimeter lighting, opting for a brighter, long-lasting LED lighting system.

In addition to updated lighting solutions, infrastructure upgrades, such as insulation and boiler replacements, have reduced EOCI’s winter gas bills to less than a third of what they once were.

Naugle credits buy-in to energy saving practices from DOC leadership, staff, and adults in custody as a crucial element in making the agency’s practices more sustainable.

“DOC leadership and staff incorporate our sustainability plan into daily operations and support nature programming for the adults in custody,” says Naugle.

Thanks to their support, Naugle believes DOC has become a leader in sustainability for other agencies and correctional systems to emulate.

About Author

Vanessa Vanderzee is a Communication Coordinator for the Oregon Department of Corrections. The mission of the Oregon Department of Corrections is to promote public safety by holding offenders accountable for their actions and reducing the risk of future criminal behavior.

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