Looking at the Cool Davis checklist through new eyes

The converging crises of our present reality have changed the way we live and work and forced us to take a fresh look at the Cool Davis action checklist. On the bright side, telecommuting and reducing driving miles have received a huge lift, however, many of the “to do’s” on the list, including the ones that involve sharing stuff or space, are now either impossible or questionable. More broadly, societal issues of equity have come to the forefront and cash for big ticket improvements has become even more elusive, especially for those who have lost their jobs or whose livelihoods are at risk.

People of color have always faced injustices in lending practices, housing choices, and employment and educational opportunities, which has always impacted their participation in environmental action. The viability of public transportation, especially for the elderly, has plummeted dramatically. How does an essential worker who relies on the bus get to work now? Renters have always been at a disadvantage when it comes to buying electric vehicles, installing rooftop solar, and conserving outdoor irrigation water. Who has the money or control for those big ticket choices now?

The answer is, actually, many of us are not suffering financially right now at all. Many of us own our homes. Our jobs have comfortably shifted online. For those who are privileged, making change is an even greater responsibility than ever, especially because others are finding it even more difficult to invest in the future. Now is the time to engage in the deeper conversations to reorient our work and meet the evolving challenges.

What is the Cool Davis checklist?

To backup just briefly, the Cool Davis checklist is a nearly comprehensive list of actions for residents to lower carbon emissions in their daily lives. Divided into three domains, the actions include both small and large impact items first identified by Davis Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (D-CAAP) task force. Actions relevant only to homeowners — because they require control and capital — are mixed in with actions accessible to everyone.

Those actions with the highest carbon reducing impacts became action campaigns, for example, our electric vehicle adoption campaign addresses the reality that transportation is our highest direct source of emissions and our rooftop solar campaign addresses another huge impact, home energy consumption. A third high impact action, reducing meat consumption, has been pursued, with our support, by Cool Davis working group COOL Cuisine.

Cool Davis has always paired our actions with information about incentives. But monetary incentives are often oriented toward those who already have resources, for instance, when they take the form of tax credits or require the use of licensed professionals or expensive products to complete installation work. Renters who are not lucky enough to live in Cool Davis partner communities (like those managed by Mutual Housing and Yolo County Housing) — those with individual landlords — must negotiate individually for measures like home insulation, water smart landscaping, and garage charging stations. Bigger impact actions like rooftop solar are almost unheard of in such situations.

The bottom line is that it often takes money to save money. The good news is many of the items on our checklist are FREE or inexpensive and readily available to everyone.

Cool Davis program pivots

Cool Davis’s initial response to the COVID pandemic was a pivot to home energy to increase our efforts to help residents save on likely higher energy bills. We got the kick that launched our new YouTube channel and now we now have four short videos with money-saving tips with many more to come:

Continuing opportunities

  • The California Clean Vehicle Assistance Program to purchase USED electric vehicles rolled out just before the pandemic to give income-qualified families a boost in their ability to go electric.
  • Worn out roofs have to be replaced. By chance, most roofs and solar systems last about 20 to 25 years. Saving for and installing both solar and a new roof at the same time will reduce your energy bill substantially, allow you to take advantage of 26% tax credits through end of 2020, and avoid the cost of removing and replacing the solar system to repair the roof.

SEE RESOURCES SECTION BELOW for links to these great opportunities

“We will weather this storm Davis.” Photo credit: Johan Verink.


Creative “COVID eyes” checklist feedback from and for Davis

We asked our staff, board, and closest allies to take a new look at our checklist with “COVID eyes” and they reported some astute observations and creative solutions for our shelter-in-place reality:

  • “Fewer cars on the road means fewer people on your back, so it’s easy to go slower” (Erin Reddy)
  • Super speeders are out in force (be careful out there!) (Jason Bone)
  • Gardening more, wearing face masks to visit next door, and letting loaned tools like wheelbarrows sit for a while after they’re returned (Elizabeth Lasensky)
  • Signing up with a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) service is even more popular (Chrissy Backman and Elizabeth Lasensky)
  • Share your garden with neighbors, support the local economy, support the community (Michael McCormick)
  • Food markets will load items back into the cart and you can bag them outside (Elizabeth Lasensky and Leslie Crenna)
  • Once a week, we’re collecting neighbor dinner delivery orders into one to make the minimum and reduce miles traveled by delivery people (Elizabeth Lasensky)
  • “We’ve done a much better job of planning and batching our errands (groceries, essential services) during the pandemic.” (Nicole Whiting)
  • Big increase in researching on the web and calling ahead about product specs and availability coupled with reduction in unnecessary shopping (Jason Bone and Leslie Crenna)
  • Local delivery of local products is giving Amazon real competition (Chrissy Backman)
  • “Funny, with COVID eyes, many of these items are more useful, rather than less.” (Lisa Baker)

Look for social media posts that ask you to lay your new eyes on our checklist. What are you doing far less, less, the same, more, or far more during shelter-in-place? We want to get at the “data” in your head (Johan Verink).

The checklist going forward

Recent events have brought the barriers to and opportunities for environmental progress into focus. Increasingly, addressing the convergence of crises squeezing our communities takes a certain level of met needs. So, we must also work to lift up and support our neighbors if we expect them to join us and take the time to learn new ways of doing and being.

We have to ask what is possible, and what can we do together as a community. How do we help each other? Can we create systems so local people are able to invest in local projects and each other?

We all have a lot to do and learn, every day.

While we don’t have plans to update our checklist right now, it seems we will be continually re-evaluating, and adjusting to new needs as they arise.

If you want advice or assistance on your next move, email us at coolsolutions@cooldavis.org.


Cool Davis checklist in full color https://www.cooldavis.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/ChecklistFull_8.5x11_v1.4_07JUNE2019.pdf

Cool Solutions web page https://www.cooldavis.org/cool-solutions/

COOL Cuisine web page http://coolcuisine.net/

“Changing your heating and cooling system filter” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oa0o7RtzlJg

“Line drying your laundry” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YWwT2i2xVY

“LED light bulbs” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Q0WQcvNAuI&t=2s

“CFL light bulbs and hazardous waste disposal” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Od_2hBcP27M&t=2s

California Electric Vehicle Grant Program (for USED electric vehicles) https://www.cooldavis.org/2020/03/31/generous-grants-for-used-electric-vehicles/

Rooftop Solar web page https://www.cooldavis.org/cool-solutions/rooftop-solar/