A commitment to energy efficiency led Sparks United Methodist Church (SUMC) on a program that spans the past five years and continues today. Incremental changes have been made throughout the process, and the congregation continues to make upgrade decisions as needed and with energy efficiency in mind.
In 1906 fourteen settlers started Sparks United Methodist Church. In 1909, the historic Centennial Methodist Episcopal church building in the internationally famous gold mining town of Virginia City, NV was moved via train and horse-drawn wagon to be reconstructed in Sparks. SUMC acquired a larger parcel of land in 1952 and an interim sanctuary was completed. In 1963 a new consecrated church was celebrated which is in use today. Five years ago, a new Board of Trustees surveyed the property and worked with Forensic Engineering to create an energy saving plan. Since then the congregation has been upgrading its thermal envelope, heating and cooling systems, plumbing infrastructure and lighting to save gas, electricity and water.
The church serves its 600 members and the community with a wide range of programs that result in heavy daily use of the facilities. Programs include a weekly Farmers Market, breakfast for low-income elementary students along with providing school supplies for their use, pre-school and kindergarten education facilities, and homeless family support through "Family Promise." Cub and Boy Scout programs are cherished church sponsorships (Cub Scout Pack 43/313, is the 2nd oldest continuously chartered in the U.S.). There also are special outreach programs to provide senior fellowships and luncheons.
"Improving energy efficiency, conserving precious water and providing accessibility compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act are three important ways we continue in our quest to be good neighbors locally, nationally and globally," said Dr. Thomas Butler, Pastor.
The current buildings were originally constructed with solid masonry materials. Today, three modular gas-fired boilers are in use with controls to efficiently fire those boilers needed to "follow" the load and supply heat. The majority of cooling needs, including the sanctuary, are handled by evaporative cooling which is energy efficient and effective for the low-humidity high desert climate of SUMC's location. As part of the more recent upgrades, the choir and Children's Ministry offices are cooled with ENERGY STAR qualified HVAC units, controlled by programmable thermostats.
All 16 exit lights have been replaced with light-emitting diode (LED) lights reducing electric consumption by 97% or a savings of 8,130 kWh per year. All fluorescent light fixtures in the facility were converted to electronic ballasts and T8 tubes. This reduces electric consumption by 35% per light for a savings of 102.2 kWh per light fixture per year. Understanding the importance of maintenance, SMUC also makes it standard practice to clean the lens and the white reflective surface of any light fixture when bulb or ballast replacement occurs.
Exterior lighting has also undergone a transformation switching from 100 watt incandescent bulbs to 35 watt high-pressure sodium HID bulbs. This represents a 3,322 kWh annual savings.
Another of the ongoing projects at SUMC is retrofitting single glazed windows to the more efficient dual glazed models. So far, about 50% of the windows have been completed.
Recent efforts have focused on upgrading six bathroom areas with dual flush toilets and waterless urinals. The water savings potential for the toilets is more than 93,000 gallons of water annually with another 125,000 gallons saved per year by the urinal changes. The plumbing decisions were based on using products with EPA's Water Sense label.
In total, SUMC has reduced annual electric consumption by nearly 13,000 kWh per year and gas usage has been reduced by 20,000 therms per year. The resulting savings are nearly $30,000 per year. The congregation has also reduced their water usage by 10% or more than 218,000 gallons. In total, this represents a reduction in annual greenhouse gas emissions (CO2) of over 160 tons, the equivalent of the CO2 emissions from the electricity use of over 19 homes.
Forensic Engineering: Energy & Resource Consultant — Joe M. Beard, P.E.
Richard Knapp — AIA, retired
Dale Sanderson — Civil Engineer
Peak Consulting Engineers, LLC — Anthony M. Martino, R.D.
Nora Schmidt — Director of Children's Ministry
Dr. Thomas Butler — Pastor
Margret Mason — SUMC history consultant
Slakey Bros. HVAC & Plumbing Supply — Scott Gorbet & Ken Rollings, Technical Sales
Dr. Thomas Butler, Pastor of SUMC
1231 Pyramid Way
Sparks, NV 89431
Phone: (775) 358-0925
Joe M. Beard, P.E., Trustee
Phone: (775) 775-359-4692