Idlewild Baptist Church (IBC) just celebrated its 75th anniversary marking its beginnings as a small group meeting in a garage that has grown to today's congregation of more than 10,000 members. The congregation fills the 440,000 square-foot facility built and opened in 2005.
Energy was a major consideration for the new facility and was therefore incorporated into the design phase and the selection of equipment. Energy-influenced decisions included the choice of tinted windows and a light-colored roof to reduce solar heat load. ENERGY STAR qualified appliances were chosen and placed throughout the facility, including washers, dryers, refrigerators, and dishwashers. Rather than select lower cost but less-efficient items, higher efficiency water fixtures, chillers, and lighting fixtures were specified. The installation of a complete building automation system enabled control of the HVAC, and occupancy sensors were installed in most rooms to control the electrical loads. Further investment was made to permit and drill a well, which is used for both landscape irrigation and a chiller water tower.
"Building an energy-efficient facility is just the beginning," says Tony Pasley, director of facilities. "We began benchmarking our energy use right away comparing our facility to existing churches in operation at that time. Initial energy budgets forecast that IBC would use similar amounts of energy to facilities in approximately the same climate zone."
Pasley and Robert Wilson, a member of the building management team, began a program that was both attentive and aggressive to monitor and curb energy consumption. Quarterly meetings are held with utility providers to understand load profiles and usage. This data is used to set priorities and systematically work on areas to reduce consumption. A full mechanical maintenance contract was signed to cover chiller repair, but more importantly, to provide preventative maintenance for all three chillers.
Since they were first installed, chiller flows and data from the automated system were monitored and analyzed and systems were reprogrammed in pursuit of continuous improvement based on observed data. IBC also began an ongoing maintenance program with Siemens Building Technologies to maintain and optimize the automation system which controls lighting and HVAC devices throughout the facility. "We launched several initiatives to maximize the automation system, and we continue doing that," Pasley says. "A Siemens technology specialist spends one day a week here to help us maintain a focus on energy reduction."
One major step was to upgrade the lighting system to increase zoning and the level of control. This gave IBC the ability to control each classroom and area of the building individually. With both integrated system control and a zone scheduling system, operators schedule individual rooms based on daily activities. Then the scheduling system coordinates with the Siemens automation system to heat, cool, ventilate, or light rooms according to the schedule.
IBC's technology investments include the capability for remote, wireless laptop monitoring and operator control of HVAC system adjustments in real time during high usage events such as Sunday services. This also gives building managers the ability to check remotely on building status or verify reported conditions.
Idlewild has looked outside their building to bolster their energy saving as well. They explored supply side management, with the help of Siemens, by reviewing deregulated natural gas purchase options. Entering into a long-term gas purchase agreement has reduced the volatility risk and stabilized future monthly and annual natural gas costs.
"We've accomplished quite a bit," says Pasley, "but we believe energy management requires on-going improvements. We're currently facing an electricity demand charge increase from $7 to $11 per kilowatt (kW). Two of the biggest users are lighting and HVAC so we're continuing to pursue enhancements to the sequence and control of the chillers and other equipment for heating and cooling."
A lighting review also is taking place, despite the fact that the building is only five years old. "There are already new technologies," Pasley states. "For example, we're looking at LED or induction fluorescent fixtures." Working with Siemens and the Siemens automated building system, IBC continues to analyze comfort and energy, looking for trends and monitoring events. "We also continuously train both staff and volunteers to encourage energy-friendly practices," Pasley adds. "We keep tabs on operating configurations. We want to take advantage of any electrical loads that can be turned off when a zone is unoccupied. I think IBC will also be growing. When square footage is expanded, we want to coordinate the effort to maximize existing mechanical, automation, and lighting control systems for minimal additional energy usage."
Portfolio Manager, a free online tool from the Environmental Protection Agency's ENERGY STAR program, has become Idlewild's formal benchmarking tool and a way to explore new opportunities for efficiency. The 2006 calendar year was entered as the baseline and results showed a 15% reduction in 2008 electrical consumption. Portfolio Manager has also been used to run simulations such as comparisons to an average K-12 school. "We've also attended ENERGY STAR training webinars looking for ideas of other avenues we might pursue," Pasley says. "They present a lot of good information."
The building management staff passes much of that information on to the entire Idlewild organization. Free ENERGY STAR posters and other materials have been used in the facility to remind staff and volunteers of the importance of energy management. Training of staff and security personnel is ongoing to ensure that all operators can properly react to a comfort or energy consumption issues at the site. Results and maintenance program findings on all the systems are shared with teams so they know of successes and learn of opportunities for improvement within their areas.
Newsletter articles and internal communications keep the congregation informed and offer instruction on how stewardship can be practiced at home or in the workplace. A new bi-monthly communication is now in development which will feature energy and green practices and related content. The monthly Finance Committee meetings include an agenda item for discussions of operations and energy costs. Finally, both administrative and building management teams look for networking opportunities where they can share their knowledge with other congregations and learn what others are doing.
This aggressive program has yielded an 18% energy reduction from calendar year 2006 to 2008. The first half of 2009 shows a 26% reduction compared to 2006. The implementation of enhanced control has resulted in improved occupant comfort and reduced costs. Tightened zoning allows each classroom to be controlled individually with minimal energy use. Vacancy sequencing permits humidity and temperature to be maintained within specified offset limits which supports fast recovery for occupancy mode.
"We've been able to save enough to keep up with technologies that enable even greater savings," says Pasley. "Plus, there is money that can be redirected to increased outreach and ministry programs. We'll continue to pursue energy reduction wherever we can without curtailing activities or programs."
Idelwild Baptist Church estimates that they are saving more than $25,600 annually in energy costs for the operation of their house of worship. The savings of more than 264,000 kWh per and almost 3,600 therms of natural gas year represents a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (CO2), the equivalent of the CO2 emissions from the electricity use of nearly 40 homes.
Siemens Building Technologies