St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, in Dedham, Massachusetts, has been in existence since before the American Revolution. The 8,000 square foot, 150-year old stone church is a beautiful example of 13th century English Gothic design, but not a good example of 21st century energy efficiency.
Several years ago the lay and clergy management group of the church decided to evaluate energy costs and usage, and take action to make improvements. These improvements are saving the church $16,000 annually on its electric bills, and more than 158,000 kWh of electricity saved is preventing over 273,000 pounds of CO2 emissions per year. They began by aggressively managing temperature profiles in the church’s facilities with programmable thermostats. With a rebate from NStar, its electric and gas utility, St. Paul’s upgraded ballasts, added new fluorescent fixtures, and installed compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). Other lighting upgrades included adding outdoor lights with timers and light sensors in the parking area and installing timers on bathroom lights. A maintenance “tune-up” was performed on the heating system, which cleared blocked heat ventilator grates and removed dust and debris from cold air return ducts. As part of a capital improvement and expansion program, the church building was converted from oil to clean burning natural gas with a new, highly efficient direct-vent two-stage boiler. St. Paul’s has participated in several energy audits and incorporated priority recommendations such as replacing two sets of old metal-framed windows with vinyl thermopane replacement windows.
Stuart Skinner Jr., St. Paul’s Property Committee Chairman, gives this advice to others, “Tackle the simple and obvious things first, and plan a phase-in of the more difficult and expensive improvements. Develop a preventive maintenance plan and live by it, and update it often.”
Stewardship of natural resources is the primary reason that the United Parish of Lunenburg, located in Lunenburg, Massachusetts, decided to implement energy-efficient improvements. The 11,500 square foot church was built in 1840 and is now designated a historic building. The parish upgraded the insulation in the attic and walls of the church. New energy-efficient windows were installed and the entry doors were rebuilt. As part of a lighting upgrade, the congregation installed compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), T-8 fluorescent lamps, high-pressure sodium lamps, and light-emitting diode (LED) exit signs. In addition, the heating system was converted from oil to cleaner burning natural gas. The various upgrades were financed by the local utility, capital campaigns, memorial funds, and maintenance budgets. In total, the congregation is preventing about 26,000 pounds of CO2 per year, and saving nearly 15,000 kWh of electricity. This savings has reduced the parish’s energy bill by about $1,500 per year. According to Art Cox, Chairperson of United Parish’s Buildings and Grounds, “Much of what we are doing is for the long term, for preservation and to conserve our natural resources as best we can.”
The 28,000 square foot Adat Shalom synagogue in Bethesda, Maryland was built in 2001, with design emphasis on the spiritual and communal values of the congregation, including the importance of environmental stewardship. The physical expression of these values in the facility itself has attracted many new members, and reinforced the congregation’s understanding of stewardship. The congregation has received enthusiastic media attention for its environmentally friendly building design, the building has become a major source of pride among congregants, and inspired community interest in efficiency. The facility has higher than average occupancy due to an active calendar of congregational functions, such as night and weekend meetings in offices, educational programs, and social events.
While designing the heating and air conditioning system, the building was divided into seven zones, all controlled by programmable thermostats. The social hall uses passive solar design, with high windows facing southward and an outside overhang. The social hall’s floor is concrete with dark tiles to absorb heat. All appliances in the building are ENERGY STAR labeled appliances, and the construction materials used were often made from recycled materials, or wood harvested from certified sustainable forests. Additionally, while installing the drip irrigation system for the landscaping, a rain sensor was attached to the irrigation timer, so that the system does not come on if the soil is adequately moist.
Natural daylighting provides much of the necessary illumination, and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) were used in nearly every wing of the building. Light-emitting diode (LED) exit signs were installed in all necessary areas. Exterior and parking lot lights are on timers, and are fully shielded from above so that they project only downward. This directs all illumination where it is needed, and prevents “light pollution” into the night sky. In addition, the Eternal Light (Ner Tamid) is solar powered, and connected directly to a photovoltaic cell on the roof. These improvements have resulted savings of nearly $2000 annually for reductions of about 19,500 kWh of electricity and nearly 600 therms of natural gas, which total almost 48,000 pounds of CO2 emissions each year.
Energy efficiency upgrades at the First United Church of Christ, located in Edensburg, Pennsylvania, help the 70,000 square foot church save approximately $2,800 annually on energy bills. To achieve these savings, the Trustee Board voted to replace inefficient lighting with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), T-8 fluorescent bulbs and electronic ballasts, and to update the heating system, improve the insulation, and replace old, inefficient windows.
“First United has come a long way,” says Howard Turndine, a member of the church Trustee Board. “At one time, we were holding services in the education building during the winter because the furnace system was inefficient and inadequate.” Significant donations from the congregation started the ball rolling on upgrades, and it just kept going. Now the church sanctuary can be used year round, because the new furnace system, windows, and energy management system keep the temperature constant and comfortable. The more than 6,000 kWh of electricity and nearly 3,000 therms of natural gas the church is saving will prevent over 47,000 pounds of CO2 emissions annually. As an added benefit, “Energy efficiency upgrades installed in the church inspired others in the community to become better environmental stewards,” says Howard Turndine.
Shannon Vujnovich, St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church’s building manager, proved that environmental stewardship is a priority of the church by installing energy-efficient technology in the nearly 18,000 square foot facility. Replacing half of the lighting with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and T-8 fluorescent lamps with electronic ballasts, produced considerable energy savings. All the thermostats were replaced with programmable models, which help keep the building at a more constant temperature, with increased comfort. In addition, the church turned down its water heater temperature for both safety and savings, applied weatherstripping to the doors, replaced some of the windows with new energy-efficient windows, including storm windows, and improved the insulation. High-efficiency fan and pump motors also help increase the effectiveness of the new, high-efficiency heating and air conditioning systems. Due to these upgrades, St. Andrews, located in Wausau, Wisconsin, saves approximately $5,000 annually on its energy bills, and the 82,600 kWh of electricity being saved prevents about 164,300 pounds of CO2 emissions per year. According to Vujnovich, “In addition to saving church funds and preventing pollution, the energy-efficient technologies installed have longer warrantees and will last longer than conventional technology, so what more could you ask for?”
In 1994, Arena Christian Center of Sacramento, California, received assistance upgrading parts of its heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system from the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD). In 2001, when additional HVAC systems began to fail, Reverend Jesse Rorie called SMUD again. Rev. Rorie was pleased to hear that the 40,000 square foot church not only qualified for HVAC improvement incentives, but lighting efficiency incentives, as well.
SMUD helped Rev. Rorie replace seven old package commercial gas heat/electric air conditioning units with new 12 SEER ENERGY STAR labeled units. Existing four-lamp T-12 fixtures were updated to two-lamp T-8 fixtures with electronic ballasts. The upgrade was funded through the prescriptive lighting program at SMUD, which was introduced in response to the California energy crisis, and is funded by the California Energy Commission. Thanks to these programs, Arena Christian Center has cut lighting costs 25 percent, and is saving 10 percent on their heating and cooling energy use. This translates to approximately 40,000 kWh of electricity savings, and nearly 49,400 pounds of CO2 emissions prevented annually. Financially, Arena Christian Center is able to redirect nearly $5,000 each year to other priorities.
The Interfaith Climate and Energy Campaign is a 21 state outreach and educational effort of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment. The NRPE was founded in 1993 by four major religious communities (National Council of Churches of Christ, Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, U.S. Catholic Conference, and Evangelical Environmental Network) to integrate the mission of stewardship of creation throughout religious life across diverse faiths, and across cultural, racial, and ethnic boundaries. This award recognizes the Interfaith Climate and Energy Campaign’s work, led primarily by COEJL and NCCC, in which each state has an interfaith planning committee, climate change training events, education and enabling of congregations and the public regarding energy and climate change. Over three years, the Interfaith Climate and Energy Campaign has distributed over 400,000 resource kits (including energy efficiency and ENERGY STAR tips) to congregations including every Catholic parish, virtually every Jewish synagogue, plus 50,000 Protestant and Eastern Orthodox Churches, and 50,000 Evangelical congregations. The Interfaith Climate and Energy Campaign and member faith groups continue to educate the public regarding climate change and energy efficiency’s impact, and have published individual denominational papers on climate change. The various states have also made use of information and materials provided by ENERGY STAR for congregations. The Interfaith Global Climate Change Campaign is ongoing.
Interfaith Coalition on Energy (ICE) was formed 22 years ago in Philadelphia, PA by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the Metropolitan Christian Council of Philadelphia, the Board of Rabbis of Greater Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Chapter American Jewish Committee. This makes ICE one of the oldest, if not the oldest, operating interfaith energy-environmental organization on the national scene, and it remains a leading national advocate for congregational energy conservation and improved energy efficiency. As a nonprofit organization, ICE is funded primarily by fees for energy survey services, publication sales, and contributions. ICE publishes a popular workbook, and a quarterly newsletter Comfort & Light. Since its inception in 1980, ICE has provided on-site consulting to more than 550 congregations in and around Philadelphia, presented more than 100 workshops on energy and maintenance cost savings for congregations, published original research documents, and provided rate case testimony on congregational electric, natural gas and water utility rates in Philadelphia. ICE has provided comments on national building codes applicable to houses of worship, and helps congregations find and retain qualified maintenance personnel. ICE gathers energy and building data for each survey and lets the data “lead” to recommendations to reduce energy use. Following ICE’s principles, similar organizations have surveyed hundreds more congregation buildings nationally.