The history of Jonesville United Methodist Church began in 1788, although portions of its current Church building were first erected in 1855. Multiple changes have occurred throughout the years, most recently with the addition of the Helping Hands Food Pantry in 2001.
In 2003, Jonesville United embarked on a comprehensive program to address energy stewardship issues by joining New York Interfaith Power and Light (IPL). IPL is a national interfaith ministry devoted to deepening the connection between ecology and faith.
Also in 2003, the congregations underwent an energy audit by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and began implementing the recommendations. These improvements included the installation of Light Emitting Diode (LED) Exit signs; installation of four new natural gas furnaces raising the efficiency from 70–80% to 95.5%; and weather-stripping of doors. Lighting was also upgraded with new T-8 Fluorescent Lighting with electronic ballasts replacing older T-12s with magnetic ballasts and all incandescent bulbs were replaced with Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs).
The current 18,000 square foot Jonesville United Methodist facility serves as a multi-use base for its faith community, but also meets several community needs such as hosting a food pantry, counseling center,the Boy and Girl Scouts, various 12-step programs, a summer camp Archeology School, 4-H, La Leche League, Society for Creative Anachronism and exercise classes.
Jonesville United Methodist Church aims to incorporate environmental stewardship into the lifestyle of the Church and its members. As motion sensors and programmable thermostats are installed, signs notify visitors of the energy-saving change and the associated energy and cost saving benefits. The congregation has also conducted several outreach efforts including selling CFLs, holding film festivals for environment-themed movies, participating in Earth Day and other programs, and conducting classes on “The Low Carbon Diet.”
In all, Jonesville United Methodist Church is saving an estimated 18,000 kWh of electricity, 2200 therms of natural gas and more than $5000 in annual cost savings. This represents a saving of 62,000 pounds of CO2.
Prestonwood Baptist Church was founded in 1977 and has grown rapidly since Dr. Jack Graham became pastor in 1989. Today, the Church has more than 26,000 members, a 7,000-seat worship center and nearly 1 million square feet of space, including: a caf? open seven days a week; a Student Ministry Building; Prestonwood Christian Academy (with 1,400 pre-K - 12 students); a sports organization; the Prestonwood Foundation; and the Caring People Network.
In early 2006, the executive staff at Prestonwood became increasingly concerned about rising energy costs and a total utility cost that exceeded $2 million annually. Coupled with wanting to save money for the ministry, Church leaders believe they have a faith-mandated role in protecting the environment and a need to show community leadership in providing energy-efficient, green solutions. The result of efforts they have made since that time is nearly $750,000 in energy savings and more than $1 million in total savings on all utilities including water.
The executive staff turned to Energy Education, Inc. (EEI), a consulting firm providing training, diagnostic and prescriptive services for energy management. EEI helped Prestonwood focus on three critical areas: mechanical configurations, energy accounting, and changing people’s energy consumption habits by teaching energy awareness. EEI’s energy conservation program consisted of a variety of efforts including routine energy audits, changes to equipment usage patterns, correcting billing errors and metering inconsistencies, training staff to capture and analyze data, identifying equipment malfunctions and reconfiguring facility usage patterns.
Prestonwood Baptist also created the position of Energy Educator Manager. “It allows daily focus and support to ensure consistent implementation and helps us develop in-house expertise,” says Ron Johnson, who was appointed to the position. Each EEI client is a licensed user of Energy CAP software.
Although energy awareness and usage patterns have been key elements of the Prestonwood energy usage reduction program, they also installed occupancy sensors in 90 restrooms and continue to tune and service the HVAC systems. They use CFLs throughout their facility, reduced hot water temperature settings and added an upgraded energy management system. As part of the education efforts, monthly and quarterly incentive awards are made to Church and school staff who exhibit outstanding participation in the energy program. An energy management break-out session, “Home Energy,” was added to the annual “Money Matters” seminar conducted for members. ENERGY STAR qualified products and equipment are also used and installed whenever possible, according to Mr. Johnson.
The energy conservation programs at Prestonwood Baptist are saving more than 6,000,000 kWh of electricity and 72,000 therms of natural gas. The result is approximately $725,000 in annual energy cost savings, a reduction of more than 33% averaged between the Church and school. They are also helping the environment by preventing the release of 10.5 million pounds of CO2 from entering the air.
In 1885, the religious order of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM Sisters), was founded along the Raisin River in Monroe, MI, to provide educational opportunities for settlers in the area. The Sisters have taught throughout the U.S. and overseas; in the mid-1990s, they acquired an interest in teaching about sustainability and living according to its rules.
The Sisters’ focus was the outdated, inefficient Motherhouse that serves as the home for approximately 240 retired sisters and as the administrative headquarters for the congregation. In addition to the Motherhouse, the Sisters’ 238 acre campus includes St. Mary Center and the Visitation Spirituality Center, 35 acres of native woodlands, lawns, meadows, farm land, an organic garden, a cemetery and pond.
The 376,000 square foot Motherhouse was solidly built in 1932, but by the mid-1990s, many of the building’s systems had reached the end of their usefulness. The Sisters considered constructing a new building, but realized that it was more environmentally sound and consistent with their values to recycle the existing structure.
They gathered a number of collaborators for the project, hiring Susan Maxman & Partners of Philadelphia, PA, to create a master plan and direct the project that was to encompass both the buildings and the grounds. Rolf Sauer and Partners (now Viridian Landscape Studio), also of Philadelphia, served as the landscape architect and The Christman Company of Lansing, MI, was hired as the construction manager. The goal was to create a sustainable environment that would conserve energy now and in the future - one that could be a model for others as a place of transformation through education, serving as a 21st Century center of sustainable living and learning.
Whenever possible, ENERGY STAR qualified products were selected including everything from appliances to computers. The purchasers relied on the EPA ENERGY STAR Web site for category guidelines and product searches.
Reuse and recycling was also part of the effort, including 800 restored and reused windows, 500 reused doors, over 100 historic period light fixtures retrofitted for CFLs and 54,200 square feet of carpet reclaimed.
The project includes unique features such as a new ground-source geothermal heating and cooling system which does not burn fossil fuel because it uses the earth’s 55-degree underground temperature. A total of 232 bore holes, each 8-in. in diameter and 450 ft.-deep, are connected by 54 miles of 4 ft. -deep underground piping to create the closed-loop system. The system was designed by H.F. Lenz Mechanical Engineering and installed by Monroe Plumbing & Heating and Middleton/Jackson Geothermal Drilling.
A wetlands area was also created to support a gray water plumbing system which circulates water from the showers and sinks to be naturally filtered in the wetlands and pond and returned to flush toilets. The system required the installation of an additional set of pipes in the bathrooms, but reduces fresh water consumption by about 50%.
The IHM Sisters have used their project as an educational tool since its conception. Neighbors and authorities needed to be educated in the early phases, particularly to overcome objections to the wetlands. Displays have been created throughout the Motherhouse to instruct visitors about the sustainable features of the project. A large “Green Room” on the main floor of the facility has been given over to displays as well. Since it opened, thousands of visitors have toured the facility to learn ways of building and living sustainably. The Sisters have hosted two Midwest Green Building Conferences, received numerous awards and been the subject of several articles in a variety of publications.
It is estimated that the project is saving nearly $180,000 in annual energy costs by saving 340,000 therms and reducing green gas emissions by over 4 million pounds of CO2.